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  5. 4th International Dog Health Workshop - 2 Years On Facebook reminded me that two years ago today we had just wrapped up the 4th IDHW in Windsor, UK - co-hosted by the Kennel Club. It was a great event, in beautiful surroundings. 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: 4th IDHW Concept of Breed 4th IDHW SUPPLY AND DEMAND 4th IDHW Extremes-Communication 4th IDHW Breed-Specific Health Strategies 4th IDHW Genetics 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
  6. Artificial Insemination in Dogs - Recent Information and Misinformation A recent post(s) on CRUFFA re: "Good news! Another step in law enforcement in the Netherlands. Standard artificial insemination is forbidden in the Netherlands for dogbreeding." is an inaccurate or, at best, incomplete description of the situation. Even if if were true, celebrating a total elimination of artificial insemination (A.I.) in dogs would be ill-advised and inappropriate. CRUFFA moderator Jemima Harrison wisely suggested that in her repsonse to the comments. We are in the process of tracking down the actual wording of the legislation and will post more information and links to better sources when they become available. I will also post a more comprehensive blog on both the major benefits and ethical concerns in the use of A.I. for dogs. For now suffice it to say: According to my sources, the legislation does not prevent all uses of insemination. Where there are good reasons - e.g., semen is from deceased dogs (hopefully with good health results and some degree of longevity), or imported semen used to improve genetic diversity, A.I. is allowed. Note again that I do not have the official language yet, but have good information that the main intent of this legislation in the Netherlands is to restrict the use of A.I. in breeds that are physically or conformationally unable to breed naturally. In the case cited, action has been taken against a French Bulldog (FBD) breeder. In general, and based on reports from breeders themselves, some (many?) FBD males cannot breed normally due to short backs (which arise from spinal abnormalities known to be common in the breed); females with similar conformation may be unable or uncomortable, for similar reasons. In cases like these, use of A.I. to allow reproduction in compromised dogs must be questioned from an ethical perspective. For more info on FBDs and health conditions see: Get a GRIHP! on French Bulldogs. Although the following link is also not from an official source, it seems somewhat better that the one in the post above: First dog breeder reprimanded for illegal artificial insemination. (Google translate returns an undestandable English version.) Please stay tuned to my blogs for further discussion of this important issue. In general, please: Avoid knee-jerk reactions to limited or inaccurate information. Try to embrace informed, rational, evidence-based discussions more so than emotionally-laced or confrontational conversations. Remember - 'decision-making by Facebook' will not solve the health and welfare issues in dogs! There are essentially no simple, yes-no, absolutes that apply across all breeds and all situations in the issues of dog health and welfare. And essentially all require a more balanced, multi-stakeholder approach to be effective. Please see our discussions on Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs: A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions. Let's work together for the dogs we love, and for the people who love dogs.
  7. Thanks, Lisa - fixed. Glad it points to your website. Please contact us if you have any information, newsletters, etc. that you would like to share.
  8. Hello from Canada, happy to be here, so much information! Could you please correct the name for the Canadian national breed club for French bulldogs. It's listed above under "Breed Clubs" as "Bulldog Fanciers of Canada". The correct name is French Bulldog Fanciers of Canada. The link is correct though, and takes you to the club's website. Thanks!
  9. In This Issue: News & Highlights Advances in the IPFD Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  10. This article on Black Russian Terriers is part of a series to highlight the Big Picture of health, welfare and breeding and to help develop Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles (GRIHPs) for many breeds. See IPFD's Get a GRIHP! on Breed Health Initiative There are many others doing great work to advance heath, well-being, and welfare in this wonderful breed. We reference and link to terrific work, developments, reports, and research from the UK, USA, Sweden, Finland and more below. Thanks to all of those working on behalf of BRTs. This is a 'living document' - so if anyone has more material to share or point us to - please let us know!
  11. 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, 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. Final Thoughts 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. Further resources: 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? PugBreedRecordsSummary2020.pdf
  12. Norwegian Lawsuit on Dog Breeds and Breeding - The "First" But Not the Last? Author: Brenda N. Bonnett, DVM, PhD; CEO IPFD Abstract The Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA) is suing selected breeders, clubs, and the Norwegian Kennel Club for not following the country's animal welfare law; the Norwegian court has agreed to hear the case. One goal is to achieve a clearer interpretation of the language of the law. While the NSPA's motivation behind this approach is understandable, i.e., a frustration with a lack of progress on health issues by breeders and clubs over over the last 2 decades, looking for a legal 'fix' for the complex problems around dog health and welfare, dog breeding, breeds with extreme conformation, and human-dog interactions is not ideal and will likely result in unintended consequences. The dog breeding community needs to address the challenges and potential solutions, however, there are many other stakeholders who also must take responsibility including consumers, veterinarians, regulators, the pet industry, and more. Unilateral actions are unlikely to achieve the wider goals. This article outlines this Norwegian situation and builds on our previous document Reframing Discussions Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs: A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions.
  13. At a time when we're rethinking almost everything in our lives, Your Pandemic Puppy will recalibrate your concept of puppy rearing and dog ownership. Author Marty Greer, DVM, JD is a member of the IPFD Board.
  14. 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 Image via Pexels, H. Lopes.
  15. As part of IPFD's support of new research and research participation, we welcome this guest blog by Quinn Rausch. The Puppy Project is an opportunity for breeders in the US and CA to contribute to important research on puppy socialization and behaviour development. The content of this blog, including external links and all information was provided by Quinn Rausch, and all questions should be directed to them. Background to the Puppy Project To what extent does a young puppy’s experiences affect their behaviour later in life? Every year thousands of puppies are purchased in Canada and the United States and yet little is known about the rearing environments of these dogs or attitudes of breeders around common breeding practices (ref. 1). Previous research from other countries suggests that breeding practices and attitudes can vary greatly (ref. 1-4). Early experiences are known to impact adult temperament (e.g., fear and aggression) and to influence the development of undesirable behaviours (ref. 5-7). Experiences during this period appear to be more influential than any other period (ref. 6-9). A puppy’s first critical period for learning and socialization begins at 3 weeks of age when senses and motor skills become more developed and extends to approximately 14 weeks of age (ref. 5). Broad exposure to a range of different stimuli during this period is thought to be necessary for normal behavioural development. However, it is not clear how much exposure to particular stimuli is sufficient to prevent fear-related issues, and whether early experiences prior to purchase can be protective against inadequate socialization in the new home. Competitive behaviours are also observed in puppies as early as 3 weeks, and some have suggested that early competition might reflect general tendencies that can lead to resource guarding behaviours later in life. Again, the role of early experiences prior to sale have not been fully explored. The majority of studies examining fear and aggression in dogs are based on data collected retrospectively from primary owners of adult dogs and information before purchase at 8-9 weeks of age is not available (ref. 10-14). These early experiences and management practices (0-8 weeks of age) may increase or decrease the likelihood of an undesirable behaviour developing and are important to consider. There are a number of factors that might be influential during this period, including maternal behaviour, food and resource management, and early socialization experiences but they have not been thoroughly studied. Meet the researcher My name is Quinn Rausch (they/them pronouns) and I am a PhD Candidate in the OVC Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Lab under the guidance of Dr. Lee Niel. I have always been fascinated by the relationship we have with non-human animals that share our planet and are ingrained in our society with diverse roles such as companions, entertainment, food, workers, lifelines, etc. I developed my interest in animal behaviour and welfare research early in my undergraduate degree in animal biology through volunteering and spending my summers doing research fulltime. Outside of my research, I am interested in military and service dog training and hope to meld my military career with my academic one to promote the welfare of these invaluable members of our society. Join the Puppy Project A part of my PhD research examines how breeding dogs and puppies are managed in Canada and the United States with a series of five surveys for dog breeders. These surveys will: determine which puppy and bitch management practices are common within the breeding community determine whether there are demographic variables that are associated with certain practices (e.g., breed club or community membership). In future research I will also explore whether particular management practices are protective against development of fear, competition and related undesirable behaviours. In other words, I want to know what works to encourage healthy behavioural development in dogs! The first survey about puppy management is now open for participation. This survey focuses on how breeders care for and manage puppy environments from birth onwards, as well as breeder requirements around puppy sales (e.g., owner screening, puppy health checks). If your dog has had a litter of puppies in the last two years (whether you are a breeder or not) and you live in Canada or the United States, you are eligible to participate. Each participant in each survey will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win a $100 Amazon gift card as a token of our gratitude for participation. Overall, the results of these studies will allow us to understand how to best manage, train and socialize puppies while they are still with the breeder, and once they are in the home. My aim is to work collaboratively with breeders to improve canine breeding programs and canine welfare. Results of these studies will be published in academic journals and shared on our website and social media. Updates can be found on our lab website or our Facebook Page as well as other research projects, opportunities, and recruitment: Website Facebook If you have any questions about this research, please feel free to get in touch with me directly by email at Survey Series Survey 1: Puppy Management Participate here! Link to Survey 1: Over the next six months I will be releasing the remaining four surveys including: References 1. Dendoncker, P., De Keuster, T., Diederich, C., Dewulf, J., Moons, C. On the origin of puppies: Breeding and selling procedures relevant for canine behavioural development. Vet. Record. 2019, 284, 710. 2. Worboys, M., Strange, J., Pemberton, N. 2018. The Invention of the Modern Dog: Breed and Blood in Victorian Britain. Johns Hopkins University Press. 3. McMillan, F. 2017. Behavioral and psychological outcomes for dogs sold as puppies through pet stores and/or born in commercial breeding establishments: current knowledge and putative causes. J. Vet. Behav. Clin. Appl. Res. 19: 14-26. 4. Nagasawa, M., Mitsui, S., En, S., Ohtani, N., Ohta, M., Sakuma, Y., Onaka, T., Mogi, K.., Kikusui, T. 2015. Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds. Science 348: 333-336. 5. Scott, J.P. & Fuller, J.L. 1965. Genetics and the social behavior of the dog. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 6. Howell, T., King, T., Bennett, P. Puppy parties and beyond: The role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior. Vet. Med. Res. Rep. 2015, 6, 143 7. Scott, J. Marston, M. 1950. Critical periods affecting the development of normal and mal-adjustive social behavior of puppies. Pedagogic. Semin. J. Gen. Psychol. 77: 25-60. 8. Scott, J. 1957. Critical periods in the development of social behaviour in puppies. Psychosomatic Medicine. 20: 42-54. 9. Fox, M., Stelzner, D. 1966. Behavioural effects of differential early experience in the dog. Anim. Behav. 14: 273-281. 10. Guy, N., Luescher, A., Dohoo, S. 2001. Demographic and aggressive characteristics of dogs in a general veterinary caseload. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 74: 15-28. 11. Haug, L. 2008. Canine aggression towards unfamiliar people and dogs. Vet. Clin. Small Anim. 38: 1023-1041. 12. Hsu, Y., Sun, L. 2010. Factors associated with aggressive responses in pet dogs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 123: 108-1041. 13. Blackwell, E.J., Twells, C., Seawright, A., Casey, R. 2008. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behaviour problems as reported by owners in a population of domestic dogs. J. Vet. Behav. 3: 207-217. 14. Tiira, K. Lohi, H. 2015. Early life experiences and exercise associate with canine anxieties. PLoS ONE 10: e0141907.
  16. In This Issue: News & Highlights A Closer Look at the Bernese Mountain Dog Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  17. This article on Bernese Mountain Dogs is part of a series to highlight the Big Picture of health, welfare and breeding and to help develop Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles (GRIHPs) for many breeds. See IPFD's Get a GRIHP! on Breed Health Initiative There are many others doing great work to advance heath, well-being, and welfare in this wonderful breed. We reference and link to terrific work, developments, reports, and research from the UK, USA, Sweden, Finland and more below. Thanks to all of those working on behalf of Berners. This is a 'living document' - so if anyone has more material to share or point us to - please let us know!
  18. Is "tough talk" or "open dialogue" - and why is it a challenge in the dog world? As often happens, the same topic comes up several times in a short space of time - and from different sources and angles. Someone asked me why do many kennel clubs not record or link any health information to pedigrees, when in most countries kennel clubs are under a mandate to not only register dogs, but also to protect the health of those for whom they are responsible? Explanations might include that pedigree people truly care for their dogs and breeds, and may have come to simply assume that because of that they must be acting in the animals' best interest... or, perhaps, they are rather afraid that might not be so, and they are not willing to face open, transparent statistics and information on health... or, it is too time-consuming and expensive. Notwithstanding, the priority for attention to health as part of the responsibility for registration is very evident among many of the IPFD Contributing Partner kennel clubs; but it is certainly not true of all national organizations or breed clubs. Today, Embark (one of our Sponsor Genetic Test Providers (GTP) in the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) posted on Facebook a quote from a panel discussion I participated in as part of their online Summit. Although it comes across as very direct, and might take people aback, it is really just factual. A couple weeks ago I posted a blog called Linebreeding vs. Inbreeding – Let’s be perfectly clear. That post sparked a lot of discussion on Facebook. And yet, the message was very basic. That is, linebreeding is a form of inbreeding and "Linebreeding/inbreeding - by definition - reduces genetic diversity. By how much depends on the closeness of mating pairs and the time/number of generations over which the process is repeated." Really, there should have been nothing surprising or shocking about that blog. But it seems, straight-talk, clear, fact- and evidence-based discussion, seems to startle some in the dog world. Of course, others find is refreshing and welcome it. Bodil Carlsson, in her blog Collie Friends, in Sweden, posted blogs recently with translations from our IPFD document: Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions. In her discussion, she welcomes the 'straight talk' but is somewhat surprised to hear it from someone who is an official capacity in the dog world (i.e. the CEO of IPFD). She says (Google translation to English): "[Is it surprising] ... because plain language is uncommon in the dog world, especially from leading people: they tend to have too many interests to consider to speak out." That may be a very valid, but sad point - except I truly do not think it reflects us! IPFD prides itself on being impartial yet able to talk plainly and practically about issues in the dog world. Because we are an independent and multi-stakeholder organization, one of our great strengths is being able to address challenging issues from a Big Picture view - relatively unhampered by limited or member-focused priorities. Personally, there are many occasions when I endeavour to be somewhat diplomatic, compassionate, and aware of sensibilities. However, I try hard not to let that distract from evidence-based reality. Because, let's face it, dealing with the major issues about pedigree dogs and all dogs requires participation from all stakeholders. The challenges across groups - e.g. veterinary organizations, researchers, breeders, breed clubs, kennel clubs and other cynological organizations, the pet industry, regulators, owners, and society, in general - will not be solved by ignoring the fact that all those groups have a say in the overall health, well-being and welfare of dogs. This is why the Reframing document talks about the roles and responsibilities of people in all sectors and calls on all those who care for dogs to step up. Not just the extremists; not just the loudest voices on social media; but the vast majority (I hope) who represent a sort of 'middle'. For example, those who support the breeding of pedigree dogs - but want a clear indication that the health and longevity of purebred dogs is a priority for all those who breeding them. And those who represent breeds not (currently) highlighted as having health issues who must speak up and demand increased stewardship from those responsible for the most challenged breeds - because it matters - to all dogs. And, as I have said, all this, with a little less emotion and more evidence. As Bodil said in her blog - in response to a quote from the Reframing document about confrontational actions looking like protectionism - it looks like protectionism, because it is. Next steps? A few specific ideas... As others have suggested - read, ponder, discuss - your role and personal responsibility. (Note: The Collie Friends blog, on our Reframing doc is thought-provoking. In my google translation to English there is a term 'reindeer breeds' which I believe should be 'purebreds'.) Encourage open discussion among others - open and brave and realistic. If you are a pedigree breeder or member of a breed club - start making recommendations on how to prioritize health and longevity, and maintain genetic diversity (e.g. limit use of popular sires, use a wider and larger representation of the available breeding population, use tools for health testing, genetic testing, measure of breed health, etc.). And try to move people to prioritize health before appearance or winning in the show ring. Participate in work to further define the Big Picture of health in your breed - see our Get a GRIHP! program, do health surveys, share!! Support leadership in kennel clubs as they try to focus on programs for health - don't fight them. Speak up loudly in support to balance against those in opposition or who embrace avoidance and denial. Veterinarians - look for ways to support the breeding of healthy dogs, without mainly pointing fingers at others; collaborate with breeders, educate owners. Check our out Meet the Breed features in the Word Small Animal Association Bulletin. Legislators - look at the Big Picture, embrace collaboration rather than confrontation, look at the long term implications, not mainly actions that will be popular in the short term. See our presentation to APDAWG in the UK. Check out more ideas in our Think Globally, Act Locally - Promoting Open Dialogue and Collective Actions document that will continue to evolve with more ideas on moving forward - together. NEED INSPIRATION? There are individuals and clubs approaching health in a proactive way and embracing strategies for breed improvement. Find them! Participate. We highlight them in so many areas on including in Breed Specific Health Reports, and there are tools and templates to help. If you have something to share - let us know. And let me return the favour to Embark, with another quote from their Summit. I view this as sage advice from someone with great business acumen and a commitment to the health of dogs and dog populations. Is that tough talk? Maybe. Is such talk needed, for the benefit of dogs and dog people? Absolutely. Let's all keep doing everything we can - personally and collectively for these breeds and dogs who give us so much !!
  19. The panel of expert veterinarians and breeders at the Embark Canine Health Summit (15-16 Feb. 2021) discussed the importance of genetic diversity and population management in K9 Health and how to apply these practices to breeding programs.
  20. Dr. Brian Hare is a core member of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience, a Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology, and Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. His Keynote Address, Is Your Dog a Genius?, was delivered at the Embark Canine Health Summit on 15 February 2021.
  21. The epidemiology of stifle joint disease in an insured Swedish dog population Engdahl, K, Hanson, J, Bergström, A, Bonnett, B, Höglund, O, Emanuelson, U. Epidemiology of stifle joint disease in an insured Swedish dog population. Vet Rec. 2021;e197. Abstract Background: Stifle joint diseases (SJD) are common in dogs and include a variety of diagnoses. The objective of the study was to provide an overview of the epidemiology of SJD in insured dogs. Methods: An historical single cohort study of dogs insured in Agria Pet Insurance (2011–2016) in Sweden was performed. Incidence and relative risk (RR) of SJD was calculated for the whole dog population and for subgroups divided by breed, breed group and sex. Results: The study population included almost 600,000 insured dogs (>1.7 million dog-years). Ninety-three different stifle joint diagnoses were reported in 9624 dogs, and the most common were cruciate ligament rupture and patellar luxation. The incidence of SJD was 55.4 cases per 10,000 dog-years at risk. Bulldog and boerboel had the highest RR of SJD. The breeds that accounted for the highest proportion of all SJD claimed dogs were mixed breed and Labrador retriever. Female dogs had a slightly increased RR compared with male dogs(RR1.06,p = 0.006). The incidence increased yearly during the observation period. Conclusion: The study demonstrates breed-specific differences in incidence of SJD in dogs, which may be of importance for breeders, dog owners and veterinarians. excerpt... ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank Agria Pet Insurance for access to the database and especially Monica Dreijer, Peter Nord Andersson and Jan Mikael Yousif for support with data access and processing. The financial support from Agria Pet Insurance is gratefully acknowledged. Also see DWN's related content Breeds with Swedish Insurance Data Agria - IPFD Partner
  22. "As one of the first countries to notice the clinical significance of hip dysplasia (HD) as a developmental disorder resulting in arthritis, active research, and actions to reduce its prevalence have now been performed in Sweden for more than 60 years." Swedish Experiences From 60 Years of Screening and Breeding Programs for Hip Dysplasia—Research, Success, and Challenges Hedhammar A (2020) Swedish Experiences From 60 Years of Screening and Breeding Programs for Hip Dysplasia—Research, Success, and Challenges. Front. Vet. Sci. 7:228. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.00228 The results of the Swedish programs to address the severity and prevalence of HD speak for themselves - the dogs have benefited. "The successful reduction of HD in Swedish dogs since more than 60 years is well-illustrated in Figure 2." Snip from Figure 2 is shown below... Seems an interesting and sensible approach to tie-in information on cost benefit to management of orthopedic conditions. excerpt... "It was concluded that in screening and control programs, based on an open registry with access to family records, a cost-effective decrease in the prevalence of HD can be expected and is related to the selection of the breeding stock (11). The same positive effect was also proven for elbow arthrosis (12)."
  23. What are the Consequences of Inbreeding Dogs? Dr. Aaron J. Sams, Embark Senior Scientist The following lecture was given in February 2021 at Embark's Inaugural Canine Health Summit. More information on the Summit is available on DogWellNet. See: IPFD and the Canine Health Summit Feb 2021 by Embark Veterinary
  24. Epidemiology and clinical management of elbow joint disease in dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK excepts from the study... This study was conducted in the UK; it "shows that elbow joint disease is a relatively common diagnosis in dogs and has a high welfare impact. There are strong breed predispositions, in particular for large breed dogs." "The current study substantiated some previously reported breed-related variation in prevalence of elbow disease. The breeds with the highest prevalence were mainly large breeds and included Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd Dogs, and English Springer Spaniels." "The current study aimed to fill the information gap on the epidemiology of elbow joint disease by estimating the prevalence and incidence of elbow joint disease in dogs attending primary-care veterinary practice in the UK and evaluating breed as a risk factor for incident elbow joint disease. The study also aimed to report summary statistics on diagnostics, management and outcomes that can contribute to bench-marking for clinical audit and governance [34, 35]." For prospective buyers and owners: recognition that a "high proportion of cases recorded with pain, lameness and analgesic therapy. " Weight management and environmental factors as well as the genetic/heritable nature of orthopedic conditions should be considered. For Breeders: "These findings present a clear case for improved breeding programmes to reduce the burden of elbow joint disease in dogs." (See research below*) O’Neill, D.G., Brodbelt, D.C., Hodge, R. et al. Epidemiology and clinical management of elbow joint disease in dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK. Canine Genet Epidemiol 7, 1 (2020). * Frontiers | Effectiveness of Canine Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia Improvement Programs in Six UK Pedigree Breeds | Veterinary Science excerpts from the study... "This analysis of data from canine hip and elbow dysplasia screening schemes in the UK has demonstrated improvements in participation, phenotypic parameters and/or genetic trends for all breeds considered. Generally, greater progress was observed with respect to hip scores than elbow grades. The largest improvements in hip score data were observed in NEWF, which initially had the highest (poorest) scores. For some of the very popular breeds, for which hip dysplasia is a recognized problem (LR, GR, GSD), steady improvement was observed. In general, the changes observed in elbow grade parameters were less consistent and smaller although there were general increases detected in participation across breeds and an improving genetic trend was detected in five of the six breeds included. However, the genetic trend as determined by elbow grade EBVs was comparable with that for hip score in ROTT and exceeded it in BMD, perhaps revealing selection priorities of breeders." Citation: James HK, McDonnell F and Lewis TW (2020) Effectiveness of Canine Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia Improvement Programs in Six UK Pedigree Breeds. Front. Vet. Sci. 6:490. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00490 Received: 02 October 2019; Accepted: 10 December 2019; Published: 15 January 2020.
  25. Researchers discover new features of a gene defect that affects the length of the muzzle and caudal vertebrae in dogs Date: February 23, 2021 Source: University of Helsinki Summary: A recent genetic study provides new information on the occurrence of a DVL2 gene defect associated with a screw tail and its relevance to canine constitution and health. The variant was found in several Bulldog and Pit Bull type breeds, and it was shown to result in caudal vertebral anomalies and shortening of the muzzle. The DLV2 variant may also affect the development of the heart. Journal Reference: Julia E. Niskanen, Vilma Reunanen, Milla Salonen, Danika Bannasch, Anu K. Lappalainen, Hannes Lohi, Marjo K. Hytönen. Canine DVL2 variant contributes to brachycephalic phenotype and caudal vertebral anomalies. Human Genetics, 2021; DOI: 10.1007/s00439-021-02261-8
  26. In This Issue: News & Highlights Collaboration Creates a "Golden" Opportunity for a Beloved Retriever Breed Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  27. Line breeding in our chosen breed, the Black Russian Terrier used to be much more common than it is currently. It was done to set type before anyone really realized the damage done to health, in particular as related to autoimmune diseases and manifestations such as allergies. Fortunately, much education has taken place in our breed that discourages line breeding and things are getting better, but there is still a long way to go in education of both the general public and much of the old guard in our breed, particularly overseas. The awareness of genetic damage done through careless breeding is only a decade or two old at least on our breed. We can only hope that the genetic diversity that remains in our breed is sufficient to carry us into the future. Our breed was founded by the Russian Army and Red Star Kennels from about a dozen different breeds anyway. Perhaps someday we may have to use outcross techniques to restore genetic diversity. If we do, hopefully we will still be able to retain the positive characteristics of this most incredible breed of canine.
  28. This article talks about two common terms used in dog breeding, and as part of strategies for impacting genetic diversity. Though sometimes used interchangeably, and used to mean multiple different practices, understanding the differences in the terms and the potential application in breeding programs is one tool dog breeders can use to change and improve genetic diversity.
  29. Linebreeding vs. Inbreeding – Let’s be perfectly clear. Note: This topic was prompted partly by IPFD's participation in the Canine Health Summit put on by Embark Veterinary. See our Q&A article on breeding and genetics topics here. Inbreeding is the mating of related individuals – that is those who have one or more relatives in common. Linebreeding is not simply a form of inbreeding – it IS inbreeding. How close that inbreeding is depends on the selection of individuals within that line. Linebreeding/inbreeding - by definition - reduces genetic diversity. By how much depends on the closeness of mating pairs and the time/number of generations over which the process is repeated. It is scientifically proven and widely recognised that inbreeding/linebreeding in dogs has led to: An increase in the prevalence of inherited disorders A decrease in viability/ longevity A decrease in reproductive ability (reduced fecundity, decreased litter sizes, etc.) The loss of genetic diversity (i.e. decrease in genetic variation) Studies in various species have shown that inbreeding can also result in: developmental disruption, higher infant mortality a shorter life span and reduction of immune system function. And it is known that impaired immune function can lead to higher rates of cancer, and a myriad of other issues for skin, digestive, and other systems as well as resistance to infectious agents. Collectively, these effects of inbreeding/linebreeding are called inbreeding depression. Importantly, inbreeding depression increases as the extent of inbreeding/linebreeding increases. For example, see Inbreeding depression reduces litter sizes in golden retrievers. I was asked by a breeder at a lecture series, during a talk on breeding ethics, “What level of inbreeding is okay? Where is the cut-off for ‘too close’?” I asked the breeder, “Why do you want to do inbreeding/linebreeding? Do you think that will improve health and longevity?” Those at the seminar had previously stressed that their goal was to produce healthy, long-lived puppies. I suggested that inbreeding/linebreeding is generally done to fix certain characteristics in a line - ‘desirable’ characteristics. But what is desirable? Generally, linebreeding is on physical, conformational, or structural characteristics. Not necessarily, and perhaps rarely, primarily on characteristics associated with health and longevity. Therefore, the latter are unlikely to be achieved by inbreeding/linebreeding and will be reduced by the associated decrease in diversity. From the AKC article above: ”Want to add new things to improve the quality of your line? Outcross with a line that has those characteristics you want. Want to be sure to keep the great things you have? Breed closely to get a very consistent litter. When you know what you want, then you can plan to attempt to create the result you desire.” Maybe it is time to be transparent and honest. ‘What you see’ in any pedigree breed – appearance, health, length of life – is ‘what you got’ – a reflection of what was selected for – and what was not selected against – by those who bred them. If your primary goal is to produce healthy, long lived puppies – and that includes all the puppies in all litters – then you would first and foremost mate only from dogs that are themselves healthy, who come from a long line of relatives that are healthy and long-lived; from a long line of dogs that have not exhibited the deleterious conditions listed above as arising from inbreeding/linebreeding or any other conditions of significance in your breed. And you would want to be sure there was a history of great temperaments and breed-appropriate abilities. You would make sure that all the dogs in your line can see, and breath, and move without impediment, and are able to exhibit natural dog behaviours. This is not only the art and science, but the common sense of dog breeding. Once prioritized on those aspects, eliminate from breeding dogs with genetic or other screening results that indicate that they are likely to pass on detrimental traits. After that, only after that, you might do some selection on specific physical attributes. Is all that easy to achieve? No, but who ever said that manipulating the development and genetics of a species should be easy? And, unfortunately, within the breeding populations for many breeds, there may be rather few individuals who are as acceptable as is described above. If what you want is, however, consistency based on physical characteristics, then linebreeding and inbreeding may well give it to you. But, as history has proven, eventually, at a breed level it will often result in the increase in other characteristics, challenges, and issues - not likely to be primarily health and longevity. There are many questions about how to measure genetic diversity, how to determine it – really what is genetic diversity and how do we achieve it? There are no simple answers to those questions. There are major challenges in some breeds where characteristics associated with health and welfare problems are ‘fixed’ and can not be bred away from within a closed population. Here are some facts about genetic diversity: Genetic diversity cannot be achieved by selecting for conformity and consistency in appearance or specific physical traits – i.e. for a lack of diversity in appearance and physical characteristics. In other words, a lack of diversity in observable characteristics reflects a lack of genetic diversity. Eliminating from breeding dogs with variations in ‘minor’ characteristics that are not associated with poor health or function, e.g. many coat colour varieties that are simply deemed as undesirable, will reduce genetic diversity. (Recognizing that a few coat characteristics reflect deleterious mutations or fads. Interested in challenges around coat colours? See Ian Seaths' blog: Systems Thinking and Non-standard Breed Colours.) Diversity will always be reduced by inbreeding and linebreeding – the closer the mating pairs, the longer the linebreeding/inbreeding is followed, the bigger the effect. The ability to increase genetic diversity by breeding only within a closed population is limited, However, calculated measures of diversity may be inaccurate within a registry if only a small proportion of the available population is bred or included in calculations. Pedigree-based calculations of Coefficients of Inbreeding (COIs) – especially on a limited number of generations – underestimate inbreeding compared to genomic based COIs as they are based on average/ predicted inheritance of genetic material from ancestors, rather than the actual case for an individual dog. Measures of genetic diversity are one more tool to inform breeding for the ‘Big Picture’. (See my blog: The Big Picture - in the Dog World as a Whole and for your next Breeding Decision.) What can be done for your breed? There are increasing numbers of breed-specific research studies on genetic diversity. The whole picture for a breed cannot be understood by one calculation or measure done on a limited group of dogs. For an example of a broad-based, global picture, read, e.g.: Genomic diversity and population structure of the Leonberger dog breed. You do not need to focus on the details of the technology and methodology to get the main messages from this paper. For example: "Conclusions: The increasing size of the Leonberger population has been accompanied by a considerable loss of genetic diversity after the bottleneck that occurred in the 1940s due to the intensive use of popular sires resulting in high levels of inbreeding." and "The breed has predispositions to neurodegenerative disorders and cancer, which is likely due in large part to limited genetic diversity." Aaron Sams, expert in genetic diversity at Embark, was responding to a question on the summit that again, was someone knowing how much inbreeding was okay, what level was okay in a breed. And among other sage advice he said that ultimately the breeders and breed club must determine what they can 'tolerate'. And I would add that goes for all aspects of health and lack of it, and longevity issues. Bottom line – you get that for which you select, not that for which you wish. Let’s all be perfectly clear. Other resources on 1. Genetics Vocabulary - Glossary of Terms 2. Relationships between genetics, breeding practices and health in dogs - Grégoire Leroy (France)
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