View Full Version : Brussels Griffon breeders and SM -- wow!

19th May 2009, 11:41 AM
Look at what the UK Brussels Griffon Club has put up on its website -- and how much they are doing to start addressing this problem in the breed before it reaches the level of affectedness we are seeing in cavaliers.


Griffons are important friends to the cavalier breed -- they are the control group for normal dogs in the international CKCS genome project now underway in Canada to find the genes responsible for SM and CM. Sadly, it proved *impossible* to find enough cavaliers clear of both CM and SM to provide the control group so the researchers turned to griffons. So far it appears that about half of griffons have the Chiari-like malformation (CM) that seems to be the key factor that can lead to the development over time of SM.

There's research underway now on griffons and SM and hopefully that will provide information helpful to both breeds and other small breeds affected by SM.

19th May 2009, 11:50 AM
Thats certainly very encouraging & cant fail to help either breed & others in the long term, Its good to see them being proactive

19th May 2009, 11:54 AM
It's great that they can build on the initial work that was done by researchers and supportive cavalier breeders -- much harder to start from scratch, but they've shown real initiative. The 55 dogs scanned in the initial study were scanned using funds raised worldwide by clubs and included dogs from all around the world. A breeder named Lee Pieterse in Australia has really been pivotal in helping this happen and attended the SM conference in Rugby -- a dedicated woman to her breed!

19th May 2009, 12:09 PM
This is great, very nice to see the breeders embracing this issue. Thanks for posting. Perhaps I can cross post the link?

19th May 2009, 01:24 PM
This is brilliant, lets hope we get some headway its already been crossposted, and i as pointed out if all the breeders on that site have been having clear scans there should be an influx of them soon then. di

19th May 2009, 05:02 PM
The AKC parent club, the American Brussels Griffon Association, also is quite active. See, for example, http://www.brussels-griffon.info/update.htm and

19th May 2009, 06:06 PM
Well a big problem is that many UK breeders think they have 'clear' scans when they actually don't -- because most of them have their scans done by Geoff Skerritt who doesn't indicate at all whether the dogs have the Chiari-like malformation. They think because they get a clear check in the area for cerebellar herniation that this means clear for the malformation. It does not! It is a completely different thing. It's a big problem that there isn't an agreed, consistent form for breeders so they all know exactly how the dogs are being assessed. If there were this large number of 'clear' dogs out there, it would surely have been easier to find enough clear cavaliers to form the control group. Yet this proved impossible despite hundreds of scans being gathered for the genome project.

I would wager 99.9 per cent of those believing they have dogs clear of the malformation do not. If they have a question on this they could submit the scans to another neurologist for assessment. Sadly many will not because they either misunderstand this issue or know it but prefer to say their dogs scanned 'clear'.

However as more breeders become aware of this problem, they will want a proper grading cert or will know to ask others for one, rather than being misled into thinking lack of cerebellar herniation means lack of CM.

19th May 2009, 06:32 PM

It seems many Cavalier breeders deny there is a problem. Hope it's ok to post this. There were responses to above letter in the following weeks Dog World and then another from the Barwells a week later. If it's ok to do this then I will post all other letters.

19th May 2009, 07:05 PM
Having put several dogs through one and in some cases two MRIs, I can say this is not a stressful, frightening and dangerous procedure. :rolleyes: Mildly stressful perhaps for a minority of dogs, but no more so than vet visits for stressed dogs, and having been in waiting rooms full of pre and post scanned cavaliers, there were no signs of stress or fear, just lots of wagging tails. After thousands of MRIs having been done on cavaliers by various neurologists, and having spoken to about 6 of them, I have not yet heard of one that died as a result of the brief process that also provides extremely important information for research -- information the national clubs have asked breeders for (surely the national club would not be asking breeders to submit to a procedure it believes is stressful, frightening etc?).

Surely whelping a cavalier litter is far more stressful, frightening and dangerous for the dam? What breeder would not readily acknowledge the process is potentially, all three? I link to quite a few breeder sites in the Library section where breeders argue that it is always ALL three...

20th May 2009, 05:40 PM
Well a big problem is that many UK breeders think they have 'clear' scans when they actually don't -- because most of them have their scans done by Geoff Skerritt who doesn't indicate at all whether the dogs have the Chiari-like malformation.

I must confess that I have missed some of the discussion about whether -- and why -- Geoff Skerritt does or does not report the presence of the malformation, as opposed to the herniation.

However, my understanding is that CM, by its definition, includes herniation. Here are a couple of accepted definitions of CM:

Decreased caudal fossa volume with caudal descent of the cerebellum, and often the brainstem, into or though the foramen magnum.


(1) Loss of the normal round shape of the cerebellum, which can appear to be indented by the occipital bone; (2) displacement of the cerebellum into and through the foramen magnum, i.e. herniation; and (3) kinking of the medulla.

So, if CM includes herniation, what do we call the malformation of the occipital bone -- or the decreased volume -- without resultant herniation?

And, would this be the reason Mr. Skerritt does not include just malformation or decreased volume on his reports?