I was immediately intrigued by this documentary, even just after hearing the introduction. I knew that dog breeding was a popular practice, but I had no idea it had had such a major contribution to the diversity of the species. The narrator referred to dog breeds as being “the ultimate human creation,” and that really struck me. And as fascinating as it is, it already had me questioning the moral ambiguity of it all.
I think the thing that I found the most interesting was the fact that people are able to not only breed dogs for their appearances, but also for their behaviors. And not just behaviors like sense of smell, or physical traits of agility, but even traits that determine how friendly they are towards humans and other dogs. What’s even more fascinating to me is that we are able to specifically pick and choose traits from each breed to mix and match.
Another interesting epiphany I had while watching was the fact that dogs were literally bred from wolves for the purpose of being friends with us. As shown through the segment comparing dogs to wolves that have been living and interacting with humans all their lives, dogs are inherently more responsive to humans. The wolves, despite having been raised with a close interaction with people, were still determined to solve problems on their own and take their own initiative — whereas dogs would look to their human companion for guidance and help. It is in dogs’ genetic codes to learn and utilize human gestures in order to communicate.
Morally though, the breeding practices do have major consequences. It seems unethical that we would manipulate their species for our own gain, especially when they are bred for violent purposes and then kept in small kennels and cages (the video never addressed the hunting dogs’ or the Russian sniffer dogs’ living situations, but it didn’t look very comfortable). Additionally, breeding has resulted in genetic diseases, and humans are entirely to blame for it. In my previous class, we had just watched Frankenstein and were discussing the dangers involved in “playing god,” and I thought it was an interesting coincidence that we would be watching a documentary that ultimately included the same theme.