A Matter of Breeding

A Matter of Breeding
Michael Brandow
Price: £
  • Paperback
25 Aug 2016
  • Non-Fiction
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What's the appeal of a pedigree retriever so hobbled by hip dysplasia that it can't even play fetch? Why would anybody want a dog with a snout so deformed that it can hardly breathe just because it vaguely resembles the pups that used to fight bulls in medieval times? What force is so powerful that it can compel us to go against all rationality and morality when choosing a pet?

Golden retrievers, chocolate Labs, champagne Frenchies, café-au-lait poodles whether showing at Crufts or showing off in the street, the 'purebred' dog isn't a time-honoured tradition, but the commercial invention of the nineteenth century. In this illuminating and entertaining social history, Michael Brandow probes the 'cult of pedigree' to uncover the sordid underbelly of the dog industry, and the shocking results of modern breeding practices showing the ways in which our pets pay for our snobbery with their devastatingly poor health.

Read an extract here.


'An essential and incredibly well documented read for those who want to know more about how we have strongly, selfishly and negatively affected the awesome beings whom many call their BFF, the very beings who depend on us to have their best interests in heart and mind. Agree or not, Mr. Brandow's book is a serious, significant and most timely message that deserves a global audience. It really is that good' Marc Bekoff, Huffington Post

'A must-read for all dog lovers' Booklist

'An often biting social critique of people, their dogs, and the world they have made for each other' Mark Derr, author of How the Dog Became the Dog

'A no-holds-barred defense of dogs that are the hapless victims of their clueless owners' Kirkus

'Brandow not only unearths the status-driven history of so-called 'purebreds' but exhorts us to love all dogs regardless of breed' Betsy Banks Saul, founder of

'Incredibly important... a delightful read with fascinating insights into the history and psychology of the purebred-dog world' Alan M. Beck, ScD, professor and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond, Purdue University

'If you're considering welcoming a dog (or two) into your family, read Michael Brandow's fascinating and eye-opening book... A dog is a living, loving creature, not an accessory item, and Brandow makes his case persuasively and with wit.' Betsy Banks Saul, founder of

'A Matter of Breeding is a cutting account… a poignant, meticulous and revealing social history on how, in many unfortunate ways, we have crippled man’s best friend in pursuit of a meaningless ideal.' Dogs Today

Michael Brandow

About Michael Brandow

Michael Brandow is the sought-after commentator on dog-related issues with a background in journalism, dog care and community activism. He contributes to The New York Times, New York Post, Town & Country, ARTNews, New Criterion and others on society, arts and canine culture.