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View Full Version : The elephant in the room.



eyesurgeon
21st August 2008, 08:11 AM
Very interesting BBC documentary as many have commented on.

With great respect to those who have been here much longer than I (which is pretty much everyone) I think it illustrates all too well the much-repeated fallacy that buying from showing breeders is better because the puppies are healthier and because they are responsibly managing the breed. As a physician who remembers his genetics lectures reasonably well, one can see from a mile away that while you can reduce the incidence of selected genetic diseases like MVD by rigidly breeding within select clear lines, the subsequent shallowing of an already alarmingly shallow gene pool will no doubt result in other genetic diseases taking their place.

Once cannot wonder if the whole SM situation is not a direct manifestation of exactly this.

The elephant in the room is that your precious pedigreed cavalier with champion bloodlines is likely to be less healthy than the offspring of the average backyard breeder cavalier bred with the mutt next door. This makes complete sense for those with an understanding of genetic medicine as the BBC documentary points out but is sacrilege to most enthusiasts including undoubtedly some if not many here.

I think the great challenge of the next century in pedigree breeding is going to be a broader breed standard that allows for greater diversity especially in breeds like cavaliers which suffer badly from the founder effect and desperately need more genetic diversity.

Not meant as an attack on anyone here as there are from what I have seen the best people in the hobby right here and I certainly have learned a great deal in a few short weeks of lurking. I have a great affection for my little guy as you all do, but the BBC broadcast is a wakeup call for a complete reassessment of what is considered good breeding for those that care to hear it.

daveoirl
21st August 2008, 10:26 AM
I think many many people believed they could thrust any breeder who was showing their dogs. The logic behind this being, if they show their dogs then they must have perfect examples of the breed. This however, ignores the fact that just because they are a member of a kennel club, and compete in show rings, they are not held to any strict or enforced rules on maintaining the breed as a healthy, viable animal.

Karlin
21st August 2008, 10:46 AM
I posted elsewhere on this because people seem to be missing the point here:

No one has ever, ever recommended anyone buy a puppy from someone simply because they are a show breeder.

There are very detailed guidelines on finding a good breeder on this site and elsewhere that explain this, as well as many previous threads.

The point of going to a show breeder or someone ACTIVELY involved at a SERIOUS level in dog sports (eg not their local agility club, and not some petty trainer qualification, and not a side hobby of doing minor competitive obedience) is that people who show and are involved with dogs are the ONLY people who have their dogs out under general scrutiny, know the breed and are going to get excellent quality dogs for their breeding programmes in the first place from other quality breeders. Breeders do not just sell to anyone. That is why some resort to importing dogs from less careful breeders abroad -- simply in order to get the dual registration that enables them to start their own little money-making factory of puppies. As I live in the country where most of such dogs are bought from for import primarily into the USA, and given that I have actually investigated and written on this and work myself in animal welfare in Ireland and breed welfare, I know damn well of which I speak.

As always, and stated many times here over the past few years, the key thing remains that to find a good breeder and avoid the hideous results that many of you saw on Pedigree Dogs Exposed:


make sure the breeder cardiologist certifies BOTH parents dogs and that ALL FOUR grandparents are also heart clear (by a cardio, NOT a vet!!) at age 5. The parents must both be at least 2.5. If the breeder isn't doing this, and that includes only half complying, then they are NOT complying -- they are breeding outside the single most important health protocol in the breed and taking the single biggest risk they can with their puppies -- early death from MVD. In my book any breeder who does this is trash, unethical, and the lowest form of the low.

ideally the breeder should be MRIing some of the breeding stock and only using MRId studs from good lines, as their genes are far more influential. If breeders do not MRI they have absolutely no idea whether their asymptomatic dam or sire has a spine riddled with syrinxes. I doubt many of the dogs shown in Pedigree Dogs Exposed with SM came from parents exhhibiting SM as more typically sympoms start later in life, not earlier. My SM dog came from parents who seemed perfectly clear. He only became noticeably symptomatic now, at close to 5.

Then check the remainder of the health certs and research the breeder and his/her lines.


If people are willing to buy puppies from unheart cleared parents and grandparents, then they are every bit as responsible for damaging this beautiful breed as the woman at the Malvern show that has knowingly put an SM dog out to stud. After all you just knowingly bought a dog from a breeder willing to spread around MVD genes.

Bad breeding practice is definitely part of the problem. However, to me, and the many of us who have campaigned on behalf of breed health, the real elephant in the room is this: BAD BUYING PRACTICE BY PET OWNERS IS THE OTHER HALF OF THE PROBLEM.

It can be excused once in an undereducated, underinformed buyer who realises later why these things are important. Many of us have been there.

There are no excuses for those that knowingly go ahead and buy a puppy from such ammoral people.

Too many buyers use the excuse of 'most show breeders are bad breeders ' as an excuse -- to go buy that cheaper puppy they want to own right away rather than take the time to research and find the excellent health focused show and dog club breeders that are out there and wait for that healthy puppy from good lines.

As Dr Clare Rusbridge says in the documentary:

“If you took a stick and beat a dog to create that pain, you'd be prosecuted. But there's nothing to stop you breeding a dog with it.”

There is EVERYTHING to stop us BUYING a dog from poor breeders though. If you buy a dog knowingly from a breeder not breeding for health, you are carrying that heavy breed health stick yourself and using it.

Support GOOD reputable club breeders. They are there. I talk to many of them all the time. Don't use this important documentary and its highlighting of bad breeding practice as an excuse for buying trash-bred dogs from trash breeders, folks.