Thursday 10 March 2011

Crufts 2011 Day One - good news story 1

I have been impressed by the Hungarian Vizsla Club before. They were outspoken about last year's Crufts' winner Yogi's over-use as a popular sire and they have fully-embraced pet owner Di Addicott's campain to get polymyositis in the breed researched and recognised.

Top, Radio as he was and,bottom, ravaged by polymyositis
The pictures on the left show what the condition did to a gorgeous Vizsla boy called Radio who died in Feburary 2008. Sadly, there have been dozens more (with many more suspected unreported). 

Polymyositis is a quite horrific neuromuscular problem which. among other things, robs the dogs of the ability to chew and swallow food. Dedicated owners can spend hours feeding their dogs and doing everything to stop the dogs inadvertently sucking food into their lungs where it can rapidly lead to life-threatening infection.

Of course the condition itself is a bad news story. But the reason for the title of this blogpost is the way in which  the Hungarian Viszla Club has stepped up to the mark on polymositis.

The HVC is supporting a fully-open registry of dogs affected with the condition and pedigrees of 41 dogs have already been submitted.

This morning I caught up with Dog World breed notes writer Karen Bicknell and Betty Smith, Chairman of the HVC,  both very proactively pro-health. It is clear they are still struggling with some breeders who would prefer to keep polymyositis under wraps, but there are many on board, too.

Karen urged me to talk to breeder Lynn Eales, who recently withdrew her top dog,  Kizvarda Karoly ("Digby"), from puppy-siring duties after discovering that one of his 128 puppies had been diagnosed with polymyositis.

I played devil's advocate and asked Lynn:  "But why would you do that when it is only one puppy in so many?"

"I was heartbroken," explains Lynn. "Digby is a wonderful dog. He works on shoots and has been shown to championship level. He has a lovely temperament. So it is a huge loss. We had big plans for the future but that's it now for us. I could not knowingly breed this disease and don't understand anyone who could. The suffering is unbelievable."

Lynn welled-up as she described one 10-month-dog with polymyositis who has learned to stand with his paws on a table for half an hour after he's been fed to help prevent food from entering his lungs.

Sadly another of Digby's puppies has also recently been diagnosed.

Lynn has since contacted the owner of every bitch that has had puppies by Digby and asked them, in turn, to contact every single person who bought one of his puppies to make them aware of the possible problem.

Here is Lynn with one of Digby's sons, 13-month Rio, who came seond in his class at Crufts this morning.

With breeders like this, they'll soon have polymyositis licked, too.


  1. I take my hat off to Lynn!!!!
    a TRUE caring breeder!
    And how refreshing to here the club
    are taking this seriously,BIG pat on the
    back to this club! ALL other clubs take note.


  2. I agree with Julie. This is a breath of fresh air to hear of a breed club being proactive when it comes to health - Lynn is clearly a credit to the breed as a whole.

  3. This is great news, but... should any dog have had that many puppies anyway, is this usual? And why is a son of the dog they believe to be carrying it being shown? Surely the point of being shown is to find the best dogs to further the breed? Won't this boy be doing the same in a few years? His owner ringing customers to tell them to break the bad news to *their* customers?

    Sorry to rain on the parade

  4. Yes it is quite a lot of puppies (and, actually, I agree that it is probably too many), although it is nothing like the number that Yogi has sired though - 500+ since arriving in the UK almost six years ago.

    As for Diby's son being at Crufts - I don't have a problem with being shown but depending on the state of play when he's a bit older, breeding from him may be an issue.( The genetics of this condition are still not known.)

  5. Is the carried only by the male gene or can it be carried by female genes?
    I am asking because there are two sides to every oedigree.

  6. Thanks for the clarification - let's hope the owners of all the descendents are careful.

    Sorry to post anon, I wasn't sure I wasn't being too angry about it...

  7. Thank you Jemima!
    A perfect example how breeders and the club, are being pro active in trying to limit the damage this terrible disease causes. I know that the Visla people are committed to finding a means of identifying how this condition is inherited and hope it is not too long before there is a breakthrough.

  8. My dog is eight years old. He has been at stud for 6 years that equates to approximately 21 puppies per year. That is not excessive. All breeders who have used my dog at stud have been asked to add the Kennel Club Endorsement to the puppy registration document "Prodgeny Not Eligible for Registration". Hopefully no breeders will lift this endorsement whilst this problem in our breed is unresolved. As for not showing Rio, why shouldn't he been shown. You could say that about all the other Hungarian Vizslak being shown at Crufts on Thursday. He is a very good example of the breed and may very well test clear in the future. No one knows the status of any of the dogs. That is why breeding has become such a lottery. We will never be sure until we get that test!!

    Lynn Eales

  9. Dear Anonymous - your post initially made me very sad (Rio is my pup) but then made me very angry.

    You don't know me from Adam, so how can you assume that I would be so irresponible as to use Rio for stud? I don't know for sure that he is a carrier of the horrendous disease Polymositis but while there is even the slightest chance that he is I wouldn't even consider letting him be used at stud. However, whether or not he is a carrier, does not alter the fact that he is a lovely example of the breed & does NOT stop me wanting him to enjoy the experience of being shown...& he does enjoy it...just seeing his little tail rotating like a helicopter blade when he's in the ring proves this. Plus ringcraft training is just another form of obedience training that stimulates him both physically & mentally.

    I do other types of training with him too - he goes to agility...but that doesn't mean that he will compete in the future; he does gundog training but that doesn't mean that he will be "worked". I just want a well trained, well socialised, well mannered dog that is happy & continually given the opportunity to be stimulated in a variety of situations.

    Please DO NOT assume that every dog that is entered into a dog show is going to be used for breeding...THAT IS NOT THE CASE...many people just do it for that a crime?

  10. I should like to make the important point that, of the two puppies sired by Lynn Eales' dog, the first (sired fairly early in his career) was not diagnosed with polymyositis until he was three years old and the second puppy (incidentally bred by yours truly) was not diagnosed until 10 months old, both in the same year(2010). Lynn immediately notified me that her dog had sired a dog diagnosed with polymyositis and as soon as she knew, her dog was immediately withdrawn from stud; I believe that the day she found out he was due to service a bitch and this arrangement was cancelled forthwith.

    I learnt of the first dog three weeks before Archie was taken ill and as soon as the owners contacted me and described the symptoms, I pointed them to the polymyositis leaflet which I had included in the puppy pack (which they had not read) and advised them to take him back to the veterinary hospital the same day.

    It is an unfortunate fact that this disease is still not well known or recognised in general veterinary practice although great strides have been made recently to change this. It is often perceived as a gastro intestinal problem and was referred as such in Archie's case and it wasn't until I pointed out it could be polymyositis, that Archie started to receive the treatment he needed so desperately. It is fact a neurological disorder for which a diagnosis cannot at present be confirmed until after onset of the symptoms.

    Like Lynn I have publicly acknowledged in the dog press and elsewhere the fact that I unknowingly bred a dog with polymyositis and the dam who was due to have a second litter in January 2011 did not do so and will shortly be spayed, disappointing several potential buyers who in at least one case had waited over two years for another dog from me. As for her daughter that I kept, she and a litter brother were also shown at Crufts on Thursday. Again it should not be assumed that either of these dogs will automatically be used for breeding. Potentially we may have a test (to determine whether or not they carry the gene or genes for polymyositis and whether they would be likely to be affected or simply have the potential to produce it in the next or subsequent generation) in the future and if we do, both of them (and no doubt Juliet's Rio) will be tested and an appropriate decision will be made based on the results. There are of course many other factors which influence whether a dog is to be bred from or not and other important criteria will also play their part.

    AS a longstanding member of both the Hungarian Vizsla Club and Hungarian Vizsla Society, I applaud the fact that both organisations have seen fit to raise the profile of this disease and encourage everyone to support the research.

    Unfortunately the same cannot be said - yet- about all vizsla breeders and I hope that the stance of the Club and Society who are actively supporting the project will encourage everyone to participate and offer saliva samples if any of their dogs meet the criteria ie sire,dam or sibling of an affected dog.

    By visiting the websites of the Club and Society you may view the pedigrees of 42 affected vizslas whose owners and in many cases breeders have given their permission for the information to be made public. If any vizsla owner is still unsure then please contact Di Addicott whose details are posted on the websites as there is much other pedigree information held in confidence which cannot at this time be made public - in other words many more than 42 dogs are affected by this terrible disease.

    I can't stress enough how important this is - as presently WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH SAMPLES FOR THE RESEARCH TO BEGIN.

    Rosemary Frost