Scientific American presents The Dog Trainer by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

Today, a little Dog Trainer mind game. Take a minute to think about your ideal pet dog, and picture her. Him. Or her. Whatever. What does she look like? What kind of personality does he have? And now let’s say that I, The Dog Trainer, have superpowers, which I’m using to develop pet dogs. Here’s what I come up with.

The dogs I offer you:

  • have nostrils and a windpipe so narrow that they can’t draw in enough air and also can’t cool themselves by panting, so they drop with heatstroke in droves during hot weather.

  • have jaws too short for their teeth, which grow in crooked and prone to decay.

  • have wrinkled facial skin that’s often sore and is easily infected by yeast and bacteria.

  • have unusually short, bowed legs and malformed joints.

  • can’t give birth normally; in fact, 80% to 95% of births are by cesarean section.

  • have a higher incidence than any other breed of obstructed blood flow from the heart to the lungs, causing chest pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

Wait, there’s more: In many of these dogs, their eyelashes curl under the lid and scrape against the dog’s corneas. A much-higher-than-average number of my special pets have developmental abnormalities of the eye; cleft lip; and hydrocephalus. As a bonus, many of them have tails so tightly corkscrewed that feces collects under them. Even with daily cleaning, some get painful sores that won’t heal unless the dog’s tail is amputated.

I sound like I’ve been playing Dr. Frankenstein, right? But the dogs I just invented exist in real life. They have flat faces and snorting breath. They’re built like barrels on legs. Most people think they’re cute, and according to the AKC they were the sixth most popular breed in America in 2011. They’re English Bulldogs.

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