Friday 29 June 2012

In defence of a friend

Respect... Carol Fowler dog campaigner

I first met Carol Fowler in 2007 when we were researching Pedigree Dogs Exposed.  She was - and is - kind, softly-spoken, always respectful, a good listener and, delightfully, rather shockable (although this must be a front - as a former English teacher in the state school system, there can't be much she didn't hear in terms of extra-curricular vocabulary). 

Carol often - with due cause it has to be said  - shakes her head in some despair at me for being hopelessly disorganised and late for absolutely everything.  She in contrast is always on time and meticulously organised. We are as different as different can be, and we don't agree on everything by any means, but there's undoubtedly a bond cemented through the common aim of improving dog welfare.

Carol lives in a beautiful little cottage in Gloucestershire with her Cavalier, Rosie. Rosie is her second Cavalier and, like her first, Bonnie, she suffers from syringomyelia, although not as hearbreakingly seriously as Bonnie.  It was this experience that set Carol on the path she is now on.

When Bonnie was first diagnosed, Carol was shocked by her breeder's reaction (they threatened legal action if Carol spoke out about it), shocked by the breed club (little interest in documenting/highlighting the problem) and shocked by the Kennel Club for not having instigated any system for monitoring the level of genetic disease in individual breeds despite good evidence that there was a problem.

In her innocence, Carol thought that all she had to do was to raise the issue and that it would be sorted.  She went to her MP and, together, they went to see the Kennel Club.

Carol remembers that they accused her of "pet-owner over-reaction".

Breeders, meanwhile, accused her of having Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy - as if this ineffably decent retired schoolteacher actually wanted her beloved pet dogs to scream with pain.

And throughout all this, Carol steered - and continues to steer - a steady path, never indulging in the kind of irreverent bitching about the dog world that has at times been a feature of gobbier campaigners like me.  Instead, she has remained quietly persistent... writing letters, forging contacts, meeting welfare organisations, lobbying Government, educating herself regarding genetics and reading difficult scientific papers as often as is necessary to ensure she understands them. And she is always, but always, respectful and polite, however frustrated she may sometimes feel deep down.

So I am upset to see that the Chairman of the Kennel Club has trashed Carol Fowler in this week's Dog World in a column that is wanting in other ways too (a post to come on that shortly).

When I first met Carol, she was consumed with just Cavaliers. I remember asking her if she wanted to broaden it out, to champion the health of other breeds too. She didn't at the time, but as I rather expected, she has now - and impressively so with her dogbreedhealth website. Launched earlier this year and aimed primarily at the pet-buying public, the site offers independent, comprehensive information on health and welfare issues and available tests in individual breeds and crossbreeds, plus quite bit of useful general info (including a Beginner's Guide to COI written by me).

Carol has spent thousands of hours putting it together, all unpaid. Her starting point for establishing individual health problems was disease databases and veterinary texts. She then brought together several veterinary experts to review and comment on the drafts for each breed.

Now there is a flaw in this process and that is that the scientific/veterinary literature does not always reflect what is actually going on in particular breeds - a point, indeed, that Professor Dean is correct to make in his Dog World article this week.

As a result, the site was not perfect when Carol "soft-launched" it earlier this year.  Some of the breed descriptions were (and still are, in truth) a bit clunky; there were some errors and it was in need of input from those on the ground in individual breeds - something that Carol states clearly on the homepage is invited.

But, on the plus side, the site brings together the relevant health lowdown on most popular breeds, as well as inbreeding information and what health tests are available (nowhere, incidentaly, does it suggest they are mandatory as Professor Dean claims in his article). Now I'm sure it reads too negatively for some breed enthusiasts, but on the other hand, the breed info offered by the KC's website is often laughably poor.

Let's have a quick compare.

Here's what the KC website says about pugs:

Click to enlarge

When I first saw this, I thought there must be another page to it where they list brachycephalic airway syndrome,  pug dog encephalitis, luxating patellas and the several other health problems to which pugs are prone. But, no, that's it. And, believe it or not, this page is from the dog breed health manual that the KC has produced for vets. The info for puppy-buyers doesn't include any health information on the breed at all.

In contrast, Carol's entry for the pug lists all the health problems above and more.

And how about Professor Dean's own breed, the Border Terrier? Here's what the KC vet manual says:

Click to enlarge

According to the KC, there are no health problems. Nada.  But while it's true that the Border Terrier is a tough, healthy breed compared to most, there are a few health problems - and these are listed on Carol's site. This allows puppy buyers to ask the right questions of breeders and awareness is helpful in terms of recognising a problem should it occur.

So Carol's site - although not perfect - is a genuinely-useful, gloss-free resource for puppy-buyers and Carol continues to improve it.  She really does want it to be as good as possible  and is constantly updating and refining it.

But instead of recognising the enormous effort - all unpaid - that Carol has put into it, and perhaps offering the KC's help to improve it further, here's what Professor Dean has said about it in his article this week:
"It suggests to the unsuspecting public (who believe much they read on the web) that certain health tests are mandatory. However, being based on amateur research there are many errors on this site and as a result misinformation will be provided to the public. This error is further compounded by endorsements from respected organisations who either did not have the resources to check the accuracy of the advice given or lacked the competence to judge it."

I really hate it when big people shit on little people  - especially when the big person is part of an organisation that has been complicit in misinforming the public for decades by painting an over-rosy picture of the health of many breeds.

Let's note, too, that in 2008, the Kennel Club declined an opportunity to explore a disease surveillance scheme that would by now have yielded more accurate data on which Carol's site could be based. (It took funding from the RSPCA to finally get VetCompass off the ground.)

And let's also note that the Kennel Club has actively blocked Carol's attempts to improve her site.

Yes, they really did.

A few months ago, Carol wrote to the KC asking for a list of breed health co-ordinator (HCs) - the aim being to liaise with them to ensure that the information for each breed was up to date and accurate.  By mistake, the KC's Bill Lambert copied Carol in on an email meant for internal consumption. Here's what he wrote to Aimee Lewellyn, who recently joined the KC as Health Information Manager.

"It goes without saying but the HC list is not available, and certainly not to her!"


Now, to be fair, Bill Lambert apologised to Carol - who accepted it very graciously and she turned an awkward moment into a constructive one by directly asking for Bill Lambert's input on his own breed, the Bull Terrier. This was duly given and I trust Mr Lambert is now happier with the Bull Terrier entry - and if not that he'll continue discussion with Carol. After all, the site is here to stay - they might as well help to make it as accurate as possible.

As it happens, I wasn't ever intending to mention this KC faux-pas - after all, you ought to hear what I say about the KC  behind its back! (Exactly the same as I say to its front, as it happens.) I know Carol will be mortified that I have. But I fear Professor Dean's piece this week reveals that, for all the talk of reform, deep-down there is still a core arrogance that resents what many at the KC still perceive as do-gooder outsiders meddling with stuff about which they don't have a clue.

Please. This needs to change. And it could start with an apology from Professor Dean to Carol Fowler.


  1. It could start with them publishing a list, with contact information, of all the breed club health coordinators. On their website. For everyone.

  2. I know Carol Fowler, too, as well as her wonderful website. I agree with your analysis. But I don't think Carol needs defending. When the head of the KC lashes out assholicly against a individual as he has, that is the highest form of compliment. It means Carol is succeeding, that she is having a significant impact, that she is hurting his side, and that he has no subtantive counter-argument against her. -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

  3. Having looked at her website, some of the conditions mentioned for certain breeds are incredibly rare - even vets have to look them up because they've never heard of them - it seems that if a single dog of a breed has ever been reported as having suffered from a condition then it goes on the breed list, which unfortunately gives an incorrect view of a breed's health.

    1. Also, she states that Patellar luxation is 'uncommon' in jack russell terriers; in fact it's so common as to be considered a breed trait!

  4. How you do like to mislead the public Ms Harrison, to read the post above you would of thought Steve Dean had a real attack on Ms Fowler, naming and shaming her, calling her all the 4 letter names under the sun......but no he does not name ANYONE, he does not attack anyone, he make the plain and simple truth that many website mislead, although by well meaning people by setting up thease site they put NO context to the information they give. If anyone is making an unwarrented attack here, it would appear to rest you feet again, the words you pour out above make would mislead the general public if they only read your side of a story and not read the original article.

    1. Anon, you overlooked that Mr. Dean fails to acknowledge that his KC website is one of the leading misleaders about canine breeds' genetic health conditions. -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

    2. Remind us Rod just how much this site has mislead, or its Author Parliament, or indeed how the AKC have no such info, Carols site is very very misleady, it fails to give any balance or reference, indeedd most of it is hacked from other sites including the KC, she does not admit that when quoting COI details.

    3. "Hacked"? Carol's site is founded on peer-reviewed papers and additional review by individual vets and a geneticist. The problem (for all researchers in this field) is that incidence/prevalence data is thin on the ground.

      She does acknowledge the KC's Mate Select, btw - here:

      I expect she hasn't acknowleged the source on the individual breed pages to keep the page as uncluttered and simple as poss. But the KC/AHT has put a huge amount of work has gone into Mate Select; it is genuinely useful and I agree that she should acknowledge the COI source on the individual breed pages.


  5. I tried to read the Steve Dean article and found it both small bored and boring, but more importantly, I found it almost totally unreadable due to the incredibly poor kerning and spacing, and the complete lack of separation or indentation for paragraphs on the web site.

    Who put that web site together? It is a complete and total disaster as a communications vehicle! Perhaps Steve Dean could start there if he hope to improve the world of dogs?

    As with a previous reader, I also looked for Carol Fowler's name, or a link to her web site, but did not find either in the article. On first reas, I wondered whether you had pasted in the right link. I have slipped up there before myself (it happens!) so I came back later to see if it would change (it looked like I was one of your first readers).

    Now I understand that the Dean piece is indeed linked to the right piece, but I share the observation that Mr Deans's article is so incredibly thin in content and example that perhaps it was not worth the powder or the lead or the attention given.

    That said, I will salute a core point you make here: the Kennel Club's pug health description is a complete and total joke.

    Are they serious? Is this the Hill of Golgatha where Steve Dean wishes to make his stand?

    Perhaps he should reconsider.

    Might I suggest that instead of focusing outward, he focus instead at the mess at his door? The pug breed health description is a good place to start.

    As for the Border terrier, a lot of effort has been made to find a health problem with this breed and inflate it for research purposes ("Spike's disease!), but in fact the border terrier is incredibly healthy as a rule, and its chief failure is that it is now owned by too many pretenders who do not hunt the dogs and, as a consequence, the dog has gotten too big in the chest. If you are looking for dogs with problem, the Border is not where I would start!

    This is not to say Border terriers live forever. They tend to die at 13-16 years of age, and age 14 or 15 is pretty average. Yes, they eventually die of something -- as we all will. In the end it may be coded as a metabolic disorder, or liver failure, or cancer, or a heart problem or... whatever. Against this end-of-life disease base, however, we have to put all dogs of that size and general type, cross bred and purebred alike. Is the border less health or more healthy? And, of course, the answer is that the border appear to be more healthy.


  6. Just because someone is “kind, softly-spoken, always respectful, a good listener” doesn’t necessarily make them either right or indeed even a good person. I have read her website and certainly there seem to be some conditions that she lists which I have never heard of in more than 30 years.
    I have read the article in Dog World and I see no attack on Carol Fowler. Surely Dean could just as easily be talking about David Sargan’s website which is so riddled with errors it is unbelievable. Though I accept that Sargan is an academic and not an amateur.
    Personally I would rather listen to Dean, a Vet who knows dogs inside out and is actually doing something to improve matters like sticking by the Vet Checks at Crufts. I have always found him to be respectful and a good listener too. But then he doesn’t need me to defend him. Just like Carol doesn’t need you.
    Like Carol Fowler, most of us involved with dogs are unpaid. Even the KC Chairman. A good friend of mine is a health coordinator by the way, also unpaid, and she definitely doesn’t want her email address splashed across the world. So good for Bill Lambert for not making it public knowledge. My friend gets lots of issues forwarded to her by the breed club so it seems to work. She also tells me that the KC wrote to all the Health Coordinators asking them to review Carol’s site, so that hardly seems like an attempt to block her to me!
    I am pleased that you quoted from Dean’s article, his quote seems perfectly valid to me and I am at a loss to see how apparently respected organisations would endorse a site that has not evidence to back it up. That seems to me the essence of what he was saying.
    I am sure Carol Fowler is well meaning, but then again so is Steve Dean. I don’t see that he is “sh**ing” on her at all (as you so eloquently put it)
    You, however, continue to defecate on good honest dog people at every opportunity and never recognised the good or positive work that good breeders go to, or the good that the Breed Clubs and the Kennel Club do.


  7. No one should be treated with disrespect. I could not, however, read the linked article due to the formatting errors. Found it impossible to struggle through.

    I checked out the dogbreedhealth website, and something like this is sorely needed and can be useful. The intention is good, clearly. And I would never have the energy to put the work into that she has.

    I was a little concerned though when I looked at my breed, Pembroke Welsh Corgis. First, it failed to mention IVDD (as far as I can see) which is probably the most pressing breed-specific problem.

    Secondly, it correctly listed DM in one spot as a spinal disease, and in another as "Pembroke heart disease".

    Thirdly, it listed DM as a test parents should have, when the whole testing issue for Pems has the serious potential to cause a lot of harm due to the high prevalence.

    Fourthly, it lists SCID as a test for both Pems and Cardis. I've never heard of it, and a short google search mentions it in Cardis but not in Pems.

    So it is a good start, but I am a bit concerned about the inaccuracies.

  8. Thank you for the constructive comments, Beth. This is exactly what Carol needs.

    Is there such a thing as "Pembroke heart disease"?


    1. Jemima,

      I am not a breeder, just an involved pet owner, but honestly I've not heard nor read of any special heart problems in Corgis. Google searching also turns up nothing. OFA (our testing body here) has no special heart test for Corgis.

      I find this source fairly reliable:

      she says to watch for PDA, but I don't know that it's especially common in Corgis, or at least in extensive conversations with Corgi people I've never had it come up.

      Generally, the health tests are hips (with much debate about what is and is not dysplastic in a dwarf dog), CERF clearances for eyes, and of course vWb.

      IVDD is relatively high due to the dwarfing. DM is due to genetics and the best source is here:

      I've read a lot of the Coates papers and lectures. Research is ongoing and the current test not terribly useful at the level of understanding out there. If you are a breeder, how to explain that you do test, but are placing the At Risk pups in pet homes and keeping the Clears or Carriers (which is what good breeding practices would dictate)? I would not want to have the conversation with people with vague understandings of genetics, so most that I've seen don't list their dogs results.

      And of course Corgis are more prone than many breeds to obesity, with the risks of that being higher due to the conformation of the dog.

      Her listing of "Inflammatory myopathy with severe tongue atrophy" piqued my interest. Very unusual and alarming, as it seems like some weird auto-immune condition. Thus far, though, it's only been seen in Japan? Very strange, since the dogs don't seem related but are all Pems, yet no word of it existing outside Japan. Said to be "sporadic" in Japan.

    2. no I would say that what Carol needs ( or needed) was to have a peer review BEFORE she "soft launched" the site..
      where is the study that shows "of course Corgis are more prone to obesity?

  9. @Jemima re 00:16 "Thank you for the constructive comments, Beth. This is exactly what Carol needs"
    Maybe Carol should have sought advice before putting together her misleading website

    1. You mean, like, contacting the KC and asking to talk to the Health Co-ordinators of individual breeds?


    2. What was wrong with her contacting the breed clubs herself?? I'm afraid I think her website is deeply flawed and she should correct all the misinfo straight away before we start hearing people spouting the health problems like its gospel.
      Ps I'm not sayingi disapprove of the premise just think it should be accurate not what her personal opinion is.

    3. Perhaps you could you give an example or two of where you think it's "flawed" and, particularly, what you think is her personal opinio and therefore misleading?


    4. The dalmatian information is also misleading: it says "Parents should be tested for:

      Urolithiasis (urate stones) Many and perhaps all Dalmatians carry a mutation in a metabolic gene, causing high uric acid which in turn creates painful urate stones, risk of kidney failure, and death (especially for males). A recent cross with a Pointer has introduced the normal form of the gene, but this is not yet widespread."

      It's pointless to suggest that dalmatian 'parents' should be tested for urolithiasis, because usless they're one of the recorded and DNA tested individuals from the recent backcross imports (non of the offspring from the three (23 pups in total I believe) are yet old enough to breed from) then all the parents are lacking the gene. Why test for something you know isn't there?

      It then goes on to say:
      Other diseases
      (for which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

      Congenital deafness (associated with white coat colour)
      Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles – causes intense itching)
      Shoulder osteochondrosis (abnormal cartilege and bone)
      Panosteitis (bone inflammation in young males)
      Bloat/Torsion (stomach fills with air and twists causing extreme pain – needs urgent vet treatment) common in deep chested breeds
      Cancer (various)
      Dilated cardiomyopathy (heart chambers enlarge, heart muscle weakens and gradually fails)
      Hypothyroidism (lethargy, tendency to obesity)
      Kidney disease
      Copper toxicosis (accumulation of copper in the liver)
      Hepatitis (liver disease)
      Laryngeal paralysis- polyneuropathy (dysfunction of the larynx and aesophagus – death by one year)
      Hypertonic myopathies (exercise induced muscle rigidity)
      Myelopathy (hind limb weakness affecting at a very young age)
      Galactocerebrosidosis (severe neurological disease leading to death at around one year)
      Ceroid lipofuscinosis (progressive loss of night vision followed by neurological deficits and blindness)

      Most of these conditions will never be encountered in any breed by a vet in their whole career, so to suggest that they are something the breed is prone to is ridiculous.

    5. Let's break that down:

      1) Congenital deafness (associated with white coat colour); yes, that's known and there are a few BAER testing centres in the UK, so to say there are no screening tests is patently untrue;

      2) Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles – causes intense itching): the breed is indeed known for sensitive skin which reacts to allergens;

      £) Shoulder osteochondrosis (abnormal cartilege and bone): no more common than in any other breed or cross;

      4) Panosteitis (bone inflammation in young males): again, no more common than in other breeds;

      5) Bloat/Torsion (stomach fills with air and twists causing extreme pain – needs urgent vet treatment) common in deep chested breeds: certainly something to be aware of, but is generally a husbandry problem rather than a breed problem;

      6) Cancer (various): of course cancers occur, but they don't occur significantly more in this breed than any other;

      7) Dilated cardiomyopathy (heart chambers enlarge, heart muscle weakens and gradually fails): rare;

      8) Epilepsy: a problem in some lines;

      9) Hypothyroidism (lethargy, tendency to obesity); unusual in the breed;

      10) Kidney disease: usually linked to the urilithiasis;

      11: Copper toxicosis (accumulation of copper in the liver); very very rare in the breed;

      12) Hepatitis (liver disease); apart from end-stage cancer metastasis or (very rare indeed in the UK) infectious hepatitis, this is almost unheard-of in the breed;

      13) Laryngeal paralysis- polyneuropathy (dysfunction of the larynx and aesophagus – death by one year): very rare in the canine population as a whole, and certainly not a particular breed concern;

      Hypertonic myopathies (exercise induced muscle rigidity)
      Myelopathy (hind limb weakness affecting at a very young age)
      Galactocerebrosidosis (severe neurological disease leading to death at around one year)
      Ceroid lipofuscinosis (progressive loss of night vision followed by neurological deficits and blindness)

      All of these last four are again very rare conditions which vets might never encounter and certainly shouldn't be regarded as breed-specific conditions.

      In short, there are four main conditions which dalmatians could be considered more prone to than other breeds and are the ones which are worthy of singling out:

      1) Hearing (testable)
      2) Urate stones
      3) Epilepsy
      4) Allergies

      The rest of the list on the site is misleading to the public.

    6. Research into galactocerebrosidosis (supposedly a disease associated with dalmatians discovers these facts (from ):

      "This is a rare disorder that is seen most often in the Cairn and West Highland white terriers, in which it is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. It is also autosomal recessive in the miniature poodle, Irish setter and Australian kelpie. The mode of inheritance is unknown in other breeds."

      Why on earth has Carol Fowler listed it as a condition that prospective dalmatian buyers should ask the breeder about?

  10. Ok you want examples of how the information on this site it wrong .

    Tibetan Terrier is says:
    “is not actually a terrier but was used as a herding dog. His small to medium size makes him a popular pet” no there was no definitive use for this dog in Tibet as he was also kept by the monks, nomads and many others and used from being a guard, to luck bringer or just companion, indeed many owners will tell you they have no herding ability at all and they think they are to clever top be bother to do so. The standard is 14 – 16 inches and in no way can be considered a small dog, for a person to take this advice and find the one they have bought grows on to 17 or 18 inches (not uncommon) would the author of the site help them then? “The long hair around his face, in particular, needs to be trimmed so that his vision is not impaired” no it does not have impaired vision by the coat, as any good owner will tell you the skull is formed in such a way the hair falls apart so they can see, and they also have exceptionally long eye lashes which hold the hair up out of the eyes, indeed to cut the hair means those lashed are cut and then the dog WILL have a problem. “Eye disease: Hereditary cataract” Prof Bedford and indeed Shelia Crispin have noted there are some cataracts in the breed but they have advised they are not a problem (the KC/BVA scheme decided not to record them on their advice)and to label the breed as having a problem is both unfair and incorrect. “Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents (or check the KC’s health test results finder). If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.” Well as the TT was the FIRST breed to have recorded all health status of parents on its KC registrations, this again is foolish and inaccurate advice. As to ask “her” don’t men breed dogs too!? “Other diseases
    (for which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Primary lens luxation
    • Distichiasis (double row of eyelashes, causing irritation and discomfort)
    • Congenital deafness
    • Cataract
    • Lysosomal storage disease (deficiences of some enzymes leading to liver disease)
    • Keratoacanthoma (small growth, usually on the face)
    • “ well again just how poorly is this information constructed Primay Lens Luxation as it say in this section has no DNA test, yet above it confirms it does! In 20 years of the breed I have never heard of any cases of Keratoacanthoma any TTs and I have attended 5 World Health Congress for TTs, although there might be the very odd diagnoses of Diabetes mellitus or Lysosomal storage disease I have never heard of any cases reported in any of the various breed clubs health reports around the world either. As for “You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP)” come on please we all know the flaws in that one and the political reason behind the RSPCA production of it !! yes having now read this person site I fear it is causing great damage and should be suspended immediately . as they say the Road to hell is paved with good intentions “ well no matter how well intended this site, its a hell of a problem with all its inaccuracies and bias.

    1. Those extremely rare diseases in various breeds do indicate that there are some recessives meeting up, though rarely.

      What is important to recognize is that there are probably more carriers than those who show disease. Due to the nature of the closed registry, the gene pool of each breed will continue to lose heterozygosity, then more and more often, bad recessives will match up.

      Isn't this what happened to the American Basenjis? At first the kidney problem, fanconi syndrome was extremely rare. In a few more generation, it started cropping up in 15% of Basenjis. It is believed to be a polygenic and all the related genes must come together in the dogs affected. This means some can carry part of the problem and other lines the other part of the problem. With a thinning gene pool, this meet up will happen more and more. Certain lines are affected more than others, but every popular sire has descendents with the disease.

      Luckily, the registry was opened to bring in unrelated blood from Africa to force the kidney problems back to a place where the genes are rarely meeting up. This is caused by increasing the heterozygosity to where these kind of recessives bury themselves because it becomes less likely all the genes needed will be able to pair up. This is necessary because they STILL do not yet understand what genes are involved. Fanconi hardly appears in native populations which are practically always very heterozygous (meaning they breed as the dog wishes not the owner), and that seems to be the only way to deal with it at this stage of understanding.

      Many breeds do not have the resource of a native version of the breed, so even an extremely rare disease showing up, means immediate attention needs to be paid to what the issue is and why it showed up in a dog.

      It may not be one simple recessive that can be easily ID'd. It may be a syndrome caused when several recessives meet up and it certainly always means that there are many more dogs with the recessives involved than there are dogs with the problem. IMHO, all problems in a breed no matter how rare now, will certainly become more common as the gene pool of every single pure bred dog thins out more and more every generation and losed more heterozygosity every generation. (If any of yu anons want to learn about thinning gene pools, go to Carol Beuchat's blog, which has several scientific papers you can read, then read her precis or breakdown of the main points of the article if you need help understanding what is being said.

      Briefly, what is being said is that keeping a closed gene pool, with nary an outcross will thin out the genepool to the point where recessives that were rare before, meet up more and more often. So a rare disease today, can mean a disaster later.

      Inbreed and line breeding are often used to establish breeds, but before the KC's and there eugenics programs, anyone could outcross as needed. Outcrossing is also a style of breeding that can put needed genes into a line and by using the outcross to breed one generation will allow the original breed type to return and be consistent within 3-4 generations. Look at Cattanachs' work with putting the bob tail from a Corgi into boxers. He was back to type in 3-4 generations. Although introducing the bobtail gene, as a semi-lethal dominant was actually a disaster for other reasons, my point is the dogs were back to phenotype very quickly.

      Why not take a look at what dog breeders can learn from the study of population genetics? It can save a breed in trouble.

    2. "“The long hair around his face, in particular, needs to be trimmed so that his vision is not impaired” no it does not have impaired vision by the coat, as any good owner will tell you the skull is formed in such a way the hair falls apart so they can see, and they also have exceptionally long eye lashes which hold the hair up out of the eyes, indeed to cut the hair means those lashed are cut and then the dog WILL have a problem."

      I actually agree with this part re. trimming of the hair on the head. Too many TT's today (excluding recent Tibet imports and their offspring) have a lot of coat. And I mean A LOT! Trimming the hair makes perfect sense to me. We do it to our TT all the time and his vision improves greatly. In fact, we regularly trim his coat, it's much easier for him and for us.

      As for the "TT is a herding dog". She is neither first nor last that has written this.

    3. Also re. TT. I think I would add renal dysplasia among the DNA tests available, just to be on the safe side.

    4. Oh, and maybe deafness as well (BAER testing of white or predominantly white dogs).

    5. Nanook I think you should say how longyouhave had TTs, which recent native imports are you atlking about? the ones in the 70s or the 50s or the ones in recent eimes? as for cuttingther hair, I wonder if yours has a bad head (there are many with snipey heads and not correct) a well balanced head whould NEVER nead hair cutting. Either way I see Ms Fowlers site still hasnt been updated, so i think it proves why som any have said not to trust it! I think Nanook last comment really shows how much they care about a breed when they say "we regularly trim his coat, it's much easier for him and for US" yeah its to suit you not to groom a coat I suspect.

    6. Oops, did not see this reply to my comments until now. Well, better late than never, right?
      Almost 18 years. The imports I'm talking about are of course the recent ones, from 2006 (Kanze was the first) onwards. You can see some of the info about these:

      As for cutting my TTs coat. Yes, he never had a full coat, lived to almost 18, and had the best time ever. The really looong, "beautiful" coat on today's Tibetan Terriers really only ever serves one real function - to get show prizes. I don't go to dog shows with my dogs, they are, to me anyway, for more than a nice longhaired package that is going to win me a stupid medal.

  11. Thank you Anon. I hope Carol will find this helpful. It is exactly the kind of information she and the site needs to improve it.

    Re the puppy's a bit pants, I agree - but still better than a lot of breeder contracts. Could you tell me what you believe the political reason is behind the RSPCA co-production of it?


  12. Hello? Which part of
    "the KC wrote to all the Health Coordinators asking them to review Carol’s site,"

    Did you not understand Jemima?


  13. I have a copy of the email sent to the HCs, Carol. It's not exactly in the spirit of supportive collaboration, is it? And the KC never told Carol they had emailed the HCs. First Carol knew was when she started getting emails - including some very hostile ones.

    I understand people being irritated if the info is wrong but this is someone trying to get it right. I've blogged about it again here partly in the spirit of trying to encourage people to contribute to make it better because, in the absence of more comprehensive info being available to puppy-buyers from the KC, there is a genuine need for it.

    In truth, it was someting I was going to do and I started on it but then got totally daunted by the sheer scale of the task. That's why I admire Carol for actually having done it. Yes, it's not as good as it should be at the moment - but let's help her make it better.


  14. Whoa, hang on.

    So your position has gone from
    "the Kennel Club are being obstructive" to

    "well yes I Know the Kennel Club has helped, but I dont like the language they use"

    I havent actually seen the mail. My friend is the health co-ordinator for my breed. She told me that the KC had written to her but at no point did she say that the KC were critical of her.

    Dont get me wrong. I applaud anyone who prvodes information that helps breeders- more powere to Carol Fowlers elbow, but dont expect not to critise if there are errors.


  15. Hang on so you want Prof Dean to apologise when he DOESNT name a person or a web site to Ms Fowler when he says they often have major erros in them, and when is shown by many here Ms Fowlers site does have many errors some major sum minor and many just down right sloppy ( I thought she use to be a teacher, isnt that what they are men to do check facts?) but you dont callon her to apologise to the breeds she has be critcal of without any proof?! double standards or what! I cant undersan how anyone could of give that site an award (or will she return it now ?) the judging panel must have low stanadards or not capable of making any checks themselves!

  16. I wanted to share something I've been pondering. It seems to me that if my experience was with Cavaliers, I'd probably be a bit paranoid about breeders and breed clubs. With all respect to Cavalier breeders, I think that if you are a fancier of that breed and a few others riddled with problems, the viable options are to 1) Abandon them for something healthier, 2) Keep your head in the sand, or 3) Be adamant about taking extreme measures to save them (crossing out to another small spaniel, not breeding til age 6 or so when hearts can be assessed, etc).

    Go out and talk to some bulldog people, and your paranoia would undoubtedly grow.

    The current show-breederes of GSD's? Ditto.

    And that would make me think that there are lots of breeders who are willing to ignore all evidence to keep on winning.

    But that's not the case with all breeds.

    Any Corgi breeder I've talked to is more than willing to talk a lot about hips, the dissatisfaction with OFA (USA testing body) in relation to dwarf hips, and the frustrations of trying to determine how lax is too lax to breed. But they are not just sitting around complaining. Many are working with PennHip on refining testing. Most will warn you extensively about keeping them thin, since obesity seems to play a huge role. And I would still even wonder if it were just breeders downplaying, had I not heard so many first-hand accounts from people who had a dog that their vet deemed dysplastic, only to go to an orthopedic specialist and find the problem was actually a sore knee tendon, or a soft-tissue injury in a back muscle, and the hip (which looked dysplastic to a generalist used to standard hips) was just fine. When you hear confirming information from all angles, it makes you realize that the breeders do know what they are talking about.

    My dad has a lovely hunting dog from a breed with no split between working/show lines. I won't name the breed or breeder to protect identity, but he had a pup reserved from an upcoming litter and got a call telling him he'd have to wait for another litter. The breeder had a call from a puppy-buyer whose now-young-adult dog had a seizure. She'd used a young outside stud and had never had seizures in her lines. She made a whole lot of phone calls and found another person or two who also had seizing dogs from this young stud. SInce it was the same stud used for the upcoming litter my dad had reserved from, she culled the litter and had any adult dogs from that line altered. Some of these people are deadly serious about health issues.

    So yes it's true that certain breed clubs will downplay health issues. But for many breeds, the club site itself is an excellent resource for health problems. The PWCCA is one of the main sponsors of the ongoing DM genetic research here, yet the best estimates I've seen is that somewhere around 1.5 percent of Pems will come down with the disease, with median age of onset something like 11 or 12. For this club, that tiny percent is enough of an alarm to take major action.

    All breed clubs are not created equal.

  17. Can anyone else see the irony in the anonymous post of 16.20 LOL?

    1. Bit mean of you ...some folk are using mobiles and they are notoriously difficult to press keys correctly on , as you can see by slips on facebook posts .The poster isn't saying they are a teacher , they are saying Carol Fowler was , and should be more aware of checking facts before setting them in stone . With all the input some of the research has been done for her and with quotes and links , that will save time won't it ?

  18. I do not believe for one moment that the KC wrote to the HCs in order to help Carol. That is not the tone of the email at all. The email alerts HCs to the fact that there have received complaints about the site; says the KC has nothing to do with the site's content, and suggests that the HCs may want to check the site and contact Carol direct. Sure, the net result was that Carol got input, but much of it was unnecessarily hostile - for me reflecting the tone of the KC email.

    What the KC should have written: "There's a new website for puppy buyers detailing health problems and available tests in individual breeds. Its creator, Carol Fowler, has contacted us wishing to be put in touch with individual breed HCs in order to ask for their input. We feel unable to do this without your individual permissions, so am writing now to alert you to the site and to ask you to review the content for your breed and contact her direct with corrections/ suggestions on how it may be improved."

    Not so hard, really.

    1. Annie Macfarlane1 July 2012 at 18:55

      Absolutely! The thing about breed health co-ordinators is that they should be out there in the public that people can report health problems to them. Why the big secret behind their identities? The KC demanded that each breed club should appoint a breed health co-ordinator...but one cannot co-ordinate if they have no information.

  19. Jemima, The bit of SD's article that raised my hackles is not your quote, but the next sentence: "breeds must take control of health reporting to ensure accurate and reliable data and information reaches the public". If accurate info is really the aim, fine. But the usual motive to "control reporting" is to hide unwelcome truths, maybe why he wants Carol F shut down. This smacks of the Pope trying to gag Gallileo, and will do SD no more good than it did him. SD seems to be saying that Joe Public lacks the skill necessary to turn data into information. Even if true, it will not be cured by denying him data to interpret.
    Due respect to your campaign, the biggest problem facing the dog world is 200,000 homeless dogs every year. Anything that encourages responsible ownership is to be welcomed with open arms, and CF's 'one stop shop' for buyers doing their homework is a great idea. I hope breeds respond in the right way to the KC's above-mentioned letter, and that if they do your friend has enough help to handle all that incoming info!
    Maybe I misjudge the Prof: if what he's actually saying to the breeds is "if you want the job done right, do it yourselves", who could disagree?

  20. "The Bull Terrier has a nose shape which is not natural for a dog and which through selection has become extreme in some cases. It would be best to avoid the more extreme type (although breed enthusiasts would probably tell you otherwise)"

    and why is this?

    1. another piece of rubbish,.. why indeed.. the shape of the bull terriers head has nothing to do with their health and Carols dissing of breeders is distressing.. while we are rewriting peoples statements .. here is what Carol should have said..."it would be best to avoid the more extreme type BECAUSE......" then she could make up some sort of prevarication to throw in..

    2. I know alot of breeds have particular problems with the way they look. But others don't have alot of big problems either. I don't know of any health problems in the bull terrier that is caused by his/her egg shaped head. I am aware the bull terrier has a rather short life span. But with that said I personally feel the dogs that have big breathing problems or have massive back problems and etc; should be looked at. I really don't think that the bull terriers breed standard doesn't necessarily need to be changed. Unless if there is serious health problems due to the breed standard. The same goes towards the other dogs.

  21. I was a health officer for my breed at the time Carol had launched the site, I could see a couple of things that didnt apply to our breed and a couple that were missed , so contacted her with an explanation of why. She said she would verify my info ...within a day it was corrected.
    How difficult was that ?
    So come on KC PLUS anyone else who takes issue ...the info the KC have given to Vets is PANTS. Plus if the data the KC has collected since its Survey in 2004 is sadly lacking WHY ?
    What is in the KC going to do to improve the data? They havnt even got a code of best practice on Surveys for breed clubs..and some are useless.....more years wasted
    Plus many many breed clubs dont even have health on their sites...can tell you when the next show is though
    It seems to me the pet people like Scottish Boxer Health are doing a far better job than most breed clubs and in less than the customary 20 years
    So why not help....if your club has comprehensive health information then that can be used as a link
    Would save Carol a lot of hard work and time too, so she can concentrate on the sadly lacking ones

  22. Is there a reason that the KC should co operate with a lay person who puts up a website?

    seems this post is a "pity party' for "poor Carol" and a "bitch fest" for the rest..seems she started a site.. and who cares?? you can use it or not.. preferably not since it seem there is much misinformation there even as posted by those here regarding their own breeds
    I will take the word of a trained vet over a lay person who gathered information form many different sources.. and threw them together on a website..

    "I expect she hasn't acknowleged the source on the individual breed pages to keep the page as uncluttered and simple as poss."..
    WHAT? that is called plagiarism.. you would fail a paper handed in if you did not acknowledged your sources in any school.look what happens to people who take credit for anothers work.... but the web gets by with all sorts of "suspect".. really to keep the page "uncluttered"".. credit where credit is due is what should happen..

    1. Plagiarism is passing off someone's work as your own. Not presenting the source of some statistics is nowhere close to the same thing.

    2. what?/ when you know a source and you do not acknowledge the source in the quest of creating a "clean page' that is use of others work without acknowledgment..these are individual breed pages.. not just statistics.. she had to either write them herself or get them elsewhere.. and that should be acknowledged if she did not write them herself..the average reader would think she wrote them herself when that is not the case.. ..
      simple enough..

    3. Anon - you ask why should the KC co-operate; well why shouldn't they? The KC's cageyness begs the question "what they got to hide?". SD expresses concern that public information should be accurate and reliable, but nowhere does he use the word 'complete'. Does he think he can keep back those bits he doesn't like? Time for glasnost at the KC.

    4. Rambling on and on about content of the website being misleading, well at least someone is trying to get the info out there. Purchasers could be spending hundreds of pounds buying these dogs (and that's just the start) they have a right to be making informed choices and breeders and the Kennel club have duty to make sure that happens........sadly that doesn't appear to always be the case, if it was Carol and the likes of her wouldn't need to bother!

  23. IMO People like Carol should not be writing about a breed that the public reads unless they have personal experience of them not by reading and picking pieces out of other articles.
    Example--Chinese Crested according to Carol-
    1.The ‘Cresties’ are very small and slight and have become "novelty lap dogs"his fragility makes him unsuited to being a family dog. Small children should not be allowed to play with him--Poppycock Rubbish Cresties are very robust Toy breed that are no way lap dogs
    2.■The Chinese Crested’s very small size makes his skeletal system fragile so that broken bones are not uncommon--Rubbish most Cresties today are more towards the Cobby structure.
    3. ■Dental problems or missing teeth--missing teeth -yes-but do not hinder a Crested at allas usually the tusks are first to go
    4. ■The Chinese Crested is one of the 15 high profile breeds designated by the Kennel Club as requiring particular monitoring by reason of visible conditions which may cause health and welfare concerns--marks from a clipper/ razor do not cause welfare or health problems
    5.■Cerebellar ataxia (neurological defect causing loss of co-ordination and weakness -Never heard fo it in Cresteds in all the 23 years I have been interested/ involved in them

    Regarding a contract deviced mainly by the RSPCA well its not that informative Infact the one I used 15years ago is by far better

    1. again drivel by a person who really has no knowledge and copies things or listens to :mates' like Jemima before they write. as they say garbage in.... garbage out..the thing to do is to stay away from websites like this one that use words like "broken bones are not uncommon" without some sort of actual fact. this statement means that CC will have broken bones more often than not.. pure BS along with "not suited for family dogs" what does that mean..? and really no children should play with a CC?? I agree .. that is pure Rubbish.. thanks for alerting me to the site so that I may warn others to stay away from it..

    2. Annie Macfarlane1 July 2012 at 19:03

      If you think that razor marks from shaving isn't a welfare problem then shame on you! I got my cocker back from a groomer once when he had razor marks along his belly. I complained about it because clearly the skin was red and sore. While I wouldn't say that cresties were a fragile breed necessarily...compared to bigger, more robust breeds they may certainly be prone to a higher level of breakages from rough play...than say a border collie. This is what is meant. Picking every word to bits is just ridiculous.

    3. Annie Macfarlane1 July 2012 at 19:04

      Anon 15.28 - why don't you go and have a look at it rather than listening to somebody's interpretation of it.

    4. @Annie--why don't you go and have a look at it rather than listening to somebody's interpretation of it.
      Why should they go read Carols Info--Its just another persons interpretation Thats All

  24. Charles Henderson1 July 2012 at 16:45

    I have tackled Carole Fowler about her entry for Irish Red and White Setters which is riddled with errors and misleading assertions lacking hard data. This is what I wrote in Breed Notes in our Dogs on 3 February 2012.


    In early February the Breed Health Coordinator for IRWS contacted Mrs Fowler but she has confirmed to me this afternoon that Mrs Fowler has not contacted her.

    Accordingly, I support Prof Dean's analysis and feel he has been kind in not condemning the Dog breed Health site as third hand and third rate, ie junk science.

    1. Charles Henderson1 July 2012 at 17:26

      I do not understand why JH has deleted the extract from my breed notes in our Dogs for 3 February 2012. The copyright belongs to me, not to OD, who merely have an non-exclusive, royalty-free licence to print it.Anyone wishing to see this can contact me directly at

    2. Hi Charles...I can't edit the comments so published your first comment exactly as it came in above. Perhaps a glitch. You're welcome to repost.

      BTW, Carol says she doesn't have any record of having received an email from your health rep previously - although has had one today (it's Ann Millington, yes?).


    3. Charles Henderson2 July 2012 at 10:33

      I put my quote in <> which may have caused the glich. Trying again. This is the extract from my breed notes for IRWS in OD for 3.2.12.
      Start of quote :
      Last week I mentioned the site at I have sent an email challenging almost every statement about RWs on this site. A holding reply from Carole Fowler says that the points raised will be referred to
      “my Veterinary Epidemiologist and Canine Geneticist advisors before I reply.
      I do want the DogBreedHealth website to be as accurate as possible and I'm
      happy to make changes to the breed pages where necessary.” I have asked that
      the names of these experts and their verifiable sources are published.
      It is a pity that this zeal for accuracy did not extend to consulting with breed experts such as the Breed Health Coordinators before the site was
      launched. When asked why data were not taken from the KC/BVA survey of 2004, which was the largest survey of IRWS ever carried out, Mrs Fowler said “I'm afraid in general I don't trust this survey as information was provided by
      breeders and not pet owners.”
      On bloat, I asked “Where is the evidence to justify highlighting this condition with an attribution to conformation ? You say it is not as common as in other deep chested breeds. Where are the comparative data to support this
      assertion,please ? The 2004 survey refers to bloat as occurring in deaths
      but the category with a value of 8.4 % also includes pancreatitis. In disease conditions by organ system in the 2004 survey, a total of 12 % also includes colitis,diarrhoea, megaoesaphagus,campylobacter, vomiting and
      diarrhoea. There is no evidence that any of these are hereditary in IRWS.”
      Carole Fowler’s reply to this was “By listing it I simply include it as a possibility. I think my additional comment that it isn't very common in IRWS is a fair compromise. I imagine for a pet owner who knows nothing about it,
      when faced with their dog suffering from Bloat/Torsion, it would be
      terrifying. At least if they know then they also will know that speedy treatment by a vet could save their dog.”
      Bloat is listed on the Irish and Gordon Setter pages but not on those for English Setters.
      Further comments from Mrs Fowler’s experts are awaited. Frankly, I think most of us are heartily sick of self appointed gurus pontificating on the internet about our breed with highly suspect data. Another example of
      this trend is at
      which is patronising at best. The author is also confused about the outcross program in Ireland.
      End of quote.
      After this, I passed the issue to the KC Breed Health Coordinator for IRWS who is, as you say, Mrs Ann Millington. She has been the Genetics Secretary of the GB Club for ever and has a vast knowledge of the breed. There is very open culture in this numerically small breed which was staken up in the UK only in the late 1970s, indeed openness and cooperation were essential for survival. I asked Carole Fowler to put a link on her site to the health sections on the GB Club web site. She said she would do this but it has not happened. BTW I fail to see why the list of KC BHCs cannot be made public.

    4. Charles Henderson said: "When asked why data were not taken from the KC/BVA survey of 2004, which was the largest survey of IRWS ever carried out, Mrs Fowler said “I'm afraid in general I don't trust this survey as information was provided by breeders and not pet owners.”

      I'm afraid that's not true either. The questionnaires were sent to all members of the various parent breed clubs, whether they were breeders, exhibitors or just pet owners, and whether or not they still had a dog!

  25. ...and the BSD Tervueren is described by Carol as a " large dog with a shortish firm textured coat ...who due to his size and strength does not make an ideal family dog " she simply making all this up ? - the Tervueren is in fact a medium sized light framed breed with a coat that is long, straight and abundant and who makes a wonderful pet for the active family !! and where are the other two varieties of BSD ?- no mention of the Groenendael or Laekenois at all !! ...the health issues she warns puppy buyers about are :

    Epilepsy - yep this is the biggest problem a DNA marker has been found and we are hopeful that a test will be available in the future
    Cataract (defective eyesight due to opacity of lenses)- this is routinely tested for but is not a significant problem in the breed
    Gastric carcinoma - yes this is a growing problem and we are not sure why it is on the increase
    Vitiligo (lack of skin pigment) - really - where's her proof of this ?
    Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollens or other protein particles, causing intense itching) - again, where has she got this information from ?
    Chronic keratitis (inflammation of the cornea)- I have never seen or known of this in my 25 years of owning and breeding BSD - can Carol inform us where she has the stats to support this ?

    .....frankly if she cannot get the very basics right ( such as what a breed actually LOOKS like !!! ) then she would be far wiser to direct puppy buyers to specific breed clubs and their health advisors for expert, accurate and up to date date information .

    1. So Bijou, contact her and offer to help. And, frankly, I agree that non of the Belgians make good pets for an "average" family in the same way most herding breeds don't. I wouldn't recommend a Border Collie (one of my breeds) for one either. As lovers of a breed we can be a little blind to their downsides at times, and an "average" family hasn't the time and skill needed to make an intelligent, very active herding dog a good pet.

    2. Annie Macfarlane1 July 2012 at 19:08

      I would definitely not recommend the BSD as a pet dog due to its high prey drive. There is a reason why police forces are using these dogs more now than the GSD...and it's little to do with the state of the GSD conformation. The BSD has a higher prey drive and I would suggest that having this type of dog around children who routinely scream and shout....would not be the best choice of pet. Beautiful and magnificent animals but I honestly, from the bottom of my heart, do not regard them as family pets.

    3. Which BSD are they using Annie Macfarlane? All of them? I mostly see malinois in police work, not so many laekenois, groenendael and tervueren.

    4. Can all the people who are saying bsd dong make good family pets please clarify to me if you have owned this breed and your not just giving your opinion based on what you read?

    5. But this is the problem, isn't it though, Bijou? Certain breed clubs cannot be trusted to be honest about the extent of the health problems in their breed. The Cavalier Club is a prime example. The Pug Club website completely downplays the myriad of health problems in the breed - hemivertebrae is the ONLY health problem listed. What happened to brachycephalic airway syndrome, luxating patellas, cherry eye, dental problems, skinfold dermatitis... [USA Embrace Pet Insurance website lists a few more.]

      The general public just do not know which clubs are open and honest and which clubs blatantly lie or hide the truth. This means therefore, that if you want unbiased information, you HAVE to go elsewhere.

    6. Well for unbiased info you definatly don't want to go to carols site either!

    7. Fran, you're rigt in saying the Pug Club's website is rubbish on health, but am going to defend the Cavalier Club's. The website has good health info. The issue there is mainly the level of denial regarding te importance, severity and prevalence of syringomyelia and breeder adherence to the breeding protocols.


    8. Anon 13:31 My opinion is based on many years of being a pet dog trainer and of being involved in Rescue for herding breeds.

    9. Have you owned a bsd? A simple yes or no will suffice?

    10. Jemima, that was my point. If I was thinking of buying a Cavalier, I would want to know that up to 75% of the breed is affected by syringomyelia! I couldn't find this information on their website. They probably don't put it on, because they know that for the average pet owner, those kinds of risks are just too high.

    11. Annie Macfarlane12 July 2012 at 16:18

      I haven't owned a BSD but I did walk one for a friend that owned one. He was a malinois with a high prey drive and I stand by what I said about. As with Border Collies, they are herding dogs at heart. It doesnt matter how much you try to breed this out of them and make them pets...they're not pets...and you are doing them a disservice by trying to turn them into pets and selling them to families as the perfect family dog.

      At the end of the day it is up to you who you sell your puppies to but I think you are really taking a chance selling a BSD to a family with children who have little experience of the breed. I am not talking about people who know the breed...I am talking about a normal, everyday family who want a pet, who have a busy family life and who will probably not have the time or knowledge to deal with a high energy working dog. I will not back down on that. They are not family pets.

      The police dogs I have seen are malinois too..never seen any of the others but I think there are some in Germany.

  26. I think it's time jemima you took the blinkers off, look at all the comments here, nearly all are critical even people who normally support you, the site is just not good enough and not at all accurate it needs taking down and sorting our before we all fall head over heels in love with it.

  27. Annie Macfarlane1 July 2012 at 19:19

    When Carol first published the website I wrote to her and advised her on some changes in a breed. She was very courteous and changed it immediately. There is absolutely no need to treat somebody who is trying to make a difference with such disdain. I have the greatest of respect for Prof Dean following his stance, and that of the KC, regarding the vet checks at Champ Shows. I do think, however, that this could have been a real opportunity to develop relationships with the pet owning public, rather than pointing out inaccuracies. Let's be totally honest...the KC website on specific breed health is very lacking on information so one could say that it is fully of inaccuracies too. I think its a sad state of affairs that a pet owner has had to spend many hours campaigning for better health within pedigree dogs and particularly her own beloved breed. Carol's story is not unique. What she has endured many others have too....and all because we highlighted health problems or unethical breeding practices of those that should know better.

    I think there must be a flaw in the KC emailing system because this is the third time I have heard of this happening...and was actually sent an email in error along the same lines. It does suggest that anybody who highlights health issues is seen as some sort of imposter who "harrasses and harangues" for no good reason.

    We all know that the health of some pedigree dogs breeds is shocking. I thought naively that all I had to do was report it and something would be done. How wrong I was?

    I have witnessed discussions, much like the comments above, criticising Carol's website....but few of them had the courtesy to contact the lady and let her know.

    Whether they like it or not the KC have to understand that it is the pet owning public that buy the majority of puppies. Pet owners have nothing to lose in reporting issues..

  28. "The BSD has a higher prey drive and I would suggest that having this type of dog around children who routinely scream and shout....would not be the best choice of pet. Beautiful and magnificent animals but I honestly, from the bottom of my heart, do not regard them as family pets"

    What complete rubbish !! here's what some of my 'high prey drive unsuitable as family pets " get up to:

    Most of my breed are pets first and foremost - yes they can ( and do ) turn their paw to almost anything else too but please do not judge the whole breed on the unrepresentative temperaments of the small number of BSD bred and used for 'man work' by the military !!

  29. This blog seems to me more significant for what's omitted than what's said. SD's article points out that scientists are human, with views as liable to be warped by prejudice as anyone else's. CF's website he doesn't like either, but he does not say where DO you get reliable info. Contributors have variously suggested breed clubs and your local vet.
    Fans of tv's All Creatures Great and Small may have seen or read the episode where vet-turned-author "James Herriot", newly qualified, is asked his opinion of a particular heifer as mate for a farmer's bull. To paraphrase his thoughts, "years of training on how to treat sick animals, and I'm asked about breeding healthy ones - by a man who knows a lot more about it than I". Also your vet is a generalist, breed clubs are more likely to know breed-specific details. But if I were buying a CKCS I'd not expect much from that club after the way they treated CF. And some vets, let's be honest, give whatever advice makes them most money. Of course most breed clubs, and most vets (ours certainly), are genuine people and well worth consulting.
    Buying a puppy is a (dog's) lifetime commitment, a decision worth taking time over; the message here surely is not to rely on any one source of info but talk to a variety of people - then make up your own mind.
    Information is like food: wise not to swallow it without knowing where it's been.

  30. I've supported Steve Dean through the vet check row but I say quite clearly that he's in no position to make these criticisms.

    The Kennel Club is the organisation that should be producing a comprehensive dog breed health guide. They should insist that breeders conduct health checks and keep the on-going contact with new owners that would bring in the raw data. They should work with the vets bodies to find out what's happening to pedigree dogs in the community. They have the resources and the expertise to compile the data, make sense of the results and present it in a way the public can understand.

    They don't do this. At the very best they work piecemeal in addressing some conditions in some breeds. The KC have singularly not stepped up to the plate on this one.

    Steve Dean is condemning someone for trying to do on a shoestring what the KC with all it's resources fails to even attempt.

    If Professor Dean was launching a KC scheme to replace dogbreedhealth I might understand his reaction. As it is I believe it would have been far more positive for the KC encourage breed clubs to work with Carol Flower rather than try to rubbish the project.

    Kevin Colwill

    1. Bingo! -- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

  31. The fact that so many people have found so many faults on this site mean anyone with half a shred of concern for the public or the welfare of dogs would of pulled the plug on it for the time being (or forever), but all we get is poor poor Carol it’s not her fault, well yes it is she published it she didn’t check anything it seems, she is highly selective in what she want to put in (and omit) there is not balance, no referral to other breed sites, as for the comment by Kevin Colwill about her not being funded, well from what I can see the charity that foots the bill, have paid allot.............for very little. Didnt you feature this site on your PDE2, if you did and it can now be shown just how many error there are on it I wonder how happy the BBC would feel to have been to seen to endorsing such a botched job? Perhaps we should ask them?

    1. Mr Davidsohn I presume? Wasn't going to publish this but as you're no doubt repeating this elsewhere, it at least gives me the opportunity to give you some facts:

      1) Carol used veterinary texts and the scientific literature as her starting point and then used a panel of vets (and an geneticist) to review each breed entry. The problems that exist are mainly due to the lack of relieable prevalence data that is available - and the difficulty in establishing reliable within-breed sources. I agree that the latter is needed (and indeed so does Carol - why she tried to contact the HCs in the first place).

      2) Carol is not funded. Not a penny. The charity mentioned on the dogbreedhealth website - Cavalier Matters - is one she raises money for; it does not fund her.

      2) No, we did not feature this site in PDE2.


  32. I read Steve Dean's article, but did not recognise it as an 'attack' on any one person - just a warning not to take these websites as gospel truth.
    Since looking up my breed (IRWS) I found errors and misleading statements.
    What I found missing generally though - and much more important - was lack of reference to the specific Breed Clubs where more accurate information is to be found.

    I wonder if this blog is just another attempt to swipe at the KC, who, unless you want to live in a police state, do more on behalf of dog health and welfare than any amount of negative blogging

  33. Ann, I think even you'd agree that health info is patchy at breed-club level. You might get an honest picture of IRWS by coming to you, but that's really not true of some - maybe many - other breed clubs.

    And wouldn't you like to see the KC itself produce more comprehensive breed health info?


    1. Until you've visited every breed club and assertained the comparative quality of their health infomation, why downgrade all breed clubs to the lowest level? It is the generalisation that is so unfair and damaging.
      Of course everyone would like the KC to have and publish comprehensive breed health information, but that depends on individuals providing it and, short of waving a magic wand, I can't see how the KC can do more than the steps they are already taking - you may think it slow, but to be viable takes time.
      Not everyone agrees with you, Jemima and not everyone agrees with me! There are as many opinions out there as there are people willing to voice them, none of whom agree with everything said, done, expected etc. That's called Human Nature.

    2. Not all opinions have equal value. Some tend to be more valid than others.

    3. Ann, how is the general public supposed to know upon purchasing a puppy, whether that breed club is upfront and honest about health problems, or downplays them? If you show a breed, or are otherwise heavily involved, then you will probably know which breeders care about breeding healthy stock and which don't. The average puppy buyer does not have this 'inside' information, therefore they have to go elsewhere.

      Breed forums are actually quite useful - it doesn't take too long to ascertain which breeders care deeply about health testing and breeding healthy stock, and those which only pay lip service to it.

  34. Jemima, the more I think about this the more concerns I have. I know she pulled studies, but the one Corgi study is exclusive to a handful of dogs in Japan! Sheesh, I mean there was one study and it specifically mentioned that. Why she chose to include it a a health risk is something I can't ascertain.

    Let me put it this way: if you were interested in a car, and you then went on a consumer safety site and found the car was prone to engine fires so you didn't buy it, and then later found that there were 2 engine fires ever and one was in Australia and the other was a car intentionally lit by someone hiding evidence, what would you think of the consumer safety site?

    Who benefits by publishing incomplete and inaccurate info? Lots of people stand to be hurt by it, but who is to benefit?

    The logical choice to make when one has incomplete information is to not publish until you are sure.

    As far as the KC--- it would be nice if they published more complete health data. On the other hand, generally health/safety etc info comes from outside parties, not the sellers, if you will. If I want an independent review of Hondas, I don't go to my Honda dealer. I go to something like Consumer Reports. And it would be great to have a Consumer Reports for dogs, but one that is halfway done, has wrong info and misleading info, is no good to anyone.

  35. I've no wish to be crass but would you go to a Toyota dealer for an unbiased view of their cars or an Apple shop for a warts and all picture of their products? Why then does anyone think a breed club is the only valid source of information about a dog breed?

    The breed clubs have a pivotal role in supplying the breed health data but most people would agree that there is a role for an unbiased third party collating and making sense of that information.

    Whoever undertook that role would get flak from breed enthusiasts. Maybe that's why the Kennel Club's breed advice is so sugar coated and lacking in any real mention of health or temperament issues.

    I'm not holding up Carol Flower's site as perfect, no one is, but it's a darned site better than a lot of the information out there. Have you seen the internet sites expounding the wonders of "teacup dogs" or those advising against touching any pedigree breed with a barge pole?

    Like most people I would never advise anyone to base a decision on what dog breed to buy on information from one single source. Talk to breed clubs, talk to owners, try to see the dogs in action at a show or other event.

    dogbreedhealth is, however, a useful place to start and something that can only get better with the co-operation of breed enthusiasts.

    I been around the dog scene too long to be surprised by negative reactions and knee jerk attacks on individual's personal integrity. I remain, nonetheless, saddened that legitimate attempts to produce a worthwhile resource are systematically rubbished by those who can't or won't look beyond the parochial interests of their own breed.

    Kevin Colwill

    1. Kevin, I think it's a wonderful idea but needs to be more carefully done. For my own breed, it somehow omits the single biggest health risk (IVDD) and includes a bunch of stuff that I never even heard of. There is no shame in putting it up a section at a time as you gather info. I think she is trying to do a wonderful and needed thing, but wrong info is wrong info, even if someone's heart is in the right place. The problem with web info is it tends to go viral, and next thing you know you have a dozen or more sites quoting an original wrong source and then it's impossible to bring it back. I welcome her effort and applaud her time and devotion and intent. I just wish she would use more careful sources.

  36. When Carol started her website, I also thought it was a wonderful idea and that it would be a great resource . And knowing what she had done for Cavaliers, it would be hard to think of anybody more committed to the idea of an honest and open approach to dog health. A couple of years later, I have some doubts about whether it is possible for one person to achieve what Carol set out to do.
    Where should she get her information? She started the website partly because breeders and breed clubs were not providing all the information that was needed. So why should anybody expect that the same clubs and breed health , are going to give it to Carol to put on hers? From other primary sources or researchers? The trouble is that as fast as new data is published , it does out of date so quickly. Books like Gough and Thomas have been published on canine genetic diseases but what they list is both incomplete and out of date very quickly. The Kennel Club? The KC only keeps data on a few testable conditions, which doesnt include some very serious conditions like epilepsy and bloat. From individual breeders who are willing to help Carol? Some ARE very knowledgable, but none are likely to have exact and reliable numerical data on the incidence of a particular problem in their breed , they can say things like "there is a lot of epilepsy or bloat or MO" or whatever in their breed , but they cant put an actual figure on it. And individual breeders have their own agendas and subjective opinions
    Surveys of health in dog breeds are notoriously unreliable, and generally represent only a small minority of breeders who are members of a breed club, who may or may not be willing to tell the truth
    So somebody with a project like Carol has to take information from a multitude of sources , with varying reliability. How on earth can ONE person working on their own be expected to stay on top of ALL the known or suspected problems in around 200 breeds? And keep up to date with new research and information? Probably only the Kennel Club, or possibly a team at the AHT, could find the resources to do the job , and they would have to be motivated to do it thoroughly and honestly and without agendas or bias creeping in.
    Meanwhile Carol struggles with a near impossible task. Good for her, and great if as many breeders and breed clubs as possible are willing to feed reliable data to her. But please dont expect wonders - or criticise if the data she has got isnt entirely reliable or complete. But maybe she is paving the way for a bigger, better and properly funded project run by a body like the Kennel Club, or the AHT or the BVA or a university veterinary school

    1. Brilliantly said, Dalriach.

      I feel for Carol, to slog at something for months on end and then get nothing but criticism. She is, after all, trying to be accurate - she's not trying to spread misinformation.

      As the KC contacted all the health co-ordinators though, the data must be up-to-date, because I'm sure they all rushed to give her all the information she needed...

    2. Is there something akin to the USA-based Embrace Pet Insurance website which Carol could mine? It lists all the diseases and associated veterinary fees for each breed, based on their own insurance figures.

  37. I've been reading this blog since it began, hoping to learn about things from the pedigree breeder's perspective. My name is Linda Goodman and I am the founder of C.A.R.I.A.D. - which for those of you who have never heard of us stands for Care And Respect Includes All Dogs. We are a Coalition of 29 dog charities, rescues and welfare groups across Wales fighting to end the vile industry known as puppy farming. At the moment we focus our attentions on promoting the adoption of rescue dogs over choosing puppies from dubious sources such as pet shops and online classifieds which invariably are involved in the puppy farming chain. And don't for one moment underestimate the sophistication of this network. It is extremely comprehensive and clever at purporting to represent pedigree dogs. Our aim is to one day be able to have a list of reputable pedigree breeders that people can turn to for sound, healthy, well adjusted puppies. But at present to be honest, there is so much squabbling about breed standards that I wouldn't know where to start. What I will tell you is that I have to deal with members of the public who have been scammed by puppy farmers and have bought dogs that are 'KC registered' only to find that they have bought puppies with such horrendous genetic abnormalities they only live a few weeks or months. Right now there are approximately 50,000 puppies being trafficked out of Wales into England every year. While at the same time a healthy, loving pedigree dog is killed in a UK pound every hour of every day because people are abandoning their dogs in greater numbers than has ever been seen before. The fight to end this trade in misery is relentless and dogged by corruption in places of authority in Wales and laws that allow it to continue unabated. These puppies are genetically challenged because of extremes in inbreeding by Welsh puppy farmers. Something that even the KC now recognises is unhealthy. But the people buying these puppies often then breed from them as well, perpetuating these genetic mutations. You don't have to be an expert to understand that the quality of the UK dog population is being enormously damaged by the sheer volumes of unhealthy puppies this industry is flooding the market with. These are the people you should be using all this negative energy to fight against - collectively. These are the people who are damaging breed standards en mass. And these are the people that your average man in the street continues to turn to, despite all the warnings, instead of going to reputable breeders. The greatest service you can do for your own breed is to help stop the battery farming of dogs now. By all means debate breed standards. I completely support those who are dedicated to producing healthy puppies that are not bred for extremes in their conformity so that they can live active and comfortable lives. Debate this constructively and help each other. Work together for the good of the dogs. Opinions will differ naturally, but there is nothing constructive about bitching. Try to take off the blinkers about your own breeds and look at things from the outside. You may find that you're not always right. It takes a big person to admit that even an expert has room for improvement. Please at least give this some thought. The common enemy isn't the other pedigree breeder. It's ignorance, apathy, ego and above's the battery puppy farmer.

  38. Are those dogs that are claimned top be "Kennel Club Registered" actually registered?

    Perhaps the Kennel club shopuld only register litters from
    Breeders who are licenced ?

  39. A good effort overall, obviously a lot of time and effort has gone into producing this. Certainly there is room for further improvement and research, but I think this website has the potential to be great.

    I would like to see diseases for each breed classified along the lines of the following:

    Problems commonly affecting the breed

    Problems reported in the breed

    Problems specific to the breed (eg EIC in labradors, ammonium biurate urolithiasis in Dalmation etc)

    Important tests for the breed eg. DNA testing for PRA, EIC, Hip/elbow scoring etc

    I'd also prefer some aspects to be a little more specific. For example in my breed (the Labrador Retriever) "Cancer" is listed, however surely Cancer would potentially affect any dog. I would like to see more specific "cancers" like Mast cell tumour, Osteosarc etc (for labs) that are directly relevant and more prevalent within a breed

    Some of the diseases are very rare in any dogs, yet the website makes it sound like the breed is badly affected, hence the category for "problems reported in the breed".

    But again, a good effort, I guess I am just being a perfectionist, I commend Carol for her efforts so far!

  40. I also agree that further research is needed. I have seen that a number of important conditions for certain breeds have been omitted somehow?
    Eg. GDV (bloat or twisted stomach) in Labradors is not even mentioned? Although all deep chested breeds are predisposed, the labs greediness certainly makes GDV a significant risk for them. The lab from Marley and me actually dies from this and we would see many labs per year with GDV where I work...

  41. Her information on Designer cross breeds is also far from complete.

    She somehow fails to mention that if you cross 2 breeds with similar or the same problems the puppies will be just as likely to be affected by the problems as the parents! For example labradors and poodles , one of the most popular crosses are both predisposed to the SAME type of PRA, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and atopy.

    That means labradoodle puppies may also be affected by PRA, bad hips, bad elbows and atopy. In fact PRA which was once thought be be very rare (due to the introduction of DNA testing) within purebred labs and poodles, is now making a reappearance in the offspring of poodle lab crosses (due to irresponsible people breeding for profit).
    We commonly see labradoodles affected badly by atopy as not only are both parent breeds predisposed, the resultant coat type hold moisture and knots more easily than their pure parents, even further predisposing to skin disease and exacerbating existing allergies.

    As with any dogs, the health and temperament testing of parents is paramount in choosing a puppy. The supposed/potential "hybrid vigour" in an F1 crossbred cannot replace health and temperament testing of potential breeding dogs. I think the website should emphasise that.

    1. "She somehow fails to mention that if you cross 2 breeds with similar or the same problems the puppies will be just as likely to be affected by the problems as the parents!"

      . . . Same, then, as if you breed two problematic purebreds of the same breed. That is not rocket science is it?

      The sight also DOES caution about health in first gen crosses. Did you miss it?

      "Designer breeds may not benefit when a disorder is not caused by a single recessive gene. It may be caused by a number of genes acting together, or by a dominant gene (which a puppy would only need to inherit from one of its parents)."


  42. "In fact PRA which was once thought be be very rare (due to the introduction of DNA testing) within purebred labs and poodles, is now making a reappearance in the offspring of poodle lab crosses"

    Your purebred labs and poodles have to be at least carriers in order for the F1s to be affected. How rare can it be if random crossing of poodles and labs can regularly throw out PRA.

  43. Some doodle breeders are not doing it randomly. They are breeding continues using one or two stud dogs. Untested these dogs have progency all over GB. It is easy to work out why PRA is on an increase and it should be mentioned

  44. Unhealthy popular sire is not a designer dog problem. The boxer breeders in pde2 are an obvious example.

    1. "Unhealthy popular sire is not a designer dog problem. The boxer breeders in pde2 are an obvious example"

      Gotta few of them in BORDER TERRIERS too, they also couldnt care less about health ,only the glory and big bucks ,SICKENING B*******s!!!

  45. Carol, Thanks for your wonderful site. I'm an American in the genetics industry and have also been competing in dog sports since the 1970's. I think your site is VERY accurate and so much more thorough than anything being produced by the breed clubs and kennel clubs. It's definitely the site I go to now when looking up breeds or recommending potential breeds to friends. Keep up the great work!

  46. I have nothing but admiration for this lady, she strives or should that be thrives in her commitment to doing all she can to improve health and welfare for dogs, how can this be a bad thing? I would think it would be far more beneficial to our beloved best friends if everyone who believed there is inaccurate information on this website did their bit and contributed effectively, not slating those who are trying to make a difference for the better. Well done Carol you are truly one of a kind and Jemima whilst I do not a agree with all your comments, keeping this topic alive is imperative because brushing these issues aside will not benefit the pedigree dog, and kennel club when will you wake up?