Dwarf dog or dwarfism in dogs: explanations


Number of dwarf dogs is constantly increasing globally. Some of them are not naturally dwarfs but following a human intervention in order to respond to a growing craze for XXS doggies despite the health problems it causes in these animals. For other dogs, for example, dwarfism may be due to pituitary disorder or even to nutritional deficiencies, but in these specific cases, it is by no means sought to fulfill the senseless desires of some people. Let’s do a check in.

Dwarf dog created by humans: the methods used

As mind-boggling as it sounds, humans have such a fondness for mini-dogs that today we reduce the size of a breed by various means for the sole purpose of meeting demand.

Inbreeding crosses

The reduction in the size of a dog is obtained, within a breed, by mating only the smallest individuals. This is how over the lines, we could see the dogs decrease in size gradually.

But that’s not all: we favor inbreeding in order to preserve genetics. Indeed, the dogs which have a degree of kinship and mating between them generate litters retaining certain selected features. The puppies born from these unions in turn transmit to their descendants, always by consanguineous marriages, the desired characteristics. It is necessary several generations to achieve the ultimate goal. It does not matter if this seriously impacts the immune system of these unfortunate animals and exposes them to genetic pathologies: dwarf dogs are popular and sell for a high price.

The mixture of canine breeds

This method makes it possible to obtain dwarf dogs much faster than by inbreeding. A unique crossing between an individual of one lineage and that of another breed is sufficient to miniaturize future puppies of the scope.

Extremely profitable since the expected result is immediate, this process is nonetheless risky for the animals. It leads to many health problems For example :

  • Genetic diseases within the breed,
  • Drug sensitivity due to the mutation of the MDR1 gene, certain drugs becoming neurotoxic, i.e. they act on the dog’s nervous system like a poison,
  • An eye malformation called microphthalmia,
  • Deafness.

Many people might think that by crossing pure breeds we would avoid all these problems. It is not, a designer dog remains one hybrid. Moreover, in this dog population, there is a risk factor for genetic disease in 40% of cases due to a mutation. In addition to that, these dogs may well be from crossbreeds of pure breeds, they are more prone than others to pathologies likely to have a hereditary component as is the case with many cancers, for example.

Achondroplasia, a shortening of the dog’s limbs wanted by humans

We sometimes talk about dwarfism with short limbs in canines. This morphology is a little different from dwarfism, but the subject has its place here. It is the result of a selection allowing to create short-legged dogs, like the Dachshund who, on the other hand, has always had this morphology, or even the Dachshund and the Basset hound who would not be of this world without this genetic mutation sought after by humans.

Chondrodysplasia… this is the other learned term used to designate the shortening of the dog’s limbs due to dysfunction of bone and cartilage development. This does not worry at all the fanatics of short-legged dogs who find these funny, ultra-cute doggies… Except that achondroplasia is not without causing major problems for these animals which repeatedly present:

  • Coxo-femoral dysplasia,
  • Osteoarthritis,
  • Arthritis,
  • Herniated discs,
  • Degenerative intervertebral disc disease …

These dogs are in physical pain and sometimes have to undergo surgery, osteotomy, for example to put a bone back in line or to align the vertebrae.

Why are dwarf dogs so popular?

The reasons many people want a small dog are not not very commendable, and none can justify intervening on canine breeds for shrink as we do today. The main reasons given are difficult to accept for all those who defend the animal cause, but it is all the same interesting to know them, if only to realize the stupidity level that some humans can reach. The followers of “pin dogs” justify themselves by citing the following reasons:

  • Perfect adaptation to urban life unlike large dogs, too bulky,
  • Less food to buy, therefore more economical, since the miniature dog eats little compared to a Great Dane for example,
  • Very easy to transport, it is the dog that we slip into a travel bag without worry,
  • Considered cuter than an XXL dog because the dwarf dog keeps the appearance of a puppy …

The popularity of dwarf dogs is therefore a trend and their fanatics are so stupid that they don’t care at all about problems that it causes in terms health for these animals.

Pituitary dwarfism in dogs

The pituitary gland is a gland that produces several hormones, including the somatotropic hormone or STH which is none other than thegrowth hormone. With STH deficiency, the puppy suffers from developmental delay while keeping a harmonious line since his body, his head and his paall remain proportionate. This is the reason why we speak of harmonious dwarfism.

Hyposomatotropism is the scientific term for congenital pituitary dwarfism whose origin is hereditary. It is in many cases associated with other hormonal disorders (thyroid, sexual).

It can be noted that some canine breeds are more particularly predisposed to dwarfism of this origin, such as the Spitz, the Karjalankarhukoira or Karelian bear dog, the Weimaraner and the German Shepherd.

For information, the weight of a dog with pituitary dwarfism can be divided by three as its development is reduced. But’life expectancy of these dogs is also diminished because of the various pathologies with which they can be affected at the hepatic or renal level for example. Depending on the case, the general condition of these animals can deteriorate very quickly, some die from the age of 3 and the others rarely reach 8 years, regardless of the race to which they belong. Fortunately, pituitary dwarfism is quite rare.

Dietary deficiencies and dwarfism in dogs

A puppy that suffers from malnutrition for a long time and as a result of deficiencies in the level of essential nutrients cannot develop normally. He can therefore suffer from dwarfism and thus fall into the category of small dogs even if he belongs to a large breed or to a medium breed.

It can be noted that in addition to disrupting the growth of the animal, nutritional deficiencies are the cause of serious diseases affecting the bones and can also lead to hormonal dysfunction.

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