If you’re a regular PETA Files reader, you probably already know about the physical and psychological problems that plague specially bred (meaning inbred) dogs. Labrador retrievers commonly suffer from hip dysplasia, cataracts, and retinal degeneration. German shepherds are prone not only to hip dysplasia but also to spinal paralysis, epilepsy, and blood disorders. Bulldogs often develop heart problems and hip disease. (Purebred cats are prone to health problems, too, as I discovered after adopting an adult Siamese cat from a local rescue group and finding out that he has asthma—a condition that affects Siamese kitties more than any other type of cat.)
But a new study shows that breeding is messing with more than dogs’ bodies: It’s actually changing their brains. The study’s researchers found that the brains of many dogs with short snouts, such as mastiffs and pugs, have rotated forward by as much as 15 degrees and that the olfactory bulbs of these animals have drifted downward—possibly affecting their ability to smell! Researchers aren’t sure if these changes could also affect behavior, but they may.
Written by Paula Moore