Sunday, 22 April 2012

Dachshund Breed Council: job well done

It's the Dachshund Breed Council's Breed Conference in Staffordshire today and a timely moment to once again congratulate the breed on its progressive health policy with Council Chairman Ian Seath at the helm.

Speakers today include Ron James from the Kennel Club and Philippa Robinson from the Karlton Index who recently awarded the DBC the top honours in her survey of breed club performance on health.

So what makes the DBC so good? According to the Karlton Index it is the following:
• Establishing a balanced strategy for prioritising health issues

• Setting objectives and measures to help gauge progress

• Communicating this far and wide using a dedicated website, regular press releases and social media

• Organising regular health related events and campaigns

• Involving a wide range of people in the health agenda, including pet owners

• Regularly surveying the breed on health matters and publishing the results

• Developing very strong partnerships across the relevant breed clubs and with the KC and veterinary/scientific profession

• Being very generous in sharing information and practice.
Just look at this grab from the home page on the Council's health website:

Click to enlarge
It is terrific, particularly, to see the open invitation to report a health problem and a death.

Meanwhile, the Council's health survey - Dachs-Life 2012 - has just closed with over 1400 returns, almost three times the 509 survey forms submitted to the KC Health Survey in 2004. 

Preliminary data suggests that the rate of back disease is 6% in the breed - much lower than veterinary estimates of up to 25%, although with some difference between the varieties.  Spinal problems are still the number one reported health problem in the breed, though.

The survey IS self-reporting, which may skew the data somewhat, but nevertheless 1400 returns in three months is incredibly impressive and absolutely cannot be dismissed.

What we need now is an Association of Breed Health Coordinators with Ian Seath at the helm, bringing both his commitment to health and his benchmarking/presentation/communication skills to the party.

The speakers' presentations being given at today's conference are downloadable from here (and how good is that, too?)


  1. When I first saw Dachshunds, particularly the standard type, at Crufts I was totally shocked. They are large, heavy, long and have such short legs that their sternum drags on the ground.

    This is possibly a result of the isolation of dog breeds until Passports for Pets came into force.

    The Dachshund here on the Continent, not only the working abut also the show dogs, are much more balanced and have longer legs. Until the UK breeders breed less extreme dogs, there will continue to be back problems. I am skeptical of the incidence of only 6%.

  2. "..What we need now is an Association of Breed Health Coordinators with Ian Seath at the helm, bringing both his commitment to health and his benchmarking/presentation/communication skills to the party.."

    Oh I so wish!!!


  3. What a great website. At least they seem to acknowledge the problems. I don't know whether they are seeking to improve conformation, I hope so.

    Oh, for such a comprehensive website in my own breed instead of which it is pitiful, unless you are interested in show results. Health? Worst I've seen

  4. a good news week!

  5. Well done to Ian Seath and his team for organising the conference and indeed the Health Survey. Yes the survey is self selecting but the DBC put a lot of effort into raising awareness of the survey amongst pet owners like me who don't have any vested interest in disguising health problems, fact just the opposite - see below. One of my two mini wire dachshunds has had back problems, and that was duly recorded in the survey.

    Re conformation - check out the 'Judges Responsibilities' article on the Dachshund Health pages

    Many of us pet owners are passionate about raising awareness of health issues and encouraging responsible breeding practices..... as are many breeders.

    I also run a support group for owners of dogs affected by Lafora, which was highlighted at the conference and is an inherited, late onset, progressive myoclonic epilepsy that can affect any breed, but is definitely present in mini wire dachshunds. The WHDC (Wire Hair Dachshund Club), Ian and the DBC and have been brilliantly helpful about raising awareness and supporting setting up testing programme for mini wires, a process which has proven to be full of unforseen and complex problems, including inertia from some breeders, but fortunately the majority are supportive and I'm very grateful to them for putting their money where their mouths are and forking out for testing .... and being incredibly patient whilst we wait for the outcome. Many of them have delayed any more mating until they know the status of their dogs, in some cases missing their opportunity to breed. Some haven't. :-(