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Animal Protection: Stop inbreeding, open registries, ban unhealthy breeds, curtail shows

Ban unhealthy breeds, attack inbreeding by opening up of registries permanently, stop breed standard exaggeration, curtail shows.

That is the advice of the Animal Protection the Netherlands (Dierenbescherming). With more than 40% of purebred dogs something is wrong, states the organization. Main source of that according to Animal Protection: dogshows.

Most Dutch media were focusing on this these days, after broadcasting of the British documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed on television.

How is that in your culture and what is your opinion?

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Certainly Henk. A fascist organization is 'an unrepresentative body of extreme authoritarian views' or 'a minority imposing it's views on the majority'. It is not democratic because it does not represent the majority view. If you say it is than it can only be democratic within it's movement. That is not democracy, that is agreement among a proportion of like minded individuals who have organized themselves into a group - only 200,000?
And how would you define the British KC? Only 1500 or so self appointed members , but ruling the world of dogs in the UK.
Besides you and others associate genetics with MO, epilepsy, etc ?
I associate genetics with everything that has to do with dogs...and a lot more.
What is your understanding of genetics?

I wonder what is required in Belgium to become a judge? Most countries require that you have experience as a breeder. I wonder why?

I feel this discussion is going round in circles and not leading anywhere. I give up.
"Most countries require that you have experience as a breeder" (to become a judge). How does that work when you own one breed but judge another totally unrelated breed. How could you apply genetics to that? How would you know about breed specifics?
Dog showing began in a field with a load of gundog enthiusiasts and stockmen coming together to talk about, present and compare their dogs, share a glass or two, swap a dog or two and generally have a fun day out as a sport and a hobby. We have turned it into an institution with rules, regulations, codes of ethics etc. etc. It is still a sport and a hobby (for most) and should still be a fun day out. Let's drink to that at Christmas.......
Hi Everyone, I hope you don't mind, but I have taken the liberty of summarising our discussions so far: (you can tell I'm on holidays!!)

Summary of discussions so far:
Breed Standards:
- not always correctly interpreted and therefore some breeders and judges prioritise traits over the overall conformation;
- judges require more training – better trainee judging systems (this is more necessary in countries where we see both American and UK types in the show ring) – not all judges are provided with specimens of both types in training program.
- Breeders need to have training in genetics and interpretation of breed standard;
- Canine Anatomy and behaviour should be a mandatory course of study in trainee judges systems;
- Exaggeration of the breed standard is occurring in all facets of irish setter breeding (not just show stock).

Additional thoughts: Some breeders are kennel blind and we are never going to be able to fix this problem; judges prioritise type over soundness (again in Countries like Australia where we have two types being exhibited);

Close/Line/In Breeding:
- Always have difference in opinion on the necessity/value of close/line/in-breeding;
- Valuable tool to compound type;
-Outcrossing to other lines (within same breed) does not always breed healthier stock, but can lose type, etc.
Additional thoughts: Higher COI has not necessarily seen lower fertility and/or less length of life and/or quality of life. There needs to be upper limits, however, this would need to be introduced gradually (as was the height standard by Ireland) to allow breeders to be able to achieve these lower levels. However, if we can get to the stage where we have DNA testing on all health problems within the IS breed, then do we believe that the COI levels will not be as important if the dogs being used are “clean healthy” lines with no inheritable traits known/identified by the testing.

Breeding Ethics/Accountability:
- Breeders/Stud Dog owners need to have Code of Ethics to ensure that all possible testing has been completed prior to breeding programs being commenced/continued;
- Honest and share health concerns with breeders of potential breed mate selections.
- Undertake whatever health testing is available to minimize the risk of health problems occurring (ie: CLAD, PRA and HD testing, etc)

Regulatory Bodies Responsibilities:
- Implement Code of Ethics for Breeders/Stud Dog Owners;
- Trainee Judges Systems to be reviewed and improved (as identified above)
- Mandatory testing for CLAD; PRA and HD; and any further testing which becomes available in the future;
- Training/courses for breeders/Stud Dog Owners on genetics, etc (as identified above)
Additional Thoughts: This should occur when a new breeder request a Prefix/Affix, etc or should be implemented and undertaken by all at the point of implementation by the Regulatory Body.

Banning of dog shows will not fix the problem as it is greater than just breeders who show dogs! Greater responsibility by Breeders/Stud Dog Owners of all disciplines (show; field; obedience; etc) and the Regulatory Body to implement mandatory requirements.

Where to from here? What is the next Step?
Mandatory testing is not as straightforward in its effects as one might like to believe.

DNA testing/hip scoring/eye testing etc are very useful tools for breeding but having a drawer full of test results doesnt necessarily produce a better dog

Mandatory testing doesnt have to be tied to removing carriers and affected dogs from the gene pool. Nobody in their right minds is going to breed from two carriers anyway. As long as breeders have tested their dogs and know the status of the dogs they are breeding , there is no need to remove carriers for recessive gene conditions from the gene pool. Removing too many carriers only narrows the gene pool still further,
Especially in small breeds like the IRWS, we cant afford to be discarding dogs from the gene pool.

It can also be dangerous. if somebody has a top winning show dog who is found to be a carrier for a genetic condition and has to removed from the gene pool, There can be a temptation to use the dog, but put a different name in the pedigree. The problem just goes underground and will surface again
But if a carrier can be bred to clear, the good show dog can be used, and all the progeny tested to see which ones are carriers. The problem is out in the open , pedigrees are reliable, and everybody knows what they are doing when breeding

More and more DNA testing is becoming available. How many tests can a breeder be reasonably expected to carry out? In IRWS we already have to test for four things, and our registrations have halved in the last ten years. This coincided with more testing being required - pet owners who might only ever breed one litter are being put off breeding because of the cost and hassle of testing, and breeding is being concentrated in the hands of a few show breeders who tend to line breed on top winning show dogs. Not a healthy situation long term

Some breeds like Cavaliers, who have serious and widespread problems in the breed, are turning to making use of Estimated Breeding Values instead of relying entirely on testing. A better way of seeking out the healthiest dogs to breed from, and comparing the risks of using different stud dogs
But this system requires completely reliable pedigrees to be useful

And finally testing is no substitute for better breeding practices. As long as breeders continue line breeding and using popular sires, DHA and other testing will do nothing more than clean up the problems caused by line breeding and popular sires and small gene pools, and more new problems will continue to show up. So more new tests, Breeders will be running faster and faster in smaller and smaller circles
to do yet more testing just to stay on top of new problems.

And one more thought from an IRWS breeder , an outsider looking in on Irish Setters - with every litter I breed I get inquiries about buying puppies from people who have previously owned Irish Setters and love setters, but are searching for another breed because of the health problems they have had with red Irish Setters . Most typically bloat and MO, skin problems and allergies and other problems which indicate a poorly functioning immune system, and epilepsy, And other less common conditions too. I had one inquiry about IRWS from somebody who had lost FOUR Irish Setters to bloat, another one who had lost THREE Irish Setters to bloat.
Especially since PDE , more and more puppy buyers are asking for not only whether dogs have been tested for relevant conditions before breeding, but are also asking to see the paperwork too. And they are doing their homework about health problems in a breed before they even contact a breeder, so they know what to ask about.
Honest breeders with healthy dogs, producing healthy puppies , are going to find they not only can sell puppies more easily, they will get better prices for them too. The public are getting a lot wiser!
I agree, mandatory testing doesn’t breed a better dog, but it gives breeders more information to allow for a better informed decision on the best breed mate selection.

The danger of banning carriers is a risk and we haven’t discussed the banning of dogs who are identified as carriers. I understand the need to use carriers of certain diseases, such as PRA / CLAD, etc, but again, having the information and making informed decisions is better than flying blind!

I think the question of “How many tests can a breeder be reasonably expected to carry out?” begs another question – How serious are we about cleaning up the health of our breed? If we are serious and the testing is available, why would there be any reason not to avail ourselves of these tests, to ensure that we are breeding the healthiest dogs that we can? I think, even the pet owner who wants to breed one litter has the responsibility to ensure they are breeding healthy stock.

Forgive my ignorance of IRWS, but what tests would need to be carried out for every generation? If they have bought clean healthy tested stock, what additional tests are required (apart from HD)? I am not familiar with the 4 tests you speak of? Is there some that have to be carried out on every dog that is to be bred? In IS, CLAD and PRA once the stock is clear then the offspring can never be carriers or affected? Is this different for your IRWS?

I completely agree that the mandatory testing is only one part of the plan ahead (as I'm sure you've noticed from the breadth of discussion which has already occurred).

In respect to Estimated Breed Values.. is this being used successfully with dogs? I am not very familiar with its use? As you said, completely reliable pedigrees as well as full information about siblings and ancestors, etc would be essential to make the right informed decisions. But, it would certainly be a great tool if we could get to a point where we had all the necessary information.

I think it is great that pet puppy owners are doing their homework and this will also provide a powerful tool for breeders to improve their breeding practices or leave it to others who do.
Testing is one tool amongst others but it does not solve all problems.
Unfortunately the advent of more sophisticated tests may actually lead to a further loss of genetic diversity within the breed. Fewer and fewer stud dogs will be used, meaning more dogs are removed from the gene pool. The well known 'popular sire syndrome' will once again take a hold of the breed. We know that no animal/human is free of deleterious genes (though you may not know which ones at the time of breeding) and in further generations these deleterious genes will become more prevalent in the breed due to the fact that all dogs go back to this 'popular sire'. (We had this discussion in Sept. 07 with excellent input form Ann Millington - those interested my care to look in the archives)

I am attaching an article, written by Per Erik Sundgren. I find it gives food for thought...
von Willebrand Disease (VWD) for example. http://www.irwsa.com/vwd.html
At the dog show in Stockholm in december, there was a very interesting stand manned by vets from the University in Uppsala.

It showed ongoing projects as far as finding markers for different conditions.
The vets were now asking owners of dogs with specific illnesses (and also some healthy ones) to have their dogs bloodtested so that these markers could be found.
The project included 40 different breeds with (in many cases) more than one serious problem.
No setter-breeds were included.

8 of the breeds were being tested for EP, amongst them belgien shephards, giant schnauzers and rottweilers. Perhaps if a marker can be found for these breeds, testing irish setters is not too far ahead in the future.
Hi Ursula, do you have a contact for these vets and do you think we could get some IS included in the study? If not, how can we keep in contact with them to find out what they identify out of their study? I would be interested to follow this up.
Cheryl, I am more than happy to contact the group of vets and see if they are interested. As far as I can see from the paper, this is only going on in Sweden.
The work is funded so that bloodsamples are taken by any vet in the country free of charge so I can well see that they may not be too happy about working with groups of dogs abroad.

And I am not certain how frequent bloat is in setters here.
I have so far bred 200 puppies and have had 2 cases where dogs have been operated for partial twist of the stomach.
In both cases the stomach was sawn in to place and there have been no further problems.

I had another dog that had a fairly long time of being on and off food and once taken to the vet was found to have swollowed a big stone and was then operated and the stomach was sawn in place.

But if all puppy-buyers have reported cases to me, this is all I have had in my lines.
(Needless to say having written this, the next litter will ALL end up getting bloat...)




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