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View Full Version : Will the next SM breeding protocol be BAD FOR THE BREED?



RodRussell
26th December 2011, 04:17 PM
A preliminary draft of the BVA/KCs' upcoming new SM breeding protocol suggests that cavaliers as young as 12 months of age may be bred. This would contradict the MVD breeding protocol, which sets 2.5 years as the minimum breeding age. Read about it and its consequences at http://cavalierhealth.org/editorial.htm#December_24,_2011

anniemac
26th December 2011, 04:29 PM
A preliminary draft of the BVA/KCs' upcoming new SM breeding protocol suggests that cavaliers as young as 12 months of age may be bred. This would contradict the MVD breeding protocol, which sets 2.5 years as the minimum breeding age. Read about it and its consequences at http://cavalierhealth.org/editorial.htm#December_24,_2011

I hope you are wrong and misunderstanding the protocol.

anniemac
26th December 2011, 05:43 PM
Rod one thing you quoted was breeders thought 36 months was too old, then a star saying they think 2 years is too young which is 24 months? I dont how you came to that? I think 1-3 years is a large range. You could argue 2 1/2 is too young without parents being heart clear over 5?

The whole point is to eliminate early onset (I feel). I'm on phone so I could be reading wrong.

PS for SM protocol, I would love to see how grandparents scanned also add benefit. Some breeders already have this which i think personally is a plus. Maybe one day :)

sins
26th December 2011, 06:33 PM
I think it's not good for the breed at this time to change the guidelines,even though it takes into account the progressive nature of syringomyelia.
The real problem is not that it permits breeding of young stock,the major flaw is the reliance on the over 5 clears,for anything with a central canal dilatation or a syrinx up to 4.9 years old.
If you wish to breed from a young bitch between the ages of 1 and 3 years old and you find a dilated central canal(no matter how miniscule),you must use a stud dog over 5 with or without central canal dilatation...
Anyone know where all those over 5 clear dogs are ?
Answers on the back of a postage stamp please...
Sins

RodRussell
26th December 2011, 06:43 PM
...then a star saying they think 2 years is too young which is 24 months?

The star (*asterisk) says they think 2 years is too old, not too young.

anniemac
26th December 2011, 07:17 PM
I will say, I like how it includes to not breed any dogs with clinical signs of cm and/or sm.

anniemac
26th December 2011, 07:29 PM
Well maybe since its preliminary, I hope some of these things will be addressed.

RodRussell
26th December 2011, 08:35 PM
Well maybe since its preliminary, I hope some of these things will be addressed.

One of my concerns is that the BVA/KC SM protocol will not be breed-specific. For some reason, they are lumping all breeds with seemingly genetic SM into one group. (I think this is a mistake, because I view SM in the cavalier to be totally CM-connected, while a lot of SM in other breeds, including the BG, has no connection to CM, even though the SM protocol may work for the BG and other breeds as well.)

By treating their SM protocol as being a species-wide solution, BVA/KC may end up ignoring the unique problem of early-onset MVD in the cavalier. I just hope that BVA/KC recognizes the need to add an asterisk for the CKCS, to the effect that the minimum age should be 2.5 years and not 1.0 years.

RodRussell
28th December 2011, 04:44 PM
Also, see Colin Driver's and Holger Volk's editorial in the December 24 issue of Veterinary Record (at http://clarerusbridge-news.blogspot.com/), in which they state:

"The authors note that the correct age for scanning remains contentious and also represents a practical issue for breeders. It seems there is a higher risk for breeding a dog with syringomyelia from young unaffected dogs than from those aged over 2.5 years, so having one parent from this older cohort in the breeding match may be a reasonable way forward."

This statement suggests they also support using cavaliers under the age of 2.5 years. Now, maybe they were not focused on MVD in cavaliers when they wrote this editorial, but it seems that neither were the BVA and the UK Kennel Club when they drafted the proposed SM guidelines (at http://cavalierhealth.org/images/proposed_sm_guidelines.bmp).

The wording of the Driver/Volk editorial indicates they think further compromises are "a reasonable way forward". This is not the language of genetics. It is the language of politics.

Karlin
28th December 2011, 05:12 PM
Rod, the existing recommended guidelines do not say anywhere that dogs must be over 2.5 to be bred. Clare Rusbridge has repeatedly stated the guidelines are in response to breeders' own requests and must recognise that many breeders choose for their own (and I think terribly misguided) reasons to breed dogs, especially stud dogs, at under that age. There has never been a set of SM protocols/guidelines which says cavaliers should only be bred at older than 2.5. Under the current guidleines (I do not think Clare has ever called them a 'protocol' because that's a more formal construct, though many people use the term casually), dogs under 2.5 that scan without a syrinx or symptoms should only be bred to A graded dogs (eg dogs scanned and graded at 2.5 or older with an A grade as they cannot get an A grade at younger than that). Then those younger dogs should be rescanned at age 2.5 for a grade.

Clare has made clear many times that it is preferable that dogs be old enough to be scanned and graded before mating because many will have SM appear by 2.5, and also because it helpfully fits with the existing MVD protocol -- but has tried to shape guidelines that give some response to what many breeders actually do -- sadly, they continue to breed dogs underage to the MVD protocol. If they are insisting on doing that then at least in terms of SM, they should select mates that are A graded -- but I think the reality is that those breeders who breed below the MVD protocol don;t care a whole lot about health anyway and aren;t going to bother with SM guidelines either.

Karlin
28th December 2011, 05:19 PM
Worth noting too that there is plenty of funding for Uk stud dogs over 5 to be scanned, as this is the top priority group for Rupert's Fund. Breeders in the UK have LOTS and LOTS of stud dogs over 5. If they do not choose to scan, even when the cost is fully covered -- and when ALL breeders know perfectly well the huge impact one frequently used stud can have on generations of cavaliers that will all be significantly and often very closely related as so many are offspring of that ONE stud... it becomes harder and harder to believe breeder protestations on their discussion boards and email lists that they are utterly devoted to breed health and all rushing to scan. So many decent breeders desperately need scanning information on stud dogs but their owners are the most secretive group of all... :(

RodRussell
28th December 2011, 06:23 PM
Rod, the existing recommended guidelines do not say anywhere that dogs must be over 2.5 to be bred.

I disagree. This is a quote from the International Syringomyelia Conference Nov 2006 Revised CKCS MRI screening and breeding recommendations (http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/syringomyelia/docs/breeding%20guidelines.pdf):

"The age cut off at 2.5 years has been decided so as to tie in with MVD recommendations and because most dogs with symptomatic SM will show signs before 3 years of age."


... There has never been a set of SM protocols/guidelines which says cavaliers should only be bred at older than 2.5.

Further, this is a quote from the Rusbridge/Knowler Syringomyelia Breeding Recommendations (August 2005), which preceded the International Syringomyelia Conference Nov 2006 Revised CKCS MRI screening and breeding recommendations:

"Notes: The age cut off at 2.5 years has been decided so as to tie in with MVD recommendations and because most dogs with symptomatic syringomyelia will show signs before 3 years of age."

Added: Karlin, upon further review and reflection, I see your point. The charts do indicate that dogs under 2.5 years may be bred in limited circumstances. I find this very unfortunate. There is no point in breeding any cavalier under the age of 2.5 years unless the desired result includes early-onset MVD.

Margaret C
28th December 2011, 07:22 PM
As far as I am aware, and I was quite involved in some of the early SM projects such as the original DNA collection scheme, the 2.5 year cut off was chosen because it tied in with the MVD protocol. At that time there was some hope that there may be a possibility of coordinating research for both conditions. That did not prove possible.

Even then it was already suspected that many cavaliers would prove to be affected and that there would not be enough SM free cavaliers over 30 months to keep the breed from suffering more problems from further loss of genetic diversity. That is the reason that the table attached to the informal SM breeding guidelines has always shown that properly scanned C graded cavaliers could be mated to grade A cavaliers.

When writing www.cavalierpuppy.co.uk (http://www.cavalierpuppy.co.uk) , a website intended to advise the first time puppy buyer, I needed to keep the contents as simple as possible and so I based my age-of-parent-dogs recommendations on the more stringent MVD protocol.
This gave the buyer some protection against the breeders that were deliberately fudging both sets of breeding guidelines and allowed them to identify the A x A litters that have been shown to give the best chance of a healthier puppy.

Karlin
29th December 2011, 12:33 AM
I agree, and personally I would only advocate puppy buyers choosing breeders who are following the MVD protocol which means they would only be breeding at 2.5 and older anyway. I was at the discussion when the guidelines were first approved and the intention was definitely to have them dovetail with the MVD protocol (and interestingly further esearch has proven this to be good advice as 2.5-3 turns out to be a kind of initial cutting off point for most of the more serious cases of early-onset SM) and my recollection is there was general agreement that dogs should not be bred before 2.5 and a proper grade (C is really more a case of helpful early information and no one should mistake it for a 'good grade' for breeding under the guidelines). But they were also pragmatic in realising that sadly, lots of breeders clearly ignore the MVD protocol and there should be some guidance for best options to try and minimise SM if they were going to go ahead and breed anyway for whatever reasons.

Given how little push there is to follow the MVD protocol -- and that the puppy registrations show clearly how many well known club breeders do routinely ignore it especially for stud dogs -- you are left wondering how many UK breeders will use the scanning guidelines as they wish anyway :i. Not least when many of them in the UK are busy organising their own separate EBV scheme as well where even any vet can sign a scanning cert :sl*p: -- boy, that will sure encourage honesty, transparency and a meaningful scheme :rolleyes:. Very convenient to have no consistency of readings, no standard for scans, no specialist opinions. We all know how reliable vet interpretations of heart murmurs are for the MVD protocol -- half of all early grade murmurs missed in cavaliers under 5 -- very convenient for breeders as that allows a huge number of cavaliers through as clear under the MVD protocol! How helpful that they needn't bother with a cardiologist interpretation! Gee, could that be be why heart results have not improved at all in UK club-bred cavaliers for nearly two decades according to Simon Swift, the UK club cardiologist...?!

sins
29th December 2011, 10:37 AM
The new guidelines still present a very stern challenge for even the most committed and health focused breeder.
A bitch over 2.5 years with even the most miniscule barely discernible central canal dilatation will be recommended to be mated to an over 5 dog free of SM,in order to comply with the new guidelines. This bitch which is currently graded as A under the existing guidelines could currently be mated to an D.
Not under the new scheme.
Basically anything with a dilated central canal under the age of 5 must be mated to an over 5 SM free.
There are breeders who have A equivalent bitches from A parents and 4 A grandparents who will find themselves required to select an over 5 mate for their bitch.
And they'll be flogged if they "only" choose a mate who may only be 4.5 years without CCD because they're flouting the guidelines.Despite investing thousands of pounds in their breeding programmes,they feel that their breeding programmes are built on shifting sands.
And as for people buying puppies,what will they think?
The new aim is not it seems to breed away from SM,but to to breed away from the extreme clinical phenotype.
In other words,your pet may still have SM but let's hope it's asymptomatic.
At the end of 2011,I don't feel encouraged by any of this.
I don't think the lower age has been set to allow puppy farmers to keep breeding.
I accept that the guidelines are based on valid research findings,but sadly,the bar has been set too high,too soon and while a few may try to clear it,too many won't even keep trying.They'll just retire gracefully,despite years of committed testing and breeding.There's one lady I know well by now,who was just barely keeping her kennels going while trying to breed to the current protocols and investing heavily in her scanning programme.It's tough in this economic climate for small breeders to make ends meet.If they have to go outside to seek over 5 stud dogs,the stud fees make make it difficult for people like her and they WILL throw in the towel because they can't shoulder the burden for "saving the breed".
The Blog that Rod has linked us to says that "The correct age remains contentious and represents a practical issue for breeders".
The new Grading system is fine..it's just the breeding recommendations are pretty much unattainable based on the lack of over 5 clears.Another 18 months and the situation may have improved,but as it stands,it'll be a very challenging start to the new year for breeders who try to do the right thing.
Sins

Karlin
29th December 2011, 11:52 AM
I agree that protocols make for difficult choices for breeders. But unfortunately, for breeders and the rest of us, this disease cannot change to suit what breeders would like to be able to do and the way they would prefer to breed -- it is what it is, it is now endemic across the breed, iand needs aggressive action or the breed is going to disappear probably within most of our lifetimes or will need emergency outcrossing to other breeds to be rebuilt. I cannot find a researcher who believes otherwise. If breeders worked TOGETHER, then many of the difficulties would quickly vanish. For example, why isn't every older stud dog scanned? Why isn't that info public? there are plenty of studs out there and plenty of studs over 5! Only breeders themselves can change this situation. Most still refuse to and clubs recently have campaigned to keep all scan information secret. That means most breeders not in certain cliques are locked out from getting info about scans on older studs, for example. This is no way forward and only breeders themselves can change the current difficulties -- it isn't possible for researchers to adjust the disease to suit them instead.

When a sample of a huge 555 asyptomatic cavaliers belonging to primarily UK show breeders show that by age 6+ 70% have SM (and that excludes symptomatic dogs!) there can be no doubt that this is a breed in serious crisis. Many will feel the BVA/KC protocol does not go far enough -- eg in not requiring scans on breeding dogs of all breeders showing their dogs and registering puppies -- and is at this stage, too little too late. Researchers seem split between those who feel the breed might survive IF and this is a big IF, breeders ALL start to actually do something -- scan, share results, work towards breed health rather than show wins and constantly running like headless chickens to whatever stud is currently winning and thus narrowing the gene pool down far more than their proclaimed concerns about breeding protocols narrowing the genepool... Look at how closely related the current crop of show dogs and registered show breeder litters are to just a small number of show studs in the UK --and one in particular --and then people can only laugh bitterly at the usual breeder suspects mouthing off about how SM and MVD protocols will "narrow the genepool".

Then there are those who feel the breed realistically probably has little hope at this stage because of poor breeder response to every single health proposal and the direct obstruction of some. Yet they all continue to try and work towards helping the breed, often in the face of incredible club and breeder obstruction.

One of the saddest things is that the breeding recommendations have been around for many years now. They are not something new, nor was the early recognition that the condition was progressive. The low cost programmes have been there for breeders for years. Rupert's Fund has had money available for scanning male studs over 5 as a priority for going on two years now. The breed could have been so much further along in eradicating this as well as MVD, but the majority of breeders made deliberate choices not to scan, then to start to scan but not to share info, and not to work with researchers.

How can anyone take some of the national clubs, who are supposed to be acting to protect and preserve their breed, seriously under such circumstances?

Other breeds have dealt with similarly devastating problems and been far more open, active and research-supportive. When will cavalier breed clubs grow up and do the same? Which breeders will stand up and show some spine against those at the heart of clubs who consistently block research and health efforts? There are some but they are too few to change anything so far.

If breeders expect puppy buyers to pay anywhere from 500-700 plus in UK, or $1500-3000 in the US for cavalier puppies, I think buyers will legitimately ask why UK breeders can not take their bitches to get one or two scans that only cost them a fifth to half the price of a SINGLE puppy, and US breeders cannot afford to scan for the cost of ONE puppy (and there are many US centres offering scans for breeders at around $500-700...) especially perhaps those of us who have paid out of our own pockets for scans to benefit research that ultimately helps breeders, or who donate to funds that directly support breeders. Breeder failure to scan increases the likelihood that all of us pay not just high prices for puppies but then, for neurologist exams, scans and meds/surgery for the dogs we get from the breeders. To breeders: your personal costs to start to prevent this disease do not outweigh ours to diagnose and treat it. :x

Margaret C
29th December 2011, 12:22 PM
The new guidelines still present a very stern challenge for even the most committed and health focused breeder.
A bitch over 2.5 years with even the most miniscule barely discernible central canal dilatation will be recommended to be mated to an over 5 dog free of SM,in order to comply with the new guidelines. This bitch which is currently graded as A under the existing guidelines could currently be mated to an D.
Not under the new scheme.
Basically anything with a dilated central canal under the age of 5 must be mated to an over 5 SM free.
There are breeders who have A equivalent bitches from A parents and 4 A grandparents who will find themselves required to select an over 5 mate for their bitch.
And they'll be flogged if they "only" choose a mate who may only be 4.5 years without CCD because they're flouting the guidelines.Despite investing thousands of pounds in their breeding programmes,they feel that their breeding programmes are built on shifting sands.
And as for people buying puppies,what will they think?
The new aim is not it seems to breed away from SM,but to to breed away from the extreme clinical phenotype.
In other words,your pet may still have SM but let's hope it's asymptomatic.

Their pet probably will develop SM. That is the reality of the situation.

The specialists set the guidelines to reflect what has been shown by research. It would be wrong if they set bars low enough for breeders to carry on producing cavaliers that do not have the best chance of a healthy life.Most club breeders have not followed the earlier, less demanding guidelines, they will not follow the new recommendations unless pressure is applied in some form or another.

It may be that breeding cavaliers is something that nobody should do, that this is a breed that is now so health compromised that on welfare grounds alone they should not continue?

That may be hard on breeders and those that love this breed but the long run it is not the people that suffer the excrutiating neuropathic pain, it is the poor little dogs.


I accept that the guidelines are based on valid research findings,but sadly,the bar has been set too high,too soon and while a few may try to clear it,too many won't even keep trying.They'll just retire gracefully,despite years of committed testing and breeding.There's one lady I know well by now,who was just barely keeping her kennels going while trying to breed to the current protocols and investing heavily in her scanning programme.It's tough in this economic climate for small breeders to make ends meet.If they have to go outside to seek over 5 stud dogs,the stud fees make make it difficult for people like her and they WILL throw in the towel because they can't shoulder the burden for "saving the breed".


Let 's lay the blame for the need of these guidelines where it belongs........

I feel for the few breeders that have been trying so hard, for so long, but they are victims of the majority of other breeders that consistently ignored the warnings that went out in 2003, that did not scan when the low cost MRI schemes became available, that ignored the symptoms in their own breeding cavaliers or the rumours of SM in popular stud dogs and still carried on using them.

This mess was created by breeders that despite knowing they had bred affected dogs themselves grimly refused to believe there was a real issue and made it a point of honour not to read the reports that documented the extent of the problem.

They are the victims of those that still blindly mated unscanned cavaliers, spreading the SM genes for generation after generation until the publicity produced by PDE made them realise that the whistle had been blown and they would be wise to have at least one or two dogs scanned.

Those small breeders and all the unsuspecting pet owners out there are still the victims of the many influential breeders, including health representatives and cavalier clubs committee members, who are shown in the latest list of Kennel Club registrations to still be breeding from dogs that are scarcely out of puppyhood.


The Blog that Rod has linked us to says that "The correct age remains contentious and represents a practical issue for breeders".
The new Grading system is fine..it's just the breeding recommendations are pretty much unattainable based on the lack of over 5 clears.Another 18 months and the situation may have improved,but as it stands,it'll be a very challenging start to the new year for breeders who try to do the right thing.
Sins

Anyone with a popular stud dog could have it scanned free once it is over 5 years old. If there are none shown on the BVA/KC scheme when the results start being published it means their owners don't care enough for the breed to have them scanned or are too cowardly to share the results.

Karlin
29th December 2011, 02:07 PM
If there are none shown on the BVA/KC scheme when the results start being published it means their owners don't care enough for the breed to have them scanned or are too cowardly to share the results.

Cowardly I think in most instances would mean they have results that show their dog has SM and should have been scanned earlier... or that they knew it had SM and bred him anyway for the money... and indicates they'd rather get their lucrative stud fees than help the breed.

I think it should be mandatory for studs to be scanned -- a single stud fee for a popular sire more than covers years of low cost scans for the stud as well as many other dogs in the household. So cost can hardly be the issue here. It is simply this: the venal desire to keep getting those lucrative stud fees and to hell with the breed. Milk the breed for every penny you can stuff into your pocket and who cares what happens to the breed, the individual puppies, or the families that end up with SM-affected dogs and dogs that die painfully from MVD.

I think the breeders that cannot find the 5 year old scanned studs or any scanned studs full stop, need to start uniting, taking a stand and FORCING their club, their so-called "health representatives" :rolleyes:, and the KC to take an ethical and responsible approach to these conditions. Puppy buyers can help force change by refusing to buy puppies from unscanned and/or underaged parents, by helping fund research, and by joining clubs and having a say.

Privately I hear from breeders worldwide who despair of their clubs and of individual influential do-nothing breeders and their national kennel clubs, and who work hard themselves. But what will change if they remain quiet and work in solitude? It has gotten us virtually nowhere as the rotten core remains. These thoughtful committed breeders MUST start to stand up against these people and these cliques and clubs, rather than quietly try to change things or the breed is lost.

RodRussell
29th December 2011, 06:38 PM
I think that in terms of how the guidelines should be worded, they should change the age of "1-3" to "<3". That would be consistent with the age of dogs 5 and over, which is ">5". It also would avoid the contention that the BVA/KC guidelines are endorsing breeding dogs as young as 12 months.

RodRussell
29th December 2011, 06:58 PM
... The specialists set the guidelines to reflect what has been shown by research. It would be wrong if they set bars low enough for breeders to carry on producing cavaliers that do not have the best chance of a healthy life. ...

The proposed guidelines really are a compromise from what the most recent study has shown, which is that cavaliers under 3 years of age should not be bred, due to SM, and ideally, not under 5 years.

scrumpymum
30th December 2011, 05:43 PM
I am not sure why there is all this debate about the breeding guidelines. Surely the intention is that CKCS breeders use the EBV system developed by the AHT (at huge expense). This is this the most effective way of decreasing disease and increasing genetic variability and information about MVD and other diseases can be added.
It was my understanding the the new guidelines were revised based on the recently published paper here http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/Syringomyelia/page54/ . A worrying finding from this paper that in a D x A mating 75% of offspring were SM affected. Part of the reason for this was that many of the "A " dogs were not truly A - 30% of the grade C dogs became D and 43% of the A dogs became D
This said "In conclusion, the results from this study suggest that it is appropriate to continue using the breeding guidelines for both the CKCS and GB until a more robust system based on EBV or genetic testing is available. The following modifications are suggested .....To increase the number of SM-free offspring, at least one parent should be ascertained to be SM-free by MRI as a young adult. In ideal circumstances, both parents would be SM-free. According to the studyby Parker and others (2011), the optimum age for this early MRI screening is 36 months. If an SM-affected dog is used, for example, to preserve desirable traits or to increase genetic diversity then ideally the chosen mate would either be selected on the basis of its EBV and/or would be an older SM-free dog (five years or older). The offspring of the proposed
mating should also be MRI scanned and ideally bred to older SM-free dogs. The SM status of the dog when at least five years old should be established. SM has a complex inheritance and an EBV mate select programme should allow breeders to select safer breeding combinations.To ensure success, the programme requires a substantial collection of accurate population wide data. Consequently, all breeding dogs from breeds susceptible to CM and SM should be MRI screened and these results should be submitted to a central source. Pedigree and clinical history from dogs presenting with clinical signs of CM and/or SM should also be submitted to this central system. D status (or equivalent) will only be appropriate if the dog was first proved to be SM-free before 36 months of age. Future breeding recommendations should also take
account of dogs with CCD less than 2 mm.....

RodRussell
30th December 2011, 06:43 PM
I am not sure why there is all this debate about the breeding guidelines. Surely the intention is that CKCS breeders use the EBV system developed by the AHT (at huge expense). This is this the most effective way of decreasing disease and increasing genetic variability and information about MVD and other diseases can be added.

Since there is no operative EBV system in existence, what would you suggest breeders do until there is?