Sunday, 14 November 2010

Another spot of bother at Discover Dogs

"Five per cent of dalmatians are deaf" a poster on the Dalmatian stand admitted. Good that they're mentioning deafness but pity they didn't get the figure right. Although only five per cent are deaf in both ears, another 15-20 per cent of them are deaf in one ear. In other words, around one in five Dalmatians are born with some degree of deafness. The bilaterally deaf dogs are often euthanased - a nasty business because you can't test them until they are six weeks old. Unilaterally-deaf dogs manage OK but of course God gave Dog two ears on the basis that two are better than one. The problem is that deafness in the breed is perpetuated in part because Dalmatian breeders are obsessed with perfect spotting and select against dogs born with patches. The genetics have yet to be unravelled, but there's little doubt that deafness is linked to the lack of pigment.

Having said that, the KC has recently amended the Dal standard to permit some patching on the head - well done the KC. They weren't terribly pleased about this on the Dalmatian stand: "The Kennel Club is a law unto itself," complained one of the breed reps who also totally denied the urate stone problem in the breed. "Deafness is the only condition they suffer with," she said very firmly indeed when asked about it. And, goodness, what a grimace when asked about the Dalmatian outcross I blogged about a couple of days ago.... You can take it the natives aren't very happy about the mongrel in their midst.


  1. I am ASHAMED and DISGUSTED with this STUPID person. Instead of giving advice to unknowing
    pet owners on diet to help prevent stones, she's
    put MORE dogs at risk!! I hope she can live with herself! DISGUSTED!

  2. Iattended discover dogs today and would like to point out that there is NOT JUST NEGATIVITY ! the dogs on the stand had endless amounts of visiters and children in the booth constantly and were quite happy to have all the fuss so what about temperment isn't that important then afterall the majority go to pet homes don't they!
    Very few dalmatians suffer from bladder stones and as for deafness the fact sheet is correct as a uni can hear from one ear better than we can from two and is still able to lead a perfectly normal life!!AS for breeding for the perfect spotted so called show dog you can't controll the spotting when breeding you get what you get basically and the dog is judged on make,shape and conformation and also fit for function spotting is down to personall choice!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I would be interested to know how you base your comments on deafness is linked to the lack of pigment. Therefore breeders are against patches, I went to the stand yesterday, I have a PATCHED Heavily spotted totally deaf dalmatian, I did not know it was deaf as it had not been tested, when I found out and went back to the breeder they would do nothing then changed their telephone number and refused to speak to me. The people on the stand could not have been more helpful. Since finding out about mine I have found several others with the same problem, they have all been heavily spotted and patched, so cannot see how you can say this

  4. I went to the Dalmatian stand at Discover Dogs to see how they could have allowed the KC to permit the registering of what are in fact mongrels, I gather they were overruled ignored, call it what you will,I also went to the KC stand but could not find anyone who would give me an answer. I think it is a complete disgrace this was allowed happen.

  5. Mongrels? Oh, this is rich indeed. I'd bet the the dogs used to create the "foundation stock" included a few mongrels as well and were used for the simple reason that they showed the characteristics of the breed better than the "official" breed stock is now showing.

  6. It makes me laugh that so many people "high up" in the Dalmatian world, that give out the idea that they are passionate advocates of the breed, yet most of them are too blind, narrow minded and if we're honest.... CRUEL to continually deny a condition that is much more common than they want to admit.

    Mongrel, my arse!! If you were shown a picture of a backcross dog and a pure without knowing the backcross existed, no-one could tell the difference.

    I am ashamed that there are still human beings out there that refuse to try make healthier the breed they say they love because of old fashioned, bigoted views.

    I for one can't wait until the old blood has been washed out, and the breed sees a bigger share of forward thinking breeders ready to take this beautiful breed to a higher more healthier ground.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. In response to: "I would be interested to know how you base your comments on deafness is linked to the lack of pigment."

    Yes, the link between deafness and a lack of pigment is an unusual one. There is a lot of material on the internet about it, some good, some not so good. The latest thinking on this subject is that the presence of pigment cells is important to the development of parts of the inner ear. Dalmatians with fewer spots are therefore more likely to have a low concentration of pigment cells in their inner ear, but as you have quite correctly pointed out there are many Dalmatians with heavy spotting which also have a low concentration of pigment cells in the inner ear and hence are deaf.

    Allowing Dalmatians to have patched heads is a step in the right direction for lowering the chances of deafness because they are more likely to have a high concentration of pigment cells in their inner ear.

    The only way to completely remove this problem and bring the incidence of deafness in Dalmatians down to the level of other dog breeds would be to genetically engineer them to have white coats instead of colourless coats, but this certainly is not a feasible solution at the moment! It is therefore the responsibility of breeders to minimise the chances of deafness in Dalmatians by selective breeding, and it is great to see such forward thinking from the Kennel Club on this subject!

  9. It is not true to say that uni-lateral dogs are euthanased. This is NOT the policy of any dalmatian club. Also having personal experience with the media they are only interested in creating a "storm" and Jemima Harrison has her own agenda and will bend any comments made to her to fit her own criteria.

  10. Anonymous wrote

    "It is not true to say that uni-lateral dogs are euthanased."

    This is a misquote.

    Jemima Harrison wrote

    "The bilaterally deaf dogs are often euthanased."

    This cannot be denied.

    The misquote provides the sort of misinformation which prevents people from reaching rational conclusions about such subjects as the LUA backcross project. How can such an opportunity for the health of this breed be denied?

  11. "I am ashamed that there are still human beings out there that refuse to try make healthier the breed they say they love because of old fashioned, bigoted views."

    And I am ashamed that there are still human beings that feel so strongly in their view of the world that they cannot see the other side of the coin and resort to name calling. Not every person who choses against AKC registration of the backcross dals is "old fashioned" and/or "bigoted" some of us just feel that there is no reason to make decisions that may cause future problems in a breed that we love WITHOUT making sure enough research and data is carefully collected.
    Healthier in what way? IN that some of the dals produced from the backcross dals will be NUA but please don't forget still some will be the "normal" for dals HUA or also known as "diseased"...but what other health problems will they be bringing in to the dal gene pool? Why is it that if all dalmatians carry the gene for HUA that only a small number of them ever form stones? What other things will the breed suffer from when we bring in a new gene and alter the DNA of a breed that has survived for years with this "diseased" DNA? What will happen when these NUA dals are introduced into the gene pool only to find out years later that our breed is now suffering from hip dysplasia or cancer at higher numbers than before?
    Is this being a bigot or old fashioned...or just realistically cautious?

  12. Nope - just stupid.

    These dogs are 99.7 per cent dalmatian. Just about the only thing that remains of the original champion pointer 12 or so generations ago is that healthier copy of the uric acid gene - a copy that every other dog breed has. And in the 30 years or so since this single outcross, no unexpected health problem has surfaced. The backcrossed dals have been well-documented and recorded. The breed may have survived for years with the "diseased" genes, but individual dogs have not, and do not.

    And the most ridiculous thing about all this? You don't have to use these dogs if you don't want to.

  13. "Nope - just stupid." calling still? Is this how you get your point across? This attitude is actually just one of the reasons there are many people in the U.S who do not support the project.
    I DO support the project I just don't feel we should be ready to open up the gene pool yet. I agree that it is ONE answer...but not THE solution and would like to see NUA X NUA breeding first.

  14. I wasn't name-calling. I genuinely just can't think of any other word to describe your position.

    But I'm glad to hear you support the project.

    Why do you want to see a NUA x NUA breeding?

  15. " I genuinely just can't think of any other word to describe your position."
    cautious? Skeptical? Just like you do not like to see dogs bred for extremes (bulldogs etc) I don't like the idea of jumping into this without first dotting all our "i's" and crossing all the "t's".
    The reason I want to see a NUA X NUA breeding first, is to see what happens when you double up on the NUA gene...will other health issues pop up when this happens? This will be a good indicator of what will happen when these dals are introduced into the regular gene pool and breeders start using them. We will find more and more of this gene showing up in pedigrees and we start seeing things we didn't see when they were breeding HUA to NUA or LUA.
    I am not a breeder by the way, but I have owned dalmatians for years. I show in conformation and compete in agility. Both health and temperament are very important to me as is structure/conformation. So far, I have been blessed to own dals who have not had stone forming issues.

  16. I am assuming 17 Nov 2010 14:39 means homozygous NUA X homozygous NUA since any one who has followed this at all knows that there have been many NUA X NUA matings over the years. Nothing has been produced other than Dalmatians who look, act and are no different that most AKC X AKC Dalmatians with the exception of puppies with the normal gene!

  17. "any one who has followed this at all knows that there have been many NUA X NUA matings over the years."
    many??? really? Great!!! I'd love to see some links with pedigrees, pix and info! I thought I was keeping up with the project but apparently not! I was not even aware that one had been done let alone many. I'd love to see the result of these litters! Thank you!

  18. Wow! You guys are really going for the jugular aren't you? I think there will be pros and cons over this for more generations to come. The fact that Dalmatians are one of the Healthiest 'pedigree' breeds out there, compared to so many other breeds, should be taken as a fact and you owners/breeders should be proud of that. Squabbling amongst ourselves is not the answer and certainly not on a public forum. This is totally going over every Dalmatian 'pet owner's' head and not great publicity...well actually it is, you have made it so. The media could have a ball with all of your comments...well done to you!

  19. Urm...with 26 known predispositions, I wouldn't say its one of the healthiest.
    You are right though, squabbling will not help anyone, but some of us are becoming so frustrated with such a lack of progress. I cannot help but believe that human behaviour is getting in the way of the scientific basis and knowledge of dog breeding. Expanding a breeds gene pool by introducing another dog is exactly where I believe the future lies.
    In time I believe it will be possible to locate the genes responsible for these diseases however, if we wait til then all we will be able to do is use the same restricted gene pool.

  20. "I'd love to see the result of these litters!"
    I suggest you visit the European NUA Dalmatian site:

    In the pictures section you can see the details for 3 homozygous NUA Dalmatians (which by definition must have been the result of NUA x NUA matings), and they do look stunning (but then Dals always do don't they!). This information is about a year old now though - as I understand there have been several more NUA x NUA matings since then.

    "Not every person who choses against AKC registration of the backcross dals is "old fashioned" and/or "bigoted" some of us just feel that there is no reason to make decisions that may cause future problems in a breed that we love WITHOUT making sure enough research and data is carefully collected."
    As for more research being done: there has been 30 years of research done so far, and it has all come down in favour of the backcross project. The European NUA Dalmatian website explains some of the science behind the backcross project which should help people to understand why the backcross project is safe.
    Anyone who thinks that the backcross project will harm the Dalmatian breed does NOT understand the science behind it (this is an accurate statement). I suggest such people read up on it rather than criticising those who do understand it!

  21. "what about temperament, if most puppies are booked for pet homes is it wise to breed from a bitch that is frightened of its own shadow, or the other who needs constant reprimand as it growls and snaps at other dogs, as this video proves on both counts, both dogs being the ones discussed in this thread."

    Wow! The link provided by this user goes to the private channel of a youTube user, and I'm willing to bet they don't have permission to distribute it! (especially given that the video in question has now been removed)
    I think this just shows how irrationally desperate these people are - not content with just spreading lies and misinformation, now they are breaking the law as well!

  22. I don't think this was a private video. But I need to apologise for letting through the original post. I didn't read it properly before publishing.

  23. It was a private video. The owner is very upset at the intrusion of her privacy.

    P.S. I'm very impressed that you personally are checking all of the posts on these blogs and yet still letting through any comments opposed to your point of view. Its good to see that you allowing people to see both sides of the argument. Excellent journalism!

  24. That's a disgustingly low thing to say!
    Fiona was PLAYING madly with TEN other dogs!! & enjoying
    herself immensely!
    At our dog garden party - Sally the youngster,had just arrived via 2 flights,
    from the US & was also thrown in amongst TEN other dogs & just as many people
    & was a little apprehensive! I would like to see any of the Dals from the show scene
    be nearly as sociable in such circumstances!
    Both these girls are the sweetest dalmatians! I cant believe how low some people
    will sink! AND that was a PRIVATE video! Despicable!

    Julie Evans

  25. "I'm very impressed that you personally are checking all of the posts on these blogs and yet still letting through any comments opposed to your point of view. Its good to see that you allowing people to see both sides of the argument. Excellent journalism!"

    It would be a very dull place otherwise... It's not journalism, just the wish for the subjects to be debated. I'm letting most comments through - just drawing the line at unsubstantiated, personal nastiness (unless it's directed at me - have developed thick skin over the past two years). Julie, am so sorry I let through the above... as explained, just hadn't read it properly.


  26. I was brought up to believe my name was everything and that I should never allow it to be questioned or caught in deliberate untruths. Therefore I find it amusing that so many post their poison pen comments and sign as anonymous rather than signing their own names.I am just curious if any of the non signers actually expect anyone to read their utterances that they were too ashamed to sign?

    I joined DCA in 1983 and developed a scheme for testing Dalmatian hearing vs phenotypic markers. George Strain at LSU thought it a reasonable idea and began a study in conjunction with UC Davis and Veterinary Neurological in Phoenix. The results are well p published, peer reviewed and accepted science. A power r Point demonstration is found at the link below.

    This study of over 5000 Dais in t he US just about tells all. Loss of hearing in Dals is a combined 30% bilaterally and unilaterally deaf. Many of the better breeders are using this science to make great strides in eliminating deafness from their lines.

    Now as to the LUA Dalmatians, I have owned and bred these wonderful dogs. The blue ribbon commission has spoken and spoken unequivocally in favor of the dogs being registered. Anyone with more valid credentials than these experts, please let me know and present scientific data .


    Ivan Gignac
    Surprise, Arizona, USA

  27. Actually
    just to put the record straight
    Yes Jemima is putting somes posts through but NOT ALL AS jEMIMA KNOWS certain ones are not being let through if they blacken her !!!!

  28. Want to remind me what I haven't put through of yours?


  29. We too were at discover dogs. Our Dalmatians were impeccably behaved, they have great temperaments and enjoy every minute of there time at Discover Dogs. Dalmatians like most pedigree dog breeds have health problems.
    Jemima It is completely wrong to suggest that unilaterally hearing Dalmatians have lifelong problems. I own one and she lives a perfectly happy life. She is a great guard dog and has excellent recall off the lead! Unilaterally hearing Dalmatians do have a pre-disposition to have bilaterally hearing offspring so SHOULD NOT be bred from. Responsible breeders should be endorsing the pedigrees of Unilaterally hearing Dalmatians.
    It is TOTALLY untrue that ALL bilaterally hearing Dalmatians are euthanised at six weeks old. There is a charity All Dalmatian Welfare that will help re-home and train deaf Dalmatians that have very specific and challenging needs. The breed clubs keep accurate records of hearing test results carried out on members litters. These results are analysed so that any correlation of factors that lead to fully hearing litters can be pursued.
    Dalmatians do form bladder stones as do several other dog breeds. As well as the backcross project the British Dalmatian Club is gathering information on the gene pool of UK Dalmatians. As you know the basis for all sound research is to capture accurate information. This is paramount and will ensure an accurate outcome of any further research work, this process however takes time.
    Many people within the breed and outside too seem to be unaware that Royal Canin have a food on the market, Dalmatian 22. This is available without a Vets prescription. This can be purchased from any Pet Store or from them directly. This food contains none of the protein Purine that causes Urate stones to form in the bladder (the most common cause of Urinary tract blockage in Dalmatians). It is competitively priced and will hopefully help alleviate this problem in Dalmatians until which time any further research can be carried out. Good breeders should be providing information for new owners explaining about the Dalmatians unique Urinary system and what foods to feed and those to avoid. The UK breed club websites have food lists to download and print off these list foods by their Purine content.
    I am always a little concerned Jemima about the amount of ignorance about our breed and the lack of knowledge about the work being done by the UK Dalmatian breed clubs. Dalmatians after all can breath normally, run, jump and play. They can give birth to their offspring normally generally without Cesarian Section. The breed has remained structurally similar for hundreds of years and is free from any physical exaggerations. Dalmatians do have health problems as a breed and the breed clubs are attempting to solve them through measured accurate research. It is a pity you couldn't have spoken to someone else at Discover dogs Jemima maybe you would have got a more measured and accurate response?
    Maybe working WITH the breed clubs as well as with individuals involved in the back-cross project would better serve the Health of Dalmatians? This destructive back-and-forth, combative approach from both sides of this argument is nothing but damaging to all.

  30. Anon wrote: "Jemima It is completely wrong to suggest that unilaterally hearing Dalmatians have lifelong problems."

    I didn't. I wrote: "Unilaterally-deaf dogs manage OK but of course God gave Dog two ears on the basis that two are better than one."

    Surely no one is going to argue with that?

    Anon wrote: "It is TOTALLY untrue that ALL bilaterally hearing Dalmatians are euthanised at six weeks old." But most are, aren't they? Until very recently, it was in the British Dal Club's Code of Conduct that bilaterally deaf dogs should be put to sleep and probably still would be if the KC hadn't insisted the phrase was removed.

    As it happens, I think that it makes sense to cull bilaterally deaf dogs - unless of course homes can be found for them.

    However you should be doing more to reduce the amount of deaf dogs born given that the deaf figures have not decreased in many years now of testing.

  31. Jemima how sad that you wish to continue this back-and-forth. We could argue about specific phrases for years. Lets get on with solving the health problems that affect all Pedigree dogs. My e-mail was attempting to be conciliatary. Maybe not everyone has the same agenda?

  32. OK, let's get on with solving the problems. Given that there's no information on the BDC's website regarding research, perhaps you could tell me:

    1. what genetic research is ongoing regarding deafness in dalmatians? (I'd be very happy to put out a plea here for DNA samples for the researchers.)
    2. Any update on plans for an official KC BAER testing scheme for Dals?
    3. Why BAER testing is not currently mandatory for Dals under the requirements of the KC's Accredited Breeding Scheme given that this is supposed to set an example for breeding for health? (It is only "recommended".)

  33. Hi Jemima

    1 The Animal Health Trust in Suffolk regularly take DNA samples from Dalmatians. Hearing, bilaterally and unilaterally hearing dogs are tested. I do know that The British Dalmatian Club has supported this financially in the past. One of my litters has been tested. I know from talking to staff at the Animal Health Trust that a "test" for deafness is a way off yet. It is felt that due to the complex nature of the causes of deafness (it is thought to involve several genes) that a definitive test may be difficult to develop.

    2 This is a question for the UK Kennel Club. This is something that the joint clubs have been pushing for (at the same time as draughting the updated breed standard) and we were all disappointed that BAER was not included as a compulsory test. Personally I feel that ALL Dalmatians registered with the Kennel Club should be hearing tested even puppy farmers are doing it. There really is no excuse not to test puppies.

    3 Jemima we completely agree on this one. We don't understand why either. This would be a real break through if the KC did insist. I can only wonder why they don't make it compulsory? Maybe they are worried about registrations falling if people don't register their litters. The Kennel Club has a real internal conflict of interest. What may also be useful is to insist that litters can only be registered to parents that are bilaterally hearing. The collecting of data has confirmed that statistically if both parents are BAER hearing tested normal they are MOST LIKELY to have fully hearing off-spring.

    There is much ignorance still as you found at Discover Dogs maybe we need to be more open and publicise what the Clubs are doing?

  34. Thank you very much for this info. I have actually chased the KC re the official BAER testing scheme. Their response? "In hand and will be announced in due course."

  35. Jemima,
    There are exhibitors and Dalmatian enthusiasts who really care about their dogs and the future of our lovely breed. May I add that I personally applaud your "crusade". As you can see I have chosen to remain anonymous as sadly (for now) not all people in Dalmatians are happy to be open. We have some good people in Dalmatians working hard to improve the health of our beloved spotty dogs.

    I understand the anger that you have and that you must have been faced with and it does come across in some of your e-mail exchanges. Jemima the only way forward is to face these health problems head-on in a constructive manner. Have you approached the UK Dalmatian breed clubs? Have you offered to hear their side? Maybe a different approach from both sides would bear fruit, openness and transparency can only be nurtured if both sided trust each other. ? WE ALL could be instumental in changing dog breeding practices in the UK for the better with clubs onside.

    Good luck

  36. Well after reading all you arguments I'd like to add that I own one of Sally's pups and she has the most amazing temperament. Yes she is from the backcross project and is a wonderful bilateral hearing pup. with lua parents she is actually a hua dal the same as my other dal who incidentally dosent have such a good temprament as the pup although she is also lovely and sweet and unilateral deaf/hearing. I agree with the backcross project and now many many more LUA x LUA litters are being born.