Wednesday, 24 February 2016

BREAKING NEWS: KC survey reveals apocalyptic drop in purebred dog longevity



There has been a catastrophic decline in purebred dog longevity, according to the results of a long-awaited health survey released by the Kennel Club yesterday.

It has taken the KC over a year to report on its 2014 health survey - the largest ever survey of its kind - and a follow-up to its 2004 survey.  It makes for grim reading.

Across all the breeds, median longevity has dropped by 11 per cent in a decade. Kennel Club registered dogs now live on average to just 10 years old - down from 11yrs 3 months in 2004.

Some breeds have seen jaw-dropping decreases compared to the 2004 survey.

Bull Terriers now die on average at just seven years old - down from 10yrs in 2004 (a 30% decrease)

Beagles: down from 12yrs 8mths to 10 yrs old.

Dobermanns: down from 10yrs 6mths to 8 yrs today.

Dalmatians: down from 12yrs 6mths in 2004 to 11yrs now.

Border Terriers: down from 14yrs to 12yrs

Irish Wolfhounds: down from 7yrs to 6.5yrs

Rhodesian Ridgebacks: down from 11yrs to 9yrs.

Bulldogs: down from 6yrs 3mths to an even worse 6yrs.

Boxers: now living to 9yrs, compared to 10yrs 3mths in 2004.

Cavaliers: now dying at 10, as opposed to 11yrs 5mths in 2004.

Irish Setters: now dead on average at 11 - down from 12 in 2004.

Whippets: down from 12yrs 4mths to 10yrs.

Even the nation's favourite dog, the Labrador,  is dying younger - at 11yrs old compared to 12yrs 3mths in 2004.

I found a few breeds with modest increases: Flatcoats now live to 10yrs - 2 months longer than they did in 2004. Great Danes died at 6yrs 6mths in 2004 and now survive on average to 7yrs. The Old English Sheepdog now lives 3 months longer (11yrs as opposed to 10yrs 9mths). Bernese Mountain Dog longevity has stayed the same at 8.

But, at this rate, many Kennel Club breeds could be extinct in 100 years' time.

It is a disappointing that the KC chose not to mention this decline in the release accompanying the survey findings (see here).

Now don't get me wrong  -  it is genuinely great that the KC is doing these surveys; it just needs to be honest and not play down negative findings.

I remember how the KC maintained both in and after Pedigree Dogs Exposed that 90 per cent of KC registered dogs were "perfectly healthy" - despite its own survey (the 2004) one finding that almost 40 per cent of KC dogs suffered from one or more health issues.

This time, as before, the KC reports that the main cause of death is old age - reassuring until you look at the actual figures.  In 2004, 17.8% of dogs died from old age. In 2014, it dropped to 13.78%.

Headline: more than 85% of KC registered dogs today do not make it to old age - and almost all die, or are put to sleep, because of disease.


(Trauma/accidents/behavioural issues account for only a tiny percentage of deaths reported.)

The new findings shouldn't be a huge surprise. Despite frequent claims by many that dogs are living longer today than ever before - it has been pretty obvious that an increasing number of breeds are tottering on the brink of viability. It does not, however, make the findings any less heartbreaking for everyone who loves dogs.

The reason for the decline? Closed gene pools... obsession with purity.. popular sires.. dogs being judged on looks not health... and the erroneous belief that breeders can health-test their way out of trouble.

Now there's some wiggle-room in this survey for those who want to question the results.  There were far fewer deaths reported than in the 2004 survey.  And while the 2004 survey was sent out to breed clubs; the 2014 survey was sent out more widely to owners of KC-registered dogs. This means that the surveyed populations were not identical.

When I talked to the KC about the survey in June 2014, though, they were at pains to point out that it would be backwards-compatible with the 2004 survey. 

This is important because, as the KC itself said when the 2004 survey findings were released: "Data gathered from this survey will provide baseline information against which the success of future control schemes can be measured."

The KC has, in fact, withheld certain data that it feels is not statistically significant in the 2014 survey  - e.g. if fewer than 30 deaths have been reported in a breed; hence, rather disappointingly, why there is no median death data reported for many of the current breeds of concern: Pugs, French Bulldogs, Bostons, Dogue de Bordeaux and Neapolitan Mastiff. (Although, frankly, it is telling that so few owners/breeders of these breeds, who these days so often spout a commitment to health, contributed to such a well-publicised survey.)

The Kennel Club needs to encourage these breed clubs to run ongoing health surveys to monitor longevity in these breeds, as well as to find a way to encourage more people to contribute to their next survey (which will presumably be in 2024).

In the meantime, the current findings should be a call to arms. There are some breeds today that are little more than ghosts of what they were.

But I suspect we'll get the usual denial.. the deflecting blame on to vaccines, commercial dog food, puppy millers, vets or big pharma... 

And all the while the dogs we purport to love so fiercely will continue to wither and wane.



---------------

How did your breed do?

See the 2014 survey results here.

Compare to the 2004 survey results here.

95 comments:

  1. Small sample size in my breed giving, 37 live and 17 dogs deaths age 8 - 15 years, but no average, in 2004 it was 13 years 5 months better than the average for crosssbreeds. Of the four of mine that have died (13y 7m, 11y, 13y 10m, and 15y 5m) and those of mine currently alive over 8, one at 12 1/2 and the other 9. Quite a few still being shown at over 10, I would say longevity is similar to what it was 10 years ago. Certainly know several 14 and 15 year olds COI's in our breed are under 4%, Most common health issue listed is cutaneous cysts, which are more of a cosmetic rather than a real health issue.

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  2. Depressing news. However, I think the small sample sizes and large ranges of age at death are partially to blame for such figures. One thing I did notice while looking at the results of a few breeds, it appears that you have mistaken median for mean. For example, median age at death for beagles is listed at 10 years while the mean is 9.81 years; median for bull terriers is listed at 7 years while the mean is 7.49 years. Not a huge difference, at least for these two breeds, anyway.

    Totally agree on the ultimate problem, here - inbreeding is something that should be avoided. Every breeder who considers themselves "responsible" should be taking COI into account and using such calculations in their breeding plans, at the very least. The obsession with purity, breeding for ever more exaggerated "breed type", and the belief that a written standard is the ideal of perfection are all concepts that seriously need to be questioned.

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    1. Where have I mistaken median for mean, Merrie? I have used the median figures throughout - and I think have made it clear that this is the case.

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    2. Oh, I see you have referred to it as median longevity. The "on average" just threw me off, as I am accustomed to using means as averages rather than medians.

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  3. I found a few breeds with modest increases: Flatcoats now live to 10yrs - 2 months longer than they did in 2004.

    I wonder that this isn't a sample size issue.

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    1. Or a decreasing population size, bias in favour of older dogs.

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  4. I wish I'd known about this survey so that I could take part. My KC registered pedigree dalmatians which have all lived to 14 or 15 would help it be more balanced.

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    1. There were, in fact, 10 Dals who lived to 14, four to 15 and one to 16 included in the death stats. http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/749280/dalmatian.pdf

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  5. Whippets are also down ...from 12 years 8 months in 2004 to 11 years 4 months in our 2009 survey to 10 years in this survey. Whippets used to be considered a long lived breed. It comes as no surprise to me. Also the Morbidity data ...AI diseases are logged as separate diseases...if you add them up as one big fat problem they easily become the most reported illness. Thats no surprise to me either.

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  6. I am no expert but have a brother who is a vet and always loved animal. He has always being against pure breed to the extreme denouncing exactly this ... death rate higher than not. Against most if not all ready made food(maybe only some of the very new ones for which we do know proveninece and where they are prepared); against giving so many med when not needed...drontal as a preventative is crazy...kills kidneys and so on. I do give them vaccinations but not always frontline(only when I know there are serious issues with ticks or if we should regularly go in high grass)or advocate(one take it more regular because of demodex), drontal is maybe once a year and so on. Am stopping all prepared food after major scandals and arrest for most of the so called good food producers and chews!At the moment have 1 choc lab nearly 6 with bad dysplasia(never seen parents)and a so called pure breed black lab girl(present from a breeder friend)...will I let them breed?!Still dubious...many points of view on good makes bad better so not sure...would love a baby of my choc who is adorable but will see! Thanks for this very interesting article and hope some of my writings will help!

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    1. If your chocolate bitch has bad dysplasia please do NOT breed from her, you will end up with affected puppies.

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    2. Why would you even CONSIDER breeding a dog with hip dysplasia?

      Find an excellent breeder and sign up for a puppy from a great breeding. Don't make more dogs with terrible hips, please.

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  7. my KC registered lab is 14 years and 8 months and still running on her walks!

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  8. Over-vaccination, excessive flea and worming treatments, early neutering, poor quality commercial food. All these are factors probably not taken into account, but have huge influence on longevity.
    We vaccinate once only as a 12+ puppy, do not use prophylactic parasite control, feed a raw diet and do not neuter, unless for medical reasons. Our dogs (Golden Retrievers) live until 15 years +, our last dog that died was 16.5 and was our first dog raised from weaning on raw, had 15 years without vaccines and no parasite control. There are many influencing factors that have not been taken account of, for instance whether the owners were smokers.
    Too simplistic to be taken seriously.

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  9. The issues mentioned above by you are not a cop-out, they are valid reasons for reduced longevity. Vaccines given too early and too often lead to lifelong conditions.
    Commercial dogfood is definitely impacting on the health of dogs. Flea treatments, worming treatments - all contributing to poor health.
    Uneccessary neutering is another factor leading to poor health.
    All are valid concerns and if a similar survey was carried put on cross breeds, which we know isn't possible. Similar declines in longevity would be recorded.
    It is disingenuous to suggest that inbreeding is a major factor, this is pure conjecture and cannot be deduced from the available data.
    All that can be deduced is that some dogs are living shorter lives (mine don't, their longevity has increased since feeding raw and using a sensible, science based vaccination regime).

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    1. t ain't science-based if you only vaccinate your dogs once as a 12-wk-old puppy (the immune system may not be mature enough to prompt a response until the pups are 16wks or older). The WSAVA also recommends a 12 month booster to be really sure for the core vaccines. The non-core vaccines (e.g. Lepto) need annual vaccination.

      "Commercial dog food is definitely impacting on the health of dogs. Flea treatments, worming treatments - all contributing to poor health".

      As you think this is "definite" perhaps you could provide the citations for this assertion? If you can't, it's what you think - doubtless based on your own experience. But that would be anecdote, not science.

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    2. So well said Paul, Bravo, nail on the head!

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    3. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know something is wrong with our dogs (non-pedigree dogs too). Everyone knows 1 or more dogs with allergies, diabetes, obesity, skin condition, ear infections, cancer, liver/kidney damage, hypothyroidism, gut issues, etc. Many dogs are born "healthy" but living one or more chronic illnesses by 3-5 years of age. How can you not look the toxic chemicals in their food, water, drugs, vaccines, etc. Even the grass they play on may be toxic (Roundup). Do we have longevity data from 1994's? BTW, more than 54% of our children are living with the same diseases mentioned above. And this generation is not expected to live as long as their parents.

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    4. Anon, dosage is always going to be relevant when so-called "toxic" substances exist in the environment. You would have to look, for example, at Material Safety Data Sheets, and truly research the toxicity of such products as Round-Up and their effects on vertebrates, to suggest a link to disease and lowered life span. How much exists in the environment? How much are dogs actually exposed to? How much is absorbed? How much is naturally flushed out of the dog's body via its liver and other systems (same applies to so-called toxic chemicals in commercial dog food)? While it is impossible to tease apart exact contributing factors to decreased longevity in these dogs given the information available, it certainly IS possible to take what we know about decreased genetic diversity (and its effects on health and welfare in animal populations) and apply it to purebred breeding schemes. When you see a gradual decline in dog longevity and you know that inbreeding depression is a real occurrence and it causes decreased longevity and disease/lowered immune function, it follows that closed registry systems are a problem. Are there other problems that could possibly be contributing to decreased longevity? Sure. But citing a few anecdotal examples of dogs that go against the trend, or speculating on causation when it could really just be correlation, is not especially helpful. See: http://www.genetics.org/content/179/1/593.full

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    5. Anon,

      You should read the scientific literature on toxicity not websites with personal opinions and hysteria. Short term and long term toxicity testing of glycophosphate (Roundup) has been performed on dogs. This is from A Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, and University of California at Davis on Glycophospate.
      http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/dienochlor-glyphosate/glyphosate-ext.html

      Acute Toxicity
      Glyphosate is a moderately toxic herbicide and carries the signal word WARNING on the label. Even though the LD50 values show the compound to be relatively non-toxic it can cause significant eye irritation. The toxicity of the technical product (glyphosate) and the formulated product (Roundup) is nearly the same. The acute oral LD50 in the rat is 5,600 mg/kg. Other oral LD50 values for glyphosate are 1,538 to greater than 10,000 mg/kg for mice, rabbits mg/kg, and goats (1, 5).
      In a number of human volunteers, patch tests produced no visible skin changes or sensitization.

      Chronic Toxicity
      Subchronic and chronic tests with glyphosate have been conducted with rats, dogs, mice, and rabbits in studies lasting from 21 days to two years. With few exceptions there were no treatment-related gross (easily observable) or cellular changes (5). In a chronic feeding study with rats, no toxic effects were observed in rats given doses as high as 31 mg/kg/day, the highest dose tested. No toxic effects were observed in a chronic feeding study with dogs fed up to 500 mg/kg/day, the highest dose tested (8). Mice fed glyphosate for 90 days exhibited reduced body weight gains. The lifetime administration of very high amounts of glyphosate produced only a slight reduction of body weight and some microscopic liver and kidney changes. Blood chemistry, cellular components, and organ function were not affected even at the highest doses.

      Carcinogenic Effects
      Rats and dogs and mice fed glyphosate over a wide range of doses showed no cancer related effects directly due to the compound (4). EPA has stated that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that glyphosate is not carcinogenic in humans (8).

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    6. Really why do people still insist on debating scientific facts?

      If inbreeding was only good, animal breeders would be merrily inbreeding (note, ethical and responsible Farmers DO NOT) and the animals would be thriving. Do you see pedigree dog breeds thriving? What we are witnessing is the evidence of inbreeding depression, the consequences of which are very evident - singleton litters, high rates of cancer in young dogs, allergies, and many other issues that seem to be "normal" in the breeding of dogs these days.

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    7. You are absolutely right Jemima, here they are blaming kibble, vaccines, and the worst thing of all.... "chemicals"! No wonder pedigree dogs are in trouble :(

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    8. Paul is very correct in saying "Over-vaccination, excessive flea and worming treatments, early neutering, poor quality commercial food. All these...have huge influence on longevity."

      This logic is solid, and is backed up. It would not have been appropriate for Paul to add tomes of references when adding this simple, valid point. So Jemima was being uncharacteristically non-rational in jumping to dispute it, which was disappointing because I have a great admiration and appreciation for Jemima's usual determined objectivity. Maybe it was thrown off by the next bit...

      It is not valid for Paul to say "It is disingenuous to suggest that inbreeding is a major factor" when the truth of the influence of inbreeding is overwhelmingly apparent in other data. The chance of inbreeding not contributing to shorter life spans is extremely low, bordering on impossible.

      So, we have two thoughtful, rational people, who each made an objectivity whoopsy. They are both right in their main points: In-breeding and chemical/immunological/nutritional interference with dogs are likely to impact health and longevity in substantial ways, and there is evidence for all of them for anyone who cares to look.

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    9. Please provide evidence that over-vaccination, excessive flea and worming or poor quality commercial food reduces *longevity*(as opposed to just being ineffective or occasionally provoking an adverse event). Neutering? There is evidence both ways as it is both protective (e.g. against mammary tumours/testicular cancer) but also in some breeds has been shown to elevate the risk of other cancers/joint disease.

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  10. I frequently see "over-vaccination, excessive flea and worming treatments, early neutering, poor quality commercial food", etc put forth as causes for shorter lifespans in dogs. Isn't possible that we see more dogs having issues with these things because dogs have poorer genetic health increasing the percentage of dogs in the population that are susceptible to adverse reactions to vaccines, have increased chemical sensitivities to meds, food allergies, etc?

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    1. If it's genetics then all the more reason to avoid toxic drugs and food.So what happened in the past TEN years to cause this dramatic decline in dogs? And what if this trend appear in humans? The average human would lose almost 10 years. Genetics? I think not.

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    2. I find it amazing that Brits are buying "the Science" that GMO's and Immunization are no problem. We just had a whisleblower over here who works at the CDC(Center for Disease Control)tell us that they(the CDC) lied about vaccinations on children. What on earth makes you think they are telling the truth about dogs? And as for Monsanto, if they're talking they're lying. Follow the $$$$. In America, we are soon to have 1 in every people with cancer! What's changed? Could it be GMOs, vaccinations, toxic pollution because it's sure not inbreeding in the American people. But you can bet your bottom $ that inbreeding contributes in our poor dogs. Science, Jemima, can both lie and change. Always question and follow the $$$$.

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    3. Overwhelming scientific consensus says vaccines and GMOs are safe. Go back to science class.

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  11. Not a like for like comparison so how can it be taken seriously?As far as the bull breeds are concerned, they have been bred indiscriminately to cater to the "hard man " image owner.

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  12. I don't understand why people are citing commercial pet food as a cause. The baseline is 2004, not 1904. I think it unlikely that, on average, the use of commercial petfood has significantly increaded, or its quality declined in the last 20 years or so, i.e. the lifespans of the dogs from the survey. Does anyone remember Minced Morsels? I should think the average additives etc have declined over that time, as industries are more regulated and owners have more access to information. Veterinary techniques will have improved to increase lifespans and probably more dogs are supplemented in their diets now than ever. Vaccinations are not "new", either.

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    1. Exactly right, Sally. There are more people than ever now feeding raw and choosing to vaccinate their dogs less.

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    2. Instead of arguing about cause and effect without any supporting data, it would be more useful if Jemima could find a statistician to calculate the statistical significance of each of the figures. Then we would know in which breeds the shorter lifespan was a real effect and in which just an effect of the small sample sizes.

      Chris R.

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    3. Only it is possible it seems that raw beef in particular causes cancer, some scientists are convinced it's a bacteria unique to beef.

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  13. Excellent work as always, Jemima, and I'm sorry I was unable to help you scrape the numbers out of the press release PDFs; sometimes, human labor beats a machine, even if you're lazy! I have an observation here:

    There's some wiggle-room in this survey for those who don't want to believe the results. There were far fewer deaths reported than in the 2004 survey. And while the 2004 survey was sent out to breed clubs; the 2014 survey was sent out more widely, which may prompt some to try to blame KC pet-bred dogs for the reduced longevity.


    I would actually argue it possibly goes the other way, inasmuch as a wider net times fewer deaths indicates a substantial decline in registrations. The same thing is happening with the AKC in the US; you may recall Heather Houlahan's 2010 essay on the topic, and I doubt anything's materially changed to increase registrations since then.

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  14. Prior to the birth of the commercial dog food industry after the great depression. .the longevity of a dogs life plumated big time. When dogs lived on table scrap and whatever they could scavenge on their own on the farm..they lived much longer.
    My grandparents dogs lived 17 -20 most feed though was farm to table unlike today

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    1. You have only anecdote - and no data - to support this.

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    2. 1. a few dogs in one household are not a representative sample of an entire population

      2. correlation does not demonstrate causation

      One could argue your grandparents dogs lived longer because they got more exercise (roaming loose) than modern dogs

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    3. And of course, genetics. Were your grandparents' dogs outcrossed and healthy, or inbred and sickly?

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    4. Blaming pet food and vaccines for early death in dogs is a cop out and a red-herring. Even if you could prove that those things are actually to blame, you would only serve to undermine the real problem, which is that inbreeding often results in weaker immune systems, and pre-disposes populations to disease. Dogs should be able to eat food and receive basic veterinary care without getting cancer as a result. You are putting blame in the wrong place.

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    5. The effects of inbreeding on any population are undeniable, be it human dog or cat. These effects some chronic support early death. This is not debatable its scientific fact and is bound to affect any closed gene pool at some stage.
      ~
      And yes Im sure other things also play a part in disease like diets and environmental toxins, pesticide drift, pollutants yes vaccinations etc the same things basically that could affect our quality of life. But imagine if we were also inbred to the hilt with compromised immune systems as a result how much worse that would be for us as a species.
      ~
      Why I wonder do people think it's different for other animal species like dogs?

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    6. Here's a large extended family that lived in a pristine environment, pristine in that the quality of air, light, water food ect was almost perfect and yet........look what happens in a short time when nephew meets aunty and brother meets daughter.....it just aint rocket science, not in this day and age, to believe otherwise is like advocating a flat earth or trying to deny evolution....

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2521752/Children-incest-cult-living-deformed-mute-Australian-valley.html

      Who knows how long they will all live but their quality of life along the way is already severely impaired and it's highly likely some of them wont make old age.

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  15. Having lost our cocker to cancer at just 10 years this report is exactly what we would expect. He was minimally vaccinated, not castrated, and flea treated and wormed very rarel as necessary with natural products. He was fed raw on fit-for-human consumption proteins and veg. Now that you can calculate CoI using Mate Select that's what we did though sadly over a decade too late. Much worse than the five generation pedigree suggested. What the KC is admitting to- finally- is what Charles Darwin predicted in 1860's - so really not sure how people can argue with the hard science. Inbreeding is a MAJOR factor here. 'Not believing' isn't an option.

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    1. Vaccines save lives.
      Castration can significantly reduce the risk of some cancers.
      Raw diets are extremely difficult to get right
      "Fit for human" is total nonsense. It needs to be fit for a dog.

      Giving your dog some hippy nonsense isn't going to make him live longer.
      Choose science.

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  16. I think gee's comment is very interesting & it demonstrates the imperative of COI being on the questionnaire.

    Also, I really wish they'd do these surveys more frequently (every 5 years or more?) and perhaps offer some sort of incentive to get more returned surveys. At a minimum, all national breed clubs should be getting their members to fill out & to harangue their puppy buyers (with whom good breeders stay in touch) to complete as well...

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  17. Plus with the HUGE advances in Veterinary diagnostics and care ...you would hope Longevity would increase ...as it has in humans

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  18. Sooner or later, the kennel clubs are going to half to wake up and smell the coffee, and realize that pure-breeding is inbreeding, and that extremes are a freak show. Too many dogs already only live half as long as they should. It's only a matter of time until all pedigreed dogs live only 6-7 dysfunctional years.

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  19. Just out of curiosity, how do you define "dying of old age"? Doesn't every living creature die or something or other? If a dog dies of heart failure at what we would consider an advanced age for that breed, is the cause of death heart failure or "old age"?

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  20. I am curious as to why so many people are claiming that their purebred dogs have great longevity and then these results come out showing these tragic lifespans. There is a facebook group for great dane owners and there was a discussion about lifespan the other day. Many people were claiming that their Danes lived until ages of 10 years up to even 14 years and very few people said that their dogs lived less than 8 years. Could it be that the majority of people participating in the survey had dogs with lower longevity? Or is this survey representative of the general population of dogs? Either way, the fact that most breed lifespan averages have lowered considerably is extremely concerning.

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  21. There were no results for the GSD in the 2004 survey, which I found disappointing and very surprising.

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    1. The GSD Clubs decided to boycott it in 2004. Historically they don't have a great relationship with the KC. At least we now have some kind of a benchmark - death on average at 10 is not great, but there are many breeds worse. The breed came out reasonably well on the morbidity front too.

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  22. Where is the comparative data on longevity in non-pedigree dogs over the same time frame? Is there any?

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    1. Good idea because non-pedigree dogs are not living as long too. Folks, I suggest you look at all the ways we are poisoning our pets with toxic food, water, parasite medications, vaccines, toxic furniture/toys, etc. I'm not saying inbreeding and improper breeding don't exist. We need to look at the complete picture. Anyone has the rabies shot package insert? Does it contain mercury and aluminum? #LearnTheRisk #VaxXed

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    2. "Good idea because non-pedigree dogs are not living as long too."

      Sources please!

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  23. Although I agree with the sentiment behind this post, the science is weak. I doubt any of the outcomes is statistically significant. With a 12% response rate, you can't say much. Who knows if those who responded are truly representative of the mean. Maybe PDE and allied efforts to improve pedigree dog breeding have increased awareness, and people who have had dogs that died prematurely have been more eager to report. Maybe stalwart deniers of problems have avoided reporting premature deaths and the actual situation is worse than the numbers show. Maybe it varies a lot by breed.

    As for dying of old age . . . what percent of humans die of 'old age'. I'm sure the number has gone down as we have become more medically conscious. Three of my grandparents are on record as dying from old age . . . but if their deaths occurred in 2016, I'll bet all of them would have been diagnosed as dying of a disease or condition.

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  24. Correction: 12.7% response rate. Calculated as (43207+5684)/385000, ie, living dog + dead dog responses divided by the number of surveys sent out.

    Should be noted that the 2004 survey reported only on breeds where the response rate was above 15%. So, along with a major change in survey methods (distribution to clubs in 2004 vs. direct mailing to dog owners in 2014), there's been a drastic reduction in the accepted response rate.

    Survey statistics must always be considered in context of potential survey bias.

    It is interesting that the lifespans on the Finnish KC database are almost always shorter than those you find elsewhere. Why? Because the Finns don't survey. They keep records on ALL registered dogs. The system is far from perfect. For example, in many breed, "unknown" is a leading cause of death. "Old age or euthanasia" is a little hard to interpret as a category. But it's good to see accidents and euthanasia for behavioral reasons treated explicitly.

    Pedigrees could be extremely valuable IF they were used as a way of tracking health factors. Occasional voluntary surveys are not at all satisfactory.

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    1. I wish that, having had a poor return, the KC had re-thought this survey - or gone back for more returns. As it is, people will be able to argue every which way but loose - and I bet quite shortly we're going to have a statement from the KC essentially saying the data isn't that reliable. I am sure that people on all sides would have preferred something more robust.

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  25. Better have a word with all my elderly Cavaliers both at home here and in pets homes, seems they are living far longer than the average/median/mean and it's about time they shuffle off !

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  26. My question about whether there is any data for non-pedigree dogs...highlights one big flaw in this....it is quite possible that ALL dogs are currently suffering a decrease in life expectancy and that this is what we should be concerned about. Being a pedigree MAY not be anything other than coincidence. More information is needed.....

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  27. I'm saddened, but not surprised, to see the catastrophic drop in lifespan for Whippets. Popular sires have decimated the gene pool.

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    1. I was surprised. I always knew the whippet as a very healthy breed (I've owned one). What diseases plague them now?

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  28. I'm looking at page 3 of the all breed summary, the chart shows that the majority of dogs with one or more "disease conditions" were diagnosed before their first year. How lovely, they come into the world already with a serious disease.

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    1. Actually, the median age at which dogs were first affected by a condition was 3yrs - so older than that. (But four months younger than in in the 2004 survey).

      Not sure about the 2004 survey (need to check) but dogs younger than six months were excluded from the 2014 survey.

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    2. I think I used the wrong word. The first age bracket is the largest frequency bracket, not majority.

      The first age bracket has the highest probability of disease. So basically the odds of a puppy being healthy is massively against them in their first year.

      I don't know how this would compare to humans, but I would imagine it would be considered a health crisis if it were happening.

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    3. I don't think this is very different from humans. I have friends and co-workers with babies, and about half of them have some relatively serious issue in the first year (or at birth). Born with a cleft palette, or only one kidney, or a heart condition, or Down Syndrome, for example. Something like 1:45 boys in the U.S. is born with or soon develops autism. And typical humans in the U.S. are not "inbred" anywhere near the level that dogs are.

      I checked Papillons, and the issue that surfaces in the first year is luxating patellas. This is found in all small dogs, purebred or not, and is a function of breeding for extreme smallness.

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    4. Grief are you sure you''re not living in Chernobyl?

      I have heard something or other to the affect that more and more babies are being born with problems in America due to woman having children later and later in life, at ages that are considered totally inappropriate for optimal child bearing.

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  29. Wow. KC is just like UC Davis grossly misrepresenting its own findings on health of purebreds vs. non-breeds, and celebrity vets misleading fans when referring to studies like these. It really is blatant.

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  30. I work in veterinary specialty medicine (in the USA). I have recently seen two three-year old boxers euthanized for cancer, and one two-year old golden retriever for cancer. Anecdotal, of course, but fucked up. If a golden comes in to our ER, the question we all ask is, "Where's the cancer?" but to see it happening in such young dogs is pretty terrible even for those of us used to seeing dying animals on a daily basis.

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  31. Leonbergers have remained pretty much exactly the same since 2001 when International Leonberger Database first started its Longevity Project. Even though our findings from June 2015 were gathered from nearly 4,000 deceased Leonbergers as opposed to just the 44 represented in this survey, the conclusions are almost identical.

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  32. I was watching a British programme about guide dogs for the blind, the dogs used are Labradors. It was quite heart wrenching seeing the distress and helplessness it caused as these exceptional, lovely adorable dogs dropped one after the other from cancer.

    I cant be sure what the reasons for this are as it wasn't explained or the issue even given air time. They had been using the same sire over and over again because of his ability to pass on his outstanding working ability, until he died of cancer himself. Maybe that's where the fault lay. Maybe due to inbreeding of the original stock (though as I say I dont know) but maybe simply passing on of any possible cancer genes far and wide. Projeny was being sent to America and other places too.

    The dogs are dying at around 10-years old, which granted for some breeds is positively ancient like for a Great Dane. But what struck me was the fact they all died of the same thing, cancer and I know some breeds are highly susceptible to this.

    I think we do need to simply rethink how we breed dogs to safe guard them long-term to avoid these tragedies becoming the norm as they have become in so many breeds.

    I do also worry about environmental issues, vaccinations, medications, food. In fact every time I feed my dogs heart-worm tablets I know I'm poisoning their little bodies and it's a highly distressing thought. They love the chewable too, so much like they're doggie sweets. Their little eyes light up with unbridled happiness. These are potent toxins. Sadly the lesser of the evil between heart worm itself. It worries me so much I now stagger everything, tick and flea drops, heart worm, vaccinations (triennially), worming. The vet never seemed much worried and just did everything one time once a year on his yearly visit, pumped full of everything at once.

    With my new doggies I do things differently and pissed off the vet in the process, completely.

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  33. Thanks for posting these. Unfortunately, there's no 2004 data for the my youngest dog's breed, the Papillon. Even though they had plenty of rare breeds (i.e., the Estrella Mountain Dog) that year, they didn't list Papillons for some reason. For 2014, Papillons had no median lifespan, but they listed a range of 10-23 years (!). Wow--hope mine makes it to his 20's. I've never had a dog quite make it to 16, though one made it within two weeks...

    While I agree that being purebred does seem to decrease life expectancy (degree depending on COI), this can't be proven with these data without also having life expectancies for some size-matched mixed breeds. My suspicion is that life expectancy is going down for ALL dogs. Probably for the same reason human life expectancy is now in decline: air and water pollution, poor food choices, too much sugar, exposure to toxic chemicals like DDT, Teflon, dioxin, BPA; growth hormones and excessive antibiotics in meat and even plant foods (fertilized with manure). I would be very interested in seeing if this study could put a number on what part of the decline is breed-related, and what is "2015-lifestyle-related."

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    1. Human life expectancy is now in decline? Citations please!

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    2. "While I agree that being purebred does seem to decrease life expectaWhile I agree that being purebred does seem to decrease life expectancy (degree depending on COI)"
      WAFFLE. Proof is difficult, often impossible. Disproof is more attainable if a strong hypothesis is put forward. The numbers presented in this post are, quite likely, strongly affected in unpredictable and complicated ways by sampling bias. That is, about one in eight of those who got the survey responded. Are the one in eight that replied representative of the breed? or did some fraction of them have an axe to grind? Who knows. There are lots of axes being ground in the dog world, but which ones affect the response rate probably vary from breed to breed.

      If 'pedigree' is to mean anything, we need a transparent and statistically robust way of associating potentially genetic health problems with both bloodlines and breeds.



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  34. We've interfered to the point of abuse.

    Time to leave well alone and quit this fixation on ownership and showing off pedigree dogs. We have proved that we have simply abused the canine genome to the point of lack of fitness for purpose. Living a healthy life.

    Dog shows are an apocalypse of doom for the animal. What are you showing? How sick your animal is, that you have inbred to immune dysfunction?

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  35. Well said, it's wrong to say the the majority of pedigree dogs aren't dying of old age, they are but we know the causes of death in old age now so give them the correct names, heart disease, kidney/liver failure, stroke etc. True of humans as well as dogs, we rarely say a person dies of old age now, much more likely to say "heart attack" etc. So the article is very misleading.

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  36. Its not 'unlikely' there may be other influences on the lowering of life expectancy, but we do KNOW that inbreeding fixes traits/Reduces the genetic choice of response. To illness and disease as well.

    Appearance isn't the only trait 'fixed', but the bodies ( and minds ) abilities to respond to environmental factors too.

    As to cross breeds, I believe their decline could be even faster unless some thing is done soon. How many generations of cross breeds actualy continue more than a couple of generations with out an infusion of pedigree lines? And how likely is it that those pedigree dogs used will be selected as carefully as would be needed to avoid problems, when outsiders are not fully informed in the 1st place and the K.Cs will not allow their 'best' to fall into the hands of the general public?

    Because the K.Cs prefer to think their 'values' can only be found with a K.C membership, the public is largely unaware of the issues facing breeders today.
    Breeders have a duty to be responsible for the education of owners on best pactices to get the most value from dogs, and that includes breeding choices.

    Demonstration of values is the only effective tool for this and the K.Cs are more concerned with seeing any remaining value resides with the K.Cs.
    Their demonstrations of values are woeful. And these are the experts?!
    No wonder people try to emulate with 'designer' dogs complete with pedigrees( thats what gives the value, does it not? And bred for looks alone?)

    Come on people, we can't have pedigree dogs decline with out a corresponding decline in cross breeds.
    One species.
    Try to see the value is all found in one place? It can only happen by erroding it else where.
    Divide and reduce is the way to improvement by the K.Cs own constitution and rules.
    ( breeders not permitted to breed dogs ineligible for registration = Divide the species and puts any value on a pedigree, It must be reduced else where )

    It puts all the value on a single tool used to breed dogs. The pedigree becomes the purpose, instead of dogs.

    This problem CAN'T go away while that rule is in play.
    Look to the Constitution and rules. They can only and will only do what they are designed to do.
    They have been doing it so very well for the last 150 or so years.
    Just look at the stunning examples of 'value' being taught here.

    I have not yet had a biologist or scientist of any kind able to refute this argument. I wish I had, because the effects are gaining momentum and yet even here, I can't get people to see where the fault lies with what is happening to MY dogs.

    Dogs are not K.Cs property to guide their evolutionary direction and disallow validity to any other influence. But that is exactly what is happening.

    50 years ago, you would be very very unlucky to get a dog and have it suffer any health issues that impacted on its life or that of its owner to any major degree, apart from a few pedigrees. Now there are very few pedigrees not affected to some degree and the incidence in cross breeds is rising at an alarming rate.

    I doubt we can keep talking about it for another 50 years. There won't be much left to discuss.

    Its such a minor concession to make that would see recognition finaly, that this issue is not just a K.C issue, its an issue any one who cares to see dogs in the human future ha a stake in.
    To be able to recognize value in dogs and promote it through demonstration with out 1st considering WHO is promoting that value might get us some where.

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  37. I know I've already posted but all this maybe it's the dog food, maybe it's the flea spray has the air of fiddling while Rome burns. For those who are in the unconvinced faction forget the current figures, forget about vested interests, forget about dogs and read up on the science. After four generations general vigour in a highly restricted population starts to decline. Though Darwen didn't in the end need the science either. His and a couple of other wonderfully gifted families had been intermarrying for generations. He married his own cousin. Result? 10 children. 3 dead in childhood, 3 infertile- others left suffering chronic ill-health.

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  38. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi report seems to be mysteriously incomplete. It states in the opening paragraph that "Age at death is presented for the most common causes in Figure 2.". Well, there is no Fig. 2 in the document. It starts at Fig 3. and the graphs included only show the age that dogs were first affected with the conditions. very odd, will be emailing Health and Breeder services.

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  39. So whos up for creation of biologicaly sustainable registry system based on purpose?

    Easily done and almost guaranteed to be successful IF people can be found to finance, write constitutions and a data base program.

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  40. Any that require a response!

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  41. Or I should say, any purpose that requires more than an illusion of a dog.

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  42. The K.Cs promote the ideal that any value to be had from dogs is in its pedigree. Not the Dog.

    It needs to be recognized that we ARE all serving the same values - Dogs.For the purpose and values they bring to humans.
    A pedigree is no substitute for that, yet under the current rules, the pedigree has come to stand for both purpose and value with out taking responsibility to provide either.

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  43. Biologicaly sustainable registry system end of story, yes I would be!
    ~
    These kinds of registries already exist and are quite succesful but are still subject to commercial interests, greed overturning the system.
    ~
    When I think how artificial insemination for one thing (not a bad thing in itself) besides the best intensions, has almost brought horse breeding on the continent to a standstill. In the shortest time after thriving for centuries in some cases. Now with embryo transfere the sky is the limit how far things could go wrong. However performance tested and high achieving the mares might be suddenly they can have six foals at a time.

    Breeders are suddenly sitting with fields of "Keur, Elite, Preferent, Prestasie" mares with all the same genetics wondering where the heck to go from here. Outsrossing had never been particularily a problem either, now it's difficult to find suitable material within the heavily dicipline specialised and segregated breeding of performance proven horses.

    "Purpose" it seems has played a big part in this present situation.

    In dogs it is a crying shame you have "show" lines heavily bred away from working lines, it plays havoc with the gene pool at our disposal.

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  44. All in all, the study is pretty useless. For many breeds, especially popular and problematic breeds like pugs and Frenchies, you have a small sample, heavily balanced toward puppies and dogs under 2 years of age. What can you say about mortality / life expectancy in a breed if you have data on three, or ten, or even twenty deaths?. Experiential data from a large veterinary practice would be more informative.

    The KC should be embarrassed.

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  45. River P,

    I wonder if any include the mission statement to promote value and purpose for dogs in the community?

    Or that any dog used in breeding should be tested 'at the coal face' for lack of a better term off the top of my head?

    Ie; Dogs bred should be living and proven successful in the types of environments/homes the pups are bred to fill. Know as intimately as a good breeder expects the pups to be.

    Because THAT is the environment that gave rise to and saw the species develop into the "types" hijacked as K.C property.

    I disagree with a constitution that tries too hard to rule against the possibilities of problems, rather than promoting ideals responsibility.

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  46. I'd guess most the of the breeds hijacked by the kennel clubs were not bred for "environments/homes" but were bred for functions and happen to prove successful in certain "environments/homes". Most breeds/types were not developed to be pets; they became pets by people who no longer needed/wanted them for the function for which they were developed. Breeding then shifted from the selection criteria which gave us these breeds/types to other criteria creating new breeds/types while holding onto the old names. There has been some genetic testing which shows likely genetic divergence between the functionally bred dogs and the show bred dogs under the same name; this genetic divergence is a large as genetic differences between breeds.

    http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/content/100/suppl_1/S28.full

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  47. Yep, the purpose the dog is bred for might change, and the dogs type eventualy reflects that changed focus.

    But successful evolution for any role is going to depend on favoring the most effective dogs for that role, and their abilities to respond to the demands of the environments its meant to fill.
    If you are choosing from dogs with no environmental testing, you aren't able to favor the most successful for the job. Even if that is as a 'pet'.

    When it all comes down to it, show dogs are selected only for the illusion they can project on the day. Their responses don't much matter.

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  48. The problem is that so many breeders are ignoring the genetically linked behaviors already present in the dogs they are breeding for this new focus. It is no different than knowing your breed carriers a genetically linked disease for which there is a test but never checking to see the genotype of the dogs you are breeding.

    For example, a breed may carry animal aggression as part of the function for which the breed was developed. Now the breeding goals are no longer for that function and there are new selection criteria (to be a pet). Just because the selection criteria has changed does not mean those already present genes won't be passed on in the breeding. However, the breeder won't know what they are passing on in the pets they are producing without ever testing the sire and dam for those already present genes (animal aggression).

    Just because the breeding goals are new does not mean the breeder is starting with a blank canvas; the canvas they are starting with already has a picture on it.

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  49. Yep. It does. But its only the image presented on the day that counts, and brings reward.

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  50. People need to recognize that ALL dogs are not living as long, mutts and crossbreds included. Cancer is the biggest culprit. All the weed killer, flea killer, heartworm meds, etc., etc., I believe, are having a huge impact on the increased presence of cancers in dogs. I just had to have my oldest Irish Terrier put down last week. He would have been 17 years in a couple months! I still have his two daughters, who will be 16 years old in June. I use ZERO weed killer in my yard. They are not on heartworm meds, as I fortunately live in an area with very little heartworm. Same with flea products. We have few fleas and ticks in our area, so I don't need to use those products. You must look beyond purebred dogs to ALL dogs, with the problems in decreasing longevity in canines!

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  51. In any other animal, a COI of 5% is considered inbred and a COI of 10% severely so. Contrast this with dog breeders who consider 10% to be good, i.e. what they think is a laudable goal (10%) is, in reality, severe inbreeding. Due to the saturation of popular sires, most (UK) Whippet breeders would now struggle to breed a litter with a COI below 10%, so it's unsurprising we're seeing the effects of inbreeding depression (reduced longevity being one of them).

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  52. My American Rant: I have had Dobermans since 1980. Two lived to the age of 14. The others were not so fortunate. Severe inbreeding is only a part of this problem. Dogs suffer from the same problems as we humans are facing, over immunizations which destroys the dog's natural immunity and poor quality and toxic food which destroys the dog's natural immunity. You can immunize your dog with a 1year or a three year rabies shot here in the USA. The only difference is the price. It's the same thing in the bottle, Folks. If you feed no toxic grains, you are still in trouble. The beef, chicken and turkey is feed GMO corn loaded with glyphosates. And the veggies in that expensive food? Sorry but unless it's organic, the vegetables no longer carry the nutrition they used to due to monocultures and agribusiness farming practices. You can do all the genetic testing you want but it won't overcome years of inbreeding and poor nutrition and over immunization. My degrees are in biology and chemistry. I believe in science. But I also know that science A. Lies and B. Changes. In the USA, a whistleblower in the CDC(Center for Disease Control) has come out and said that the CDC lied about children's vaccines. What do you suppose their concern level is for our dogs if they are willing to lie about our children? So could we please start talking about what's really going on here?? It's pretty simple. What has changed? I love my Dobermans!

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    1. Yet with a degree in chemistry you're still an anti-vaxxer and anti-GMO (or should I say pro-preventable disease and pro-starvation?) The mind boggles.

      As a person with a degree in chemistry you should be able to understand that organomercury compounds such as thiomersal (present in vaccines in masses no greater than 1mcg) and their toxicities depend on which groups are bonded to the mercury atom. Thiomersal is mercury bonded to an ethyl group at one end and an atom of sulphur followed by a benzene ring at the other, and breaks down in the body into ethylmercury which is excreted.

      You're probably thinking of methylmercury, which is horribly toxic and bioaccumulates. There's a large difference in chemical structure between them.

      Also, science lies and changes? It changes because new things are always being discovered. With a degree in chemistry you'll no doubt know that the prevailing atomic theory used to be the "plum pudding" model which was functional and worked for the chemistry of the time but then the atom was split and it was realised that this model wasn't functional for nuclear reactions. That's how science might change. It doesn't change by suddenly deciding that actually, it's okay to eat cadmium paint after all.

      I think the comic Preacher put it best about inbreeding: "Son of God or Son of Man, you can't f*** your sister and expect any good to come of it."

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