Tuesday 8 March 2011

Shiba Inu - scratching the surface

Breed clubs are their own worst enemies sometimes, and I have just had a depressing exchange with the Shiba Inu Club of Great Britian in response to an enquiry about atopic dermatitis, or atopy, in the breed.

I was recently contacted by pet owner Delia Mills whose Shiba Inu puppy, Bracken, started to itch a few days after bringing her home. Delia called the breeder who suggested she give the pup Piriton. It worked temporarily. But the itch was soon back - and with a vengeance. Over the coming weeks and months, Bracken tore herself to bits -  very distressing for both dog and her owner.

Bracken (above) was eventually diagnosed with Canine Atopic Dermatitis - a condition which is, in fact, pretty common in dogs. The etiology is not fully-known, but it is thought that some dogs - and some breeds - do have a genetic predisposition to the condition, with environmental factors providing the necessary additional trigger.   "Westie Itch" in West Highland White Terriers (left) is a very well known example.

Atopy is incurable but unless incredibly severe can usually be managed - commonly with steroids - to give a dog a reasonable quality of life.  Bracken's condition is, thankfully, mostly now under control.

However, worried that there could be an inherited component to the condition and that it may be under-reported in Shibas in the UK, Delia contacted me to ask for help in trying to find other Shibas who may be suffering..

The scientific literature contains several references to Shibas suffering from atopic dermatitis and there are known cases in the US and Japan.  However, Bracken's breeder, Karen Jones,  has reassured Delia that she has never bred another Shiba that has suffered from CAD and the health rep for the UK Breed Club told Delia she has never heard of a UK dog with the condition.

Just to double-check, I emailed breeder Karen Jones who put me on to the breed health rep, Belinda Roskell.

Here is her reply - posted here in full.

Dear Jemima
answer  to your questions

Q1) is Bracken the first dog you have heard of in the UK that has been
affected with this condition?

A1) there is no evidence bracken has this  condition Mrs Mills refused to
have the test offered by Mr Hutt !

Q2) are allergies/immune disorders a recognised problem in the breed in the
UK? (I note one case of dermatitis in the BVA/KC health survey and another
of vaccine reaction but of course this is just two dogs and may not be at
all significant.)

A)one dog recorded with dermatitis and one to a reaction to a booster,
against the thousands that have been registered?

Q3) is there anything else you would like to say?
A3) Yes the shiba club take all health problem very seriously, we have now
had a committee meeting regarding this  matter. And we have contacted
various vets with multiple shiba clients on their books, and they have all
come back saying that the shiba skin is healthy and not a problem.

And until Delia has the test offered to poor bracken, there is little we can

We also have written conformation that to date these tests have not been
carried out on bracken.


Belinda Roskell


I contacted Bracken's consultant dermatologist, John Hutt, to ask if Bracken had, indeed, really been diagnosed with the condition. His reply:

"Canine Atopic Dermatitis is a clinical diagnosis made by exclusion. There is no “test” for the disease and I have never offered Mrs Mills a “test” for atopic dermatitis because there isn’t one. Bracken’s diagnosis has been robustly established according to internationally recognised principles."

And just so there really is no doubt about Bracken's dagnosis, John Hutt has confirmed the diagnosis in writing (right).

So, a plea to Belinda Roskell: I can understand you feeling a bit defensive about my contacting you but this is not the right way to respond and it is certainly not the right way to treat pet owners like Delia Mills who are too often dismissed by breeders as being over-emotional irritants - or, as cavalier campaigner Carol Fowler was famously dubbed by breeders trying to downplay SM in the breed: a raving loony with Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy.

Delia and other pet owners deserve sympathy and support and a much more grown-up response that this. It might well be that Bracken is the first Shiba in the UK to suffer from this condition. But let's at least make an effort to find out - and by means other than phoning round a few general practice vets.  After all, it might just afford the opportunity to either prevent, or help treat, other suffering Shibas.

Ironically, the Shiba Club's health page, has this message on it:


If you have,  or know of, a Shiba either diagnosed or suspected to have canine atopic dermatitis, Delia would love to hear from you. Please contact Delia direct: shibachow[AT]ntlworld.com.

Please also fill in a health survey form, available from the Shiba Club HERE.


  1. Jemima, I have a pug puppy that has terrible flatulence (wind) and I have contacted the breeder about it. She says its not a problem in the breed but I am not convinced. Can you tell me if this is genetic as I am seeking compensation for damages.

  2. It's rather dissapointing that the club haven't asked owners to contact the health rep as well as Delia herself!

  3. I'm sure they'd be delighted to hear from owners direct - either via the health survey or email link on the link above.

  4. Ah, and PuggyBaby.. I've published your comment so people can see just how asinine some people are. Really, if you had ever had a dog that suffered from atopic dermatitis, you would not be making light of it.

  5. I have the human form of atopic dermatitis, which is genetic; my mother has the same condition. So, I imagine if it's genetic in humans it's probably genetic in dogs.

    I don't know what canine atopic dermatitis is like clinically, but my atopic dermatitis has very specific triggers and affects very specific parts of my body. From the photos you posted, it looks like some dogs are affected all over their body. Luckily that's not the case with me, but if it were, my life would be a living hell.

    I hope that Delia is able to get as much information as she can.

  6. Hi, I'm a Shiba owner from the US with a dog from puppy mill lines in Taiwan (where we were living at the time, before moving here). My Shiba suffered from worsening allergies for three years running, from the time he was about 3 years old. He was most recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism this past summer after months of chewing his paws bloody and living out of a cone, and after I had to insist that the vet look beyond standard diagnoses of allergies/atopic dermatitis, the standard regimen of drugs, and conduct the tests that I went in there to do. Since then, I've talked to a lot more hypothyroid shiba inu owners (as well as allergic shiba owners). There's a whole network of them out there blogging, in fact.

    The US breed club (http://www.shibas.org/health.html) does acknowledge allergies as a health concern. It also acknowledges that hypothyroidism is "not uncommon." I've seen and participated in some discussion on listservs with club members about what can be done to better monitor allergies, hypothyroidism, etc. However, I am not a member of any breed clubs, nor did my dog come out of a club-approved breeder, so I cannot speak for what's happening there.

    At any rate, Bracken is not alone amongst itchy shibas, world-wide.

    FWIW, I've documented my shiba's allergies/thyroid issues/etc. under this category of links on my blog: http://shibasenji.wordpress.com/category/health/

    I am no expert on any of these issues, I just know what's worked for us. I found a lot of helpful information online when I was desperately searching for information, and wanted to contribute to that pool of knowledge, too.

  7. I've read this through twice and am struggling to see what point is being made. Is there a significant problem with this condition in the breed which the breed club is denying, because it certainly dosn't sound like it? Has the owner been in contact with the club to ask for assistance and been dismissed as an over reactive pet owner? Again, it dosn't sound like it. What you appear to be saying in this post Jemima is: 1. the dog was itching 2.the breeder gave some advice but the problem continued 3.a diagnosis has been made of a condition which is "pretty common in dogs" 4. astonishingly for a "pretty common condition" there are reports of it occuring in this breed 5. the owner has contacted Jemima - not the breed club, to find out if there is more to this than meets the eye.
    So far I'm not really seeing a cause for critisism of the breed club.
    Then Jemima gets involved and contacts the health rep. It would seem from their reposnse that they were aware of this case, but short of providing advice for treatement of the condition which would be unethical anyway, I can't see what more they are supposed to have done, unless there is a great deal more to this than meets the eye.
    I'm sorry but to me this post reads as if Jemima is a little put out because she feels the response which was made to HER (not the owner's) enquiry, was rather brusque, possibly understandably, rather than the club ignoring a prevelent health issue or dismissing an owner's request for assistance.
    Trying to create issues where seemingly none exist does no one any favours.
    I am not in any way trying to diminish the dog's suffering or the worry the owner has had, only saying that you can't make a mountain out of every molehill you find.

  8. I too have a shiba with diagnosed (seasonal) CAD. Tsuki is a female cream shiba inu with severe inhalant allergies and moderate food allergies.

    We have determined through our vet that Tsuki shows allergic reaction to chicken and corn, and intolerance to most beef preparations. She has inhalant allergies to mold spores and some dust.

    She gets red, itchy, and miserable during late spring to early fall.

  9. Here is where I am with this one... Delia contacted me because she was not happy with the response she has had from the breed club - she feels strongly that there are probably more Shibas out there suffering. There is no evidence of this, however, and it is perfectly clear to me that Bracken really could be an unlucky one-off - as I've made clear to Delia.

    However, I offered to publicise the case in the hope that if there were other Shibas out there suffering with atopic dermatitis they would come forward.

    As a matter of courtesy, I contacted the breeder and the breed club to ask for their input. I was a bit astonished to get the response I did - which was that they disputed the diagnosis and suggested that Delia was in some way not doing right by "poor Bracken" because she had not had this test (that doesn't actually exist).

    If they had responded sensibly, the blog would purely have been a plea for others to come forward. Given the response, it's evolved into making the point that breed clubs need to be a bit nicer to upset pet owners trying to report health problems. There are some great breed clubs out there who absolutely go out of their way to help and support pet owners whose dogs are suffering. But, sadly, there are others who do not. In this particular instance, I feel the Shiba Inu Club has not responded appropriately and that it is fair enough for me to point it out.

  10. I am a little dismayed by the blog appearing here, after all it has already been blogged on the dogs today blog and I have responded on there but my response seems to have not met with approval of the mediator.
    The response from the breed club health coordinator is in my opinion absolutely fair.
    The breed health coordinator is under no obligation to answer questions of Jemmima or anyone else for that matter, their role is to provide evidence to the Kennel club of any issues within the breed and to aid the members of the breed club be aware of any potential issues within the breed...from what I see here that has certainly been done.
    I wonder why there is a picture of a Shiba which is very obviously the picture of health and then a picture of a westie who is clearly suffering a skin condition? I have heard of silly season in journalism but I didnt realise it was now silly season on the internet...No news??? oh lets make some up!!!
    With regard to the lady who sadly suffers from atopy you have my sympathies but should her parents as sufferers have been banned from reproducing? If this is indeed a true diagnosis of CAD then it is an isolated case within Shibas in the UK with regard to the club's response about making a documentary I think this is a most responsible attitude to take especially after the furore created by Jemmima in her previous "documentary" where she wanted to villify all breeders as irresponsible...You really have no clue Jemmima
    As for no tests the International Task Force on Canine Atopic Dermatitis (ITFCAD)suggest:

    (Particular note should be taken of the last paragraph!!!)
    "A diagnosis of CAD should however never been
    made, as long as resembling diseases such as fleas, ectoparasites
    (sarcoptic mange) and primary skin infections have not been ruled out. Depending on the clinical presentation and the age
    of the affected dog, some other differentials, i.e.demodicosis,
    dermatophytosis, cheyletiellosis, cutaneous lymphoma should
    be properly ruled out. It should also be mentioned that the
    histological aspect of allergic skin is usually not specifi c and that
    this test is consequently not adequate to make the diagnosis.
    It may be indicated, however, to perform skin biopsies in some
    instances, to rule out some differentials such as cutaneous
    lymphoma, for example. As well, allergy testing (serological
    evaluation of allergen-specifi c IgE and intradermal skin testing)
    are not regarded as criteria for the diagnosis of CAD. This is
    because numerous healthy dogs are sensitized to environmental
    allergens and are consequently positive (poor specificity of this
    criterion) and ALD and some FIAD dogs are deemed negative.
    These tests should consequently be only carried out to identify
    the offending allergens (i.e. to choose the allergens for allergenspecifi
    c immune therapy: desensitization). In the same way,
    inorder to identify FIAD dogs, a 6-to 8-week elimination diet
    and a subsequent challenge with the previous food should be
    carried out in all dogs with clinical signs of CAD.
    Several sets of criteria have been proposed for the diagnosis of
    CAD. These criteria are however mainly used for clinical trial to
    increase homogeneity of the recruited dogs [12, 14, 19, 20]. We
    have recently performed a study, in which 1800 pruritic dogs
    were included by experienced dermatologists throughout the
    world [17]. One of the goals of the study was to identify criteria
    for the diagnosis of CAD. The best identifi ed set of criteria (see
    table) has been associated with a sensitivity and specifi city of
    about 80%, when 5 out of 8 criteria are fulfi lled (Tab. 1). It does
    mean that using these sole criteria would lead the practionner
    to make a wrong diagnosis in every fifth dog. These data confirm that ruling out resembling diseases should always be a
    compulsory prerequisite for the diagnosis of CAD"

  11. I don't consider allergies and such to be a shiba as much as they are a dog problem. All summer here where I live in the U.S. when I've gone to the vet the waiting room is filled with itching dogs for one reason or another, seldom are they shibas and often not purebred anything. My suggestion to bracken's owner is to see a skin specialist. The only time I've ever had severe skin problems was many years ago when I had malamutes and somewhere one had picked up sarcastic mange ... Countless skin scrapings later it had spread to all my dogs. Specialist diagnosed immediately and informed us that he could do 40 skin scrapings on a dog and often not find conclusive proof. He was right and the problem was gone in a matter of days.

    Also be sure you are feeding a completely nutritious food. I feed raw myself and am very happy with my dogs' overall health.

  12. Are you challenging John Hutt's diagnosis, Anon? Please re-read his statements. There is no single definitive test for atopic dermatitis. The diagnosis is reached by the exclusion of other possibilities via the use of several different tests. These have been done in Bracken's case.

  13. Jemima I know "Bracken" as I was lined up to be her new owner when Delia wanted to get rid of her at age 12 weeks old!!! She was "too lively" for her as she told her breeder she had cahnged her mind and she couldnt part with her and rang her breeder when she was a hundred miles into the journey to collect her, again this happened some months later when Delia "Couldnt cope" no mention was made of allergies or skin conditions at this time and it is no surprise to be informed that poor Bracken was to be rehomed for a thrid time...it is only 12 months ago that any mention of a skin condition was ever mentioned, I can categorically say that the breeder gave lots of help and advice but when it was mentioned that it could be fleas from the invited hedgehogs and foxes which Delia encourages into her garden so that she may photograph them, Delia became very defensive and when the question was asked about her environment she became OFFENSIVE as she thought the breeder was insinuating that her "house was dirty" only after that did Delia make it her mission to attack the breeder and her dogs, using yourself as a most willing tool,
    As Delia is a very keen photographer she has sent numerous photographs of Bracken and all show a very healthy Shiba with no signs of any skin condition... why has she not shown any of Brackens "suffering" so that you can use this instead of a Westie picture?
    I think Jemima you have been told some of the detail in this case as all of it would most certainly lead peoiple to a completely different conclusion.
    As for the breed club not doing anything, why am I sat with a breed health survey questionnaire which I received last week?
    I would also like to point out, the Japanese Shiba Inu Club of Great Britain does NOT have an official website!
    If this hereditary why then are the dogs that I own which are siblings of Bracken not itching? or are you trying to call me a liar? as I have nothing to hide.

  14. Jemima there is no statement from John Hutt stating what tests have been done...The ITFCAD have clearly defined criteria for the diagnosis of CAD...his statement clearly states only that he has robustly concluded and not that all of these tests have been done. if he has done so can he please post the results to the necessary tests to rule out all of the alternatives as suggested by the ITFCAD a body set up particularly to tackle this condition.

  15. If the breed club had been nicer? ahh did they not role over and be intimidated by you then?
    This appears that because you didnt like the response from the breed club Jemima you are making this personal.
    It can only be hoped that sooner rather than later the people or organisation that are funding you realise that you are not acting in the interest of dogs or dog owners but are on a personal crusade and pul the plug on you. then you can crawl back in the hole you squirmed out of...sadly you really have no clue!!!

  16. Jemima I am merely asking if robustly establishing a case of CAD means that all of the clearly defined tests to rule out alternative diagnosis have indeed been carried out, you state these have been done, can you then clarify what they were or are you acting on the assumption that robustly establishing means thay have been done...Mr Hutt has also stated in other correspondence which I can provide coipies of that Mrs Mills had refused the required tests to rule out alternatives. It really is best if you know the FULL story before making such statements.The ITFCAD is a body set up purely to tackle this condition and it has clearly defined the tests that should be done to rule out misdiagnosis however even after these tests they do state that it can still lead to misdiagnosis I quote again
    "It does
    mean that using these sole criteria would lead the practionner
    to make a wrong diagnosis in every fifth dog. These data confirm that ruling out resembling diseases should always be a
    compulsory prerequisite for the diagnosis of CAD"

  17. Here is the table missing from the previous comment on diagnosis:

    Tab. 1 Criteria for the diagnosis of canine atopic dermatitis and associated sensitivity and specificity.
    1.Age at onset < 3years
    2.Mostly indoor
    3.Corticosteroid-responsive pruritus
    4.Chronic or recurrent yeast infections
    5.Affected front feet
    6.Affected ear pinnae
    7.Non–affected ear margins
    8.Non-affected dorso-lumbar area

    Sensitivity when 5 criteria are fulfilled: 85% Specificity when 5 criteria are fulfilled: 79% Sensitivity when 6 criteria are fulfilled: 58% Specificity when 6 criteria are fulfilled: 88%

    From: Clinical signs and diagnosis of canine atopic dermatitis, C. Favrot

    Note that is no mention of a 'test' among the criteria for diagnosis. As this dog's vet commented, it is a diagnosis of exclusion.

    Anyone besides me notice that Ms. Roskell only answered the third question?

  18. "Mr Hutt has also stated in other correspondence which I can provide coipies of that Mrs Mills had refused the required tests to rule out alternatives."

    I asked Mr Hutt specifically about this and he said that it is not the case. So yes, please, I'd be grateful if you could provide copies of the correspondence.

  19. As stated previously Ms Roskell is under no obligation to answer any questions at all.
    The fact that she has erred on the side of caution and not jumped to a conclusion (This has already been done on this blog)is in my opinion a sensible approach.
    all three questions have been answered maybe not to the satisfaction of Jemima but they have been answered none the less.

    I agree there is no mention of a test only tests to exclude alternatives but as these have been refused by Delia Mills then this diagnosis could very easily be a false one...it may in fact be correct but unless the tests to exclude the alternatives are done then we will never know.
    As asked previously can you confirm what tests have been done with reference to Jemima's statement "There is no single definitive test for atopic dermatitis. The diagnosis is reached by the exclusion of other possibilities via the use of several different tests. These have been done in Bracken's case." Mr Hutt has himself made the statement that Mrs Mills refused intradermal skin tests to exclude the alternatives to CAD.

  20. Why do you want copies of the correspondence Jemima? it has absolutely nothing to do with you.

    If you have asked specifically then did you also ask Mr Hutt exactly what tests were done to exclude the alternatives?
    all you seem to want to do is to stir the pot.
    If Mrs Mills cant cope then she has the alternative of returning Bracken to the breeder.
    I am sure if this breeder is responsible then they would have no hesitation in taking her back and providing the necessary care required rather than having her killed which Mrs Mills intimates at in the Dogs Today blog

  21. Firstly, thank you Jemima for your response. It does help to have a little more background as the original post dosn't say that the owner had contacted the breed club herself, nor why she was 'not happy with their respose'.
    I'm afraid I am still unclear as to what the issue is supposed to be here, other than perhaps the breed club apparently disagreeing that a certain diagnosis has been reached. Was the owner unhappy that the club were not taking her concerns seriously? It seems they have had a meeting about the problem and done some investigation as to whether other cases existed which sounds to me as if they ARE doing the right thing, not simply dismissing it. Or is the owner unhappy that the club is denying this is a 'prevelent' condition in the breed? Given that Bracken may well be the only, or at worst, one of only a tiny number of UK Shibas with the condition, it would seem this is probably NOT a condition which the breed is predisposed to. One can hardly find fault with the club for stating the truth! Is the owner looking for support in finding methods of treating the condition, in which case does it matter whether it comes from a Shiba owner or someone with any breed? Is she perhaps looking for some possible evidence of 'wrong doing'?
    I am not for one moment sugesting it is the case here, but if someone approaches an issue with the aim of apportioning blame, rather than genuinley seeking support, then it is more likely to be met with a 'hostile' approach, whatever the situation. Sadly, we do live in a culture where 'someone must be to blame' and since PDE was aired, people are possibly more inclined to believe every health condition encountered in a purebred dog must be due to inbreeding, bad breeding practice etc. Even genetic issues can simply be 'one of those things'.
    As we do not have the breed club's response to the owner's query, only Jemima's, it is rather presumptive to critisise them publically for "not being nice enough to upset pet owners", which seems to be the focus of this post. The club's response to Jemima is no indication whatsoever of how they would respond to a desperate owner seeking advice. Furthermore, if the condition is not one encountered reguarly in the breed, their response could have been viewed as unhelpful when in reality it could simply be they could not offer advice due to no experience in dealing with it.

    It would be interesting however, to hear why the breed club feels certain diagnostic testing has not been done, what tests they believe are necessary and from whom, if not the owner or treating vet they 'have in writing' that the tests haven't been performed. It would appear that there is a great deal more to this particular situation than is being reported.

    I am glad Bracken's problem is under control and hope he can now enjoy life to the full. He is a lovely looking dog.

    PS I see there have been subsequent comments since I started writin this which does seem to indicate that a lot more is going on with this situation than is being presented. Perhaps this is one hornet's nest better left 'unpoked' for the time being?

  22. @Anonymous,

    I was not trying to garner sympathy for myself, I was just trying to give a human perspective on what it's like to live with this condition since dogs can't really tell us how it feels.

    I'm fortunate that my atopic dermatitis is relatively mild compared to some of the dogs pictured. I think that if it is possible to breed dogs away from the condition then it should be done. Even in it's mildest form, atopic dermatitis is a pain to live with and breeding dogs with the condition when you have other options is completely unnecessary.

    Dogs, unlike humans, do not have an emotional need to procreate, so it doesn't hurt their feelings if you choose not to breed them.

  23. I am in the US and have owned 4 Shibas, all without allergies. I now have Shiba #5, and she suffers from inhallant and food allergies. They appeared pretty early on, while she was still a puppy. She was approximately 7 mos old.

    I also do Shiba Inu rescue and had a very allergic male Shiba in my care. I am not sure who his breeder was as he was a rescue from the animal shelter. However, i have chronicled his allergies and progress on our blog. As you can see from the photos, he was in terrible shape. http://awinnieday.blogspot.com/search/label/Allergy

    He is doing well now, in full coat. Every now and then his allergies will flare up, requiring treatment with steroids.

  24. Jemima are you saying on behalf of Mr Hutt that Mrs Mills has NOT refused intradermal skin tests to rule out the alternatives?

  25. Right. So let me get this straight. Those who would seek to deny Bracken's condition maintain:

    1) a veterinary dermatologist doesn't know what he is talking about
    2) because Delia Mills struggled to cope with a new puppy she is a bad owner
    3) because she made no mention of CAD for 12 months the dog couldn't possibly have CAD
    4) because she has considered euthanasing Bracken because she has suffered so much Delia wants to "kill" her dog
    5) because she has no pictures of Bracken at her worst then she and her referral vet must be making this all up.

    Get a grip. The referral vet has confirmed that the dog has been dx'd with atopic dermatitis. Offer to put a notice up on the Club website asking if anyone else has a dog suffering from it. Include CADt/allergies as a specific question in the health survey. I've seen this wholesale trashing of pet owners and their vets because they are saying things breeders don't want to hear WAY too often. And it is ugly.

  26. Anon (7.00am): intradermal skin tests are NOT a diagnostic tool for atopic dermatitis because there is a high incidence of false positives. They do not, then, answer the question: "Is this dog atopic?". Intradermal skin tests are used to establish to which allergens a particular dog is reacting. and, in Bracken's case, John Hutt has decided that they are not appropriate. I repeat, intradermal skin tests are NOT used to diagnose the condition.

  27. There certainly is a lot going on behined the scenes in this, isn't there! The original post I think was made to cast the breed club into poor light on the basis of their response to Jemima's queries and perhaps to suggest there is an unacknowledged problem with this condition in the breed.
    Jemima, your 7.40 post is suddenly stating a whole lot of interpretations which are not appearing here - I can't see that anyone here has called Delia a 'bad owner', nor said she wants to kill her dog.
    Leaving aside the question as to whether or not the condition has been accuratly diagnosed, there seems to be considerable confusion as to what exactly is going on.
    I still cannot see from what has been posted here that any of this is amounting to 'wholesale trashing of pet owners'.
    Is this condition a significant problem for the breed (more so than for dogs in general) and if so, are the breeders/breed club denying it?
    If this is not the case then raking over an individual case history is nothing more than 'he said, she said' and is surely not particuarly relevent or helpful as it simply publicises a personal dispute/disagreement. So far, I have yet to read anything which supports that this condition (whether Bracken has it or not) is prevelent in the breed and that the breed club has dismissed the owner's concerns.

  28. Left wondering why Ms. Roskell didn't just answer the first two questions. Does she think no one will notice? Is there some belief there that dodging the question is not the same thing as lying about the answer?

    If the breed club doesn't know of any other cases, then why wouldn't they just answer "We haven't heard of any others?"

    I get that this pup's owner may be one of those pain-in-the-ass puppy buyers who cause a breeder to throw up her hands and scream Just send the dog back already!

    That does not mean that the dog doesn't have this condition. Her veterinarian is willing to put it in writing; interestingly, statements attributed to him by third parties have not been similarly documented.

    Also of interest. It seems that the puppy was a real pill when she was young, hard to handle for the new owner.

    Reminds me of a wolfhound pup I trained. Owners were referred to me complaining of a hyperactive puppy. A wolfhound? Really?

    But that is, indeed, what she was -- puppy behavior that might have been normal for a Jack Russell, but completely out of character for a wolfhound. The sort of puppy that might make owners call the breeder in desperation and talk about sending the pup back.

    A few weeks into the training, the owners mentioned that the pup was constantly licking her front paws, seemed itchy. I sent them off to the vet, who sent them off to the allergist -- all of us believing that the pup was much too young to have allergies.

    We were wrong. The pup's immune system was profoundly out of whack. She was allergic to everything.

    When her symptoms were controlled with steroids, she was a normal wolfhound puppy. Hyper behavior gone.

    Eventually the steroids could no longer provide relief, and there was only one way to alleviate her suffering.

    Know what the breeder's reaction was when she got the diagnosis from the allergist?

    Did she call the owner a nut and circle the wagons?

    Did not. The breeder spayed the dam, informed the stud owner, informed the breed community, and enforced a sterilization clause in her contract for the littermates.

    If I was advising someone who wanted a wolfhound, where do you think I would send him first?

  29. "I've seen this wholesale trashing of pet owners (BREEDERS)and their vets because they are saying things breeders( JOURNALISTS AND THE NAIVE PUBLIC) don't want to hear WAY too often. And it is ugly."

    Yes it is .. very ugly...

    Good for the goose.. and so it goes.. breeders are the MAIN forces behind funding programs to stop all disease in dogs.. can't say that about journalists...or the general public..

  30. any one think about getting a second opinion?

  31. Jemima, I think you've missed one of my comments off ;-)
    It's the long one I wrote late last night. (No need to put this reminder up though!)

  32. I don't know, it always seems that breed clubs are so secretive and abrupt in their mannerisms and posts. It makes me hesitant about ever contacting a breed club for direct advice to be honest, although i'm sure there must be open, down to earth and committed individuals out there somewhere. The impression i took from Belinda Roskell was a pass the buck attitude, i.e Bracken hasn't been tested by her vet, and because the vets they contacted said the Shiba skin was healthy means it is? I don't see what the harm would have been in being a little more open and a little less hostile in her response. Does the Shiba have a higher incidence of allergies and skin issues than other breeds? I guess that's yet to be determined. At least the breed club did send out a health survey on this subject. Better than ignoring the whole thing.


  33. Hi Julie... there is nothing from you waiting to be moderated. Sure it's not above?

  34. No, not above but here is something along the lines of what I wrote, in response to Jemima's reply to my original comment:

    Firstly, thank you Jemima for responding to my question. It is nice to have a bit more background to the case. The original post does not mention the owner had been in contact with the breed club prior to speaking to you.

    However, there are still some gaps in this:
    In what way was the owner 'not happy' with the response she recieved from the breed club? It seems that they called a meeting to discuss the problem and did some research as to whether the condition had been reported in other Shibas, that doesn't sound to me as if they were 'dismissive'. Was she contacting the club for advice, which they were unable to provide (maybe due to the condition being uncommon in the breed)? Or was she not happy because the response was not what she wanted to hear, perhaps that ACD was an issue for the breed and her pup's problems were due to inbreeding?
    For some reason she does not believe that this condition is not endemic in the breed (Jemima has even advised her that Bracken may be the only one with the condition)and insists there are probably other suffering Shibas out there. If the owner simply wants support from others dealing with the condition does it matter if they are Shiba owners or not? It is odd that with no apparent supporting evidence, someone should be so adament that a condition is widespread in a breed. What is she trying to achieve exactly?
    Regrettably we live in a society where someone always has to be blamed. Since the airing of PDE, the public has apparently decided that if their purebred dog develops a health issue then it MUST be due to inbreeding or negligent breeders. Sometimes, thigs really do 'just happen' and there is nothing realistically which anyone could have done to prevent it.
    I'm not saying it was the case here, but if an individual/organisation is approached by someone seeking to apportion blame, they are normally going to react in a different manner to someone who is seeking help.
    I am also curious as to where the "written confirmation that Bracken has not had the tests" has come from, if not the owner or vet.

    Jemima wishes to make the point that she felt the club's response to her enquiry was 'inappropriate/not nice' which led to the post that breed clubs should treat pet owners better. The response given to questions from a journalist is likely to be no reflection whatsoever to how they would respond to a 'distraught pet owner.' Without being provided with the club's acatual response and the owner's enquiry, how are we to know that the club was anything other than sympathetic and helpful? The basis for this post was to "make the point that breed clubs need to be a bit nicer to upset pet owners trying to report health problems" yet the only response we have to back this claim up, was not one given to a pet owner.

    I'm glad Bracken's condition is being sucessfully treated, she is a lovely looking dog, but I think this is one hornet's nest best left alone for the time being.

  35. "The response given to questions from a journalist is likely to be no reflection whatsoever to how they would respond to a 'distraught pet owner.'"

    EVERY inquiry to a breed club should be answered in a thoughtful, polite manner, no manner who it is from. The breed club is the public face of the breed, and should act accordingly.

  36. Can't help wondering if putting the dog onto a raw meaty bones diet would make a difference ... it does with so many health problems dogs have...do yourselves a favour and really find out what's in your dogs food - it's not the nice choice cuts they'll have you believe, and the 'extras' will make your hair curl I promise you !

  37. 2 posts with shibas with allergies one from taiwan, the other the states. And i see no picture parade of cad infested shiba's at crufts !!.

  38. A response in two parts.

    I wasn't sure that I wanted to comment again, as I've been appalled by the low level of discussion amongst those who comment on this blog. Thanks to the few who manage to sign your posts, spell and punctuate correctly, and form rational, footnoted arguments.

    Anyway, I'm going to try again, keeping the discussion focused on *the breed* and *Canine Atopic Dermatitis*, which is all that really needs to be discussed. First, my own experience has also been that an intradermal test was NOT needed to diagnose CAD. My vet told me my dog was suffering from environmental "allergies" (which I use interchangeably with CAD for the time being, as my vet wrote down Canine Atopic Dermatitis and Pododermatitis in the files -- clinical terms on paper, general terms for ease of discussion) based on a physical inspection and history of symptoms. He arrived at his diagnosis by process of exclusion, same as Dr. Hutt. He did, in fact, *discourage* me from proceeding with the intradermal test as he noted that it was a costly and unreliable procedure (prone to false positives). This was even after I specifically asked to have it done. He was able to rule out mites or mange through skin scrapings. What he did not consider, and what I eventually asked him to test for, was hypothyroidism, which doesn’t rule out allergies entirely, but suggests that my Shiba’s entire immune system was out of sorts.

    Would those that disagree with Bracken's diagnosis of CAD rather see that she was diagnosed with one of these alternate possibilities such as hypothyroidism or even cutaneous lymphoma? As if either of those inheritable diseases would reflect any BETTER on the breed club’s ability to self-monitor?

  39. To continue, I agree with Lynda’s comment above that CAD is not specific to Shiba Inu by a long shot. However, I know of many itchy Shibas in my limited observations of this breed outside of the UK. Here's a sample of the discussions and the network of blogging shibas with allergies that I alluded to earlier:

    http://www.dogster.com/forums/Shiba_inu/thread/561709 (note this discussion goes on for eight full pages, and talks in depth about the intradermal allergy testing which many here seem to misunderstand)
    http://awinnieday.blogspot.com/search/label/Allergy (yes, this was posted above, but it's at once so devastating and so inspiring, I wanted to post it again)

    Does my totally unscientific list mean that Shiba Inu are overrepresented amongst breeds at risk for CAD? My experience with other breeds is too limited to say. It may very well be that Shibas are no more prone to CAD than any other breed, and they're just one breed that I pay more attention to, for obvious personal reasons. We will never know if we shut out and ridicule any inquiry.

    Finally, if Shiba Inu skin in the UK truly is "healthy and not a problem," it sure would be wonderful to know what you’re doing RIGHT and to exchange breeding and management tips, not to ignore any potential for dialogue. Perhaps the number of Shiba Inu in the UK has yet to reach a critical mass for any problems like this to appear in noticeable numbers, and Bracken is truly the first -- which is all that the first question sent by Jemima Harrison seemed to be asking. However, if the prevalence of dermal issues in other Shibas in other locales can be read as a harbinger of issues lurking on the horizon, it would behoove Shiba health reps to not be so dismissive.

  40. I have a 4 year red sesame' Shiba female that suffers horribly from atopic dermatitis and food allergies. It took years to find her some relief. She is now on daily doses of Atopica medication and is also on a strict allergy free diet. And, still, there are times I catch her scratching and biting. Fortunately, those are rare now with this new regimen. The reason it took so long to find a solution is that no where does it even address the fact that Shiba's can suffer from this. After hundreds of dollars spent on medication, foods, allergy testing, etc. we finally got a diagnosis. Had we known this was something Shiba's were prone to, I think it would have speeded her diagnosis.

  41. I am a shiba breeder from UK. The club you ar referring to I was once not only a member, but founder member and committee member for many years. As I would not toe the line, was outspoken and would not be silenced, they systematicaly set about to ruin my career in dogs, set me up. Worked with certain individuals to have my dog stolen, and ruin my name against the dog breed. If anyone wants to PM me, I am happy to share the inside information as to what happens in the closed club which is the Japanese shiba inu club of GB.