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Why are we still breeding for deep chests?

4716 Views 9 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  firstspoo
Hi all,

Thought it might be interesting to see other peoples opinions on this.

If we know that having a deep chest makes dogs more likely to suffer from bloat, why do we still have 'deep chest' in our breed standards? Surely we should be moving away from a physical characteristic that is more harmful than helpful?

Bonus question, are there any large breed dogs with 'shallow' chests?
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I've also asked. My understanding is that the breed standard needs to change, but there's no movement to do so. People have invested money and years in their current stock of champions. And then there are those who say things like, "Life's too short to have an ugly dog," to justify practices like tail docking, ear cropping, and, yes, deep chests with a tight tuck that increases the likelihood of bloat.

As for large dogs with low rates of bloat, look for breeds with barrel chests. If in doubt, you can always cross against posted rates of incidence.
I can't think of any large breed dogs that don't have deep chests... Or any that don't have some risk of bloat.
My thought would be that they need that space for lung capacity?
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Starvt I think you are probably right about the anatomy in terms of the respiratory system capacity.
I can't think of any either... I know some Labradors are a bit barrel chested, but they are still at a high risk for bloat. So are Keeshonds, supposedly, another barrel-chested breed. But some poodles have much too deep a chest for the standard, and that, plus the fact that poodles are so active, make for a nasty combination. Either way, I really think we should support breeders who make 'the whole healthy package', rather than a specific trait. Otherwise we'll end up the way of the GSD and their terrible angulation.
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I would say that at this point we don't know near enough about the causes of bloat to start changing breed standards to hopefully lower risks. There are likely associations with size of dog, shape of dog, energy level of dog, what the dog is eating, how dog is fed, when dog is fed... it's a lot of factors! We can't yet say that breeding for a different shape would significantly lower the chances of bloat. As has been said, even dogs without a tight tuck up still get bloat.

Dogs have their shapes for a reason. Chest shape alters lung capacity and affects the free movement of the forelegs during running. If you change the shape of the dog's chest, you're changing a whole lot about how that dog interacts with the environment. It's not just a little thing.

There are plenty of breed traits that contribute to potential health issues. Floppy ears greatly increase chances of ear infections. Longer bodies increase chances of IVDD. Docking tails increases chances of urinary incontinence. Loose skin on the face increases chances of entropion or ectropion. Shorter faces increase breathing difficulty. Bulging eyes are much more likely to pop out. At some point you have to accept that breed traits are going to cause trade offs with health issues. And often people criticize the issues of other breeds while turning a blind eye to those of their preferred breed. I'm still against overly exaggerated traits that significantly affect a dog's quality of life. But I've lost some of the fierceness that I once had about my disgust with those who perpetuate these traits that can have negative affects on health.

Barrel shaped chests contribute to orthopedic strain in ways that deeper chests do not. And dogs with barrel chests do also get bloat. It's not a simple solution.

I'm all for research on this topic. Especially in regards to diet, as that seems the easiest fix if it's truly correlated.
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I do believe the deep chest affects the breathing effectiveness. Raven is a very deep chested spoo and Wren is less so, more straight from the side view. Raven gets less winded and recovers more quickly from strenuous exercise. Granted, he is all boy, and runs as hard as is possible to catch a ball and she is more strategic, but he will pant for an hour after we come in. She will fine in less than half the time, she is almost 4 years older then he.
This thread makes me think about all the other dog breeds that need to have their standards changed. I think it's good for Poodles to have deep chests just like it is good for Greyhounds to have deep chests.
There are other theories as to what causes bloat. One of them is that bloat is caused by kibble. In fact, if your dog has bloated it is recommenced to switch to canned food.

I lost two dogs to bloat, an Irish setter and a standard poodle. Now, I only feed raw.
While we are on the topic, why not also stop breeding for narrow faces that create dental issues?
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