What's the appeal of a pedigree retriever so hobbled by hip dysplasia that it can't even play fetch? Why would anybody want a dog with a snout so deformed that it can hardly breathe just because it vaguely resembles the pups that used to fight bulls in medieval times? What force is so powerful that it can compel us to go against all rationality and morality when choosing a pet? Golden retrievers, chocolate Labs, champagne Frenchies, caf?-au-lait poodles whether showing at Crufts or showing off in the street, the 'purebred' dog isn't a time-honoured tradition, but the commercial invention of the nineteenth century. In this illuminating and entertaining social history, Michael Brandow probes the 'cult of pedigree' to uncover the sordid underbelly of the dog industry, and the shocking results of modern breeding practices showing the ways in which our pets pay for our snobbery with their devastatingly poor health.
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