In the last post I documented how the most inbred, most refined, most “perfect” and most human-needs serving fruit, the banana, is also at the most risk for global extinction. The Cavendish is a testament to thousands of years of domestication and agricultural improvement, and although a genetic bottleneck a century ago has left us with a product inferior to the one enjoyed for generations before, our own ignorance of what we’re missing has prevented all but a select few aficionados from even noticing.
As it is, we’ve been living most of the last century with a mostly sterile, highly inbred, and inferior product whose remaining days are limited, whose governing bodies are greedy and lack initiative and foresight, and whose legacy is perhaps more pain and destruction than sweetness and light, all while trading mostly on its ancestor’s good name and nostalgia for better times. If I didn’t just spend an entire post on bananas, you might think I was talking about the situation in kennel club dogs, no?
The purebred Chihuahua, like countless other dog breeds, is a genetic mess. Natural selection didn’t slowly shrink down wolves into Chis, man’s heavy hand stuffed 50 lbs of dog into a 5 lb casing. Chihuahuas are thus prone to structural defects: their teeth don’t fit in their jaws, their throats are too small to support their windpipes, their bones are brittle and their eyes and brains don’t fit well into their skulls.
They have a high incidence for luxating patellas where the knee cap doesn’t stay where’s it’s supposed to, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease where the joints die from poor blood supply and are broken down and reabsorbed, Corneal Dystrophy where the eye clouds over, and Cryptorchidism where one or more testes are undescended and/or malformed.
They are at a moderate risk of Portosystemic Shunts, where the blood supply to the liver is compromised so it’s not fed or flushed well. They are also at risk for Mitral Valve Disease where the delicate valves in the heart become calcified, thickened with scar tissue, and deformed.
They’re at greater risk of obesity, their bulging eyes are at risk for injury, and their skulls are a mess. Not only do the bones in their heads often fail to close fully, leaving behind a permanent “soft spot” called a molera; they are prone to encephalitis, hydrocephalus, and atlantoaxial subluxation.
They can barely produce one or two offspring per litter and even then, Cesarean sections are the rule, not the exception. Fetishists in Japan have made that population of Chihuahuas and other toy breeds one of the most inbred on the planet, and in the UK they have been found to be the most expensive dog (£90,000 over a lifetime) to keep. But even here in the USA we have our fair share of grossly mutated inbred Chihuahuas. I mean, just look at that thing, it’s two hind legs away from being a banana!
If it weren’t for the constant intervention of man, this breed would go the way of the Gros Michel banana. And frankly, so would the Alsatians, Dalmatians, and the Pekingese.
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