I love adorable dogs. Everybody does. But what some people in Japan are doing to “customize” their adorable and socially prestigious puppies is revolting and outrageous.
Care for a Chihuahua with a blue hue?
Or how about a teacup poodle so tiny it will fit into a purse – the canine equivalent of a bonsai?
The Japanese sure do.
Rare dogs are highly prized here, and can set buyers back more than $10,000. But the real problem is what often arrives in the same litter: genetically defective sister and brother puppies born with missing paws or faces lacking eyes and a nose.
There have been dogs with brain disorders so severe that they spent all day running in circles, and others with bones so frail they dissolved in their bodies. Many carry hidden diseases that crop up years later, veterinarians and breeders say….
…Rampant inbreeding has given Japanese dogs some of the highest rates of genetic defects in the world, sometimes four times higher than in the United States and Europe. These illnesses are the tragic consequences of the national penchant in Japan for turning things cute and cuddly into social status symbols. But they also reflect the fondness for piling onto fads in Japan, a nation that always seems caught in the grip of some trend or other.
I can see getting caught up in a fad; I can understand the power of marketing and peer pressure and the desire to be trendy. But am I missing something, or is this not at the end of the day a form of torture? Pets are creatures to love like a member of your family, like a child. How could anyone do anything that carried even the slightest risk of causing an innocent animal to undergo such agony? I guess it’s just “a cultural thing” and we should respect and tolerate it as such.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.