Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bird Dog Rescue...

Two English Pointers rescued by the Illinois Bird Dog Rescue putting on a show!

Most of you have probably heard of dog rescue organizations before. Most are run by AKC breed clubs, or sometimes by independent groups or by local humane societies. But, the Illinois Bird Dog Rescue, Inc. is one of the few organizations specifically devoted to the rescue of American Field bred pointers and setters. For those of you who aren't necessarily looking for a big running bird dog that does everything perfect, but perhaps are looking for a nice "field-bred" companion, a buddy to hang out with and ride in the pick-up truck to the store, or maybe go out for a local hunt... the Illinois Bird Dog Rescue might be able to hook you up with a nice bird dog for a pretty reasonable deal. And, in the course of doing so, you might be saving a bird dog from the dog pound. Check out their website at

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Red Setter Shooting Dog Championship...

There has been a change in the supporting stakes for our fall Championship... please note... there will NOT be a puppy stake... instead, we will be offering a 30 minute SHOOTING DOG STAKE (horseback). The derby stake and the walking shooting dog stake are still on, as usual. Please note this change. An updated copy of the advertisement as it appears in the Whip can be downloaded for printing as a PDF file by going to the link below...

Thanks much, Al Faze

Red Setter Ch Bearcat

A product of the Purest Challenge

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ride Needed For Red Setter Rescue...

We are attempting to move a dog from Pepperell MA to Naples FL. This is a rescue red setter that is currently being held by a rescue person. We have former red setter club member and field trialer, Bob Peterson, who is willing to take the dog. Bob (you old red setter folks probably remember Bob... his kennel name was Kaymar Kennels) is now retired and living on a fixed pension in Naples area, and doesn't have the resources to pay to transport the dog. So, we are putting this out in the hopes that perhaps some folks moving south for the winter might be able to help us out. If you think you might be able to help out, please contact the editor of the Flushing Whip (Deb) at or call her cell at 440-969-0567. Thanks for any help you might be able to offer! (Please feel free to crosspost this if you are on other listservs) Thanks, Al Faze

Boom of Kaymar

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ohio Red Setter FTC results and pics...

The Ohio Red Setter Field Trial Club held its fall renewal at the Grand River Wildlife Management Area the weekend of October 11 and 12. We were blessed with beautiful weather and a respectable turnout of 65 entries. Here are some pics and results...

Open Walking Puppy

1st: Lizzie (Terry Friedle)
2nd Doc (Scott Ptak)
3rd Ace (Chris Howerton)

Open Walking Derby

1st: Joy (Ed Bartlett)
2nd Norton (Ed Morgan)
3rd Mac (Joe Berardi)

Open Walking Shooting Dog (sorry, no pics)
1st Libby (Ed Bartlett)
2nd Ace (Jesse Chapman)
3rd Wanda (Chris Catanzerite)

Jack Carter Am Walking Shooting Dog

1st Mac (Allen Fazenbaker)
2nd Scarlett (Joe Kusmyrziak)
3rd Mac (Joe Kusmyrziak)

Open HB Derby

1st Rex (Carl Bishop)
2nd Chad (Roger Boser)
3rd Bess (Jesse Chapman)

Open HB Shooting Dog

1st Jade (Carl Bishop)
2nd Brett (Carl Bishop)
3rd Tess (Tim McClurg)

Thanks to everyone who helped make our fall renewal a success!

Al Fazenbaker

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Red Setters in the Northern Woods

Moxi, a three year old Red Setter taking a break after a couple of hours in the woods. If Moxi's owner was a better shot there would have been a bag limit in this photo. Moxi had made about 10 contacts by this "point" in the day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We will be vindicated...

For over 50 years the National Red Setter Field Trial Club has been chastised by various breed clubs and breeders for their open adimission of the necessity of using crossbreeding as a valid tool in the breeding and improvement of the Irish red setter. In more recent times, however, advances in canine genetics and an increasing knowledge of population genetics is bringing about a new understanding of the importance of looking at multiple tools in the improvement of canine breeds. Geneticists and veterinarians are increasingly calling for a new paradigm in how dogs are bred and registered. The Victorian concept of the closed registry and its notorious concept of "breed purity" is being increasingly questioned, as modern genetics discounts the illusion of purebreed dogs.

Last September a veterinarian in Ontario Canada published a very timely and informative article on the issues of closed registries. The article is presented here for your information. Anyone who cares about the Purest Challenge needs to read this article, for it vindicates our efforts. Ned LeGrande was ahead of his time.

Ned LeGrande, co-founder

National Red Setter Field Trial Club

Article also available on the internet at

A new direction for kennel club regulations and breed standards.
by Koharik Arman, DVM

Can Vet J. 2007 September; 48(9): 953–965

More than 500 genetic defects exist in today’s purebred dogs (1). Inherited diseases such as hip dysplasia, brachycephalic airway syndrome, cardiomyopathies, endocrine dysfunctions, blood disorders, and hundreds more, affect the quality of life and longevity of these dogs. Over 400 breeds currently exist, but they are artificial constructs of human fancy, instead of the evolutionary outcome of natural selection (2,3). The wide array of genetic diseases found in purebred dogs reflects their unnatural development, by kennel club associations and breeders who are largely responsible for this welfare predicament (2,46).
Veterinarians have also facilitated the progression of this situation, and as knowledgeable animal health care professionals, they must partake in its resolution (
1,4). Hopefully, dog owners, responsible breeders, veterinarians, and animal welfare scientists can assert enough pressure to convince the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), and other breeder associations, to re-evaluate and redefine their breed standard regulations to end the inbreeding that causes so many genetic problems (79).
Several aspects of purebred inherited diseases must be investigated to determine what changes need to be made in current breeding practices, and how these changes can be implemented effectively. The historical role of dog fancies, modern kennel club breed standards, breeding methods, and canine genetics must be explored to understand the main causes of the problem and how it can be resolved. Pertinent breeder and veterinarian ethical responsibilities should also be considered.


By definition, a canine breed consists of individuals that meet 3 criteria: 1) they are descended from a particular founding stock, or ancestry, 2) they have a utility for which they serve humans, and 3) they have a typology that ensures a similar physical appearance to other members of the breed (2,3). In order for the dogs to be functional, healthy, and even-tempered, equal emphasis must be placed on all 3 components (3). Throughout the 19th century, however, dog show and kennel club administrators pushed for the morphological perfection of dog breeds by insisting on rigid adherence to the rules of typology and ancestry. No importance was placed on the utility and health of purebred dogs (3,6,8,9).
Historically, dogs were used for various tasks, such as hunting, guarding, and herding. Some dogs, because of particular morphological traits, were more adept than others at certain tasks. Having made the association between utility and physical characteristics, dogs were selectively bred for desired purposes. Thus, early ‘breeds’ evolved that are the ancestors of today’s dog breeds. Through the centuries, intermittent inbreeding further refined dog breeds, so that desired physical and behavioral traits became increasingly heritable. The purebred principle and strict breeding rules, however, were not introduced until the late 19th century.
The western concept of breeds is recorded in Caius’s Treatise of English Dogges from 1570 (
6,10). The first official dog show took place in 1859, and the English Kennel Club was founded in London in 1873. Dog breeding and showing evolved into a popular sport, and as new typologies were discovered, they were aggressively developed into novel breeds. During the Victorian era, a pedigree system was established, and the canine gene pool rapidly became depleted as inbreeding, line breeding, and over-use of sires became common practice (6,10). Rigid regulations, fixed breed standards, and the disproportionate significance attributed to typology dictated the development of these breeding methods; unfortunately, the remarkable plasticity of the canine genome facilitated the development of such morphologically diverse breeds (24,6,8,9,11,12). Today, many of the resultant dog breeds are no longer capable of performing the tasks for which they were originally bred, due to the anatomical and/or physiological deformations that kennel clubs have imposed upon them (3,13).
Many kennel clubs worldwide still prescribe to conservative, centuries’ old ideologies and traditions that are harmful to the canine species. For example, current CKC Breed Standards do not represent the complete, holistic definition of the canine breed that was previously mentioned, and the CKC continues to sanction the evolution of purebreds that are caricatures of the original breeds. The CKC states that breeders should “select breeding stock that conforms to the approved CKC Breed Standard to the highest possible degree,” but these standards consist of exhaustive guidelines that detail the esthetic requirements of each breed (
7). The American Kennel Club (AKC) advocates the “advance[ment] of canine health and well-being,” but AKC Breed Standards also overemphasize typology, which is not conducive to advancing canine health (14). These ongoing attempts to create the ultimate canine conformation, with continually elevated ideals, are precisely what result in detrimentally exaggerated physiques and diseased animals.
Such principles beg the question, why promote the concept of the hypothetically superior purebred? Historically, humans have always been fascinated with the idea of purity and elite hierarchy. Examples include the royal families of Ancient Egypt, Hawaii, Thailand, and Peru that practiced incest for various reasons, such as to avoid marriage below their social class (
11,6). Later, during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period, many European dynasties kept bloodlines pure via familial intermarriage in order to concentrate family wealth and increase political influence (15,6). A myriad of inherited diseases ensued, particularly amongst British and Spanish royalty, including hemophilia, mental disorders, and physical deformities (11,6). But the genetics of disease was still unknown, and the desire for purity did not stop with our own species. A superior canine strain, or breed purity, was considered attainable by “breeding the best to the best” (6,4). Eventually, Charles Darwin coined the term “artificial selection,” to describe how humans were influencing inherited traits in other species, effectively replacing the naturally occurring mechanisms that select for genetic fitness (16).
The concept of canine breed purity, and the artificial breeding methods that ensued, have now existed for almost 2 centuries (
6). Breed development, as it is practiced today, consists of 4 stages. The 1st stage is the Founding Event — a finite number of individuals are chosen from a source population to contribute the genetic material for the breed. The 2nd stage is Isolation — the breed must be genetically isolated from other canines, so that random exchange of genetic material cannot take place. The 3rd stage is Inbreeding, which is defined as the mating of 2 closely related individuals that share common ancestors (17). The 4th stage, is Artificial Selection — Inbreeding alone does not result in desired typology and elimination of unwanted qualities. Thus, individuals from early generations are selected, so that only those possessing desired traits may reproduce. These 4 steps create a new genome, with traits that can be reproduced by the breed itself in a reliable and consistent manner (3). This phenomenon is made possible because of the lack of phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity that the breeder attains in the new genome. According to general breeding philosophy, “Inbreeding … is a method of holding fast to that which is good and of casting out that which is bad. It establishes homozygous purity …” (18).
The number of individuals used as founding stock, and how closely related they are, is paramount to the genetic health of the breed. Unfortunately, many breeds originate from a limited few individuals, often siblings or half-siblings that are already inbred to an extent. The advent of pedigree systems in the 1800s, developed by kennel clubs with the goal of breed improvement, adds another genetic obstacle to already compromised breeds. Breed registries are only open for a short period during the Founding Event; then they are closed. No individuals may be registered to the breed unless they are descended from the founding stock; thus, no new genetics are brought in. Kennel club regulations create and sustain artificial ‘bottleneck’ conditions. Additionally, at the level of individual breeders, inbreeding techniques, or ‘line-breeding’ methods, continue to be used in pursuit of improving their individual stock. Rather than using inbreeding solely as a technique to rapidly develop new typologies to be registered as breeds, it is also standard practice for successful dog breeding:
“My approach would be to identify an outstanding, dominant stud dog. Let’s call him ‘Shadrack.’ To improve the odds I’d buy or lease three bitches whose grandsire on the dam’s side was the same as Shadrack’s sire. Let’s call the grandsire ‘Fashion Hint.’ I would breed the Fashion Hint bitches to Shadrack. Assume, in this first generation, that I get three nice bitches. For the second generation, I’d breed them to a half-brother of these three bitches (Shadrack’s son, also a dominant sire). For the third generation, several ‘mix and match’ options include going back to Fashion Hint or Shadrack. I could also do brother-to-sister or father-to-daughter breeding” (
One may now ask, with the advancement of medical knowledge and technology, “What would a scientific assessment of Kennel Club philosophies and breeding methods reveal?” Current genetic evidence refutes the theory of inbreeding for typological traits to achieve breed purity (
18,19). Population genetics is the tool that exposes the fallacy of purebred dogs and, hopefully, it can also be the tool with which the canine species is revitalized. Population genetics is used to calculate gene frequencies, and the frequencies of alternative alleles within genes, both of which are integral to assessing the health of a species.
An individual canine’s genotype will dictate the production of specific structural and functional proteins, and in combination with environmental influences, result in individual phenotypes, or visible outcomes (
1,20). If both parents supply the same allele for a particular gene, then the offspring is regarded as homozygous for a specific trait. If the alleles supplied by each parent are different, then the offspring is heterozygous for that trait. Heterozygosity is an important occurrence for species’ fortitude and survival (1). The Hardy-Weinberg Principle describes how a natural balance, in most species, maintains a high degree of genotypic heterozygosity in order to preserve genetic fitness and, hence, species’ health (2,4,18,19). High rates of homozygosity can occur in nature due to “bottleneck situations,” such as a limited gene pool in island populations, but in canines, homozygosity is deliberately accomplished by people trying to achieve specific breed standards. Many desired breed traits are recessive, rather than dominant, and require that both copies of the inherited alleles be the same for the trait to be expressed phenotypically. Individuals selected for consistent expression of alleles specific to desired physical traits results in offspring that are homozygous.
Breed purity and genotypic homozygosity is harmful to canine health because it requires inbreeding and results in an abnormally high occurrence of inherited diseases. Unfortunately, when breeders selectively “double up” on desired traits for physical conformation, they also double up on genes that can result in decreased fitness and increased disease. All individuals carry deleterious genes, but they are usually inherited in a heterozygous state and, therefore, not expressed. Because these genes are ordinarily recessive, there is no detrimental impact on health (
4). In effect, a heterozygous state frequently confers a selective advantage by creating a larger store of genetic variability. Deleterious alleles are still present in heterozygous populations; however, when infrequent homozygosity of these genes occurs naturally, the individuals are eliminated through natural selection, due to their inferior fitness. The existence of deleterious alleles in a population, therefore, does not affect a species’ overall fitness (3).
The doubling up of both good and bad genes, occurs through linkage disequilibrium where alleles at 2 or more sites (loci), not necessarily on the same chromosome, do not assort independently of each other. Consequently, when breeders select for preferred traits, which are often inherently harmful, in addition to obtaining the “good” gene, they also select for or against every other gene that is specifically linked to the desired typology (
12). The resultant purebreds possess homozygous genes for naturally occurring lethal, sublethal, and subvital alleles; hence, the existence of 500 genetic defects amongst purebred dogs (2,3). Such breeding practices do not have the welfare of the individual dogs at heart; rather, they reflect humans’ pursuit of recognition in the show world, and prosperity in sales (6).
The genetic damage, or the inbreeding depression, that occurs due to these breeding methods can be measured by using a formula referred to as Wright’s Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI) (
19). Inbreeding depression is the complex of behavioral, physical, and reproductive problems that result from abnormally homogeneous genotypes, as previously described. The COI is used to calculate the statistical probability that 2 random alleles at a certain locus are identical by common ancestry; this coefficient can range from 0% to 100% (17). Complete manual calculation of a COI is an exhaustive task, but computer pedigree software such as CompuPed greatly facilitates the process (21). Many breed Founder events incorporated so few individuals that, if the COIs of all current members of such a breed are calculated all the way back to the Founders, the COIs will only vary by a fraction of 1%. In a natural population, 2 arbitrarily selected individuals should have a COI of 0%, but many dog breeds today average COIs significantly greater than 25%, if only 10 generations are included in the calculation (17,19). For example, over 80% of the DNA of the 10 000 existing Portugese water dogs comes from the 6 individuals used when the breed was founded. The COIs for Portugese water dogs range from 0% to 60% (12).
Recent studies have demonstrated that for every 10% increase in COI, there is a 7% decrease in litter size and median life span, and that any COI above 9% pushes perilously past the genetic threshold of health (
2). Wright’s Coefficient of Relationship (RC), measures the degree of genetic relation between 2 individuals (2). Normally, 2 random individuals in a population will have an RC of 0, and 2 siblings will have an RC of 50%. In many dog breeds, 2 randomly chosen individuals will have an RC above 50%, which is a degree of genetic relation greater than that of 2 siblings. Two purebred siblings will frequently have an RC measure greater than 80%, which is unheard of except in the case of identical twins (RC = 100%). The alarming reality is that “unrelated” purebreds today are actually genetically related to a greater extent than individuals that are truly related.
Now, with a basic understanding of the genetic truth of breed purity, myriad causes can be implicated in generating the high RC and COI values seen in today’s dog breeds, and the resultant effects on canine health can be fully appreciated. Another matter to consider is that the desired traits that breeders select for are often detrimental to breed health. Examples include the purposeful breeding of chondrodysplastic bulldogs, because their morphology is perceived as cute, or selecting for defective development of the embryonic neural canal because the ridge of stiff hair on the back of a Rhodesian ridgeback is considered attractive. In this sense, inherited disease is not only being manifested in purebreds accidentally, but is also being deliberately cultivated in many breeds.
Present medical knowledge and genetic research provide a definitive answer to the question, what does a scientific analysis of breed purity reveal? The answer is that purebred dogs present us with an urgent welfare issue that needs to be resolved. What constitutes adequate welfare for canines? A useful framework for assessing animal welfare is the “five freedoms” that were established in 1965 (

I. Freedom from thirst, hunger, and malnutrition
II. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease
III. Freedom from fear and distress
IV. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort
V. Freedom to perform most normal forms of behavior

Framework for assessing animal welfare
So, are kennel clubs, breeders, and veterinarians morally responsible for the current state of health of the canine purebred population? Yes, as this investigation has established, kennel clubs are strongly implicated in having created and sustained an unhealthy purebred situation. Kennel clubs such as the CKC control the actions of registered breeders and, thus, have direct responsibilities toward the animals and the breeders. The CKC acknowledges this responsibility and declares that a breeder must “as the owner of a stud dog, ensure that the owner of the dam has the ability and the necessary facilities to successfully whelp, raise, and assure the future well being of any resulting litter” (
23). Of course, with various breeds now unable to survive and complete parturition unless a cesarean is performed, it would seem that this guideline is not well enforced. The CKC also decrees that breeders must “use dogs that are known to be of sound health and stable temperament” (23), but many registered breeds in the CKC are afflicted by behavioral disorders, and the sheer existence of many breed conformations directly violates the principle of ‘sound health’ (13). Scores of violations of the “five freedoms” are committed against purebred dogs by breeders following the kennel club guidelines that dictate the manner in which these dogs are created.
So where should kennel clubs like the CKC go from here? How should the purebred be redefined, so that health and utility are equal to type? And how can individual breeders modify their professional tactics in a manner that incorporates suitable canine welfare standards?
The most important change to be initiated is the opening of all dog breed registries to allow an increase in genetic variation (
3). Additionally, the CKC and other kennel clubs should follow the example of the agriculture industry and set minimum numbers for foundation stocks during breed establishment (“Establishment of a New Breed of Animals in Canada”) (24). Agricultural producers are motivated to select for superior genetics in their animals; however, they realized that the production value of their stock would rapidly deteriorate due to the health problems ensuing from inbreeding and creating COIs greater than 9%. The minimum number of animals used as foundation stock for a new breed, filial generation 3 (the 3rd generation of offspring–F3) was stipulated at 200 animals (unique genotypes). In order to reach the required 200 animals in F3, and provide a sufficiently wide genetic base, the recommended minimum number of animals to be used in the Fl generation is 60, and in F2, 100. Use of these methods will produce COIs less than 9%. If dog breeders were to be subjected to a similar Foundation stock regulation, the frequency of heritable diseases seen in purebred dogs would decrease, and eventually many diseases would be eliminated.
If kennel clubs permit increased genetic variety amongst registered dog breeds, the inbreeding depression that is so rampant today will eventually decline (
11). “Canine breeds can and should be differentiated, bred, and maintained on a dynamically balanced, heterozygous population basis without restriction to a closed, historic founder group” (18). Many responsible breeders are saddened by the condition of their dogs, but are unable to remedy the situation because kennel clubs bar the introduction of new genetic methodologies (25,3). The purpose of cynological associations is to facilitate the work of dog breeders, rather than impede it. Breeders should be allowed to determine where outcross animals may best be obtained for specific breeds, in order to improve their dogs’ health. Kennel clubs should not only permit genetic improvement, but they should also reinforce it. In order to motivate breeders to increase their genetic pools, kennel clubs must also redefine their breed standards to include health, vigor, and temperament, in addition to typology. To enforce the maintenance of genetic improvement, tools such as DNA analysis are available and should be used by breed associations to monitor heterozygosity and relationships in major lines by random DNA testing (16,19). To introduce new breeds, assortative breeding, rather than inbreeding and line breeding can be implemented (2,3,18).
The Africanis Society of Southern Africa is an excellent example of an ethically responsible canine association. Its purpose is to conserve the Africanis dog, rather than to artificially develop the breed and further segregate it into various subvarieties to create new breeds. The Canis africanis is dubbed a “land race,” because it has evolved through natural selection and is physically and mentally adapted to its environment. The heterogeneity of the various Canis africanis ecotypes is valued for the fitness it imparts to them. This land race is an excellent example of how nature will “breed” dogs that are capable of adapting to changes in their environment, resistant to common parasites and diseases, and principally free of inherited diseases. The Africanis Society maintains a strict code of ethics, and all registered dogs are inspected and approved. There is a standard DNA testing policy to avoid differentiation of morphological types and to preserve the gene pool as a heterogeneic entity (
A combination of qualities from the ‘purebred’ dog and the ‘land race’ could potentially provide a suitable compromise between breeders’ desires and welfare considerations for registered dog breeds. Various kennel clubs already incorporate DNA testing programs within their registry, but they are typically optional and are generally utilized for verification of pedigree authenticity. The AKC has actually advanced the movement of breeder education and continues to make significant contributions to the growing supply of information regarding canine inherited disease. The AKC Canine Health Foundation focuses on genetic research and veterinary outreach programs that seek to improve the relationship between veterinarians and breeders (
27,28). Despite the rigid regulations on genetic variation that still exist, the AKC is beginning to move in an appropriate welfare direction by acknowledging and researching canine hereditary diseases. Other kennel clubs must also progress in a similar fashion, and abandon the Victorian ideas that created the foundation of the dog breeding and showing industry. Veterinarians can work with kennel clubs to improve breed health, make appropriate modifications to club standards and regulations, and educate all persons involved.
Veterinarians also bear some responsibility for the welfare situation of purebred dogs. In fact, the veterinary profession has facilitated the evolution of purebred dogs. ‘Breeds’ that would not normally be sustainable are propagated by the compliance of veterinarians to breeder wishes. Breeds such as the bulldog cannot complete parturition without surgical intervention, and dogs with severe hip dysplasia would be euthanized if they could not have their hips surgically corrected. Dogs such as pugs, and cocker spaniels would not make practical pets without veterinary management of their skin conditions. In this fashion, the veterinary profession contributes to canine genetic depletion, and even if this were not the case, it is still the professions responsibility to partake in the solution.
As veterinarians, we should do our utmost to ensure that dogs attain the 5 freedoms (
2,5,23). Veterinarians, however, are presented with ethical obligations to both humans and animals, which significantly complicates ethical decision-making. Identifying all relevant parties involved, both human and animal, can be a helpful starting point for the veterinarian to evaluate his or her conduct when presented with an ethical issue. In the welfare scenario of the purebred dog, there are 4 viewpoints to consider. First is the welfare of the dogs, 2nd is the welfare of the owners, 3rd is the welfare of the veterinarian, and 4th is the welfare of the breeders.
Veterinarians do have some guidance, however, when considering to what extent the welfare of purebred dogs should be weighed in comparison with the welfare of owners and breeders, and what stance to take as a medical professional. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) represents veterinarians across Canada. The CVMA states that it “opposes the selective breeding of dogs resulting in changes in body form, function or temperament, that are detrimental to the health and quality of life of the dog or that have a negative impact on its behaviour towards people and/or other dogs,” and it “also encourages a review of breed standards under the Canadian Kennel Club to put an emphasis on the well-being of dogs, and revise requirements that result in inherent welfare problems” (
29). In addition, the Canadian veterinary oath states that veterinarians will work to relieve animal suffering in keeping with veterinary ethics (30). Our ethical duty, as veterinarians, is to provide beneficence and justice to our patients, and to protect their autonomy (22). Purebred breeding methods replace nature’s role and condemn purebred dogs to live with health and/or behavioral problems. Deliberate manipulation of a dog’s genome, the essence of its life, is an extreme violation of its autonomy. The 500 genetic diseases that have been documented to date are merely a starting point, and it is irrefutable that these defects cause pain and suffering to the dogs that bear them (31). Dog breeding principles do not provide beneficence to the dogs; on the contrary, they result in many injustices to them.
It is obvious that breeding methods resulting in genetic diseases affect the welfare of dog owners both emotionally and monetarily. It is devastating for the owner who brings home an 8-week-old shih tzu puppy only to discover 4 wk later that his or her beloved puppy has a large ventricular septal defect that has a grave prognosis. Many owners have no concept of the potential health obstacles that their newly purchased purebred dog may have to face, and they may have made very different decisions in their pet search had they anticipated the financial and emotional grief that could ensue. For dogs that require surgical intervention, continuing pharmacological management, or behavioral therapy, the stresses that are experienced by owners are numerous. Organizing and conducting multiple visits to the veterinary office for the treatment of genetic diseases imposes on the owner’s valuable time, perhaps their work, and certainly on their finances. Seeing their dog suffer physical or mental pain is emotionally taxing, even if the condition is medically manageable. Diseases that are manageable are the best-case scenario, but even then there are owners who simply cannot afford the necessary treatment(s), and end up surrendering their dog to a shelter, euthanizing it, or, alternatively, keeping it without providing treatment. Such situations are far too common, and are clearly difficult for owners to experience. These instances also depict the consequences of genetic disease on the welfare of dogs: living without treatment, undergoing the disruption of leaving home to enter an animal shelter, or being euthanized.
As veterinarians, we are responsible for both owner and patient interests, and it is clear that purebred breeding methods compromise the welfare of both parties. However, there are also the interests of breeders and our own welfare as veterinarians. Breeders may be very attached to their breed of dog and will not enjoy receiving negative commentary. Current breed standards give breeders financial incentive to continue using inbreeding methods, and until breed standards are amended, it may be difficult to convince breeders otherwise. However, no matter how great the breeders’ financial reward for producing purebred dogs, our primary duty as veterinarians should be the improvement of our patients’ welfare and in meeting the needs of the owners, even if it compromises the breeders’ business. Similarly, veterinarians must not allow the financial contribution of purebred health issues to veterinary clinics to outweigh the welfare of their patients and clients.
If veterinarians continue to treat the health problems of purebred dogs without taking the time and effort to educate the owners and breeders about the underlying genetic issues involved, changes in the breeding industry will never take place. Change will occur when there are financial incentives. For example, there are currently no market forces to dissuade the breeding of dogs that require cesarean births, because both breeders and veterinarians benefit financially from the situation (
31). Change needs to begin at the level of the consumer, because when public awareness of purebred dog welfare increases, consumer dissatisfaction will demand improvements from the industry, and breeders will be economically motivated to comply. Veterinarians should make ongoing efforts to keep up-to-date with new genetic information available, and should make client and breeder education a routine part of his or her practice. This can be accomplished via communication in the examination room, especially when a client is discussing the purchase of a new dog. It can involve methods such as placing informative brochures in the clinic waiting area, incorporating articles and fact sheets in clinic newsletters, writing articles for the opinion section of the local newspaper, and providing educational seminars for local breeders.


The health of purebred dogs is such that the level of occurrence of genetically inherited defects is unacceptably high (
31). Many changes within breed associations must be initiated to improve this welfare situation: this must be made a priority. Changes should include the following: 1) revision of Breed Standards so that equal emphasis is placed on function, utility, and type, 2) discouragement of selection for physical traits that are overtly detrimental to breed health, 3) obtaining of breed registries to introduce new genetics in all breeds, 4) institution of regulations on Founder population numbers of new breeds and upper COI limits allowable in registered dogs, and 5) the use of modern technology to monitor breeder compliance with new regulations. As stated by the late Dr. George Padgett, “if we want to make any impact in controlling genetic disease in dogs, we must agree that an ethical approach is based on fairness, openness, and honesty. While traditions are important to us and should remain important, they should be changed if they conflict with the exercise of our ethics as dog breeders” (32).
As veterinarians, we have a moral obligation to participate in the control of genetic disease. The high frequency of genetic disease that has developed in purebred dogs over the last century has resulted in the desensitization of society and veterinarians to the resultant welfare issues to such an extent that the production of anatomically deformed dogs, such as pugs and daschunds, is neither shocking nor considered abnormal. To the contrary, it is taken for granted as part of a typical day as a veterinarian to see such dogs paraded in and out of the clinic for treatment of their problems. But there is no need for the sad state of our purebred dogs to be considered normal, and there is no reason that it cannot be changed. It simply requires initiative and effort on the part of veterinarians, breeders, and breed associations. Rather than endlessly treating inherited diseases, hoping that we give some level of comfort to our patients and make their lives a bit easier, we should work on preventing such poor states of health before they occur. It is our job, for who else will look out for the welfare of our loyal canine companions, other than veterinarians?

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

British Kennel Club requests statutory power to regulate breeders...

Big Brother has come to the registries. After a series of documentaries last month blasting the KC of Britain for its continuing support of bench breeds and their multiple genetic problems, the KC is now reacting to the storm of public opinion by launching a new initiative designed to "improve the genetic health" of the various breeds. The KC is embarking on a breed by breed review, and also requesting statutory power from the government to regulate all dog breeders in the UK, and to make it illegal for any breeder to sell or breed dogs who is not in compliance with the statutory regulations.

I think it's very ironic that the KC (a closed registry with a major emphasis on bench shows and conformation selection) is now the agency in charge of cleaning up the genetic mess found in many of the bench oriented gene pools. That's like hiring the fox to guard the henhouse! Somebody out there just doesn't get it. It's not the KC... they do get it... look at the baskets of money they will make on this latest scheme. Let's see... the KC sets all health agendas for each breed, controls and regulates those health agendas, obtains punitive measures to eliminate those who don't want to play their game, develops and reaps the profits for the myriad of genetic tests that will no doubt be a part of this scheme, and the money will role in! Yes, the KC does get it... but the general population sure doesn't. Imagine your breeding program being controlled and steered by the regulatory edicts of a closed registry who's major focus is producing dogs who will look pretty in the show ring. What a disgusting and ignoble thought. But, certainly in our current culture, where dogs have been elevated to the status of near human, I think that anything is possible.

Celtic's Superfund honors a point by Celtic's Sedition. These working dogs are products of the Purest Challenge.

Breed selection should be based upon the breed performance of the gene pool. All dog breeds were created by cultures in the past to do a specific job. And, it's exactly that job that should be driving the selection traits. Furthermore, those traits should be determined by a performance based breeder, one who demonstrates his or her competance by competing with his or her dogs in performance events. Trotting around in the ring with a pretty bow and a handler with some pretty clothes doesn't get the job done. Breeding for those shows in fact is why we have so many breeds with horrible genetic issues... bulldogs with smashed in faces, Irish setters with epilepsy, boxers with heart disease, the list goes on and on. If these breeds were still out there DOING THE JOB THEY WERE CREATED TO DO, those genetic issues would not exist to the extent that they do today, because performance-based selection culls those genes out of the population. For example, the boxer was originally bred to be a fighter, and to hunt and hold large prey such as wild boar or bisen. They should be courageous and furious fighters, with strong prey drive, trainability, physical strength and stamina, and be loyal to their owner/handlers. How many boxers are selected for these traits? Probably less than the number of Irish setters selected for their hunting ability.

A boxer from working lines attacking during a "courage" test.

A boxer from the show ring

And that doesn't even address the issue of a dog registry dictating what I want to do with my breeding program. As is typical of most beaurocratic (and clueless) entities, the KC is throwing out the baby with the bath water. In its zeal to control public opinion (and make LOTS of money), the KC will be given a lot of regulatory power that it doesn't and shouldn't have. We don't need more regulation... we need LESS. Maybe it's time for the Brits to have another Boston Tea party... tops on that menu should be the conformation shows. Get rid of them, and let the working canine breeders run the breeding operations, and you'll take care of the majority of the genetic issues out there. And, here's a little message to the AKC, which I'm sure is eyeballing this entire spectacle with a close eye on the possibility of making more MONEY...


from the net reports...

Kennel Club to Clamp Down on Breeders to Safeguard Health of Pedigree Dogs

The Kennel Club is launching a complete review of every pedigree dog breed in the UK in a move that will have far-reaching benefits for the health of many breeds. It has also called on the government to give it the statutory powers to clamp down on breeders who fail to make a dog’s health their top priority.
A breed health plan will be coordinated for each of the UK’s 209 pedigree breeds and will benefit from the extensive research that has been funded by the Kennel Club in conjunction with renowned veterinary research centres over the past 40 years. This will include updated breed standards to ensure that no dog is bred for features that might prevent it from seeing, walking and breathing freely. Judges will be fully briefed on the new breed standards so that only the healthiest dogs are rewarded in the show ring.
The Kennel Club is releasing the first of these new breed standards today, for the
Pekingese, and has taken a tough line with the breed following extensive and abortive consultations. This is set to radically improve the health of the Pekingese which for nearly a hundred years was bred to have a flat face; a feature which can lead to breathing problems; under the new health plan the breed will be required to have a defined muzzle.
The breed health plans, which are scheduled to be completed by early next year, will also incorporate the results of a thorough, ongoing analysis of the health status and genetic diversity of each breed, drawing on results from the world’s largest dog health survey, conducted by the
Animal Health Trust and funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust in 2004. This will ensure that breeders and buyers are aware of the health tests that should be carried out for each breed. The final part of the plans will look at ways breeders can expand the gene pool of the breed.
In order to ensure that the plans are effective and reach all dogs, the Kennel Club has called on the government to give it statutory powers to make its established
Accredited Breeder Scheme compulsory throughout the country. If successful, this would mean that all breeders who are not part of the scheme and who have not officially confirmed their willingness to follow the health standards set by the Kennel Club would be unable to produce or sell puppies within the law.
Additionally, breed clubs are now required to adopt the Kennel Club’s Code of Ethics, to ensure that their practices fall in line with Kennel Club policy for putting the health and welfare of puppies first. This includes a clause that explicitly forbids the compulsory culling of healthy puppies.
To complement these steps the Kennel Club is developing plans for a new Canine Genetics Centre. This will be run in conjunction with the
Animal Health Trust, confirming the Kennel Club’s commitment to research into inherited diseases and the provision of DNA testing programmes which identify the genes underlying inherited health problems.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The groundswell of public attention on the very important matters surrounding dog breeding is a welcomed momentum that will enable us to drive through, with added urgency, new and extended initiatives that will help to safeguard the health of our pedigree dogs. We have been listening and agree with the general public’s view that more needs to be done.
“Steps such as our breed health plans will enable us to ensure that the health of every dog is the number one priority and we are taking a tougher line with breed clubs by adjusting those breed standards that fail to promote good health. By asking the government for statutory powers we will be able to take a tougher line with all breeders and breed clubs that fail to abide by our high standards. This in turn will enable us to extend the reach of our Accredited Breeder Scheme, which is the quality control mechanism within our registration process, so that all dogs will be bred by people who abide by our stringent rules and regulations for the breeding of healthy, happy dogs.
“We have been working hard in recent years to identify and address health problems that exist in dogs, and we are taking advantage of the opportunities that advances in science have given us to improve dog health. We look forward to continuing our work with various institutions and organisations that share the same objective: to protect the health and welfare of all dogs.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gene Linked To Common Ailment In Labs Identified

From ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2008) — Researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine have identified a gene in Labrador retriever dogs highly associated with the syndrome of exercise-induced collapse (EIC). After intense hunting or retrieving exercise, activities these dogs are trained to perform, affected Labradors start to lose control of their hind limbs. In most cases, their legs get wobbly and the limbs give out, and in rare cases the dogs may die. Labradors are the most common dog breed in the world and an estimated 3-5 percent of Labradors have this condition. The research is published in the journal Nature Genetics.
The research team identified a mutant form of the dynamin 1 gene as highly associated with EIC. The dynamin 1 protein normally functions to maintain proper chemical communication between adjacent nerves, also known as synaptic transmission. However, the mutated form of the dynamin protein appears to have diminished function, interrupting synaptic transmission during intense exercise, and causing the muscle-controlling nerves to not fire when directed to do so.
"This is very exciting because it is the first naturally occurring mutation of this gene identified in any mammal," said James Mickelson, Ph.D, professor of veterinary sciences at the University of Minnesota and co-principal investigator on the study. "Its discovery could offer insight into normal as well as abnormal neurobiology in both animals and humans."
Researchers also determined that up to 30 percent of Labrador retrievers are carriers of the mutation, and they developed a genetic test to indicate whether dogs have the normal or mutated forms of the gene.
"The test can not only help confirm the diagnosis, but it can also help dog breeders ensure that no dogs inherit two copies of the mutated gene," said Edward "Ned" Patterson, D.V.M, Ph.D., assistant professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota and co-principal investigator of the study.
Owners can have their dogs tested through their veterinarian by submitting a blood sample to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Breeds such as Chesapeake Bay and curly-coated retrievers, which are closely related to Labradors, have also been found to have the dynamin 1 mutation. The research team is now determining what other breeds might be involved and more precisely defining the specific alteration in dynamin function.
The University of Minnesota research team was led by Patterson Mickelson and included Katie Minor, B.A., R.N; Anna Tchernatynskaia, M.S; and Kari Ekenstedt, D.V.M. Additional members are Susan Taylor, D.V.M., from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, and G. Diane Shelton, D.V.M, Ph.D., from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Shelton and Taylor have investigated EIC for the last 13 years in an attempt to determine whether the problem was muscular, cardiovascular, or neurological. Suspecting the syndrome had a novel genetic basis, Shelton and Taylor collaborated with the University of Minnesota researchers in 2001.
The research was funded by the Morris Animal Foundation and the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.
Adapted from materials provided by
University of Minnesota, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Ohio Red Setter Field Trial Club
Fall Trial Information
October 11 & 12, 2008
PWSDA points trial
All pointing breeds eligible to participate!

Trial Location: Grand River Wildlife Management Area, East Farmington, Ohio
(GPS coordinates: 41o 22' 23.89" N 80o 54' 47.25" W)
Trial starts at 7:00 am sharp!

Stakes to be run:

Open Walking Puppy, 20 minutes or course, ribbons........................................ $ 25
Open Walking Shooting Dog, 30 minutes, 50%, 50-30-20….......... $ 42
Open Horseback Derby, 30 minutes, 50%, 50-30-20 ……......…..…..$ 40

Open Walking Derby, 50%, 50-30-20................................................................ $ 40
Jack Carter Memorial Amateur Shooting Dog, trophy & ribbons.......................$ 42
Open Horseback Shooting Dog, 30 minutes, 50%, 50-30-20............................. $ 42

Join us this weekend!