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      Why do people buy dogs with potential welfare problems related to extreme conformation and inherited disease? A representative study of Danish owners of four small dog breeds

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          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.

          Abstract

          A number of dog breeds suffer from welfare problems due to extreme phenotypes and high levels of inherited diseases but the popularity of such breeds is not declining. Using a survey of owners of two popular breeds with extreme physical features (French Bulldog and Chihuahua), one with a high load of inherited diseases not directly related to conformation (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel), and one representing the same size range but without extreme conformation and with the same level of disease as the overall dog population (Cairn Terrier), we investigated this seeming paradox. We examined planning and motivational factors behind acquisition of the dogs, and whether levels of experienced health and behavior problems were associated with the quality of the owner-dog relationship and the intention to re-procure a dog of the same breed. Owners of each of the four breeds (750/breed) were randomly drawn from a nationwide Danish dog registry and invited to participate. Of these, 911 responded, giving a final sample of 846. There were clear differences between owners of the four breeds with respect to degree of planning prior to purchase, with owners of Chihuahuas exhibiting less. Motivations behind choice of dog were also different. Health and other breed attributes were more important to owners of Cairn Terriers, whereas the dog’s personality was reported to be more important for owners of French Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels but less important for Chihuahua owners. Higher levels of health and behavior problems were positively associated with a closer owner-dog relationship for owners of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Chihuahuas but, for owners of French Bulldogs, high levels of problems were negatively associated with an intention to procure the same breed again. In light of these findings, it appears less paradoxical that people continue to buy dogs with welfare problems.

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          Most cited references 77

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          Dog's gaze at its owner increases owner's urinary oxytocin during social interaction.

          Oxytocin (OT) has been shown to play an important role in social bonding in animals. However, it is unclear whether OT is related to inter-species social bonding. In this study, to examine the possibility that urinary OT concentrations of owners were increased by their "dog's gaze", perhaps representing social attachment to their owners, we measured urinary OT concentrations of owners before and after interaction with their dogs. Dog owners interacted with their dogs as usual for 30 min (interaction experiment) or were instructed not to look at their dogs directly (control experiment). We observed the behaviors of owners and their dogs during the experiments, and measured OT concentrations by radioimmunoassay in urine samples from the owners collected just before and 20 min after interaction with their dogs. Using a cluster analysis, owners could be divided into two groups: one received a longer duration of gaze from their dogs and reported a higher degree of relationship with their dogs (LG); the other received a shorter duration of gaze and reported a lower degree of relationship (SG). Urinary OT was higher in LG than SG after usual interaction with their dogs, but not in the control experiment. In the interaction experiment, a high correlation was found in LG between the frequency of behavioral exchanges initiated by the dog's gaze and the increase in urinary OT. We conclude that interactions with dogs, especially those initiated by the dog's gaze, can increase the urinary OT concentrations of their owners as a manifestation of attachment behavior.
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            Psychometric Evaluation of the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS)

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              Inherited defects in pedigree dogs. Part 1: disorders related to breed standards.

              The United Kingdom pedigree-dog industry has faced criticism because certain aspects of dog conformation stipulated in the UK Kennel Club breed standards have a detrimental impact on dog welfare. A review of conformation-related disorders was carried out in the top 50 UK Kennel Club registered breeds using systematic searches of existing information. A novel index to score severity of disorders along a single scale was also developed and used to conduct statistical analyses to determine the factors affecting reported breed predisposition to defects. According to the literature searched, each of the top 50 breeds was found to have at least one aspect of its conformation predisposing it to a disorder; and 84 disorders were either directly or indirectly associated with conformation. The Miniature poodle, Bulldog, Pug and Basset hound had most associations with conformation-related disorders. Further research on prevalence and severity is required to assess the impact of different disorders on the welfare of affected breeds.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                24 February 2017
                2017
                : 12
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Frederiksberg C., Copenhagen, Denmark
                [2 ]University of Copenhagen, Department of Large Animal Sciences, Frederiksberg C., Copenhagen, Denmark
                [3 ]La Trobe University, Department of Psychology and Counseling, Bendigo, VIC, Australia
                [4 ]Danish Kennel Club, Solrød Strand, Denmark
                [5 ]University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Clinical Studies, Philadelphia, United States of America
                University of Missouri Columbia, UNITED STATES
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: Helle Friis Proschowsky has a potential conflict of interest in that she works for the Danish Kennel Club, which has clear vested interest in breeding of purebred dogs. However, Helle Friis Proschowsky has had no final say in any matters that could relate to this potential conflict of interest. Also, this potential conflict of interest does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

                • Conceptualization: PCB BF TBL IM HFP PS JAS.

                • Data curation: TBL.

                • Formal analysis: TBL.

                • Funding acquisition: BF PS.

                • Investigation: TBL IM PS.

                • Methodology: BF TBL IM PS JAS.

                • Project administration: PS.

                • Resources: TBL PS.

                • Supervision: PS.

                • Validation: TBL.

                • Visualization: TBL.

                • Writing – original draft: SVK PS.

                • Writing – review & editing: PCB BF SVK TBL IM HFP PS JAS.

                Article
                PONE-D-16-26492
                10.1371/journal.pone.0172091
                5325474
                28234931
                © 2017 Sandøe et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Counts
                Figures: 1, Tables: 12, Pages: 25
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: Danish Knowledge Centre for Animal Welfare
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics
                Award Recipient :
                The results presented in this paper derive from a project funded by the Danish Centre for Animal Welfare, https://www.foedevarestyrelsen.dk/english/Animal/AnimalWelfare/DCAW/Projects/Pages/default.aspx (no grant number). The funding was given to the University of Copenhagen and was used to hire Iben Meyer as a post.doc., to cover the costs of one month’s salary to Thomas Bøker Lund and to pay for costs in relation to data collection. The Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, resources for manpower (salaries to the part of Thomas Bøker Lund’s time that was not covered by the grant and salaries relating to the working time put into the project by Sara Vincentzen Kondrup and Peter Sandøe) and help from staff in printing and posting the questionnaires. No individuals employed or contracted by the funders played any role in: study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Organisms
                Animals
                Animal Types
                Pets and Companion Animals
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Zoology
                Animal Types
                Pets and Companion Animals
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Organisms
                Animals
                Vertebrates
                Amniotes
                Mammals
                Dogs
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Behavior
                Animal Behavior
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Zoology
                Animal Behavior
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Veterinary Science
                Veterinary Diseases
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Population Biology
                Population Metrics
                Population Density
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Personality
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Personality
                Research and Analysis Methods
                Research Design
                Survey Research
                Questionnaires
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Public and Occupational Health
                Behavioral and Social Aspects of Health
                Custom metadata
                All relevant data are within the Supporting Information files.

                Uncategorized

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