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4th International Dog Health Workshop - 2 Years On
Our catchphrase for the IDHWs is captured in the workshop logo - and as described in our publications on the workshop, e.g. Moving from Information and Collaboration to Action: Report from the 4th International Dog Health Workshop, Windsor in June 2019.
The word cloud image was created in the final session of the 4th IDHW - based on participants' response to a a question about the high points of the event or what were the take home messages.
First and foremost was collaboration and cooperation - at the workshop and taking that forward - individually and among the different stakeholder groups. The IDHWs are one of the only events that bring together those from the diverse groups who share both goals and responsibility for dog health, well-being and welfare, and supporting the best in human-dog interactions.
So, how far have we travelled in the last two years? The workshop had 5 themes and the files specifying outcomes and recommendations for action can be viewed in these links or by downloading the pdfs further below:
With the pandemic, the usual work of encouraging follow-up participation was even more challenging. Nonetheless, some strides have been taken, including:
- Initiation of the International Collaborative on Extreme Conformation in Dogs (ICECDogs, webpage coming soon).
- Collaboration on a new textbook on Brachycephalic Health and Welfare - available soon.
- Enhancement of the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs, especially the Breed Relevance Ratings.
- Various initiatives relative to Supply and Demand.
- Ongoing communication on breed-specific issues through our partnership with WSAVA and production of Get a GRIHP! articles.
- Promotion of multi-stakeholder cooperation in our Reframing Discussions article.
Most importantly, as I review the key issues identified, developments in the last two years have underlined the importance of the priorities set by the attendees of the 4th IDHW. Unfortunately, the challenges continue even two years on, sometimes at least partly because a lack of sustained actions.
We plan a serious of blogs/articles on each topic, to raise (or try to re-raise) awareness. Please check out the files below and let us know if you have been part of initiatives to address the problems or even your perspective of where we are at in 2021 relative to 2019.
The question remains - when decision leaders and those active across stakeholder groups come together and agree on needed actions, but progress is limited - how do we identify and overcome the barriers to effective change? Talk is important. Agreement is wonderful. Goals are crucial to establish. Feelings like those in the word cloud here, expressed by attendees after day 1 of the 4th IDHW, are great.
But without sustained, effective actions, those positive feelings we all had at the meeting melt away...
Is it time for re-evaluation and reconnection, to revitalize our collective efforts?
IDHW - Extremes-Communication - Theme Outcomes (1).pdf IDHW Genetics_Theme Outcomes.pdf IDHW SUPPLY AND DEMAND - Theme Outcomes (1).pdf IDHW Concept of Breed_Theme Outcomes (1).pdf IDHW BSHS_Theme Outcomes.pdf
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Summary of Kennel Club Breed Records: Pug 2020
A new research report, Summary of Kennel Club Breed Records: Pug 2020, has been produced by Cassandra Smith. The report utilises publicly available data offered by The Kennel Club to describe health and breeding-related statistics and information. The author’s previous reports on similar and other breeds have been well-accepted, with appropriate methodology and presentation.
This analysis includes KC-registered dogs with statistics presented separately for Pugs of Standard colour and Non-Standard (NBS) colours. Included is information on litter statistics, inbreeding values, caesareans and AI, breeding stock used, health schemes and genetic testing. The report is clear and speaks for itself. (see PDF of the full report attached); it was originally posted [CRUFFA]. Below are a few comments on/highlights from the material.
For those who wonder why the separation by colour: the designation of colour variations differ from breed to breed and across registries. Generally speaking, within the Pug breed, puppies (or litters of puppies) are registered by colour as either Standard (as described in the Pug Breed Standard) or Non-Standard (and other colour). Not unique to the Pug, colour classification is often based simply on historical choices in acceptable coat colours and markings, and are not automatically indications of a dog’s “purity” or lack thereof. However, the breeding community may be quite sensitive on this issue and feel there are differences across breeders and dogs beyond the colours. Relatively rarely, genetic mutations may produce certain colours or ‘dilutions’, generally randomly, however, there are instances where deleterious colours have been selected for. Of course, it can also happen that the occasional non-standard colour puppy might simply not be registered. Interestingly, but perhaps unrelatedly, the median number of puppies per litter was slightly higher in the NBS litters.
One area of particular interest in wider discussions on breed-health strategies, is the limited extent to which existing health programs have been embraced by breeders. Although the creation of such programs has been acclaimed (see https://www.pughealth.org.uk/pug-5-star-health-scheme/), the fact that they are clearly not being embraced in a way to impact the health of the breed is very disappointing. There is a caution, however, that this might have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, so future reports will be needed. Although Standard Colour Pugs have access to both health schemes, for 88% of litters neither parent had health scheme results recorded. As for Respiratory Function Grading, “Table 12 shows the RFG testing results of each parent [Standard Colour litters] prior to the birth of the litter. 12.6% of litters had at least one tested parent, with sixteen litters (2.5%) meeting the current criteria for lowest risk of BOAS, as documented in the Breeding Advice on the Kennel Club website. Testing was less frequent for NBS litters.
Summary of Findings
See paper for further discussion and descriptions of calculations, e.g. for coefficients of inbreeding COIs:
Pugs UK 2020: summary statistics (C. Smith, 2020) Parameter Standard Colour
638 litters/2576 puppies
Non-Breed Standard Colour
733 litters/3429 puppies
Litter size (median) 4 5 COI % (mean/median/highest) 5.4/ 4.4/ 30.9 3.7/ 2.7/ 21.4 Litters with COI>25% 4 0 Sire age at birth of pups (mean/ median/ minimum) 3.9/ 2.2/ 0.65 3.1/ 2.7/ 0.54
Of note: some high coefficients of inbreeding. Perhaps a better picture of the challenges of inbreeding in the pug, or any breed, would be to utilize the rapidly improving "genetic COI" DNA tests available. A robust genetic COI test drastically improves precision compared to pedigree-based COI. Regardless, a COI (pedigree based or not) of more than 12, 25, 30% is a cause for concern.
There is also a high proportion of young sires being used. It is generally recommended to wait until sires are at least 2 or 3 years of age, health tested, and so-far free from inherited conditions. Similarly, a considerable number of litters indicate that the dam was bred at a young age. In addition, the number of litters per sire indicates that there is overuse of certain popular sires, relative to general recommendations.
There are causes for concern here and much to inform evaluation of breeding within Pugs in the UK. The information should also be used by Pug clubs and breeders outside of the UK. These types of statistics – not simply the recording of the data – are crucial to monitor the breeding and breed population and to provide metrics for the uptake and possible impact of health testing programs. Ms. Smith is to be commended and thanked for her efforts.
As we have written in other blogs and our recent article on the Norwegian Lawsuit on Dog Breeds and Breeding against some breeds with extreme conformation (see additional resources) it is not enough to say health and longevity is important. Breeding practices, attitudes and specific decisions must be made with those goals prioritized.
- Summary of Kennel Club Breed Records: Pug 2020 – Cassie Smith. (links: to discussion on facebook and link to file and pdf - attached below)
- Blog: Is it "tough talk" or "open dialogue" - and why is it a challenge in the dog world?
- Blog: Linebreeding vs. Inbreeding – Let’s be perfectly clear
- Blog: The Big Picture - in the Dog World as a Whole and for your next Breeding Decision
- Norwegian Lawsuit on Dog Breeds and Breeding - The "First" But Not the Last?
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HGTD This Week: NEW feature - Key Comments
In our continued effort to improve HGTD, we have a new addition to our breed-specific testing information. Complementing the Breed Relevance Ratings, the new Key Comments feature highlights in the breed search, any tests that have a comment related to the relevance of the test for that breed. Users can then click through to the phenes information to not only read the Key Comment, but also other general, and breed-specific information about the phene. Key comments are sourced from the researchers or test developers, as well as relevant experts.
What do Key Comments look like in the breed-specific test listing?
Look out for a "key" symbol next to the phenes in the breed-search list. If you see a key, then there is a key comment associated with this phene.
You can click on the phene name to read the key comment, as well as other information related to the test including: clinical information, application recommendations in the breed/dog, research/gene information, etc.
Once you click through to the phene, look out for the Key Comment information section.
What are examples of Key Comments?
Key comments are associated with the relevance of the test to specific breeds/types, and can vary in content. Provided by experts in the discovery or application of the test, the information could be related to how common the test is in a breed, specific concerns about the test for a particular breed, or breed-specific application of the test. This differs from the application information currently provided in phenes, which is a general comment on the test application and not breed-specific.
Examples of key comments are for the phene congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS) in the Golden Retriever, and Golden Retriever crosses. There are currently two tests available for CMS that are available to the Golden Retriever. Each test is based on a different genetic mutation, and CMS is considered rare in the breed and its crosses. In this example, the key comment for the COLQ-related test is that it is very rare and may only be relevant for a specific line of Golden Retrievers, and not have breed-wide importance. Arguably more critical is the CHRNE-related key comment which notes that while this test may be applied to Golden Retrievers, it is actually an incorrect test. In these examples, the key comment not only has breed-specific information on the relevance and the BRR, it also supports test selection where the phene/test names are similar and may be confusing.
Who provides Key Comments?
Key comments are currently sourced from the original research, with the goal of testing and test results being informative and applied appropriately to a dog/breed. This is most often provided directly from the researchers, but may also be augmented with peer-reviewed publications and/or external links to additional information. In time, it may also include other breed and/or test expert comment.
Where can I get more information?
You are welcome to ask questions about key comments, or provide feedback by emailing email@example.com
Image via Pexels, H. Lopes.
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Recently we received a question from a Harmonization of Genetic Testing (HGTD) user, who had wanted to use an "Ancestry" genetic test to determine a puppy's likely sire. It is not uncommon, when trying to determine the right test for your purposes, to mistake "Ancestry" tests for parentage, or genetic identification tests. The information below talks about what ancestry, or breed mix genetic tests are, how they can be used, and some of the limitations.
What is an Ancestry/Breed Mix Genetic Test for dogs?
Ancestry/breed mix tests are a way to estimate what breeds compose your mixed-breed dog, or to help determine what breed(s) your dog of unknown origins might be. You can find more information about the different kinds of genetic tests available, here. It is not uncommon for people who use an ancestry/breed mix test to have some surprising results. Understanding how these tests generally work might make it easier to understand your results.
At its most basic, an ancestry/breed mix test compares specific sections of your dog’s DNA, known as markers, to a reference database of hundreds of dog breeds or types. A genetic marker is a DNA sequence with a known physical location on a chromosome. Genetic markers can help link an inherited disease or trait with the responsible gene. This data estimates the likely breed(s) that compose your dog, to a few generations back (e.g. grandparents). You can find genetic test providers offering these kinds of tests by searching for "Breed/Type/Variety test" on HGTD.
How precise these tests are is dependent on a number of factors, including:
- The size and scope of the reference library
- The number of specific areas (referred to as genetic markers) of DNA the test “looks” for in your dog
- How well understood the markers are, and how well they correlate with genetic markers associated with breed-specific traits
The size of the reference library, in terms of gene coverage and breed/types included is important to improve precision. Arguably even more important is having genetically well-defined breed samples, and knowledge of breed population-specific challenges such as breed population variations or genetic diversity. More markers doesn’t automatically mean “better” if the markers don’t associate well with specific breeds – though you also need a large enough number to differentiate between breeds/types.
When you look at different test providers information online, you can usually find information on how many breeds are included in their reference panel, how they determined which dogs to reference, what kinds of genetic markers they are using for comparisons, etc. They should also be able to tell you how many “generations” they are including in your dog’s results and answer any questions when your results aren’t what you might be expecting.
How are Ancestry/Breed mix tests helpful?
If you have a dog of unknown origin, these tests can help give you some idea of the dog’s traits - such as size, temperament, and even potential health risks. Test packages vary, but in addition to breed estimation, often include some specific genetic tests for traits (like coat colour) and sometimes disease risks.
If you have a mixed or crossbreed dog you are considering using for breeding, the testing packages with breed or type-specific disease risk results can help in choosing suitable mates to reduce the risks of inherited diseases in subsequent generations of dogs.
What Ancestry/Breed tests do not do:
- It is not a way to confirm a pedigree breed, or refute pedigree papers.
- It is not for determining parentage.
- It is not necessarily for permanent ID*.
- It does not determine “health” nor determine all inherited disease risks. (e.g. there are many inherited diseases that cannot currently be genetically tested for).
So, what is a Parentage test?
A parentage test works by collecting DNA samples from the dam, sire, and offspring to determine each individual dog's unique genetic profile, based on a special group of genetic markers. This special group of markers might be called a "parentage panel" or "genetic profile panel" or by the technical type of reference panel used. There are 2 main reference panels for this purpose: ISAG (International Society for Animal Genetics) and the AKC (American Kennel Club) Panel. Each dog's unique genetic profile of markers is compared, and, much like in human parentage testing, if enough markers are in common, you can confirm parentage. Likewise, you can confidently exclude possible parents. In very rare cases, if the dogs are highly inbred, or the disputed parents are very closely related and inbred, it can be more challenging to absolutely determine parentage. You should expect your genetic test provider to have very specific protocols for sample collection for parentage.
Benefits of parentage profiling:
- Improves accuracy of pedigree data
- Confirms accuracy of hereditarily clear by decent genetic test results
Limitations of parentage profiling:
- Parentage can only be robustly confirmed when you have data from the dam, sire, and offspring
- You cannot normally “back-determine” parentage from other relatives data – e.g. you can’t use combinations of grandparents, siblings, half-siblings, etc.
- For highly related or inbred matings, there can be challenges in determining parentage
- You cannot determine parentage using incompatible marker panels (e.g. ISAG + AKC)
A breed ancestry or breed mix test estimates the likely breed(s) that make up an individual dog.
A parentage test identifies specific, related individuals: parents and offspring.
*different product packages may include options for including permanent ID
Cover photo: Eddie Galaxy via Pexels.
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National Kennel Clubs are major stakeholders in the governance and regulation of dog breeding. As such, they have been the targets of major criticism related to dog health issues. It is therefore interesting to investigate to what extent health and welfare is a priority for kennel clubs (KCs), and what are the capacities and actions implemented to deal with those issues.
A survey was sent in 2017 to 40 KCs with 15 answers received from 11 European (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK) and 4 non-European countries (Australia, Mexico, Uruguay, and the USA) aimed at describing and comparing information across countries in dog breed health management (Wang et al. 2018).
First, in order to determine the population of dogs under the responsibility of KC, the percentages of all dogs being registered as ‘pedigree’ dogs were estimated considering the 15 surveyed KCs, as well 35 other countries, using sources such as the FCI online statistics. Across countries, the average and median percentage of the entire dog population that were registered pedigree dogs, respectively was 20% and 14%. However, there was a large variation across countries, with European Nordic countries showing, in general, a larger proportion of pedigree dogs (see Figure 1). This aspect is of importance, since it is expected that the responsibility toward general dog health, as well as the capacity to improve the situation, relates to the proportion of dogs that are at least to some extent under the influence of the KCs.
When asked about the current challenges, KCs ranked exaggerated morphological features and inherited disorders as the most important issues, showing those two problems are now clearly identified as priorities (Figure 2). By contrast, issues such as economic constraints to breeding were rarely viewed as problematic for dog breeding. Kennel clubs also commented on challenges related to the difficulty to find balance between increased regulation and the risk of losing members; to achieve consensus and compliance of breeders and clubs toward breed health strategies; as well as lack of capacity regarding information provision and education.
Surveyed countries showed great diversity in terms of information management, implementation of breeding strategies, recommendations, requirement, restriction and tools. Most KCs indicated that information on genealogies, breed standards and dog shows were recorded in their data base for most, if not all breeds; however, health information (e.g. screening examinations, genetic tests) was more sparsely recorded and provided to the public, both for breeds within countries and across countries (Figure 3). For instance, KCs from Austria, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, the UK and the USA provided health information status on pedigrees and in online data bases, but in general, not all breeds were covered. When considering implementation of breeding strategies, six countries indicated that there were no breeding strategies implemented by any breed clubs, while in three countries (Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands) it was reported that each breed club had its breeding strategy.
Several countries indicated that they were planning to develop breeding tools and provide health information to users, and for instance, France and Belgium reported having ongoing work to develop tools to provide online pedigree with health information or estimate breeding values for complex disorders such as hip dysplasia.
Although limited by the relatively low number of countries considered, this survey showed that despite large differences in their approach to breeding policies and management, the awareness to improve breeding and health of pedigree dogs was strong among the surveyed Kennel Clubs. The dog breeding world is increasingly global in scope. The understanding of both the diversity of health initiatives and the potential for coordinated actions internationally is key to further efforts to promote dog health and welfare.
There is probably still a lot of progress to be made in term of information provision and collection, as well as planning breeding strategies considering dog health. In particular, finding a consensus in terms of constraints and priorities for breeding, is expected to be particularly challenging for Kennel Clubs and breed clubs in order to implement those strategies. Although the situations differ across countries, exchanges of experiences may surely help to find the most adequate solutions toward improvement of health and welfare.
Wang, S., Laloë, D., Missant, F. M., Malm, S., Lewis, T., Verrier, E., ... & Leroy, G. (2018). Breeding policies and management of pedigree dogs in 15 national kennel clubs. The Veterinary Journal. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tvjl.2018.02.018
Brenda’s blog gave a great overview of the American Kennel Club National Parent Club Canine Health Conference we attended earlier this month in St. Louis, Missouri. I am grateful for the sponsorship from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals provided to myself and the 31 other veterinary students in attendance.
This conference, like the 3rd International Dog Health Workshop, was an opportunity to learn more about cutting edge research that is improving dog health. Topics were varied and included tick borne disease, epilepsy, lymphoma, and reproductive health. It was exciting to see my Colorado State University (CSU) Immunology professor, Dr. Anne Avery, present on her lymphoma research.
Right: View from the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch
After completing a CSU clinical orthopedics rotation a few weeks prior to the conference, it was especially interesting to hear what I had learned about Omega-3 fatty acids in my rotation be reiterated by presenter Dr. Wendy Baltzer from Massey University. Her Purina funded study described that a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids post-surgical correction of cranial cruciate ligament disease is helpful and results in less progression of arthritis and lameness.
I’m am looking forward to graduation in 9 months and continued involvement in dog health. The opportunities I have received since first starting my IPFD project have been endless and I am very thankful for the DogWellNet.com community!
Left: Veterinary Student Attendees at the AKC National Parent Club Health Conference
Well, it's been 10 weeks... and I've learned quite a lot. I hope you have, too! As my project comes to an end, Nina and I wanted to give our viewers a big thank you. I hope you enjoyed this blog series and feel more confident about what your role is in solving antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We would also like to extend a huge thank you to the Skippy Frank Fund who sponsored this entire project, and a thank you to Dr. Jason Stull and Dr. Brenda Bonnett for being wonderful mentors every step of the way.
It is important to keep in mind that science is an ever-changing field that is constantly updated with new material. For example there's a new study that just came out suggesting that not finishing a course of antibiotics may not cause resistance, which is contrary to the current belief. Here is the link to this article if you would like to read more about it. Even though this blog is over, I hope that you continue your AMR education as new scientific data arises.
To complete my summer project, I have constructed a poster that I will be presenting at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Research Day.
Take a look!
Here is the downloadable PDF version:
Be sure to keep checking www.DogWellNet.com for more information on dog health and wellness!
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The Finnish Kennel Club (FKC) has finished the protocol and the instructions for fitness (walk) testing of breeding dogs in brachycephalic breeds. The test is similar to the one used by the Dutch Kennel Club.
Finnish test instructions have been developed by veterinarians doing research on BOAS. Their results concerning the Bulldog have already been published. The researchers are still continuing their research and testing Pugs and French Bulldogs, whose results will be published later.
According to the Finnish guidelines, a dog gets an approved walk test result if he/she walks 1000 meters in 12 minutes or less, and recovers sufficiently from the walk within the recovery time. In the future, it is also possible to have different time limits for different breeds. The test result is failed if
The FKC arranged the first pilot test in February, and the second pilot will be arranged in May. Also orientation for veterinarians will be held at that second pilot. After that, breed clubs are able to arrange the tests by their own. The tests have to be carried out in accordance with the FKC's Guideline for walk tests, in order to get the test result recorded in the FKC breeding database.
The FKC is following the development and use of different tests in other countries. It is also having close collaboration with the other Nordic Kennel Clubs on this subject. The aim is, in the long run, and with the help of accumulated experience, to develop the test further, to be as appropriate as possible.
All the information on the Finnish walk test can be found here.
The walk test is meant for short-muzzled (brachycephalic) breeds that have symptoms caused by upper respiratory tract disorders. These breeds include Pug, English Bulldog and French Bulldog. The dog's exercise tolerance and the ability to breathe normally are evaluated in the walk test and the clinical examination included in it. In the walk test, the dog must walk a certain distance in a defined maximum time and recover from the exercise within a defined time frame."
Updated 2-18-2021 - See the 2-8-2019 FKC article
IPFD Board Member Dr. Patricia Olson was the keynote speaker at the Inaugural One Health Program at Midwestern University on October 8, 2015 (Downer’s Grove, Illinois).
Midwestern University also has one of the newest veterinary schools in the U.S. (Phoenix, Arizona). Physicians were paired with veterinarians to deliver lectures on obesity, pneumonia, osteochondritis dissecans and epilepsy. Dr. Olson’s lecture was on collaborative research, using the clues from animals to help advance both human and animal health/welfare.
See the pdf of her thought-provoking talk here:
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Once a year, in October, the SKK Breeding Committee organizes a weekend course for
breeding officials based on the book Dog breeding in theory and practice by Sofia Malm (SKK genetic expert) and Åsa Lindholm.
The Genetic Expert and The Breeding Consultant of the SKK Department for Breeding and Health are in charge of the course.
The aim is to give breed clubs education and tools they need to work with breeding plans and breed-specific strategies.
The contents of the course include basic genetics and guidance in how to conduct work at club level.
There’s also a certain amount of self-directed studies.
Every other year, in April, this education is held specifically directed to hunting dog breed clubs.
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On the podium:
1st : Meisterhaus Signet Higher'N Higer ; Breed: Basenji ; Owner: Lise DURLOT and Dimitri HEBERT ; Breeder: Brenda CASSELL and Tad BOOKS
2nd : Fall In Love Forest Ohara Of Bloom White ; Breed : Samoyede ; Owner: Mira MITKOVA ; Breeder: Elisabeth FAUCON
3rd : Eternal Drago Of Nordic Forest ; Breed : Siberian Husky ; Owner and breeder: Valérie CHARNEAU
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The contents of these blogs are for informational purposes only and represent the opinion of the author(s), and not that of the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD). This is not intended to be a substitute for professional, expert or veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, providers, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on, or linked to from these blogs.