Friday, 4 March 2011

"The bitch is trying to be undercover at Crufts again..."

Intelligent barracking is always welcome here. But I do get one or two nasty comments sent to me - always from some anonymous illiterate - and I don't publish them, figuring they're between me and my e-stalkers.

But this one this afternoon made me laugh:

"I hear the bitch is tryingto be under cover at Crufts again with photographer in toe" [sic]

Well no. The bitch is going fully cognito (as I have done for the past four years). And no toe-cam, I promise!  So if someone in a wig and a raincoat sidles up to you with what appears to be a long lens sticking out of their mac.. Don't panic! It's just a pervert.

I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Mate Select - the KC's new initiative aimed at tackling genetic diversity. Mate Select launches next week at Crufts (although won't go live online for a while). It sounds good, it really does - allowing anyone to access the co-efficient of inbreeding (COI) of an individual dog or the progeny of a virtual mating. Also available will be the mean COIs of the breed. More next week when I've seen it.


  1. Lots of breeds already have this kind of database here's the one for my breed

    Ours also records loads of other information too - for example if you type in the name of one of my bitches ' Bijou Du Clos Des Agapornis ' you'll see lots fo other details about her - all useful stuff when planning a mating

    to be honest most good breeders will already use this type of technology and will factor in COI's when choosing stud dogs as just one piece of information they need to have -but there will be many other factors to consider as well - things like untestable health conditions , construction, temperament, pigmentation, coat, sufficient bone , working ability... dogs may look a good match using programmes such as this but throw monorchid male pups - or excessively shy temperaments or narrow fronts - there is frankly no substitute for breeder knowledge - kudos to the Kennel Club for this initiative but COI's results should not over ride all other factors when planning a litter .

    ...and I just cringe at the 'Woof he's fit' slogan !!!

  2. Yes, a dreaful slogan... And, absolutely, COI is only one small measure to be taken into consideration when breeding. But I do think the KC deserves some praise for this one. It is the first tangible evidence that they are taking genetic diversity seriously in a broad educational sense.

    I see it as a genuine breakthrough and Caroline Kisko sounded genuinely proud of it in a recent email exchange (if, that is, it is possible to sound proud via email).

    Mate Select isn't just COI - it will incorporate BVA/KC health test results, too, and eventually will build into offering EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values) and, ultimately GBVs (Genomic Breeding Values). Again, these won't be anything like the whole measure of a dog but they will provide genuinely useful tools for breeders.

    Now all we need is to find a way for the show-ring to properly reward health (points for lower COIs/points for good health test results/points for long-lived parents/grandparents, points for proven working ability etc) and - da-dah- my job will be done.:-)

  3. Just echoing Yvonne's comments - there is NO substitute for breeder knowledge.

    Most serious breeders own or have access to a pedigree program that allows them to build up their own database and calculate COIs for as many generations as it required. (Mate Select can only calculate COIs for a particular breed based on the dogs entered on the KC database, which for a breed that is fairly new to the UK is not necessarily particularly meaningful.)

    Like many others, I list the COIs of all my dogs, together with their health status, on my own website. For example:

    Jeff Sampson's stated view is that Mate Select actually offers very little to the serious breeder, who will already have all this information and a lot more (including that vital 'breeder knowledge'). Those who will benefit are prospective puppy owners (if they can be bothered to look) and the pet breeder who has no real contact with a breed club or with others with experience in that breed - again, if they can be bothered to look.

    So once again, it's a nice idea that panders to Jemima and her continual sniping at the KC, but whether it really is value for money is, to say the least, open to question.

  4. "Now all we need is to find a way for the show-ring to properly reward health (points for lower COIs/points for good health test results/points for long-lived parents/grandparents, points for proven working ability etc) and - da-dah- my job will be done.:-)

    No, it doesn't always work like that, Jemima.

    Follow the link I have just given. Gloria is (still) more than able to hold her own in the show ring - she was BOB at Midland Counties last October, despite being well into Veteran. Her sire was 14 when he died, her dam is still alive (and winning BV awards). Her grandsire (also twice her gt-grand-sire) and her grand-dam both reached 15 - and Ben won more than 50 BVIS awards!

    Yet Gloria's COI, over 10 generations, is just over 80%!!! Presumably, under your system, that would negate all the quality, healthy dogs that are behind her?

  5. ps. If you are at Crufts on Thursday morning (incognito or otherwise) you are more than welcome to come to the Cesky Terrier Discover Dogs stand to meet Gloria and the rest of the Ridley gang.

  6. This is great, but what about the other 95% of pedigree puppies who don't come from breeders of show dogs? there are at least 4 people breeding pugs on my estate and they are doing it with absolutely no plan or forethought in mind. Take a look at epupz, there are dozens of pug pages!!

  7. Absolutely, Anonymous!

    But then, no-one made a TV programme telling them that what they are doing is wrong, did they?

  8. And there was I think you would be pleased I had been nice to the KC for once, Sheila... Ah well.

    Yes, I'm aware that some serious breeders already have access to their own databases/COI calculators but then again many don't (particularly re COI). And this will definitely be of use to hobby breeders who need to be encouraged to do the right thing.The ability to print off a three-gen health pedigree is genuinely useful for many and I will certainly use it when distressed pet owners with sick dogs contact me. There are many occasions in the past few years when this would have been a big help when researching the pedigrees of sick dogs. Yes, the individual results are there if you have a written pedigree and are prepared to plough through the current Health Test Finder one by one - but this will be much quicker.

    Re your Ceskys being marked down in the show-ring for having high COIs - you and I both know the cost of the level of inbreeding you see in Ceskys, even if the breed has been relatively lucky in terms of specific genetic diseases. If points were awarded for a dog having a COI less than the breed mean, I think that would be a positive step - as long as there isn't an overemphasis on COI because, as I say above, it is only one measure. In the case you cite, Gloria's longer-lived family (although they're not THAT long-lived given that these are terriers after all) would be plus points. It would be good to look sideways as well as vertically in the pedigree for data (eg siblings/cousins etc).

  9. PS: thank you for the offer to drop by the Discover Dogs stand. Will come and say hello.

  10. "and - da-dah- my job will be done.:-) "

    ....umm YOUR job ? ....I don't think so - have you ever bred a litter ? have you added any data - done any health testing or worked out teh Coi's of your own dogs ? in fact have you added a single positive thing to any breeds gene pool ? no Jemima it's all those dedicated breed enthusiasts ( the overwhelming majority of whom show their dogs ) who have actually put in all the hard work....and we've been quietly collating , updating, maintaining and using data banks such as this for many years BEFORE your one sided programme was ever aired. about pointing out to the genral public all the good work that show breeders do - just before Crufts would be a great time to set the record straight ....

  11. "although they're not THAT long-lived given that these are terriers after all"

    Very few dogs - including cross-breeds - reach over 15. Gloria's breeder often jokes that she is running an Old Dogs Home, as she has so many veteran around.

  12. There are dedicated breeders out there who do all the health tests, love their dogs, spend loads on them, who man stands, raise money, keep databases, take enormous care in raising and placing their puppies and truly believe they are doing the right thing.

    But however well intentioned, many of those dedicated breed enthusiasts have been at least in part responsible for bringing some breeds to their knees by refusing to embrace modern genetic principles, by the depletion of precious gene pools through inbreeding and the over-use of top-winning dogs; through the utterly erroneous belief that function follows form, an obsession with purity at the cost of health and the ridiculous notion that a dog's worth can be measured by trotting a dog round a showring.

    If I was the only one saying this, I'd have to concede the point about my armchair prosthletising. But every single report into dog breeding tells it as I do and faced with the charges the KC is, finally, beginning to address the issues.

    So, please, give up the ad hominen attacks. The point is not the validity of the messenger - it is the validity of the message.

  13. All that you say is true, Jemima - BUT

    By concentrating solely on those that show their dogs (in the belief that evaluation of a dog's conformation, soundness and, yes, adherence to the breed standard gives a conscientious breeder a benchmark whereby the quality of their breeding programme can be assesssed) and totally ignoring the harm done to various breeds by the puppy farmers, backyard breeders and pet breeders, who are rarely even aware of health issues, who don't study pedigrees and often have no knowledge about how inbred or otherwise their litters might be, you are doing untold harm to dogs, and at best confusing, at worst deceiving those whose only wish is to purchase a happy, healthy puppy.

    Show breeders are an easy target; how about turning your considerable energy and passion on those who really need to be condemned for their uncaring, money-grabbing attitude to dogs?

  14. I must say Sheila I agree with you on this one. Although there are some show breeders out there who obviously only care about winning at any cost, there are many who do care about their chosen breed and are trying to reduce health problems.

    What people need to remember is that the dog is a an animal, the same as a cow, sheep or even us and every animal suffers health problems, even humans. There is no way on earth that ALL health problems could be removed from dogs, same as there is no way all health problems could be removed from humans.

    What we need to do is educate the judges firstly on what a fit for purpose dog is, so they are not choosing the over exagerated glamour models, but are choosing the well constructed, sound, healthy dogs. That way, breeds will change for the better, just like they many have previously changed for the worse.

    Then puppy farms need to be tackled, as these establishments churn out far more unhealthy dogs than show breeders do and their dogs are kept in far worse conditions.

  15. Some kind of regulation should be there to monitor the Content of TV programmes.

  16. While it is fantastic that there are more 'tools' availabe to assist breeders, this is all they are, tools - not solutions. Ultimatly there is no substitute for breeder knowledge and experience. I do feel much more emphasis should be placed on experienced breeders acting as mentors to those who are new to the breed, as used to happen quite reguarly. Nothing can be gained by keeping 'trade secrets' and it is so vital to the long term welfare of a breed than knowledge is pooled amongst those dedicated to it.

    It is not all simply about genetic diversity either. Humans are probably now the most genetically outcrossed species and yet sadly, we have a pretty significant load of inherited diseases and lifespan for many is not particuarly long.
    It was interesting to watch the recent 'Madagascar' series on BBC 2. Species of animal live in isolation and have done so for millenia. They exist nowhere else in the world and have relitivley small populations restricted by the very nature of the place where they live. Fair enough, most are highly specialised to fill the particualar ecological niche which they occupy and should this disappear, they are often ill suited to change. However, providing the environment is there, they have sucessfully managed to exist (and doubtless inbreed!) for a very long time without worrying about COIs etc and with no obvious ill effects. Food for thought?

    In relation to Sheila and Manda's comments, I wholeheartedly agree. It is so easy to focus on show breeders and blame all the ills on them, simply because they are an easily identifiable group who will respond to pressure. It is a mistaken belief that changes 'for the better' in the show world will somehow trickle down to the grim world of puppy farming.
    While it remains legal for someone to mass produce countless hundreds of puppies with little thought for anything other than making as much money as possible, the welfare problems will continue.

  17. I'm getting the sense that a lot of breeders are terrified that science will render their archaic views obsolete. LOL

  18. If you do a quick google scholar search for the words inbreeding avoidance you'll find a lot of evidence that animals have evolved mechanisms to reduce the risks of inbreeding in natural situations.

  19. And another thing...Show breeders arguing that "all animals have diseases" and "humans have inherited diseases"--LOL! Do you even believe what you are saying? Are you honestly arguing that there is no problem with the health of purebred dogs--that they are just as healthy as humans?

    The reason Jemima is targeting the show breeders is that the responsiblity for the ruination of breeds falls on your shoulders. If you're so much more reputable and ethical than the back yarders, why are you not embracing Jemima's proposed solutions? You've gotten yourselves in quite a pickle using your "tried and true" methods. Your dogs are sickly as hell. Maybe it's time to let go of superstition and embrace science. Maybe "breeder knowledge and experience" actually hasn't done a damn thing for the dogs thus far. You all are coming across as very selfish, and very scared.

  20. I love the argument that "because the puppy millers will never change, the show breeders shouldn't have to try to breed healthier dogs." Do you realize what you are saying makes NO sense!?

    And now, I'm done. LOL

  21. ...By ensuring that the fittest/most adapted get to produce the next generation and by exercising mate choice - which as we know in wolves means that the females are capable of choosing the most genetically diverse mates, even if they are on paper similarly related.

    This doesn't apply to how we breed dogs, of course.

  22. "Fair enough, most are highly specialised to fill the particualar ecological niche which they occupy and should this disappear, they are often ill suited to change. However, providing the environment is there, they have sucessfully managed to exist (and doubtless inbreed!) for a very long time without worrying about COIs etc and with no obvious ill effects. Food for thought?"

    No. That is an argument that does not apply to dogs or any domestic species, and it is the intelligent breeder that will stop using it when confronted with the issue of closed registries.

    Wolves, closest living relative of the dog, practice inbreeding avoidance if given the chance. Even the Channel Island foxes, which live on islands and simply don't have a lot of mate choice, practice inbreeding avoidance. Comparing dogs to completely unrelated animals, on an island like Madagascar, under completely different selection pressures and subject to both balancing selection and coevolution, is ignorant at best and intellectually dishonest at worst.

  23. Well if the Lemurs in Madagascar only chose as a mate the ones with the longest tails and the best stripes I think we could safeley say they would have gone the way of the Dodo !

  24. Annie,
    In response to your comments, I can't actually see here that anyone is saying all is well with the world of pedigree (show) dogs, nor indeed that 'improvement' is not necessary. That seems to be your own interpretation.
    Certainly as far as health testing is concerned, the 'show' breeding community is really the ONLY group of breeders who have demonstrated a desire and commitment to improving the health of their chosen breeds. The funding and market place for the various testing schemes has virtually exclusively come from this sector. It is hardly accurate therefore to say 'let go of superstition and embrace science' when most of the recent developments have stemmed from show breeders realising there is an issue and wanting to tackle it. Of course there are those, as Manda has said, who care for little else other than winning, but they are in a minority.

    It is usually overlooked but please bear in mind that those who breed dogs to show are going to retain dogs for themselves, which they will cherish and love. Why then would someone wish to knowingly perpetuate an issue which is likely to manifest in their own dog(s)? Also reputation counts for a great deal and word quickly gets around where there is a problem. None of this is true for either commercial breeders/puppy farmers or indeed, backyard breeders who see taking a litter off the family pet as a way to make some easy money. They are simply not interested in the long term - unlike most show breeders who are looking towards the future of the breed.

    There are health issues, I don't think for one minute that any (sane) person is denying this. Usually these have only become apparent comparetively recently and a means for identifying and therefore controlling them, even more so. The fact that there has been significant progress in a very short time is largely due to show breeders.

    It is very easy to list a catalogue of problems and present what appear to be instant solutions, but dogs are not like cars. You cannot simply remove a 'faulty component'. For example, Jemima is concerned about the overuse of popular sires, which can be a problem, but limiting the number of times a dog can be used could also have reprocussions. It could mean that only a 'select' group of people get to use a particular dog. Those who are not in this group will have to use the next best dog until his quota has been filled, and so on. Stud fees will probably increase and some breeders will resort to using a dog which is unsuitable, simply because a better one is no longer available. I don't like everyone flocking to use the newest champion, but would prefer to have a good dog widely used than a poor one used as a last resort. Genetic diversity is increased but at what cost? Most 'solutions' are similarly double edged swords. This is why breeder knowledge and expeerince is dismissed at your peril. Breeeding animals is not comparable to engineering.

    Yes, many show breeders are scared. Scared that there are going to be so many regulations and requirements imposed upon them that while they are trying hard to comply, puppy farmers and back yard breeders will easily be able to side step the rules and continue as before. Why drive those who are already trying to do their best for dogs into oblivion while leaving puppy farmers and BYB to their own devices?

    I am genuinly interested Annie as to where you would go to purchase a puppy? Who do you regard as a 'good' breeder?

  25. Julia,

    Purebred dogs are so damaged, I'm not sure where I would go at this point. I've bought two very sick dogs from successful show breeders, and I've bought a very messed up dog from a backyard all three cases the breeders pretty much turned on me and made the dogs' problems my fault.

    I think both camps are lacking in the ethics department. In the case of the show breeders, for many (not all) showing becomes the be-all and end-all, and of course the backyard breeders are breeding for the money...both seem as though they'd die before they ever gave a dollar back to any puppy buyer for any reason...

    So I'm not sure where I'd get my next dog. I think most breeds are in deep trouble, and I think at some point outcrossing needs to be considered. It's not right that dogs are so sick and have such shortened lifespans. Something can be done, but it's going to involve people getting over their ideas about the sanctity of breed purity like we've seen with the dalmatian people. It's just frustrating but I certainly don't think most backyard breeders are doing anything to help the situation either.

  26. can anyone tell me what the title of this post has to do with pedigreed dogs? and if you do not want 'ad hominen attacks".. what post something that calls attention to yourself instead of your supposed chosen cause

  27. "many of those dedicated breed enthusiasts have been at least in part responsible for bringing some breeds to their knees by refusing to embrace modern genetic principles,"

    ...what would those be then ? because from where I'm standing it is the showing fraternity that is at the forefront of embracing modern genetic principles ...what other catagory of breeder imports new lines, uses frozen semen, health tests, calculates COI's , forms health committees ,works with geneticists , does DNA testing etc etc ... I'm confused as to what it is that you want here Jemima ? - perhaps you could enlighten us by spelling out exactly how you see the future of pedigree dogs ? you NOT want the hundreds of individual breeds we currently have ? -

    "why are you not embracing Jemima's proposed solutions?"

    well what would those be ? - to produce only cross breeds ? .......

  28. Sadly yes the world of pedigree dogs is in a sorry state and I am certainly not denying that for one moment. What I am saying is that in my eyes, it is 50% the show judges fault and 50% the breeders fault for breeding from over exagerated dogs to please the judges, that some dogs have been changed almost beyond recognition from their earlier relatives. Yes these changes do bring new health problems along with them, but many health problems have been around for a long time and I do believe that many breeders have worked hard to reduce and control these problems.

    The puppy farmers would have had to get their "stock" from somewhere and if that stock had any genetic problem, these people would not have been health testing or choosing mates which did not have the same problem or much less of a problem, to try and reduce the risk of passing it on. They are breeding for money and nothing else.

    Show breeders, or at least the vast majority, are using the health tests available and choosing mates which will reduce the risk of passing on problems. Therefore they are making the best of what they have to work with.

    Sadly many puppy farmers these days are now breeding "designer cross breds" and calling them "Rare Breeds" and charging a fortune for them. These dogs will still have the same genetic problems as their pure-bred cousins, and possibly even more as 2 breeds of dog with different problems put together, equals puppies with potentially 4 problems each!

  29. Manda,

    Jemima has already talked about the health of crossbreeds vs. purebreds. Any recessive health disorders which are unique to one breed will not be expressed in the crossbred dog. Plus they will automatically have double the genetic diversity of each of their parents, meaning the likelihood of diseases related to a lack of genetic diversity, such as autoimmune problems, will be much lessened.

    While I acknowledge these crossbreeding people are just trying to make a buck off a trend, there's no doubt their dogs are healthier than the average purebred dog.

  30. Margaret Carter6 March 2011 at 17:12

    The problem is there are ethical breeders and unethical breeders, and I would say that PDE mainly dealt with those that had no ethics.

    I do sometimes wonder if many of the indignant breeders here only look only at their own breeding programmes, or perhaps they are lucky enough to be in one of the very few minority breeds that attract only responsible dedicated breeders?

    There are many breeders that can and do talk about top exhibitors in their own breeds that do not health test and that engage in less than desirable practices.
    Any check on health tests will show that the number of dogs that could be tested, and that are tested, do not tally in any way.

    As an ex-show breeder who owned a top stud dog, and found he had a newly recognised inherited health problem, I can say that in the commercially popular breed I own the influential 'show' breeding community were not, and in some notable cases still are not, committed to health.

    They are the breeders who care for little else other than winning, and they do not want to test and find they have a problem in their top winning stock.
    Unfortunately they are not in a minority, as any simple check on health testing information will show.

    In my experience of fundraising for two different health problems, more donations come from pet owners with affected dogs than from breeder/exhibitors.
    In Cavaliers £11,000 has been raised in so many months by a pet owner initiative to pay for breeders to scan their older dogs.

    It may be that many of the breeders writing here do retain dogs for themselves, which they will cherish and love into old age, and that being so I'm sure they will do everything possible to breed healthy dogs.
    I am just as certain you will know many people in your breed that rehome dogs once they are too old to show or breed, and perhaps they would not be so concerned about health issues showing up in older dogs?

  31. Thanks Annie, but I must say that i am not sure this would be the case always. Not all health problems are recessive sadly and maybe these recessive problems wouldn't show in the first generation, but if these dogs were bred on from, these problems are likely to re-surface just like they do in the pure-breds.

  32. re homing a dog when it is older can sometimes be a wonderful thing for both dog and new owner.. many senior citizens prefer an older trained dog that can walk on a leash without pulling them .. or even people who work all day.. they prefer a dog that can stay at home without constant supervision that a puppy requires.. and the older dog gets a soft couch and more belly rubs that they might get in a multi dog household..
    health issues will ALWAYS show up in older dogs.. it is called getting old. Please do not think that if a breeder re homes an older dog that it is a bad thing.. it si not.
    and although 11,000 pounds is a lot of money and Cav breeders and owners should be proud, it is a drop in the bucket compared to what the KC and the AKC fund for the health ALL dogs..

  33. Annie.. have you ever though of a cat? Dogs are not "so sick".. most dogs.. crossbreeds and pure have nice long healthy life spans..
    annie.. can you point me the scientific study that says:

    "there's no doubt their dogs are healthier than the average purebred dog."
    and Bravo Yvonne I too would love to see this in writing:
    . I'm confused as to what it is that you want here Jemima ? - perhaps you could enlighten us by spelling out exactly how you see the future of pedigree dogs ? ...

  34. bestuvall, I don't think anything I said was remotely controversial. I would argue that most purebreds do NOT live nice, long healthy lifespans. And F1 crossbreds, again, are not going to suffer from any breed-specific recessive genetic diseases from either parent breed. Most crossbreeders stick with the F1 crosses for this reason--once you begin breeding the crossbred dogs to each other, you lose some of the health benefit of the initial cross.

    Of course there are some problems like hip dysplasia which may be present in both parent breeds so in that case the crossbreeding wouldn't be much of a help. And I don't believe most crossbreeders check hips, as the cost of the testing would lower their profit margins, and also (like Margaret mentioned with show breeders) many of them don't want to know whether their dogs have bad hips or not.

  35. "and Bravo Yvonne I too would love to see this in writing:"

    ...except of course we won't - have we had a direct answer to any of the questions asked about what Jemima thinks ethical breeders should do ? - hell no - it's far easier to point the finger and criticise others than define what her 'proposed solution' would be ! ...if we're confused then god knows what prospective puppy buyers must be at the message she's trying to deliver.

    "I would argue that most purebreds do NOT live nice, long healthy lifespans. And F1 crossbreds, again, are not going to suffer from any breed-specific recessive genetic diseases from either parent breed. Most crossbreeders stick with the F1 crosses for this reason--once you begin breeding the crossbred dogs to each other, you lose some of the health benefit of the initial cross." here's someone who nails their colours to the mast .... this poster believes the way forward is to only breed F1's certainly an option - adieu then all our wonderful individual breeds .....and I'd certainly question the health benefits of crossing some breeds together - for example what would I cross my BSD with ? ...GSD ? hmmm not really a step forward in health I think !! about Collie then ( after all it's another pastoral breed ) - at the moment BSD do not have CEA but hell the risk must be worth taking ?

    well then what about a Poodle ?- tried and tested ..just BOUND to produce healthier dogs than my fit active long lived naturally conformed breed ....Groenendoodle anyone ?

  36. "The problem is there are ethical breeders and unethical breeders, and I would say that PDE mainly dealt with those that had no ethics."

    But what a shame that PDE didn't make that clear - it woud have been such an opportunity to point potential puppy buyers in the right direction.

    Margaret, I don't dispute that it is the pet owners who are most pro-active with regard to raising money for research in CKCS - although I do think your breed is in a special situation, because of the numbers of pet-bred litters.

    I'm well aware that many of the 'top' breeders of Cavaliers don't MRI scan, but it would be (genuinely) interesting to know what proportion of dogs diagnosed with SM come from litters bred by members of the various breed clubs as opposed to those from pet/puppy farm litters.

    For example, I understand (but am more than happy to be corrected if I am wrong) that the heartrending case highlighted on PDE was not from a show breeder - although the impression given was that this was so.

    In most other breeds it is certainly the breed clubs (ie. mainly show breeders) that do the most fund-raising.

  37. I don't believe that breed clubs' focus on finding tests for every new genetic disease is the wisest course of action...their breeding practices are simply going to result in dogs developing more and more increase in genetic diversity is needed to effect real change!

  38. Margaret Carter7 March 2011 at 20:10

    Sheila, our experiences are formed from two very different breeds with very different people influencing what is said and done.

    I recently designed a website to give puppy buying advice to cavalier buyers,, and I had great problems deciding where to direct them as no organisation actually provides the information that gives them the best chance of a SM free puppy.

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of SM affected dogs come from breed club members and how many from non-show breeders, but I don't know how that could be done.

    What I do know is that the low cost MRI Schemes, that are unlikely to be used by puppy farmers or ill informed pet owner/breeders, report that over 50% of the young breeding stock they scan already have pockets of fluid within the spinal cord.

    With that rate of SM affectedness within the show breeding stock, I think it is time for cavalier breeders to stop worrying about puppy farmers and start worrying about properly breeding to the guidelines that may help us contain the problem.

    I'm afraid I do not know what the breeding of the badly affected cavalier on PDE was, but I can tell you that my Champion top UK stud dog, who is behind eight out of the ten new Cavalier Champions last year, had bouts of pain that were even more distressing.
    Unfortunately these symptoms first started in 2003 when he was eleven years, and before there were any MRI schemes.He was euthanised when it became clear the pain could not be controlled.

    His two close rivals in the stud dog stakes also produced affected dogs and they are in the pedigree of the other two new champions.

    My own belief, but I have no figures to prove it, is that it is the line bred show stock that is the worse affected with SM, although other common health problems such as MVD and slipping patella are even worse in puppy farm dogs.

  39. Thanks for that Margaret. Of course you are right - our two breeds are very different in numbers and we effectively have no 'pet breeders'. As someone put it recently, "every Cesky Terrier puppy born is important to the breed" - in fact my problem is that too many valuable (in genetic terms) dogs go into pet homes and are neutered at the first possible opportunity under pressure from vets, thus being lost from the gene pool.

    I've got to know the CKCS quite well over the last few years and if I were 20 years younger I might be tempted to become a breeder, but I think the problems are just too difficult to face at my advanced age. Surely there must be some way of collating information from vets about cases of SM? Something along the lines of a 'notifiable disease'? I guess you may well be right in your assumption that SM is the scourge of the show breeders whilst MVD (and slipping patella) is very common in the puppy farm dogs.

  40. For those who wanted 'the scientific study' that produced evidence that mixed breeds live longer than purebred dogs, here are two:

    1. A study by Dr Kelly M Cassidy found the average lifespan of a purebred dog was 9.82 years vs and of a mixed breed dog was 14 years (last updated 2008). It is freely available on the web for those who care to look.

    2. A Danish study conducted in 2003 found that purebred dogs live an average of 10 years while mixed breed dogs live for an average of 11 years. This study is not available on the web so here are the details for those who wish to see it for themselves:

    Journal: Preventive Veterinary Medicine
    Vol/Issue: 58 (1-2), Date: Apr 30, 2003, Pages: 63-74
    Article: Mortality of purebred and mixed-breed dogs in Denmark
    Author(s): Proschowsky, H

    While there is a discrepancy between the studies over the average ages of each group, the overall result is consistent: mixed breed dogs have longer life spans.

  41. Sorted by breed These data are from Michell (1999).[6] The total sample size for his study was about 3,000 dogs,.
    Afghan Hound 12
    Airedale Terrier 11.2
    American Stafford. Terrier 12.3
    Basset Hound 12.8
    Beagle 13.3
    Bearded Collie 12.3
    Bedlington Terrier 14.3
    Bernese Mountain Dog 7
    Border Collie 13
    Border Terrier 13.8
    Boxer 10.4
    Bull Terrier 12.9
    Bulldog 6.7
    Bullmastiff 8.6
    Cairn Terrier 13.2
    Cav. King Charles Spaniel 10.7
    Chihuahua 13
    Chow Chow 13.5
    Cocker Spaniel 12.5
    Dachshund 12.2
    Dalmatian 13
    Doberman Pinscher 9.8
    Breed Exp.
    English Cocker Spaniel 11.8
    English Setter 11.2
    English Springer Spaniel 13
    English Toy Spaniel 10.1
    Flat-Coated Retriever 9.5
    German Shepherd 10.3
    German Shorthaired Pointer 12.3
    Golden Retrievers 12
    Gordon Setter 11.3
    Great Dane 8.4
    Greyhound 13.2
    Irish Red and White Setter 12.9
    Irish Setter 11.8
    Irish Wolfhound 6.2
    Jack Russell Terrier 13.6
    Labrador Retriever 12.6
    Lurcher 12.6
    Miniature Dachshund 14.4
    Miniature Pinscher 14.9
    Miniature Poodle 14.8
    Random-bred/Mongrel 13.2
    Norfolk Terrier 10
    Old English Sheepdog 11.8
    Pekingese 13.3
    Breed Exp.
    Pomeranian 14.5
    Rajapalayam hound 11.2
    Rhodesian Ridgeback 9.1
    Rottweiler 9.8
    Rough Collie 12.2
    Samoyed 11
    Scottish Deerhound 9.5
    Scottish Terrier 12
    Shetland Sheepdog 13.3
    Shiba Inu 14
    Shih Tzu 13.4
    Siberian Husky 13.5
    Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier 13.2
    Staffordshire Bull Terrier 14
    Standard Poodle 12
    Tibetan Terrier 14.3
    Toy Poodle 14.4
    Vizsla 12.5
    Weimaraner 10
    Welsh Corgi 11.3
    Welsh Springer Spaniel 11.5
    West Highland White Terrier 12.8
    Wire Fox Terrier 13
    Yorkshire Terrier 12.8

  42. Returning to the original subject of the post for a moment, I hope you are able to enjoy your visit to Crufts Jemima and appreciate the many beautiful, loved and healthy dogs there. I'm not naive and yes undoubtedly there will be some (a small minority) who may sadly be regarded as award winners for their owners and even some who are not as 'fit/healthy' as they should be, nothing is ever perfect!
    This year, rather than aiming to seek out 'horror stories', it would be really refreshing to read for once, something where you feel praise is genuinely due. No buts or howevers, just an individual or breed that is an outstanding example of how good pedigree dogs/breeders/owners can be. Commendation rather than endless condemnation would I'm sure, be more motivational.

  43. Not exclusively, Julie, but I shall be looking for the good too, really I will.

  44. Brilliant! I shall look forward to reading about it :-)

  45. wont be holding my breath for that then!!!

  46. Delighted that the KC have moved toward a database that allows searchable fields for individual and breed COI. All this exactly 18 months after I was told from the top(ish) that it was impossible. Very disheartening as I had previously had very good discussions with the Finnish KC Chairman and staff at KoiraNet about collaborating with UK Lapphunds. So well done KC - just be sure not to set the COI bar too high please...I would like it below 3% in a rare breed, especially as we now have CCs.

    As for the comments about breeders knowing all this, that is a hilarious and very loud hoot in my breed. The old guard don't understand it and don't want to and some find repeat matings and COI of 25% quite acceptable, laughing them off as 'accidental' or 'typey'. Not one esteemed breeder has supported my idea of a database for population COI and popular sires abound even though there are good alternatives to the winners.
    I fully expect all the toys will come out of the pram when I suggest MHC testing in addition.