Friday, 4 December 2015

Our Dogs covers the PDE v Deppen row

I blogged this story here 10 days ago. the As you can see, Mr Deppen is not terribly pleased with me.  

Here, for the record, is my full reply to his email.


Dear Mr Deppen

I believe I have accurately reported the case which is a matter of public record. You were charged with cruelty; you denied the charges but were found guilty on three counts; you later had your criminal record expunged in a first-offender rehab initiative. 

You are, however, very welcome to send me a statement which I am happy to add to the piece.

Clearly you like Neapolitan Mastiffs.  “I like things that look like they hit by a car” you said in an interview in 2005.  No doubt, like most breeders of dogs with extreme phenotypes, you believe your dogs don’t suffer for the form breeders have inflicted on them. You also clearly believe that exposed haw is a breed feature, not a fault. I would ask that you pull down your own lower lid and take a few steps outside. That’s what it feels like for the dogs, too.

Poppy’s nostrils are clearly stenotic, too.  These are a risk factor for heat-intolerance/compromised airways and breeders need to take these into account when breeding.  The old Mastini  - who incidentally never looked like they had been hit by a car - had open nostrils and would have coped with heat better as a result.

Here’s a 1960s dog against your Poppy.  Please ask yourself… which dog would you rather be? If you can’t see it, show your friends outside of the show-ring and ask them.

Dogs are very stoical; they put up with a lot and they still love you. My view is that the suffering we impose on Neapolitan Mastiffs is not acceptable. The ectropion. The cherry eye. The pyoderma. The cancer. The very short lifespan. The sheer grinding weight of that body and sagging flesh as they age. You don’t see this because you are immersed in a world where it is acceptable. 

And yet you surely know that the modern dogs are not historically correct - because it is impossible to find a single archive picture that looks like any of the dogs today. 

I am passionate about purebred dogs and have campaigned on Mastino health for some years now. There have been some improvements in the UK as a result of this; certainly dogs as “hypertype” as Poppy would no longer win in the big rings here.

I would say that I think Poppy moves well compared to the UK dogs though. I watched the Westminster 2013 footage and could see that he moved fluidly and freely and has much better angulation than the UK dogs. If you could combine this with with a more moderate head and skin, you could indeed have a magnificent dog.

I am sure that nothing I say will change your mind. But how I wish you could look at your dog afresh and see him for what he is - a no doubt-gorgeous boy trapped in a body that fails him.

You have - or certainly had - some great looking Pointers. You do know what a functional dog is. 



Jemima Harrison
Pedigree Dogs Exposed - The Blog


No reply yet from Mr Deppen.


  1. It will be interesting to see how many respondents there are from the Our Dogs article.

  2. I am not sure if you should get a degree in veterinary medicine or become a dog show judge. You obviously are an expert in both. you could judge by photo as you already do and diagnose and treat the same way as you already do easy peasy.. right from your computer. No need to leave home.

    "I would say that I think Poppy moves well compared to the UK dogs though. I watched the Westminster 2013 footage and could see that he moved fluidly and freely and has much better angulation than the UK dogs. If you could combine this with with a more moderate head and skin, you could indeed have a magnificent dog."
    Or you could breed a better dog yourself but that takes work and commitment

    1. "Or you could breed a better dog yourself but that takes work and commitment "

      Ah, but that would do nothing to stop the breeding of defective dogs. There are breeders out there creating beautiful, functional animals. But those animals aren't winning ribbons. That needs to change.

    2. Anon 1616, just look at the photographs above, head studies. Don't you see what is wrong? Just look at the ears, the one on the left, yes cropped, dreadful, but they are evident, the one on the right, apparently missing, the forehead, the one on the left firm, stop well defined,, the one on the right, rivers and folds of skin, stop (used to be defined as being able to put one thumb between the eyes and it fitted snugly?) overwhelmed by the excessive wrinkled skin that looks heavy enough to affect the eyes, the eyes of the dog on the left, open albeit thick skin around which maybe entropian(?), the one on the right, eyes barely visible, entropian(?) vision probably interrupted by the excess thick skin on the muzzle, muzzle of the dog on the left, smooth, wrinkle free, heavy dewlaps/jowls, the dog on the right, a mass of wrinkled excess skin, pulling the eyes, extreme excess dewlaps/jowls, nostrils of the dog on the left, wide open, round, centre line to the lips unaffected, the dog on the right, nostrils squeezed tight, thick considerable puckering in the centre line to the top lip, now look at the two dogs in this area, the one on the left has a wide gap between his dewlaps/jowls, the one on the right just a vertical line in essence, the dewlaps/jowls almost meeting. This means that the dog on the right can bite an aggressor, pick up his food, chew his food reasonably comfortably, the dog on the right can do all of those too BUT there is a very high risk that he would catch his dewlaps/jowls in the process, biting down and causing ulceration etc on the inside of his mouth. The dog on the left has a flat skull whilst the dog on the right is rounded because of the extreme wrinkling. I have never judged this breed, never owned one, so my comments are as an observer 1616, and as such it is blatantly obvious that the dog on the left is functional and able, the dog on the right, disabled, by the gross exaggeration. Keep an open mind, just look again, both Neos, both male, both probably similar age, the differences are astonishing, they bare little resemblance to one another. No comment on movement other than to say that a dog can move more easily if it isn't having to compensate for the extra weight of loose, uncontrollable skin, painfully moving around his body every time he runs. Ask a person who has dieted, weighed 20 plus stone and drops to 11 stone, their comments about being left with the loose skin, the impossibility of keeping it clean and sore free between the folds, the weight of it when moving, are very distressing indeed. And however it is couched, the effect of the dieter and the loose skin must be very similar to a neo bred to todays' model. Just think about it and wonder what it must really be like for the dogs.

    3. Yes, she could breed a better, more functional dog, bu that's a fallacy, is it not?

      "Stop telling bad, ignorant, and or corrupt breeders how to improve, despite that being the main problem, breed something better" is your argument, and it's full of you missing the point entirely, that the breeding culture of this dog, as a whole, is screwed up and those who have the power to fix it, the breeders, should be held accountable.

  3. Well done! What you said was polite but spot on.

  4. It is great to see that your comments and concerns are reaching a wider audience and are being seen by those most in need of seeing them. You may not change anyone's opinion overnight, but you have planted a niggling little seed of doubt and hopefully it will germinate and grow into a beautiful paradigm shift.

  5. @anon 16.16.I wish you could see what harm "pedigree" dog breeders like those highlighted above are doing to dogs.

  6. Ha! The Italian Job. The dog created by a pretender, from an example of one, that he did not breed, and invented in a day at a dog show.

    Very nice work finding the cruelty charges.

  7. Great reply letter Jemima! Don’t let them get to you. You are simply reporting facts and pointing out features that cause suffering to dogs. Breeders who proudly exhibit dogs that show uncomfortable and/or harmful features don’t have the right to gag other people from writing about them or their dogs. People get to call things like they see them. I wish more people would write about breeders who show dogs with harmful features so their dogs get a voice. If I was a Neapolitan Mastiff and you asked me which dog I’d rather be, I know without hesitation I would want to be the 1960’s dog. I know I would surely have more stamina, be faster and be able to see, breathe and smell better. I’d also probably be less inbred and less likely to die of disease.

    I’m a Mastiff breeder and there were many things I didn’t see as being harmful to my Mastiffs until someone pointed them out to me and explained why they were harmful. Your reporting may offend some but it has the potential to educate many others. This is how we can make life better for dogs. This is what we should all unite to do.

    It’s incredibly heartening to hear that dogs like Poppy would no longer win big in the UK. In my book that makes British breeders and judges much better than the American ones who are still awarding overdone breed specimens.

    1. Jen Willshire's comments are very encouraging. --- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

    2. Absolutely.

      Good exposure for these poor dogs.