This is a useful PR move for the Kennel Club which recently announced that the high-profile breed list is a two-way-street. ("See...look how quickly a breed can come off the list!"). And I see the move has been welcomed already out on the breeder fora. But, actually, the addition of the breed to the HPB list was always a bit of an anomaly; added not because of conformation problems - but because of concerns raised on this blog and elsewhere regarding the denuding of these dogs with razors and depilatory cremes in order to make them conform to showring demands. The process can leave some dogs looking and feeling very sore.
Of course, breeders are still denuding the dogs. It's just that they're now doing it behind closed doors; not publicly on the benches - and, these days, they are more careful about presenting dogs that are obviously sore in the ring.
Why are they still doing it? Because showring fashion dictates that today's Crestie looks like My Little Pony - all flowing mane, tail and fetlocks - but bald elsehwere. Unfortunately nature rarely delivers such a dog.
So they fake it.
Today's Chinese Crested breeders have selected for hairier and hairier 'hairless' dogs in order to give them the requisite furnishings - and then they just remove the hair from the bits where they don't want it using electric and wet shavers and depilatory cremes.
What's wrong with that? Well in some cases they are removing a LOT of hair. Some of the dogs that you see naked in the show-ring would look like this if exhibitors allowed the hair to grow.
Here's what one American breeder, who has chosen to be honest about the process, describes as an "average" hairy-hairless in terms of natural body hair.
|© Crestars Chinese Crested|
"Some Chinese Crested Dogs come with a very decent furnishing with minimal body hair," she explains. "The degree of thickness may also vary from thinner to thicker. Unfortunately they remain in the minority. Unless there is a good reason to let the hair grow, most breeders will keep the hairy Chinese Crested shaved most of the time. I am sure for most part; some breeders don’t even know just how hairy their dogs are because of the frequent routine grooming."
We've discussed the ethics of this here several times before and there's a diversity of opinion. Some think it's cheating. Crestie exhibitors in the main think it's just fine to do whatever it takes to make a dog look "good" for the showring. A few express concern about the loss of the original "true" hairless dog (there are still some to be seen in the show-ring, but they are very often beaten by their flashier, hairier cousins). Others believe that we shouldn't be breeding dogs with a mutation that leads not just to hairlessness, but very poor dentition; a mutation that is lethal in a double-dose.
While accepting that there are worse insults foisted on other breeds, I hate to see the videos on YouTube of very young puppies being wet-shaved or having their ears taped or glued to make them stand up correctly (something else Cresties often have to endure).
So what does the Kennel Club think?
Have a look at the wording in yesterday's release:
"The breed was added to the list in 2010, in light of welfare concerns about the shaving of some dogs for exhibition. The General Committee is satisfied that this issue is no longer of sufficient concern for the breed to remain on the HPB list."A casual reader might think that the KC is satisfied that dogs are no longer being shaved for the showring. But of course that's not true.
What the KC is really saying is that Crestie breeders can do anything they like to their dogs; just don't leave any marks that would give those horrid critics any ammunition.
Indeed, the KC endorses the denuding of the Chinese Crested. There has been never been any public censure of the practice; no KC dispproval that the breed standard (for what it's worth) is being completely flouted by today's Crestie breeders.
The KC's Breedwatch which highlights points of concern for judges states merely: "Clipper rash or burns caused by shaving." Not "dogs shaved to look like true hairless when they are not".
Absens haeres non erit.
The bald truth about the Chinese Crested
Breeding dogs for intentional defect (Terrierman)