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Karlin
4th June 2011, 02:10 PM
Permission granted to cross-post

Part one (this is too long to post in one section):


Purebred Paradox Conference Notes and Observations Cross-posting

I have received so many requests for permission to forward this to clubs
and other lists and to put it in newsletters, that I decided to put the whole
thing on the Got50 blog at:

http://got50.blogspot.com/2011/05/purebred-paradox-conference.html

You're welcome to cut and paste from there or simply use the link. The blog
entry also has links to many of the reports mentioned in the post.


Sharyn Hutchens
Timbreblue Whippets
Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders

The Purebred Paradox Conference (held on April 28th & 29th in Wash. D.C.)


Background: In 2008 the BBC released a documentary produced by Jemima
Harrison, called Pedigree Dogs Exposed. (PDE) The premise of the documentary is
that breeding practices, breed standards (or their interpretations), and
judging practices are seriously compromising the health of purebred dogs.
(Note: In England, a dog registered with the Kennel Club is called a pedigree
dog. In the US, we use the term purebred for any dog of pure parentage.)
The program generated such a public outcry that th_e Kennel Club made some
major changes_ (http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/2234/23/5/3) : reviewed
all breed standards and altered some of them. It also made changes in
judging practices, put restrictions on the number of c-sections bitches could
have, and prohibited extremely close inbreeding. The Humane Society of the
United States (HSUS) presented a conference on the topic last month called
The Purebred Paradox: On the Health and Welfare of Pedigree Dogs.)
=====================================

With the support of the _Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders_
(http://www.virginiafederation.org/) Alice Harrington and I attended the
Purebred Paradox conference April 28-29 in Washington, DC. We discussed long
and hard whether to attend -- since it was hosted by HSUS, we obviously
were not interested in supporting the conference. But we felt someone needed
to go to find out what was said. AKC had decided not to participate, which
was the right decision for them. AKC and the parent clubs have much invested
in improving the health of our dogs and the disscussion and action is
ongoing. Nothing the animal rights organizations can do will help, unless they
would like to make a contribution to the AKC Canine Health Foundation or
fund a parent club health study. That is not likely to happen. However, if
they're going to be discussing the health of purebred dogs, we need to know
what they're saying.So in the end, our decision was to go. It was not the
first HSUS conference we've attended, and unfortunately, it won't be the last.

Mostly, however, we were pleasantly surprised by the content of this one.
The agenda was full, but some of the subjects were obviously "filler" and
were only very tangentially related to the genetic problems of purebreds.
The strictly on-topic presentations were fairly sparse.

First a few notes:

-- We counted only about 60 people in the auditorium, and as far as we
know, fewer than ten were actually breeders. The others were: 17 speakers,
Matthew Stander from Dog News, a double handful of veterinarians (including
Gail Golab from AVMA and Dr. Patty Khuly, who writes the _Fully Vetted blog_
(http://www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted) ) a couple of vet students, two or
three experts in assistance dog training, two or three rescuers, two UKC
folks, and a slew of HSUS staff, including John Goodwin. (I was told that
HSUS staff received free registration and were encouraged to attend.)
-- Thuogh AKC was not officially represented, Patty Haines, former AKC
board member and a practicing veterinarian, spoke about the role of parent
clubs and how the breed standards are written and controlled in the US (The
Kennel Club in England owns the standards). Also at least three AKC club
delegates were in the audience.
-- Though we had some AR speakers the first day, the AR slant was not much
in evidence. Most of the presentations were largely factual. More on this
later
-- The final speaker was from Best Friends with the usual "evils of puppy
mills" rant, so we ended on a much less pleasant note than we began.
-- Jemima Harrison struck me as a sincere person who cares deeply about
this subject. I like her. While I still cannot agree with the sensationalist
aspects of "Pedigree Dogs Exposed," I do understand now why the
sensationalism was there. More on that later, too.
-- In addition to the predictable RSPCA, HSUS, etc representatives,
speakers included geneticists, veterinarians, behaviorists, and scientists. Some
had an AR haze around them but most did not

The bottom line delivered by most (not all) speakers: Every living being
has some genetic disease and dogs are no exception. Mixed breeds have about
as much as purebreds, especially designer breeds, since they are usually
mixes of breeds that share the same genetic defects. Genetic disease is made
worse by some common breeding practices:
-- Inbreeding, which includes linebreeding
-- Use of popular sires
-- Breeding for exaggerated characteristics that affect health or soundness
-- Acceptance by breeders of genetic disease as unavoidable (e.g., breeds
frequently affected by cancer at young ages)
-- About a dozen breeds are considered to be in serious trouble and I
think we can look for focused attention on their problems, both in the press
and possibly from other sources. They are, as well as I can remember: German
shepherd dog, pug, Pekingese, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, boxer, all the
mastiffs, Chinese sharpei, dachshund, English bulldog, Bernese mountain
dog, flat coat retriever. In addition, the other brachycephelic breeds,
others with lots of wrinkles, the giant breeds, and the achondroplastic breeds
will also be targeted.
-- Nothing legislative was mentioned specifically.

Several of the speakers were excellent. Some seemed to be there to fill
out the agenda and their topics had little directly to do with the seminar
topic.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENTATIONS
Introduction was by Andrew Rowan, president and CEO, Humane Society
International; chief international officer and chief scientific officer, HSUS.
You have to give Dr. Rowan credit. He set the tone as nonconfrontational and
I detected no anti-breeder bias whatsoever. He pointed out the huge
reduction in euthanasia since 1970 (90 percent) and also asked the question that
if the US population needs nine million puppies a year, where are they going
to come from? Dr. Rowan's comments really got the meeting off to a good
start and I would have had a hard time placing him at HSUS and HSI if I had
not read his bio.

Context and Unifying Principles: Science and Policy
Bernard Unti
Senior policy adviser and special assistant to the President/CEO of HSUS.
His bio says he "works on a wide range of strategic, policy, program, and
communications priorities for HSUS and its affiliated entities.

The crux of his comments is that HSUS is "trying to build networks with
government agencies and NGOs" (non-governmental agencies)

Problems of dog-breeding and what to do about them
The keynote speaker was Sir Patrick Bateson, president of the Zoological
Society of London and author of the _Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding_
(http://breedinginquiry.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/final-dog-inquiry-120110.p
df) (2010) He was entertaining and funny and the first of many to tell
us about the_ silver fox study_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_silver_fox) .

His own inquiry covered all types of breeders in Britain and his findings
were that the welfare problems in dog breeding come down to:
-- negligence (he's talking about substandard breeders)
-- inbreeding
-- breeding dogs with genetic problems
-- artificial selection for extremes and judges rewarding extremes
-- puppy sales to unsuitable homes (wrong breed for the situation)

He holds high coefficients of inbreeding responsible for reduced
fertility, developmental abnormalities, lower birth weight, higher infant mortality,
shorter lifespan, and loss of immune function.

Bateson talked about the problems of c-sections and stated some pretty
amazing statistics. The one that floored me was that Boston Terriers have a
92.3% caesarian rate in England.

The way forward, according to Bateson includes:
-- providing the best available science to breeders
-- rewarding good breeders and recognizing their efforts to improve health
-- educating the public about what constitutes good welfare/good breeding
and appropriate behavior (I assume he means behavior of specific breeds)
-- helping the public find good breeders
-- placing more emphasis on microchipping
-- and (here it comes) providing backstop of effective regulation

He stated that all three studies that followed PDE had advised setting up
an "_independent advisory council_ (http://dogadvisorycouncil.org.uk/) ,"
which has been done in Britain -- Sheila Crispin, described as a "leading
expert in the field of dog welfare" is the chairman.

He concluded that breeding brings a great deal of personal satisfaction to
humans, but the "cost in welfare to dogs has not been very happy." He says
he does not want breeding stopped, but we need some quality assurance.
--
Breed risks for disease in purebred dogs
Brenda Bonnett, BSc, DVM
Her complete bio (I am quoting the whole thing because she was an
excellent speaker, non AR, and extremely informative) "After years as tenured
faculty in the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College,
University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, Brenda is now a Consulting
Epidemiologist and currently Lead Scientist for the Morris Animal Foundation Canine
Longitudinal Health Project. Her research has involved numerous species and
disciplines, with a focus on companion animals, population-based research
utilizing secondary data sources (most notably a large veterinary insurance
database in Sweden), human-animal interactions and medical communication."

The research we heard about has been primarily based on that insurance
database -- Why Sweden? Because our pet insurance companies won't share their
information due to "privacy concerns." Her studies were based on facts,
she did not condemn breeders, and she asked very interesting questions:
-- Which causes of death are acceptable? How about for humans? We all die
of something. Obviously causes of death that do not cause a great deal of
suffering are best.
-- Are there acceptable levels of disease within a breed?
-- How do we promote acceptable breeding practices and keep the good
breeders?
-- How do we create collaboration rather than confrontation (among
organizations, but individual people as well)
-- Is it okay for us to create/enhance breeds to suit our purposes? (She
answered this one: Yes, that is what domestication is all about) What are
the limits? Who decides the limits?

A few interesting points:
Mixed breeds are at slightly less risk of genetic disease but they're at a
higher risk of injury. Conditions causing death of purebreds and
crossbreeds are not very different in Sweden, however, she pointed out that most
crossbreds in Sweden are purpose-bred and/or a mix of two purebreds. They
don't have the "Heinz 57" dogs we have here.
Eighty percent of pet owners in Sweden have pet insurance.
The insurance companies provide "_breed profiles_
(http://www.agria.se/hund/artikel/agria-dog-breed-profiles-0) " free to the Swedish breed clubs so
they can see what their breeds are dying of. You'll have to get your browser
to translate if you don't read Swedish and apparently you can order the
profiles from the site.

Sweden is establishing (or has established -- my notes fail me) a "Breed
Specific Breeding Strategy." It is kennel cub and breed club driven -- no
legislation or government involvement. The breed clubs must provide a
description of the issues their dogs face and outline what is being done to
address them. Problems are evaluated: common? high risk? severe/fatal? age of
onset? control? prevention?

Efficacy of hip dysplasia screening: An animal welfare imperative
Gail K. Smith, VMD, PhD
Dr. Smith is Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in the Department of
Clinical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine.
In 1993 he founded PennHIP (the University of Pennsylvania Hip
Improvement Program).

Maybe I'm a little cynical but the main take-away message I got from Dr.
Smith's address was that 1) he thinks PennHip is way better than OFA and 2)
artificial selection has had little to no effect on hip dysplasia, and 3)
as a rule, greyhounds do not get osteoarthritis

Brachycephalic airway syndrome: Etiology, treatment, and prevention
John R. Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDC
This was a graphic and interesting talk on the problems our brachycephalic
breeds face due to their shortened (or nonexistent!)
muzzles--brachycephalic airway syndrome. Dr. Lewis made the comment that the market for designer
breeds might be partially driven by health concerns of pet owners -- as he
said, the puggle does give the pug more muzzle. (I've heard that theory
before, "hybrid vigor" being a reason people flock to the designer breeds)
We saw some graphic slides of various problems -- from narrow nostrils to
elongated soft palate to everted laryngeal saccules. As someone who has
never owned brachycephalic dogs, I found this presentation interesting and
somewhat alarming. He said we have reduced the muzzle until there is not enough
room in it for the soft tissue. But as with many of the "facts" presented
at this conference, no indication was given of what percentage of dogs are
affected with breathing difficulties or whether breeders are working to
address these problems.

Karlin
4th June 2011, 02:12 PM
Part two:


The RSPCA report on purebred dog breeding: Conformational selection and inbreeding in dog breeds
David R. Sargan, MA, PhD
Director of Life Sciences Graduate Education for the University of
Cambridge. He has worked as a geneticist in mutation discovery and genomics in
the dog for the last twenty years--completed work on lens luxation and on a
second locus causing PRA in the Miniature Long Haired Dachshund. His lab is
now working on breed predispostions to cancer. One of the two lead authors
of the RSPCA report Pedigree dog breeding in the UK: A major welfare
concern? and on UKā•˙s _Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding._
(http://dogadvisorycouncil.org.uk/)

Dr. Sargan runs a _genetic disease database website_
(http://www.vet.cam.ac.uk/idid/) where he lists about 500 canine genetic disease.
A few of the points he made:
-- Irish Wolfhounds are about 15% larger than they were 100 years ago
-- Problems in giant breeds include dysplasia, osteosarcoma,
cardiomyopathy and bloat/torsion
-- Brachycephalic breeds have trouble with overheating, breathing,
whelping problems, cardiac and eating difficulties.
-- He also talked about problems in the achondroplastic (dwarf) breeds,
mostly relating to their length of back and weight (in Bassets specifically)
-- Dr. Sargan mentioned the toy breeds, but my notes are incomplete at
that point.

Canine Genetics, Behavior and the role of the parent club
Patricia H. Haines, DVM
Patty is a practicing veterinarian who previously served multiple terms on
the AKC board of directors. She has bred and competed with purebred dogs
at AKC events for over 40 years. She is VP of the Ohio Veterinary Medicine
Association.

Patty was personable, an excellent speaker, and calmly explained the
differences in dog breeding in the UK and Europe and the US. In England, the
Kennel Club owns the standards, so they are able to make changes. Here, each
standard is owned by a parent club, so it is much, much more difficult to
make major (or even minor!) changes to them. She explained that since most
purebreds in the US are not registered, the influence the AKC can have on
their breeders is minimal. She talked about the different types of breeders
(casual, commercial, and "parent club breeder") and the codes of ethics of
parent clubs. Patty also pointed out the tremendous amount of money that has
been put into studying and addressing the health problems of purebred dogs,
adding that the health and welfare of our dogs remains a major concern of
good breeders.

Canine behavioral genetics: State of the art
Linda van den Berg, PhD
A cum laude graduate of Utrecht University, the Netherlands, Dr. van den
Berg started her scientific career with a study of the genetics of
aggressive behavior in Golden Retrievers. This included the development of tools to
measure subtypes of canine aggression and the molecular genetic study of
genes involved in serotonergic neurotransmission.

Another interesting talk focusing on the problems of reduced genetic
diversity in purebreds. Dr. van den Berg pointed to small founder populations,
genetic bottlenecks caused by war or economic depression, genetic drift. use
of popular sires, and inbreeding. She talked extensively about the
heritability of behavioral traits and one of the more interesting comments she
made was that problem behavior is usually normal behavior carried to an
extreme or in inappropriate settings.

Unintended consequences of breeding for conformation: Owner-directed
aggression in English Springer Spaniels
Ilana Reisner, DVM, PhD, DACVB
Dr. Ilana Reisner received her DVM from the Oregon State University
College of Veterinary Medicine, and a PhD in behavioral physiology from Cornell.
She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, and
is currently Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine at the School of
Veterinary Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the
Veterinary Behavior Clinic at Pennā•˙s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital,
which sees primarily dogs and cats referred by veterinarians for behavior
problems ranging from anxiety disorders to aggression.

Dr. Reisner was one of the best speakers, entertaining and informative.
She talked mostly about genetics and aggression in dogs, with an emphasis on
rage syndrome (I don't believe she used that term though. I'm pretty sure
she just referred to "owner directed aggression.) She pointed out that
anecdotally, rage was associated with one kennel (thus indicating a genetic
basis) but that in reality, it was not exclusively that kennel. She also
mentioned that Springers are not the dogs she sees most often for aggression.

Panel Discussion
An interesting panel discussion followed, with questions from cards handed
in by the audience. Main points I took away from the discussion were:
-- Education is absolutely key. Pet buyers must be educated, as must
breeders and veterinarians. If we are the make progress with the real problems
in purebred dogs, it is critical that breeders are not vilified.
-- Sweden has an extremely different situation from ours. The Swedish
Kennel Club was described as "very strict." There are no pet stores, the breed
clubs strongly encourage fostering and mentoring new breeders, there are
few mixed breed dogs and most of those are intentional crosses. Out of 75,000
puppies, 60,000 are registered with the kennel club. They do have a
problem with imported dogs.
-- Veterinarians need education about genetic defects. Many have become
complacent and just say, "Oh, well, that's common in your breed."
-- Sir Bateson recommends an independent advisory committee, similar to
the one in Great Britain
-- The parent clubs must be involved and it is very important not to
attack breeders
-- Recommendations include opening the stud books for breeds with serious
problems, prevent the registration of inbred dogs, and increase imports

Alice and I did not attend the $60-a-plate vegan dinner that night.

Pedigree Dogs Exposed: The Aftermath
Jemima Harrison, Producer
Ms. Harrison is a writer and independent television producer. She directed
the 2008 BBC documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, and recently started a
blog of the same name at

She has owned purebred dogs all her life and says she is not an animal
rights advocate. I believe her, though her documentary gave them a whole lot of
ammunition against breeding.

I expected not to like Jemima Harrison. After all, she produced a
documentary which made breeders in England look like uncaring louts, ridiculed the
Kennel Club, and emphasized the worst of the health issues we have faced in
purebred dogs. What's to like? But after listening to her talk, I
understood her a little better and actually found myself liking her. She does love
dogs. There is no doubt of that. I believe her intentions were sincere. She
really wants to see purebred dogs healthier.

Pedigree Dogs Exposed was sensationalistic and one-sided. She did not
include the tremendous efforts good breeders have made to address these
problems and she didn't interview the many good people who breed and show dogs in
England and who do consider health first in their breeding decisions. She
focused on severe cases of syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
when these severe cases are fairly rare because it is heartbreaking to see
one of these little dogs writhing in pain. Much more so than seeing one with
mitral valve disease, which kills many more Cavaliers than does
syringomyelia, but less dramatically.

Jemima started out her presentation by telling us that PDE had three
years' research behind it and that it was "intended to be powerful," She said
that previous attempts to get the Kennel Club to address the problems in
breeding for exaggeration had failed. (She actually showed video clips of KC
executives saying that yes, they were going to take the health-affecting
exaggerated features out of all the standards, but she says it never happened.
These clips were from interviews in the '80s and I believe the '60s.) She
said it was these unfulfilled promises that made her decide the film had to
be "powerful" in order to have any effect.

Though she said, contrary to what I'd heard, she did not become interested
in this subject because of the early death of her own Flat Coated
Retriever (who lived to an unusually old age and may still be alive), but she was
very affected by a study of a cohort of 170 Flat Coats -- 53,6 percent of
them died of cancer before the age of ten. I'm sorry I don't have details
about this study, but I'm sure Jemima would furnish them if anyone needs to
follow up. Remember, these are just my notes from the conference!

Jemima holds four practices/conditions responsible for the spread of
genetic defects in purebred dogs.
1) small, closed gene pools
2) inbreeding/linebreeding
3) use of popular sires
4) breeding for exaggerated traits for the show ring

She pointed out that generally the interpretation of the standard, not the
standard itself, causes problems.

Vets have been desensitized, she says. They also don't want to "bite the
hand that feeds them" by taking a stand against these common breeding
practices, and she believes in England they are heavily influenced by the Kennel
Club, which she views as very powerful.

The extensive media coverage PDE received pressured the Kennel Club into
making some changes:
-- changes to breed standards
-- a ban on mating of first degree relatives
-- changes in judges' training
(As a matter of fact, beginning next year, gundog judges in Britain have
to attend a trial as part of the requirements for judging those dogs.)

Jemima talked also about the practice of culling (killing) for appearance
faults. "Being born ridgeless is still the leading cause of death for a
Rhodesian Ridgeback in the United States." She asserted that the genes
responsible for the ridge are associated with a genetic defect called dermoid
sinus, similar to spina bifida in humans. I was unable to find proof of that in
some very quick research using Google. She mentioned other breeds that cull
for appearance -- Great Danes, Boxers, and a few others. She did say that
there is a movement to spay/neuter and place the puppies in pet homes
rather than killing them.

Some direct results of PDE:
-- Three studies were commissioned: the Bateson report, one by the RSPCA
and one by the Associatee Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW).
-- An independent advisory board was set up
-- The Kennel Club has opened its books to dogs of "unverified parentage"
on a case by case basis in an attempt to widen the gene pools (she says the
effective population size for some breeds is less than 50)
-- There are now vet exams at shows for the 15 high profile breeds
-- Limits on c-sections (I think it's two per bitch)
-- The KC is developing a computer program called Mate Select so breeders
can look up health tests and check the COI before making breeding decisions

Jemima would like to see some more stringent rules preventing
inbreeding/linebreeding, a limit on the number of times a sire can be used, and less
emphasis on appearance in the show ring (as an attempt to address the health
problems caused by exaggeration)

According to Jemima, one of her "inspirations" to produce the documentary
came from Pat Burns' blog -- Terrierman's Daily Dose. I disagree with a
whole lot of Terrierman's "wisdom," but his_ post on inbreeding_
(http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2006/05/inbred-thinking.html) is worth reading.

Ethical issues related to selective breeding in dogs
Randall Lockwood, PhD
Prior to joining the ASPCA as Senior Vice President for Anti-Cruelty
Initiatives and Legislative Services in 2005, Dr. Lockwood was vice president
for research and educational outreach for the Humane Society of the United
States.

Lockwood's presentation covered the history of man's relationship with the
dog, the concept of dominance and wolf social structure. He said the
dominance theory of dog behavior is based on a misunderstanding of how a wolf
pack functions. He also went into some detail about how breeding for specific
behaviors has resulted in some that are maladaptive and discussed his
belief that "specific selection for changes in levels of inter- and
intra-specific aggression in dogs, including guarding and fighting breeds, has produced
changes with enormous ethical and welfare implications."

The development of dog breeds: Why and how people breed dogs
Frances O. Smith, DVM, PhD
Dr. Smith obtained her degrees from Normandale Community College and in
1986, she became a Diplomate in the American College of Theriogenology. Dr.
Smith breeds Labrador Retrievers and is on the board of directors and the
health committee chair of the Labrador Retriever Club. She is also
president of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and a member of the AKC Canine
Health and Welfare Advisory Panel.

Dr. Smith's presentation covered the evolution of the dog and reasons for
the development of the different breeds. She talked about ethical issues of
breeding as well as the different types of breeders and motivations for
breeding. She challenged the idea that purebred dogs are unhealthier than
mixed breeds. Some of the more interesting points:
-- Hybrid vigor is only possible if you cross a dog with another species
(wolf, jackal, etc) The term is incorrectly used when talking about mixed
breed dogs. That is heterosis, not the same as hybrid vigor.
-- Behavior traits such as fearfulness are as heritable as coat color and
length
-- 90 percent of the dogs registered by AKC come from one-litter breeders

The impact of puppy mills on the welfare of purebred dogs
Frank McMillan, DVM, ACVIM
Dr. McMillan has been the Director of Well-Being Studies at Best Friends
Animal Society since October 2007.

He presented an unscientific study mostly on behavioral problems in adult
breeding dogs turned pets. Essentially, what he did was ask people who had
these dogs to tell him what "unusual behaviors" they had and concluded that
these dogs were psychologically damaged by being kept in kennels. To be
perfectly honest, I walked out about a quarter of the way into his talk. When
I came back right at the end, it had not gotten any better.

Then we got a "Can't we all just get along?" talk from Stephen
Zawistowski, science advisor of the ASPCA. It was inspiring and reasonable and sadly,
totally unrealistic considering that if the goals of the AR world were
achieved, there would be no more breeding. But it sounded real nice and if you
didn't know the history of the disagreements between breeders and the
animal rights movement, you'd have thought this conference was sincerely about
doing what's best for dog and working together to solve problems.

There was a "roundtable" for the speakers after the meeting to which the
audience was not invited. I have not heard what came out of that.

All in all, the conference was informative and extremely interesting. I
found myself wishing that AKC had sponsored it. For one thing, the attendance
would have been triple what it was, and the motivation would have, of
course, been beyond question. I have no illusions -- and neither should other
breeders -- that this will be the end of HSUS's interest in purebred dogs.
Those of us who have been fighting the animal rights movement for the past
ten years have always said that after the commercial breeders, they'd be
targeting show breeders. This is the first salvo.

Karlin
4th June 2011, 02:23 PM
I think this give s avery interesting breeder perspective and lots of information on various stances on dog breeding.

NO discussion on the HSUS please (I will delete any posts), but feel free to discuss the substance of the event.

I find it disappointing that a breeder would not accept (her own!) evidence there that perhaps some groups that presented, attended and supported this event are not 'animal rights' groups with extreme agendas but 'animal welfare' groups with a common interest in health and good welfare. Painting an endless array of welfare issue and rescue groups as 'animal rights' extremist groups has been a longtime strategy of some breeders and breed club organisations who do not want anyone to limit their freedom to breed as they wish. And we know where that has got the breeds and dog welfare generally -- the presentations in this conference demonstrate that in spades.

She is also obviously very uninformed about the actual situation in cavaliers. The cavaliers Jemima showed, as too many of us know, are not 'extreme' examples, especially not the breeder owned champion who went on to be used at stud over 20 times AFTER the diagnosis of SM! I would hope people outside the breed as well as inside would become more informed on the real situation with cavaliers, which is a very high rate of incidence of SM. And yes, more die from MVD but I would guess that if statistics were kept we will see most situations where cavaliers under 5 are euthenised will be due to SM. Almost all cavaliers will die of MVD, after all, and most will reach 10-ish despite the condition, so to claim MVD is the larger problem is misleading. They are clearly both very serious, large-scale, endemic problems in this breed and the pain levels that come with SM are far more insidious than the very slow decline most cavaliers will have, over many years, with MVD.

Overall, I am glad that people, breeders to vets to welfare activists and so many different groups, actually attended, met, and talked and at least to some degree, accepted they can have different views bit broadly many common interests to work towards. :thmbsup:

GraciesMom
4th June 2011, 03:24 PM
So much to process here but since this is about breeding in the USA, I wanted to make sure that I understood what was said. It is sad that many breeders still do not want to admit the serious challenges many breeds are facing. Beyond sad... we love our little Cavaliers so much and they deserve better than this!

Davecav
4th June 2011, 03:29 PM
Thanks for posting the above. I found it very interesting. As a pet owner I found no problem with the views that the author of the piece expressed. (She?) is as entitled to her views as anyone else, including those on this forum. I did not find them extreme, and as far as her not knowing about Cavaliers particularly, that's fair enough, I don't know much about boxers, or Golden Retrievers.

A very good read. At least there are people willing to talk about these issues. I was interested to read what Patrick Bateson had to say, and agree with the points he put forward. I was also inteseted to hear what inspired Jemmima Harrison and why she felt her documentary needed to be so one-sided, as there are, and were then some very health conscious breeders around, but she decided on the whole not to incorporate this into the programme, if I my memory serves me. I can understand the reasons for this, though it goes against the grain when one doesn't have a balanced debate on issues. (As most of us are aware of))

Karlin
4th June 2011, 03:59 PM
Agree her point of view is very useful and open. :) I know there are many breeders like this, too. Also: I think it so promising that people who might automatically decide not to attend an event such as this did so, and found that there was much that was informative, helpful and thought provoking and a great commonality of interest, overall. The fact that there's a public response by a breeder to the conference and these notes is very useful and positive.

I would have loved more detailed notes on some of these presentations, especially some of those on breeding and behaviour issues. The item on golden retrievers sounded very interesting! Especially when they are seen as such a family dog. I have heard of increased aggression issues; also in St Bernards.

I am sorry there wasn't more info on the puppy mill presentation. I am surprised that merely a mention of behaviour problems caused by kenneling would prompt anyone to walk out -- I doubt there are many professional dog trainers who wouldn't say this is a huge contributor to behaviour issues and poor socialisation. Rescue organisations are reluctant to have to kennel dogs and any good rescue strives to have as many dogs as possible in foster, not kennels. One top US trainer has a whole programme for animal shelters based on trying to improve the typical behaviour issues dogs quickly acquire in shelters from being kennelled, in order to try and help them become more homeable to visitors: http://www.deesdogs.com/shelter_evaluations.htm

Also see this article on the same topic, Behavior Problems and Long-Term Housing of Shelter Dogs, by well-respected trainer Jean Donaldson: http://www.michiganpetfund.org/userfiles/file/Shelter%20Dogs.pdf

Many breeders ironically would never even consider homing a cavalier puppy of their breeding to a home that said it would mostly keep the dog in a kennel, day in and out. Yet the same breeders themselves house their own breeding/show dogs in this fashion, with some owning dozens to over a hundred in kennels, some of them of very poor standard (having seen some footage of one high profile UK cavalier breeder's indoor kennels -- they are disgusting, WORSE than many puppy farms I have seen :x). I do not understand how breeders can consider 'hobby' breeders with dozens to a hundred+ kenneled dogs and one or two helpers any different from the typical puppy mill/farm (recently breeders crossposted to many dog lists in the US warning breeders with over 100 dogs in one region to get them hidden away as they'd heard a raid on such large scale breeders might be happening. Just beyond belief :sl*p: ). The quality of life for the dogs, and serious lack of socialisation of the puppies leading to long term problems for owners, is exactly the same as a mill, when dogs are bred on this kind of scale and confined to kennels. :( Breeders need to be more engaged with the puppy mill issue, on a more productive and thoughtful level than simply lobbying to oppose every piece of proposed legislation.

The ONLY country in which a national kennel club actively worked WITH legislators during the process of drafting puppy farm legislation and also publicly supported it, as far as I can find, is Ireland.

RodRussell
4th June 2011, 05:22 PM
... She is also obviously very uninformed about the actual situation in cavaliers. The cavaliers Jemima showed, as too many of us know, are not 'extreme' examples, especially not the breeder owned champion who went on to be used at stud over 20 times AFTER the diagnosis of SM! I would hope people outside the breed as well as inside would become more informed on the real situation with cavaliers, which is a very high rate of incidence of SM. And yes, more die from MVD but I would guess that if statistics were kept we will see most situations where cavaliers under 5 are euthenised will be due to SM. Almost all cavaliers will die of MVD, after all, and most will reach 10-ish despite the condition, so to claim MVD is the larger problem is misleading. They are clearly both very serious, large-scale, endemic problems in this breed and the pain levels that come with SM are far more insidious than the very slow decline most cavaliers will have, over many years, with MVD. ...

The writer, Sharyn Hutchens, is a whippets breeder, an AKC delegate, and is very active in fighting anti-pet and anti-breeder legislation.

[sorry Rod, removed the remainder of that sentence for reasons I made clear at the start of the post. I will NOT allow that particular topic of discussion here but anything to do with the general topics of the conference post are absolutely OK :) -- Karlin).

[Karlin: I was only commenting on what you had written.]

One of the speakers, Dr. Brenda Bonnett of Canada, in the course of her presentation, showed a slide that compared the causes of death of cavaliers between MVD and SM. Her statistics were compiled from death records in Sweden, and those statistical records ended in, I think, 2002. So, her comparison between MVD and SM as "cause of death" obviously (to us, at least) are worthless from a factual standpoint, but have been jumped upon by Ms. Hutchens (who probably had no prior knowledge or other source of information about SM in the CKCS) and others to assert that PDE exaggerated the severity of SM in the CKCS. I think Ms. Hutchens did it from ignorance. Others have and will continue to do it despite their awareness that SM is widespread and can be excruciatingly painful.

anniemac
6th June 2011, 03:30 PM
I thought this was interesting and this is what stood out to me. I liked the panel discussions which I bolded the ones I thought were important to me

An interesting panel discussion followed, with questions from cards handed in by the audience. Main points I took away from the discussion were:
Education is absolutely key. Pet buyers must be educated, as must breeders and veterinarians. If we are the make progress with the real problems in purebred dogs, it is critical that breeders are not vilified.

This is important because we all need to know what potential inherited problems Cavaliers have BUT in a way that shows what one can do. There was talking about “designer” breeds and mixed breeds people get to steer away from these health problems but IMO and I think agreed here that it is not the answer
Sweden has an extremely different situation from ours. The Swedish Kennel Club was described as "very strict." There are no pet stores, the breed clubs strongly encourage fostering and mentoring new breeders, there are few mixed breed dogs and most of those are intentional crosses. Out of 75,000 puppies, 60,000 are registered with the kennel club. They do have a problem with imported dogs.

This was interesting to me. I wish they did not have pet stores here and I know that it is against the code of ethics for breeders in the parent clubs to sell to pet stores. There is an importance of the “parent clubs” ACKCSC or CKCSC USA to help with the “mentoring” new breeders. How is one to learn without the knowledge of those that have been for several years? There are some that know a whole bunch about the lines, health, etc. that could be very valuable to others.

Veterinarians need education about genetic defects. Many have becomecomplacent and just say, "Oh, well, that's common in your breed."
In the USA, not many vets know about SM, but I wish they would be more knowledgeable but not to the point where they know more than a specialist. This is another topic of referrals etc

The parent clubs must be involved and it is very important not to attack breeders

Like I said before, the parent clubs do need to be more open about ALL health issues including SM. I know the ACKCSC Charitable Trust has given a lot of money for health but for some reason, I still think SM has a stigma. I have heard too many times of a breeder saying it must be this or that because it looks bad to have SM. This can not be the case and in order to move forward, one can not attack or blame breeders. Yes even ones that breed A to A will have the chance of producing a Cavalier with SM, so when dealing with so many genetic issues, even the best breeders can’t promise everything.

Now this is where I am going to say something that I fear others will strongly disagree with.

"Pedigree Dogs Exposed was sensationalistic and one-sided. She did not include the tremendous efforts good breeders have made to address these problems and she didn't interview the many good people who breed and show dogs in England and who do consider health first in their breeding decisions. She focused on severe cases of syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels when these severe cases are fairly rare because it is heartbreaking to see one of these little dogs writhing in pain. Much more so than seeing one with mitral valve disease, which kills many more Cavaliers than does syringomyelia, but less dramatically.”

I see too many documentaries on the one side whether it’s this one or “puppy mills” but they never point to the others responsible? Take puppy mills, the people watching the raids and the terrible conditions gasp but then buy a puppy from the Internet so where do you think they came from? It’s way easy to point the finger at another and not at yourself. So I would like to see some education and interview those, that are doing things against the odds to breed for health. How can a potential puppy buyer find a breeder?

Also even further, How can one help or contribute to research? Yes I would love to see those who watched who own Cavaliers that have a ton of money be involved and know where to put some of those extra dollars for the breed.

This is where people might *gasp* that I say this. Since I had a Cavalier with severe SM, I think I have the right to say this. I know it is a huge problem but I frequently ask this question, “how do you raise awareness without scaring one?” We have said several times on the forum that many cases of SM can be managed several years with medication alone. Many do not show “clinical” symptoms and even though I know some need to be euthanized, as an owner it was extremely scary. Take the part when the Cavalier is shown after surgery and then died. As an owner who was getting ready to have Ella go through surgery, that image kept coming up in my mind. Even another on the forum recently was told it is not that risky. Yes it can happen but for those with Cavaliers and SM, I could not watch this segment of the PDE. Those images flocked my mind and no, not all get to that point and so yes I agree with what the writer said about it being the most severe cases. Maybe I was lucky not to get to that point with Ella, but hers was severe but not like what was shown, more of the non-movement. So if they did another PDE, I would hope that the focus would be on what one can do now.