A Terrible Beauty

An obsessive focus on show-ring looks is crippling, sometimes fatally, America's purebred dogs

Four years ago, Amanda and Bob Metzger of Exton, Pennsylvania, saw an ad for golden retriever puppies in the local newspaper and went to have a look. "Once we saw them," says Amanda, "we fell in love. We couldn't have left the place without one." They decided on a dog they named Jake -- but being careful consumers, the Metzgers made sure the breeders had a solid reputation, insisted on an American Kennel Club certification of Jake's pedigree and got assurances that his parents were free of health problems before they handed over $325 for their dog.

Their troubles started three...

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