Should you watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show? No! The only thing dog shows are “Best” at is breeding misery. To help dogs, the best thing you can do is skip any event that exploits them.
While this Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen wins Best in Show at @WKCDOGS, millions of homeless dogs are in need of a chance to find a home.
— PETA (@peta) May 10, 2023
What’s Wrong With the Westminster Dog Show?
A pack of PETA “pugs” wearing masks and oxygen tanks to demonstrate how struggling for air with every breath must feel to breathing-impaired breeds (BIBs) gathered at a busy intersection in New York on Tuesday to urge organizers of the Westminster dog show to keep flat-faced dogs out of the ring and out of future competitions. Why? Because the American Kennel Club (AKC), a “purebred”-dog registry, issues “breed conformations” by which dogs are judged.
These standards—which require that bulldogs, pugs, and other breeds have extremely shortened noses and flat faces—inflict terrible suffering, lifelong discomfort, and even life-threatening and chronic health issues. At a time when overrun animal shelters are prompting forward-thinking cities such as Los Angeles to ban the retail sale of dogs, the Westminster Kennel Club is still encouraging breeders to churn out litter after litter of “purebred” puppies.
Star the bulldog won “Best in Show” at the 2022 AKC National Championship Dog Show. English bulldogs like her, French bulldogs, boxers, pugs, Boston terriers, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels are all BIBs. They typically suffer from brachycephalic syndrome, which leaves many of them struggling to breathe while they engage in normal activities. Going for a walk, chasing a ball, running, and playing—the things that make dogs’ lives joyful and fulfilling—are impossible for many BIB dogs. Breeding dogs to look a certain way and endure a lifetime of suffering is nothing to celebrate.
BIBs Can’t Breathe, so Get Them out of Dog Shows
In light of all the suffering caused by breeding dogs to have flattened faces, why do breeders keep doing it? Because people keep buying them—and because events like the Westminster dog show entice them to produce litter after litter in the hope of having a prizewinning dog they can then profit from by breeding them and selling their puppies. The breeding industry is big business, and as long as there’s money to be made by selling, showing, and breeding dogs, greedy breeders will continue to produce more—regardless of how much suffering they cause in the process. Following the show every year, breeders see a rush of people who want a carbon copy of the winning dog—and then animal shelters see a rush of people who abandon them when they turn out to be too much work or don’t act like the dog on TV.
The solution is simple: Stop breeding and buying bulldogs, other BIBs, and all other dogs. All “purebreds” (flat-faced or not) suffer from congenital and often dangerous and painful conditions. If you have the time, money, patience, and love to care for an animal for life (which could be for more than 15 years), please adopt one from an animal shelter. If you already have a BIB dog, please commit to making their life as fulfilling, healthy, and comfortable as you can—but pledge never to buy another one.