Monday, 22 August 2011

Blood money

Junior - before facelift                   ©
Junior - after facelift                    ©

The story of Junior the Bloodhound who had to have an £8000 £800* facelift to save his sight ran first in a Yorkshire paper last Wednesday and has been picked up fairly widely by the nationals, most lazily repeating a factual error contained in the original copy.
"Junior the Bloodhound had a rare disorder, had not grown into his skin properly, and the weight of the excess flesh above his face caused it to fold and cover his eyes. The problem resulted in a disorder called entropion, which could have resulted in permanent blindness if left untreated," wrote Dan Bean in the York Press.
If Mr Bean had done a little research, he would have discovered that excessive facial skin and entropion are common in the Bloodhound. In fact, the the second hit if you Google "bloodhound entropion" is from the new UFAW website on Genetic Welfare Problems in Companion Animals and it offers a very comprehensive overview of the problem:

Breed: Bloodhound
Condition: Ectropion, macroblepharon and entropion 
Outline: Bloodhounds have been selected for excessive drooping facial skin, and because of this are prone to eyelid abnormalities. The lower lids may be everted (turned-out). This condition is known as ectropion. Conversely, the upper lids may be inverted (turned-in); a condition called entropion.  Ectropion disrupts the function of the lower lid in protecting the eye and drainage of tears and entropion causes chronic abrasion of the surface of the eye.  Both conditions predispose affected individuals to forms of chronic conjunctivitis causing episodes of varying degrees of discomfort and pain throughout their lives unless eyelid conformation can be surgically corrected (which may be difficult). Animals should be chosen as pets or for breeding only if they have normal eyelid conformation or these diseases are likely to be perpetuated.  
Junior (son of the 2009 Crufts Best of Breed, Trailfinder Fortitude) was very unlucky to suffer from this condition, according to the operating vet, Gary Lewin from Penrith in Cumbria.  Junior's owners say Mr Lewin had done this procedure (whether entropion or facelift is unclear) on "500 spaniels" but had  never before seen this problem n a Bloodhound.

I emailed Mr Lewin last Thursday hoping for some clarification before running the story here. After all, spaniels (with the exception of the Clumber) are not dogs that one associates particularly with entropion. I also suggested that if it was true he hadn't done the procedure on a Bloodhound before that it might only be because they are rare (only 50 registered with the Kennel club last year) rather than their lack of need. I will add his reply if he gets back to me.

Poor Junior. The dog suffered for five years before getting some relief from what must have been an agonising problem. 

"We got him when he was just a puppy and noticed he seemed to be in a lot of pain in his early life," says his owner Denise  Smart. "He could hardly see and he used to get grumpy as a result.

"We have four other dogs and he was really twitchy with the others when they came up behind him.

"We took him to the vets and he had an eyelash removed because they thought that might have been scraping against his eye, but it didn't make much difference.  Then they thought of his eyelashes was too big and they tried working on that, but that didn't solve the problem either."

So in the end, major surgery was the only option. All the papers, by the way, wimped out on including pictures of Junior immediately post-surgery despite the Ross Parry news agency making them available.
But here's one of them - just so that we are under no illusion regarding the possible consequences of breeding dogs with extreme skin laxity (the Shar-pei is another breed that sometimes need facelifts for the same reason).  I accept it is unusual for a Bloodhound to need surgery this extensive - but more minor ops to fix drooping skin folds that can cause eyelashes to rub and ulcerate the eye are not that rare.

The procedure is one of an increasing number being done to correct the defects that we have bred into dogs - as Petplan revealed last week. This story, too, was mis-reported -  missing the point that it is utterly horrific that we're breeding dogs that need surgery in order to be able to see and breathe - and instead headlining the story as a "surge in plastic surgery for pets". It is not, of course, anything of the sort.
"According to the UK’s largest pet insurance provider, claims worth £1.5m were paid out in 2010 for nose surgery on cats and dogs, an increase of 25 per cent over the last three years," wrote the Telegraph on Thursday. "Petplan also paid out over £1m for eye-lid lifts on young dogs and almost a quarter of a million pounds for dental work on household pets. The company said that the rise in cosmetic surgery allows animals to live “healthier and more active lives”.
So, just to re-cap.. since Pedigree Dogs Exposed aired three years ago, there has been a 25 per cent increase in surgery done to relieve breathing problems in dogs and cats.

Some of this may be because of greater availability of the surgery and/or because vets may be recommending such surgery more often. But not all. And it is good evidence that there is still a long way before we can be justifiably be proud of the dogs we produce in the UK.

* Edit 22/8/11 @ 23.25pm: correction re price of the facelift - £800, not £8,000 as originally reported by the Yorkshire news agency (and all the national that carried the story).  Operating vet Chris Lewin has not got back to me but I see he has added a comment correcting re the cost to the Daily Mail's version of the story, so have amended above.


  1. Jemina, you should take a look at this picture:

    A lot of excess skin...

  2. For this reason I wish there was an insurance company that only insured 'healthy' breeds - i.e. those without conformation defects or were known to be riddled with genetic health problems.

    I realise that this will significantly reduce the number of breeds insured, but it does mean that those people who have responsibly taken on generally healthy breeds or mutts, won't be penalised by subbing those people who still take on pugs and other brachycephalic breeds because they look 'cute' (in their, not my, opinion).

  3. A bloodhound from the 1930's
    Yes, we are ruining our breeds for their looks.

  4. I foster dogs for a Pekingese rescue and at least 75% of the dogs we bring in need to have surgery to fix a problem with either their eyes or their breathing. It sickens me how breeding for exaggerated features have destroyed this breed as well as so many others.

  5. That last photo, with the stitches, speaks a million words. -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

  6. When I see all these problems, I just think what have we done? What HAVE we done? I could truly weep. That poor boy, I bet he is a different dog now he isn't in pain, he sure looks it.

    So now I guess it is just sit back and wait for the bloodhound enthusiasts/breeders to come on and tell us there isn't a problem at all.

    Jemima, you should ask that vet how many bloodhounds he has on his books or has had in the last 10 years. I will not be surpirsed if you don't get any reply from him.

  7. What a difference to the dog of the 30's, a fine looking specimen. So today's dog is what they would call 'progress'?

    I just wish these breeders (and judges) had to walk a mile in their paws, I really do.

  8. So, just to re-cap.. since Pedigree Dogs Exposed aired three years ago, there has been a 25 per cent increase in surgery done to relieve breathing problems in dogs and cats.


  9. the dog from the 1930's is one dog, it cannot be used as an example for everything that was around at the time, as for the dog that was operated on it is such a shame but this was not because of his breeding, genetics go wrong sometimes and they do in people as well, his went wrong as he had too much skin, if this was a child you would be saying oh what a shame, not picking at it or its parents. I have seen this dog in the flesh after the operation which I might add was some years ago so perhaps JH ought to get her facts right, the op actually cost 800 not 8000.

  10. This photo is obscene. The fact that this surgery was necessary is obscene. Anonymous 20:04 (ball-less wonder who's afraid to use his name) who implies that this one dog who needed surgery was a genetic anomaly is obscene. The further implication that $800 instead of $8000 would make it OK is OBSCENE.
    Simply obscene.

  11. Here are some more pictures of Bloodhounds from the past, including show Champion dogs. The argument that pops up whenever someone shows an old photo of a breed during a period when it was less exaggerated is that it's just a 'single photo' that signifies nothing since it's just 'one dog'. There are actually HUNDREDS of pictures showing the style of type of breeds from the past as well as written descriptions from numerous sources, if people actually wished to do the research and find them.

    Especially in the oldest books on pedigree dogs, they did not just grab a random unpapered dog from the street to illustrate their chapter on a breed -- they picked dogs who were considered a good example either by being winners themselves or from respected kennels. It's lazy and disingenuous to just keep waving off every new example that many breeds were not originally bred to the extreme of the modern type with 'It's just a single photo'. How many photos does someone need before they can admit that there have been significant changes in a breed compared to it's original type?

  12. I just knew there would be someone who tried to defend this. It doesn't matter when it was, and the fact is those bloodhounds without this particular dog's excessive skin (oops wonder how that could passibly happen ?)DO generally have far too much skin which causes health problems. Quote: Bloodhounds have been selected for excessive drooping facial skin.

    Then you wonder why the hell it went wrong for this poor dog. If excessive skin hadn't been selected for in the first place this 'anomaly' would never have ocurred.

    The dog from the 30's was typical of the type and was a champion of the day, and then, as today all the show dogs were of a similar type. Breeders today seem to feel that what they have done to the breed (all of those who have become exaggerated) is an improvement, and there is a dismissiveness of the dogs of the past. There are times when it is good to stop and look back. It is not a retrograde step, just maybe looking back and thinking, you know they DID look better and healthier back then, I could amend my breeding programme to improve the type. But No, that would mean that their dogs would not be winning rosettes and they wouldn't get the kudos of a 'champion' (and we all know how little that is worth by the GSD blog), and heaven forbid - their pups may be healthier but they might not fetch as much. It IS obscene.

  13. Meredith says "The further implication that $800 instead of $8000 would make it OK is OBSCENE.
    Simply obscene." no it does not but it does show that facts when incorrect should be challanged, and the FACT they are published in the first place shows why most dog breeders woould not trust the makers of PDE again,

  14. Anon wrote: "I have seen this dog in the flesh after the operation which I might add was some years ago so perhaps JH ought to get her facts right, the op actually cost 800 not 8000."

    Yes, it looks like the news agency (and all the nationals that carried the story) got the price wrong. I had emailed the operating vet to check the details but in the absence of him getting back to me, I went with the info that had already been published. Have now amended to £800.

  15. Oh, did all those horrible, painful stitches only cost £800? Well, then, that makes it all better, doesn't it? -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

  16. Well I was just trying to point out the exaggeration I did not imply that it was ok. Do you not think the timeline is off as well the dog has not been suffering for 5 years. As for Pai if you look at the picture from 1881 this dog looks like it has plenty of wrinkle, the pictures all have differing amounts of 'loose skin', and as for Merideth, people like you is why I have given no name, there is nothing constructive in your comment. Some dogs have been bred with excessive amounts of skin over the years, I am not defending this but today breeders are trying to breed with less exaggeration, I think that people should give them a break and let them do what they need to do, we will probably not see a total change in the breed for some time but it is happening, I know what as happened to this one is awful and the picture you have posted illustrates this but I think Bloodhounds have had enough flack off people, this really was due to too much skin not just what is normal for this breed. Rod no it doesn't but if it had been a child it would be an amazing success wouldn't it?

  17. to Anon 00:11 -

    I saw lots of skin on the older dogs, what I didn't see was the excessively droopy eye. I sincerely hope you are right about today's breeders steering towards less exaggeration.

  18. Anon @ 00:11 wrote: "Rod no it doesn't but if it had been a child it would be an amazing success wouldn't it?"

    --- If it had been a child, it also would not have been intentional. -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

  19. What's even more sad it that Junior will probably be dead at 8 years old. The median lifespan of these dogs is 7 years and it usually of bloat or heart problems.

  20. To anonymous at 00.11. You clearly know this dog, may even bred it, so perhaps you can set the record straight and tell us how old he was when he had it done and how old he is now?

    You said: I think that people should give them a break and let them do what they need to do.
    Oh if only we COULD trust breeders to actually do what they need to do. Just look at the other blogs and see how many breeders/clubs are actually acknowledging problems and adopting strategies to improve conformation/excess skin/flat faces. Very, very few. This is why PDE was so needed at the time and a follow up is needed now. Any breeder could, at any time, have looked at the dogs they were breeding and realised it had all gone too far. They didn't, so it needed 'someone' to kick them up the '*rse'. The majority still ignore the problems, and clearly have no intention of changing, so perhaps you can understand why people who do care do not want anyone to just 'sit back and let them get on with it'. Tried that - didn't work.

  21. Median lifespan for the bloodhound is 6.75yrs - based on the 82 returns in the Kc/BVA health survey of 2004.

  22. Anonymous 00.11
    I have had a look at modern day bloodhounds, and they are certainly not as excessive as this one, but certainly do have excessive skin which causes problems with the eyes.
    From the association of bloodhound breeders : Eyes should be free from any interference from the eyelashes. Any obvious signs of eye irritation must be heavily penalised. The eyesight of the hound should be unimpeded and
    - Head furnished with only a small amount of
    loose skin. Eyelids should have normal contact with the surface of the eye. It is clear that this is a problem, and far too many eyes droop because of the weight of excess skin.

    Where can I look (breed council or similar) to see what the 'breed' is doing about it and what strategies and guidelines there are for breeders?

    I do like bloodhounds, have only ever known one, and he didn't have the excessive wrinkling, this was about 5 years ago and he was 3, so he's probably gone now. I could not bear to have a dog with such a short life span.

  23. I think the description above the picture of the bloodhound from anon @ 13.33 says a lot. Deep hanging flews and pendant folds of loose skin around the neck. Wow, how could any non-breed judge not award for exaggeration?
    Once everyone starts to follow suit then even the breed judges are caught up with the mistakes.

  24. Rod Russell you have a lot to say for yourself. Do you own one of these breeds and what are your credentials for passing the remarks that you do ?

  25. @ David Bingley
    Quite a few people have a lot to say. Why would he in particular need credentials for his remarks?

    I am sure there are those who would love to stifle others opinions, it doesn't work like that fortunately. FREEDOM allows expression for all.

  26. Louise, I just looked at that picture. I am very interested as to whether this is in the UK. It disgusting, and look at that poor dogs eyes.

    Judging by that photo someone must be very proud of all that excess skin to be holding it out for all to see. Jeez

  27. Hello, David Bingley. So nice to know I'm raising your hackles. We've had two Basset Hounds, fortunately years prior to the current version of their breed standard.

    Credentials? My current breed is the cavalier King Charles spaniel, and I've long been a student of their severe genetic disorders, which include entropion, but certainly not to the intentional degree of the bloodhound and Basset. -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

  28. The working SAR and law enforcement bloodhounds I have known for nearly 20 years here in the US are all leggy, lean, devoid of loose skin over the body, and with about 1/3 the skin surface area in the head. Their ears are shorter. They look like hounds. Their chests aren't quite as deep.

    Funny thing, that.

    They still have an unacceptable lifespan and health profile, though. There's been very little pure working breeding anywhere -- not in a sustained way -- and the trailing bloodhound morphology is still maladaptive compared to, say, any random coonhound. Which is why not a few people are crossing bloodhounds and coonhounds to make healthier mantrailing hounds now.

    Because it's a big bummer to put two years into training a working dog before he's operational and then having him drop dead at six, with a working life of 4 years.

    My ES SAR dog will soon have been operational for ten years, and still going strong. Both of my first two partners (working GSDs) got in ten years as operational dogs.

  29. vets + insurance = unnessecary procedures

    completely as an aside from these photos, etc....i think vet medicine is quickly becoming one of the biggest cons going

  30. Have a look at the Coakham Bloodhounds here in the UK, Heather. An improvement.


  31. To Anonymous at 23 August 2011 14:29: The picture was taken by a vet, and this dog had a facelift because of eye problems as well...

  32. I hear time and time again that these folds are for the benefit in terms of scenting, both in bloodhounds and bassets.

    If this were the case you would find wild dogs which had evolved with such traits - guess what, you don't.

    The pain this dog had to go through is just awful. Glad you put the post surgery picture on. You have to see such things for it to show the true extent of it's suffering.

    Would be interesting to see if there is a response from that vet. As a qualified vet he should be a little more educated in such things whether having direct experience or not. If you take a look at Emma Milne's book, breed specifics are highlighted not only in training college but regular veterinary publications.


  33. "vets + insurance = unnessecary procedures"

    is that what you believe in this case?

  34. Jemima Harrison said...

    "An improvement."

    "When the pack was first established, it hunted with pure bred bloodhounds. But it soon found that, whilst their ability to follow the scent was without compare, they lacked the speed across open countryside and the enthusiasm to cope with natural obstacles. The current pack consists of bloodhounds crossbred to the Dumfriesshire Foxhound, a unique out-cross which has developed the ability of the pack to follow a natural human scent with voice, speed, agility and drive."

    Oh, dear no, those are mutts! ;)

  35. VetsSuspect...spend a day working with a vet and then comment. Actually, spend five years at uni then years working full time and on call 24/7 and then comment. O... and after seeing dog after dog after dog after dog with breed specific problems. Check out private health care for humans, its damn expensive and that is what vets are providing. Drugs, equipment, staff pay and keeping a practice running cost a HUGE amount of money.

  36. Anonymous 12.13
    The code of ethics are on the Association of Bloodhound Breeders web site. The club health representative has performed an ear survey and an eye survey, the ear survey was published in the club magazine I am not sure if it is published any where else, the KC would have a copy of the results, the eye survey results are yet to be published. The Club commissioned The Animal Health Trust to do a report in to the health and inbreeding of Bloodhounds,this was published in December 2009 and was quite favourable for the breed. the KC has a fit for function policy and breed watch scheme, it has also altered the breed standard.The Kennel Club web site is a good place to start for information and the breed clubs. There is also the accredited breeders scheme. The veteran hound at the club show was 13, there is quite a few that live to 10/12, my last dog was not a BH and she only lived until she was 9.
    I would also like to note to the venemous comments made that these are people's pets, they are loved and adored by their owners who mostly will do anything for them, they are part of the family and to have them spoken about in the way that you do is extremely hurtful, a lot of effort goes in to breeding programmes to try and produce healthy puppies, these are loving beautiful dogs, I hope one day you will reflect upon what you have said.

  37. "I hope one day you will reflect upon what you have said. "

    I doubt it very much .. but very well said. Sadly nothing will satisfy this group of complainers, objectors and down right mean spirited people.
    They will turn around and say BUT WE DO IT FOR THE DOGS.. when really they do it to make an attempt to be an "instant expert" in every breed.
    The blogger has never as far as I know bred nor raised a litter of any breed.. not shown a dog to a championship.. nor even worked a dog except on the occasional "hunt"
    Forgive me if I am wrong. I would love to be corrected.

  38. Anon @ 12.13 wrote "I would also like to note to the venemous comments made that these are people's pets, they are loved and adored by their owners who mostly will do anything for them, they are part of the family and to have them spoken about in the way that you do is extremely hurtful, a lot of effort goes in to breeding programmes to try and produce healthy puppies, these are loving beautiful dogs, I hope one day you will reflect upon what you have said."

    No one doubts that most of these dogs are treasured by breeders who are utterly devoted to the breed. There have been no personal attacks on individual breeders (and certainly not on an individual dog - there is nothing but empathy for Junior). The point being made here is that if breeders really do want to "do anything for them" then care need to be taken over breed features that can result in the kind of surgery Junior had to have to allow him to see - and other dogs just to breathe.

    Read that statistic above again: there has been a 25 per cent increase in surgeries done to correct just breathing problems in dogs and cats in the UK in the past three years. This is quite simply because we have bred them so they can't breathe.

    I would urge breeders to try not to take offence - not even at the strong comments above. They are a reflection of the complete frustration many feel at this level of suffering. Instead turn your energies into acknowledging that some things need to change and show us that you love your dogs enough to do something about it.


  39. Agree, no-one is making any venomous comments about the dogs themselves. It is not their fault that they are suffering from breeding induced problems. Quite the reverse in fact.

    I think breeders need to open their eyes and ears, and then stand back and take a good long look (I am not specifically aiming this at bloodhound breeders, as many do not seem too exaggerated - just a few at present).

    I had a GSD a few years back who had to have a hip replacement operation. If her picture had been put on this blog and people had said poor girl, terrible breeding practices etc. I would have wholeheartedly agreed. I would not have been offended that people felt sorry for my dog and wished that things would change so it didn't happen in the future. The BIG difference is - I didn't BREED her.

    Bestuvall sees only "complainers, objectors and down right mean spirited people" All the time this element of the dog world prevail, things will not change.

    It is good to see that some bloodhounds are being outcrossed to moderate excessive skin and to improve workability. It is also good to see that the Association of Bloodhound breeders are taking positive steps on health.

  40. Bestuvall said;

    "Sadly nothing will satisfy this group of complainers, objectors and down right mean spirited people."

    Bestuvall, I own a dog who has had her face reconstructed due to breed conformation related disorders. This is to help her breathe and to prevent further damage to her eyes.

    I have taken critisism on this blog, for partly being the cause of the problem (ie I created the demand), for which i totally agree, but have chosen to turn it around by trying to educate others about the problems with extreme brachycephalics.

    You see Bestavall, in certain breeds, if you go to "those that know best", which, from what i can tell from your comment above, are those that breed and show their dogs, you will get a wall of denial.

    Denial that the breed has respiratory problems, denial that many of their problems are due to their holier than thou breed standard. I honestly believe that many are desensitized. What is abnormal in their eyes becomes "normal".

    So you see Bestuvall, you do not have to be a breeder or show person to be able to voice an opinion on something.

  41. Nobody is making venomous comments about anyone's dog. As JH says, if anything a deep sadness and anger how people feel, that poor Junior and the dogs suffering with breed induced problems are being put through it.

    I had a GSD who had a hip replacement. If she was put on this blog, and similar criticisms were made of the breeders and practices (say for example breeding with high hip scored or un hip scored parents) that caused her such suffering, I would have been AGREEING with them. The BIG difference in attitude - I didn't BREED her. She was simply my friend and I loved her with all my heart. I wouldn't have changed her, but I do wish that (both of us) hadn't had to suffer so much along the way.

  42. bestuvall wrote: "They will turn around and say BUT WE DO IT FOR THE DOGS.. when really they do it to make an attempt to be an 'instant expert' in every breed. The blogger has never as far as I know bred nor raised a litter of any breed.. not shown a dog to a championship.. nor even worked a dog except on the occasional 'hunt'." ---

    I love it! The last resort by the reality-deniers: "I know what I'm talking about and you don't because I'm a breeder and you're not!" Well, you don't have to be a breeder to see that what breeders are doing is disasterous. -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

  43. Ny friend in Switzerland just bought a bassett hound from a breeder in Germany who had imported a dog from the USA with less skin to try and alleviate some of the suffering caused by excessive skin. The puppy is simply gorgeous - and he still looks like a Bassett Hound. He is almost a year now and has grown into a lovely animal. He loves the water, running in the fields and all the things a dog loves to do. Yet another breeder in Germany who is trying to do the best for their breed....

  44. Jemima -- the Coakham hounds are interesting. This kind of breeding for sport can be a pillar of a conservation and development program for sound practical mantrailing dogs.

    If the bloodhound is not being conserved as a practical mantrailer, then what is the point? And the first person who tells me that this is an outdated job for which there is no longer demand so why not just preserve the beast as a fancy breed is going to get pointy boot of fact right up his arse.

    Bloodhounds are not typically pack hunters (in North America) and are usually worked on a line, which is held by a handler who, after a few years, generally sports some pretty impressive scars from faceplants and Nantucket sleighrides. (The biggest reason among a long list of why a trailing bloodhound is not my cup of SAR tea.)

    I think these sporting pack-hunting mantrailers look happier and more fulfilled than SAR bloodhounds. Not sure if the genetics for what they do would differ from the those for what SAR and law enforcement trailing dogs do. No way to know without trying it out.

  45. I love it! The last resort by the reality-deniers: "I know what I'm talking about and you don't because I'm a breeder and you're not!" Well, you don't have to be a breeder to see that what breeders are doing is disasterous. -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

    And if you ARE a breeder, you are the wrong kind of breeder. The kind who would no more breed dogs for the qualities that "bestuvall" values than would chew off her own foot. Your dogs are mongrels. And you know nothing of the realities of the show ring, having opted out of that particular abomination.

  46. Fit for Function:
    who would believe it? who would breed these monsters.. these monstrosities.. these weak animals ? very sad.. their breeders must be horrible nasty people who care nothing for their dogs.
    By the way Heather you have no idea what qualities I value in my dogs which proves my point about nastiness and mean spiritness

  47. Fit for life:

  48. Michael Harrison25 August 2011 at 16:38

    It seems to me most commenter's on here have no experience of the Breed. I have 20 years in the breed. This most ancient of breeds is still fit for purpose, unlike many other breeds. When did you last see a bull dog working at what it was bred for?
    This unfortunate dogs plight has been picked up by the press and blown out of all proportion. Yes it is an unfortunate incident but why blame the breed or the breeder. If a child is born with an affliction do you blame the parents? It is a pity the press coverage isn't as great when a bloodhound finds a lost child or elderly person with alzheimer's disease for instance. Yes, they still do that, enjoying the chase with vigour. Across Europe they are used to hunt wild boar and deer, not killing the prey just enjoying the chase.
    Both breed clubs the K.C. and reputable breeders in the UK are doing their utmost to ensure this breed is sound healthy and fit for purpose. As to the comment about the average lifespan of a bloodhound it is no worse than any other large breed of dog. The last bloodhound I lost was 13 years of age, I have another two well above the mean average age stated. I also am a great believer in using an out-cross every 4-5 generations to ensure the health and vigour of the breed. Some on here may understand, no doubt most wont.
    I will finish by saying don't try blowing your trumpet if you haven't got the wind.

  49. Michael, as a breeder of such long-standing, I'd be interested to hear if youwere you for or against the registraton of the unregistered packhounds in 2006? And do you still feel the same as you did then? (For those that don't know, in 2006 - or round then - the KC allowed some bloodhound packhounds to be registered. There was a huge fuss at the time, with the breed club threatening to sue the KC.)

    As for longevity, median lifespan is 6.79 for the bloodhound. For comparison, in the same weight category (taken from the 2004 KC/BVA health survey, there is only one breed worse. Bloodhounds on average live 3 years shorter than the longest-living dogs in the largest-dogs category, the Newfie.

    Great Dane: 6.5
    Bloodhound: 6.79
    Mastiff: 6.83
    St Bernard: 7.0
    Irish Wolfhound: 7.04
    Leonburger: 7.8
    Deerhound: 8.67
    Komondor: 9.13
    Pyrenean: 9.58
    Newfoundland: 9.67


  50. in other words.. I will deflect what you have said by asking you a totally unrelated question.. and here are some stats that have been done with no relation to how or why the dogs died.. or at least they are not posted here..
    ( my guess is that many died of bloat.. a common cause of death in almost all large deep chested dogs including mongrels)
    and for the rest..they will be..
    Holding hands over ears.. saying LALALA I CAN"T HEAR YOU. You will undoubtedly be placed in the "reality deniers" category.. after all you actually do know something about the breed.

  51. I wondered when someone would blame the vet! LOL!

    Really, vets aren't engineering dogs to have more healh problems for them to fix. Unfortunatley, perhaps, developing the ability to fix healh problems that have occured through breeding for exaggeration and breeding too close means some breeders have started to see certain disease and procedures as 'normal' for their breed. It's true that insurance can make the problem worse as the breeders/owners don't have to face the true cost of their poor decisions. We fix the dog, someone else picks up the tab...everything's good? Right? No, not really. Vets are stuck between a rock and a hard place; do we perform the emergency bulldog caesar and be accused of perpetuating the problem or do we turn the bitch away to suffer and die? (we aren't permitted to do the latter). Most of us would do the caesar, discuss the problem with the breeder, advise on future breeding....and know we would be ignored. A few vets are bad and don't report conformation altering procedures, but most of us do, especially when we know the dog is potentially for breeding or showing. It makes us unpopular, but hey.
    vicky payne (caring, holistic vet!)

  52. Bestuvall, the question was not a deflection. Michael talked about an outcross every 4/5 gens, and I was interested to know what he meant (suspect he means within the breed and not to a previously unregistered packhound but wasn't sure hence why asked). Genetic diversity is integral to health in my view.

    Likewise, Michael claimed that the bloodhound had average longevity for a very large breed, but in fact it is near the bottom. And what the dogs died of is not really the point, surely? (Especially given that most of the other breeds in this category are also deep-chested and at risk of it.)


  53. Michael Harrison25 August 2011 at 18:20

    Jemima In answer to your question
    I have used the so called 'Pack hounds' in our breeding twice up to present. Our association with those hounds continues. While on the subject these hounds were bloodhounds although they lived in a pack environment having full pedigrees and met every requirement asked by the KC. So yes I was for it and the results of the matings were everything I expected. Yes I still feel now as I did then
    Regarding longevity I think you will find that survey included only 82 bloodhounds which thinking back to 2004 would represent less than 20% of the bloodhounds in the UK. In my experience in 20 years around 10 years of age would be the median but who am I to argue with figures? Even though they represent a small portion of the breed and are nigh on 8 years old.

  54. Michael Harrison25 August 2011 at 18:40

    Jemima please feel free to go to our blogspot
    where pictures of our hounds and the offspring of the matings with the so called 'pack hounds' can be seen. Also a picture of 'Romper' who is one of the original hounds that was registered.

  55. Thanks for the info and the link Michael - would love to see a pic of Romper but no way of knowing where on your blog. I'd be grateful if you could provide a link.

    I'm delighted to hear you were supportive of the packhound registration - it sounded such a sensible thing to do and the KC mentioned how frustrated they were by the breed club response in one of our earliest meetings with them. You must have been in the minority in supporting them?

    Good to hear your own hounds are beating the odds re lifespan.


  56. Michael Harrison25 August 2011 at 19:05

    Hi Jemima
    You will have to excuse my computer skills but the following should be a link to the picture of Romper

  57. If you read the AHT report 2009 it says that the breed is not deliberately closely mated.
    Isn't it quite relevant to the health of the breed as to what they have died of?
    I was wondering why you have not posted my last comment Jemima?

  58. What comment, Anon?

    Think I've published everything today on this thread - apart from an odd one rattling on about meat eating and dog food which added nothing to the debate.

    Re inbreeding, there are only around 50 bloodhound registrations a year. That would make it very difficult to avoid inbreeding - although I do see that the breed average COI is ony 5.7 per cent, a lot lower than some others. I'd be interested to hear more about how that's being achieved. Imports?

  59. Michael, thanks for the pic of Romper.

    Yep, looks exactly like a Bloodhound. :-)

  60. A questions for Bestuvall: here's what the UFAW website says about eyes/skin folds on the bloodhound in relation to the UK and US breed standards.

    "The UK breed standard (updated in 2009) specifies that the eyelids should be “oval in shape, meeting the cornea perfectly without any irregularity in their contour. Eyes should be free from any interference from the eyelashes. Any obvious signs of eye irritation must be heavily penalised. The eyesight of the hound should be unimpeded” ( In the UK there is also a Kennel Club “breed health watch” for the Bloodhound, highlighting the need to avoid ectropion, entropion and the excessive facial skin folds and droop that add to these conditions (

    "In the USA this is not the case and the AKC (American Kennel Club) Bloodhound breed standard includes “eyes deeply sunk in the orbits, the lids assuming a lozenge or diamond shape, in consequence of the lower lids being dragged down and everted by the heavy flews” ( The AKC breed standard also requires “superabundant” loose skin on the head."

    Now have a look at the skin folds on these American bloodhounds (the head shots about a third of the way down the page):

    The US breed standard CLEARLY selects for defect. You're an AKC judge - do you think there's an argument for changing the US breed standard?

    I'd be interested to hear what Michael thinks, too.


  61. Michael harrison26 August 2011 at 09:01

    The AKC standard is as near as can be to the original standard written in 1896 by Edwin Brough and Sydney Turner. I presume the reference you make to suparabundant skin is in this paragraph.
    'The head is furnished with an amount of loose skin, which in nearly every position appears superabundant, but more particularly so when the head is carried low ; the skin then falls into loose pendulous ridges and folds, especially over the forehead and sides of the face.'
    Note the use of the word 'appears' before superabundant, this puts a different interpretation to your statement 'requires'.
    The reason the UK standard was changed was to try stop misinterpretations of the nature you yourself have made.
    Which I agree with.

  62. Thanks Michael. I am not sure that "appears" in this case means "not really" (if this is what you're implying?). The US clearly does "require" skin that "falls into loose pendulous ridges and folds, especially over the forehead and sides of the face," when the head is carried low.

    It seems to me that a compromise is perfectly possible (and encouraged by the new UK breed standards) - ie a move away from too much skin laxity while retaining the dogs' esssential bloodhoundness.

  63. Leonarda Pogodzinski26 August 2011 at 16:48

    Dear Jemima
    There are quite a few of us out there in Bloodhounds that support the registration of the Readyfield Hounds by the KC, and we come from both sides of the spectrum, Shows and Trials. I have been in Bloodhounds since 1965, I am not a breeder but have kept Bloodhounds for the sole purpose of hunting the clean boot to compete at Ch Bloodhound Trials and as companions, for the likes of us it has not always been easy to find the type of hound we want, I prefer the smaller clean faced Bloodhound, the athletic type with drive, health and longevity, most of my hounds have made a good age,9,10 and 11, what one feared most in those days was torsion, not the problems within the breed today. Those of us that Trial have bred our own hounds amongst ourselves to get what we want, so please dont TAR us all with the same brush. I come from a Bloodhound Hunting background and spent some years in hunt service to a pack of Bloodhounds where I learned the qualities of out crossing, historically Bloodhounds have always had an outcross, go to the KC library and ask to see the Bloodhound archive, you will also find the archive of the Association of Bloodhound Breeders, one of the oldest breed clubs around, formed by those whom were interested in the working Bloodhound, at one time this Association was only for the working Bloodhound.The KC by registering pack hounds, is trying to bring about change, and will continue to look at the suitability of registering pack hounds, there are many untapped bloodlines within the packs, and contrary to what some of the breeders think,these people do keep records and stud books. Changes are also being brought about re the judging of high profile breeds,this sort of change takes time and doesn't take place over night. I currently own two Readyfield hounds which I Trial; I have friends whom have integrated their bloodlines with the Readyfield lines to help widen the gene pool, quite a number of the offspring are competing at both Trials and Shows and are doing well, and believe you me we are not popular with certain sections of breed. So please don't TAR us all with the same brush.

  64. Thank you for your comments, Leonarda. I don't write as much as I should about those who use their dogs for the function for which they were bred, but please know that I have the utmost respect for those that do. It's where many answers lie.

    Interesting to hear that there were outcrosses historically in bloodhounds - do you mean to different breeds (like eg the Coakham Bloohounds to Dumfriesshire foxhounds) or to different lines?

    If you trawl the old dog breeding books, they talk about outcrossing (to different breeds) a lot. It was once part of the dog breeder's armoury (and probably even today explains the different type of, eg, working springers... whatever the pedigree may say!).

    "Stonehenge on the Dog" dating from around 1880 has a chapter on outcrossing and includes illustrations of a bulldog/greyhound x and the sbusequent backcrossed generations - showing as my blog on the Schnauzer/Pointer x does just how quickly you can get back to type.

    How wonderful that there are untapped bloodlines in the packs. I would hope that the registration of further packhounds now would meet with less resistance than it did in 2006. I'd be interested to hear what you think.

  65. Jemima you hardly write anything about the good things thet we do for our breeds, you are obsessed with outcrossing there are more ways to widen the gene pool ie imports, more and more breeds are using imports.

  66. Anonymous 27 August 2011 12:05 wrote: "Jemima you hardly write anything about the good things thet we do for our breeds,"

    --- Yes, for heaven's sake, Jemima, don't you understand that you are supposed to be a P.R. flack for the breeders and the KC? -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

  67. The blog's purpose is clearly stated above - "the latest news and views regarding inherited disorders and conformation issues in purebred dogs".

    I do run more good news stories than some people think - the acceptance of the LUA Dals, for instance. It's just that not everyone sees them as good news stories.

    I'd be very happy to run more if people want to send them.