A photographer is capturing the beauty of hairless dogs to make a statement about the ethics of breeding.
France-born, New York-based photographer Sophie Gamand has always been "intrigued" by hairless canines, but told The Huffington Post in an email that their looks don't always elicit a positive reaction from others. Gamand did some research and learned that while some hairless dogs are victims of overbreeding, others have naturally evolved that way.
Darla, a Xoloitzcuintli and Chihuahua mix.
So, the photographer created a photo series with the aim of showcasing the elegance of hairless dogs, while also bringing attention to the importance of responsible breeding.
"Ethical breeding is important because ethical breeders pay attention to the health of the breed," she said.
Bodhi, a Xoloitzcuintli.
To properly understand her subjects, Gamand reached out to rescue groups and ethical breeders. She says the experience opened her eyes to the serious consequences of irresponsible breeding. According to the Canadian Veterinary Journal, genetically manipulating dogs to serve human purposes can result in canines inheriting serious genetic diseases or physical traits that are detrimental to their health.
"The first layer ... is the strange beauty of these dogs. Then when you dig more, you uncover the truth -- that these looks were often crafted by men, or at least maintained through breeding," Gamand told HuffPost. "Ultimately, we have a responsibility towards them and towards nature in general."
Godfrey, a Xoloitzcuintli mix.
The hairless pups that Gamand selected were Xoloitzcuintli -- both standard and mixes -- and Chinese crested dogs. Xolos, as they're nicknamed, are thought to have little-to-no hair as a result of natural evolution, according to the American Kennel Club. Chinese crested dogs, on the other hand, are widely thought to have been selectively bred to achieve their appearance.
"The exact origins of hairless dogs is unclear, but I felt it spoke volumes about [man's] relationship to nature, and dogs in particular ... We have been manipulating dogs' genetics for thousands of years. Will there be a price to pay?" she told HuffPost.
Hamster, a Chinese crested dog.
Gamand said many owners of hairless dogs have thanked her for photographing the pooches. She told HuffPost that she's happy to have been able to capture breeds that have a unique dignity and fascinating stories.
"To me, they are as beautiful as wise, old men, shamans, prophets," she said. "There is something otherworldly about them. I felt their faces wanted to communicate something deeper."
See more of Gamand's "Prophecy" series below:
Holly, a Chinese crested dog.
Isis, a Chinese crested dog.
Roo, a standard Xoloitzcuintli.
Seamus, a miniature Xoloitzcuintli.
Schuester, a Xoloitzcuintli and hound mix.
Uchi, a Chinese Crested dog.