Wednesday, 26 August 2015

More French Great Danes




Please. Someone tell them to stop.

Pug Tea Party

Just in from the Royal Veterinary College...

A Pug Tea Party With Difference. 
Saturday, 5 September 2015 from 09:00 to 16:30. 
An opportunity for your Pug (or Pug cross) to have a free eye exam with a Specialist Ophthalmologist at the Royal Veterinary College, as part of our research project into pigmentary keratitis. By taking part, you will be contributing to the future health and wellbeing of this charming breed. There will be a chance for you to socialise with other Pugs and Pug owners, over Tea Party refreshments, in addition to a presentation about Pigmentary Keratitis in Pugs, given by one of the Ophthalmology Team. There are limited places available so please book one ticket per pug if you would like to attend.…
What is Pigmentary Keratitis?
Pigmentary keratitis describes a condition in which the front of the eye becomes gradually obscured by a dark pigment, often causing visual impairment or blindness. Pugs appear to be predisposed to pigmentary keratitis and the prevalence seems to be high. Currently, it is unclear what causes pigmentary keratitis, but it is thought that several factors are involved. We hope to shed more light on the condition as part of this research project
Who is supporting this project?
We are very fortunate to have received a grant from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, without whose support we could not be carrying out this important work. The West Peninne Pug Dog Club, the Wales & West of England Pug Dog Club, the Pug Dog Club and the Pug Dog Welfare & Rescue Association have all kindly welcomed us to a number of their events, where we have set up an Examination Tent for show attendees.
What does the examination involve?
Your pet’s examination will be carried out by a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist. The examination is similar to a routine eye examination for dogs and should last approximately 10 minutes. 
We would also like to take a DNA sample from your Pug, in the form of a cheek swab. A soft brush is rubbed along the inside of the cheek for approximately 45 seconds. This procedure is well tolerated and will be carried out by a qualified veterinary surgeon.
Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?
There is no minimum or maximum age for Pugs that you would like to enrol in the project. We would appreciate a copy of your Pug's Kennel Club registration for the DNA part of the study, but this is not mandatory and we welcome non-registered Pugs to this event. Your Pug does NOT need to be microchipped to attend. 
May I bring more than one pug?
Yes please! Just remember to book one ticket per pug. 
The event will take place at The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms
AL9 7TA, Hatfield
A request to the RVC.. Could the next one be for Boston Terriers please? Better title... ;-)

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Fix the Face!

Especially for Australian vets... a workshop in November 2015 in New South Wales (download pdf here) to help you earn more money from your clients who have been stupid enough to have bought a Bulldog or other brachy breed in need of surgery (i.e. loads of 'em).

Here's the schedule:

Cost? $2400 Australian Dollars. But don't worry.

Big business Bulldogs. The pups sell for between £1000 - £2500, sometimes more. They are terrifyingly expensive to insure because they are at such a high risk of health problems. Vets make a small fortune out of them - and as we can see, those who teach vets do all right, too.

It helps promote a conspiracy of silence.

Stuck in the middle of it all, meanwhile, is the poor lumbering, gasping, short-lived dog.

Here's one that was made earlier - currently being used by the Kennel Club to - ta-daaa - promote responsible breeding.

Check it out on Facebook here.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Busted Bostons

Click to enlarge
Have a really good look at these two dogs as it's revealing for a host of reasons.

The UK dog on the left won Best of Breed at Crufts this year. The US dog on the right won Best of Breed at Westminster 2014. So same breeds, almost the same time.. and same breed standard!

As you can see, they are enormously different once you get past the similar markings.

Now it's by no means always true that the US show-dogs are always worse than the UK show-dogs - and not all Bostons in the US look like the dog on the right. But, boy, the Westminster winner is just awful.

First look at the heads.

Leaving aside that the US dogs' ears have been cropped (why would you do that in a breed with naturally erect ears?), the US dog has a shorter muzzle and a rounder, more domed head with a shorter back-skull - all features that predispose to syringomyelia (which sadly is increasingly documented in this breed). Note too the rounder, more prominent eye; another potential health issue.

Then see the difference in how the necks flow from the head - and how much thicker the US dog's neck is, too?

Would you expect this man to snore at night? You betcha. And in a soon-to-be-published paper from the Royal Veterinary College, we will see that thick necks (whether from obesity or selective breeding) are a predisposing factor to breathing problems in brachycephalic dogs like the Boston.

Now to the feature that I expect first grabbed people's attention - the terrible "posty" rear end on the American dog.

I am at a loss as to how anyone could think that's a good idea. We know that straight back legs in dogs can cause cruciate ligament injuries and, ta-da... what's the most common orthopaedic problem in Bostons according to the Boston Terrier Club of America? Luxating patellas.. which lead to cruciate tears (see here).

That shorter back is a worry too as it is linked to hemivertebrae (a painful, sometimes paralysing spinal problem caused by misshapen vertebrae). And, guess what? Hemivertebrae is a common problem in Bostons.

The 2014 Westminster winner is not a one-off... Here's the 2015 Westminster BOB, showing a better length of body, but still a very short muzzle, prominent round eye and those bizarre back legs.

Of course, when you point out the obvious link between particular physical features and disease in breeds, you are met with a wall of denial from breeders - and videos which are supposed to prove that the whole breed is entirely healthy. Or if they're not, they've been bred by those awful backyard breeders. In fact, those awful back-yard bred dogs are usually way more moderate, especially when it comes to the length of their muzzles.

Here is how today's show Boston compares to a champion Boston from 1933 and a modern show x pet Boston.

Click to enlarge

Bostons are also a mess on the inside - the KC's 2004 health survey found that a whopping 92 per cent of them had been delivered by C-section.

But here, to cheer you up is a great video showing just how athletic Bostons can be.

Now Rosie here does have raspy breathing, but there wouldn't be much to complain about if all Bostons were like this. 

And how great would it be to see a balloon keepy-uppy competition for Bostons at Crufts and Westminster?

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Gordon Setters: ouch!

A whopping nine per cent of Gordon Setters in Norway suffer from an immune condition which causes all their claws to fall out.


And guess what?

The same bunch of genes that researchers found are linked to this condition - called  symmetrical onychomadesis - may help protect Gordons from another immune-mediated condition:  hypothryoidism (which commonly causes hair loss as well as lethargy, weight gain, muscle loss, sluggishness and a slow heart rate).

The new findings from researchers in Norway (read the open-access paper herepresent breeders with a dilemma. Do you select against one condition at the risk of heightening the risk of another?

Well let's have a look:

Symmetrical onychomadesis (also called Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodsdrophy or SLOvaries in severity, but the lesions can be very painful, treatment is often not successful and some dogs have to be euthanised. English Setters, Whippets and Bearded Collies suffer from it too.

Hypothyroidism, meanwhile, is treatable (if tricky and expensive to keep on top of) and is found in Gordons at a lower prevalence than the claw-loss (2.9% compared to 8.9%).

So... select against the claw-loss!

Well no. The authors stress that a lot more research is needed before breeders could start using the new info in a way that could help improve the health of their dogs. In other words...

But actually...

Immune-mediated disease (heck almost all disease) in dogs is on the rise because of the way we breed them: closed gene pools, overuse of popular sires, over-emphasis on looks to the detriment of health (as much as the loonies would prefer to deflect the blame on to vaccines, dog food and vets conspiring with big-pharma).

This new Norwegian paper looked at a specific part of the dog genome called DLA (dog leukocyte antigen).  DLA codes for the immune system and it is made up of different haplotypes (bunches of genes).

The number and distribution of haplotypes is considered to be an indication of overall genetic diversity in a breed.

Broadly speaking, the more haplotypes, the better. Your immune system needs a diverse armoury with which to fight disease/foreign invaders.

And, generally, the more inbred the dog is,  the fewer the haplotypes.

The Norwegian researchers found 10 different haplotypes in Gordons and seven in English Setters in the dogs they studied - not the worst compared to other dog breeds, but low. A high incidence of immune-mediated disease is found in other breeds with a low number of DLA haplotypes, such as the Bearded Collie, Standard Poodle and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

Seriously, the answer is not that difficult. And there is no need for paralysis while we wait for the researchers to come up with the definitive answer. Because there is already one out there.

We need to increase diversity in these breeds. And where it isn't possible to do it within the breed by going out to different lines, then it's time to outcross... to dilute the poisoned rivers that are today's closed gene pools.

Because, frankly, I'm sick to death of paper after paper finding yet another breed-related disease at the kind of rate seen for symmetrical onychomadesis in the Gordon Setter.

Read it again.

Almost one in  10 Gordon Setters in Norway suffer from a hideous condition that makes their claws fall out. 

Want to have a guess at how it feels to walk with that?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Which dog is most inbred?

Reckon you know your stuff when it comes to co-efficients of inbreeding (COI)? Have a go - or a guess... is it X, Y or Z?

The answer is here... And if you got it wrong - or even if you got it right and are keen to learn more... there's a fantastic current offer from the Institute of Canine Biology.. a free online course - COI Bootcamp - for breeders.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Help make epilepsy history in Golden Retrievers

This extremely distressing footage is of a working Golden Retriever called Buddy having seizures. Buddy lives in Germany but unfortunately epilepsy is widespread in Goldies and it is thought to be inherited.

Buddy's owner Regina Enzinger has made the footage public to help raise awareness and funds for research led by Professor Dr Tosso Leeb at the University in collaboration with canine epilepsy guru Prof Dr Hannes Lohi at the University of Helsinki.

Their aim is to isolate the gene or genes and develop a new DNA test for Goldies.

More about the project and how to donate here.