Veterinary Practice Guide to Dog Health, hailing it as "a resource to assist veterinary surgeons and all practice staff gain a greater familiarity with more detailed information on the two hundred or more breeds of dog recognised by the Kennel Club, and the health and welfare issues that you may encounter with each one."
In truth, it is laughable - a PR exercise containing almost no health information at all. (To check it out for yourself, have a look at the 20 breeds here.) Also, with the exception of DNA tests for progressive retinal atrophy available from Optigen, the manual only lists DNA tests available from the Animal Health Trust, despite many other useful tests being available through other reputable centres worldwide.
The KC then further insulted the vets by insisting that ownership of one of these esteemed manuals, available from the KC's Marketing Department, was dependent on a visit from a KC representative. Bet they couldn't wait.
I know of one curious vet who asked for a copy of the manual way back in September and still hasn't received it, so maybe the KC is hastily revising it to make it less derisible. In the meantime, vets (indeed anyone interested in finding out more about breed-specific health problems) could do worse than download US vet Craig Dixon's new iPhone app Breed Health for Dogs
Let's compare the two offerings.
Here's what the KC has to say about the Pug.
Apparently, the pug doesn't suffer from any health issues at all! And there was me thinking the breed was riddled with problems!
The new iPhone app is much more helpful. For a start, it covers 40 breeds compared to the KC's 20. And for the pug it lists no fewer than 15 health problems:
Upper Airway Syndrome
Eye Exposure Keratopathy Syndrome
Sick Sinus Syndrome
Keratoconjunctivisitis Sicca (Dry Eye)
It then goes on to make the following recommendations:
4-12 months of age
• Gene test for Degenerative Myelopathy
• X-rays of head, neck & spine for Upper Airway Syndrome and Hemi-Vertebra
• Surgical repair - for Upper Airway Suyndrome and Fold Dermatitis (if needed)
1 year of age
• Eye exam for Distichiasis, Entropion, Cataracts & Exposure Eye Keratopathy - repeat yearly
• Skin exam for Demodectic Mange
2 years of age
• Teeth Cleaning - repeat every 2-3 years
• Skin exam for skin allergy evaluation for Atopy and Demodectic Mange
• Eye exam for Distichiasis, Entropion, Cataracts & Exposure Eye Keratopathy
...and so on. The app also gives simple descriptions of all the conditions. Now it is not without some glaring errors and omissions - it doesn't list syringomyelia for cavaliers, for instance, and doesn't suggest checking for heart murmurs until a cavalier is 7 years old, which is way too late. It would also be helpful to know the prevalence data for particular conditions where known (even if just listed as "rare", "occasional" or "common"). But it's a useful start.
The Breed Health for Dogs App for iPhone and iPad costs £1.79/$2.99 - cheap enough to buy and send feedback to its authors via firstname.lastname@example.org. They promise support for other smart phones soon.