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Like Dee, I have been thinking about a forum post for a while and did not quite know how to get started... but not wanting to add a different theme to the serious problem of CSNB (Congenital Stationary Night Blindness) I've decided to start a separate discussion.

Much as I am worried about this new eye condition, my fear is that CSNB may lead to a certain narrow minded view within the breed, causing breeders, owners and breed clubs to concentrate on this one 'new' problem alone. After finding out about CLAD, and with swedish scientists discovering a DNA test for the condition, I feel we maybe like to be a bit complacent saying 'didn't we do well' in eradicating CLAD from the breed... (Sorry, that sounds a bit nasty I know). We like to put our breed to the fore by saying how good we were in addressing this one problem, whilst at the same time our breed has no reason to be complacent about hip dysplasia - but there is still no code of ethics for breeders requiring that all breeding stock should be x-rayed...

I recently had my dog Glen scored under the BVA/KC scheme. When I got the score sheet back I also received the list of the Breed Mean Sores (at 01/11/2008):
What shocked me was that in last 20 years (roughly, as no exact time scale is given) a total of only 1038 Irish Setters have been through the scheme, compared to English Setters 2'730 and Gordon Setters 2'293. Judging by these numbers one would assume that English and Gordon Setters are by far the more popular of the setter breeds... Comparable to the number of Irish Setters scored is the Italian Spinone, both easily beaten by the Weimaraner with 1836 scored dogs.

I feel breed clubs should take a much stricter stance when it comes to obligatory hip scoring for ALL breeding stock! There are many dogs out there suffering pain due to hip dysplasia and every year Irish Setters are put to sleep due to this painful condition.

It has also been brought to my attention that a breed mean score calculated over 20 years, enclosing ALL dogs of that one breed since the beginning of scoring, is not a very good method for showing any kind of improvement over the years. It would make more sense to calculate the breed mean score for every year. It would then be possible to compare Breed Mean Scores every year.

Looking forward to hearing your views on the subject.

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Hi there Susan
I think that the mean score is a very difficult thing, at one time the ex-rays would be taken, Then your vet would look at them and let you know whether or not it was worth 'posting' it ie if your dog had a problem don't post it. And if you had good hips, place it on the scheme, this kept the mean score falsely low. And now I know of one or two dogs that seem to have poor hips at first glance on the scheme, but should be in dreadful pain, because their scores are horrendously high, what I am in fact saying here is that sometimes the score is only as good as the technician that is doing it (the ex-ray that is). But at least now it Has to go through the scheme.
The results have been posted in the ISAE year book and some of them are horrendous, I am not sure what the mean score is now, I think it used to be 15, is it still?? if it is there are many many that failed with the recent scores.
This is yet another problem that our breed has creeping up. Is it caused by the same thing??? too much in-breeding, yes it probably is. We have to stop this, and go out again in our pedigrees, but this is so difficult to do, as there is so much behind most of our lines that are totally in-breed. And we do know what we are going to get by going close, out-crossing is a gamble?? I have done this on a couple of occasions, all soughts of different shapes and sizes, but still got the one or two good sizes and shapes out of it. Lets face it most people sell their dogs as pets, and most pet owners are just happy to have a happy, healthy puppy. That is what everyone deserves, is it not??????
Hi Susan!
I am glad you brought this up.
In the case of bad hips on our dogs, we know that this can be very painful. Still, some breeders continue to hide certain line bad hip statistics. That some breeding dogs with different bitches provide documented bad hips do not seem to disturb them.
They continue to recommend their own male. Then there is also bitchowners knowingly take risks when it decides to mate his bitch with a male. Wondering just how to explain to the puppy buyer who asks about the health in those bloodlines are. Here in Sweden we talk a lot about HD statistics, but I do not think we can call it statistics when only a few dogs are x-rayed in each litter. As breeders, it is up to us to get our puppybuyers to realize how important it is to get the dogs x-rayed. First and foremost for the dogs well and woe, but also because we breeders are to evaluate the health of our breeding. Today, we do not really know how HD inherited but I have told me that it did not look at only one individual's hips, but also on his/hers litter siblings hips. But how will this go when there are only a few in a litter who became x-rayed. I have only had two litters, but I have taken out an extra fee when I sold the puppy, which I paid back when it has been X-rayed and the plate is read at the Swedish Kennel Club.
In my first litter I had out of twelve puppies ten of them x-rayed. Six of them had dysplasia! Wich is 60% Out of this six four of them had D-Hips, two had C-Hips. I wrote an article about this in our Irish Setter Magazine, and got a lot of feedback, NOT from so many breeders but a lot from ordinary setterowners.

Regards, Kristina
I do feel very strongly about testing for HD and did so before taking my first IS-litter back in 1984. At the time there was said to be no problem in the breed (hence most people never bothered to X-ray).

Now of course (in Sweden) we have to X-ray and have either A or B if we want to register puppies, and that is all well and good, but there does seem ways around it even here. Not as far as breeding goes but as far as X-raying goes, just like Dee said, check first and THEN make up your mind if you want to send those plates or not.
I can well understand the workings behind this.
As soon as the results are published, they are out in the open and very public.
And who wants to stand there as the breeder of all those HD-dogs?

So, sadly enough, by hiding results, we are destroying what we all want.

A healthy long-lasting setter.
Thanks Dee, Kristina and Ursula for joining in on this discussion and for sharing your thoughts.
I feel strongly about the subject, having experienced a 7 month old irish setter puppy suffering the pain of severe hip dysplasia and becoming aggressive towards other dogs. She learnt to associate other dogs with the pain caused when playing.

The inclusion of hip scores in the breed clubs yearbooks was a big step forward. But you are right, Dee, the breed mean score is still at 15 so there has been no great improvement as far as I know in the last years. I would not blame a high inbreeding coefficient as causing HD. Blame it on the lack of health checks, ie hip scoring.

As to the mode of inheritance of hip dysplasia, there was a very interesting article in last year's ISAE annual review of 2007, page 66. The following is quoted from Jerold S. Bell's article:

"Polygenic disorders have been difficult for breeders to manage. Examples are hip dysplasia, many congenital heart defects, and epilepsy. To manage them, they must be considered as threshold traits. A number of genes must combine to cross a threshold producing an affected individual. If phenotypically normal parents produce affected offspring, both should be considered to carry a genetic load that combined to cause the disorder.
Hip dysplasia is a classic example of a polygenically controlled hereditary disease... etc etc"

Traits with a simple recessive mode of inheritance are much more easily identified and managed, as was the case with PRA rcd1 and CLAD.

I will try to scan the full article.
I do understand what you are saying but ''every journey starts with a single step'' lets not as you say get bogged down with ALL the problems, but they all need looking at, as for the HD problem as you say lets look at whole litter, but we see it over here, UK, that there are particular dogs used many times at stud with siblings that have horrendous hip scores but people just say, ''well the one that I am using has a good score'' It can be seen as a logical jump. if you use the dog that has a good score, then I am doing the rite thing. You may think that is wrong and I may think that is wrong, most on this site may think its wrong BUT there are many out there that don't give a dam because they think that they won't have to worry, it isn't going to affect them. No it affects all the pet owners out there, and we as breeders have a responsibility to them...


This is a copy of the article printed in the ISAE annual yearbook 2007.

Hopefully if you click on the text you can enlarge it enough to read...
Quite readable, Susan! But also showing that the subject is far more complex than just mating free with free...as we know.
If it was that easy, we would no longer have HD-problems at all in for instance Sweden where clear hips are a requirement for registration of offspring.
Yes, and sadly the complexity is most likely the reason why many people still argue that HD is 'not a genetic thing'...

You 'Swedes' ;-)) are very lucky to have your database - even if it is no guarantee for healthy dogs. But the information is there for people to see - and as Camilla says, there remains the responsibility of both bitch and stud dog owner of doing their homework.
I think a lot of the controversy arises due to the environmental factors ie, diet and exercise that can also affect the incidence of HD, possibly some breeders have used this as an excuse not to score , expense and fear of what they may find are more likely reasons. i also know of people that believe that if you are hip scoring then you must have a problem, they don't have a problem hence they have no need to score.
I had a young dog who developed an abnormal gait( full story on www.bardonhill.com Jan breed notes) we feared hips and he was xrayed, my vet could not find anything conclusive so referred me to an orthopaedic specialist, my dog was re x-rayed and had his hips palpated whilst under aneasthetic. Hips were totally rock solid no problem, he had a bow in his leg bone caused by excess protein in his diet. We had talked in detail about HD and the specialist told me there were more setters coming in with it and he said diet was a major issue, He recommended that from 6 mths the protein be 24% or less, you try finding a puppy of junior complete this low, very hard, solution to feed adult. He also commented that new puppy owners MUST be educated about over feeding and over exercise of young pups, not throwing balss or frisbies for them, not walking them for miles. allowing them to sleep etc. I have since opted to feed my dogs the raw meat and bones diet and wouldn't go back. my last litter did extremely well, good bone and grew very evenly they didn't have growth spurts or had knuckly joints that my friends pointer pups had. Please read my article it is something else to think about. Well done Susan for bringing this up when i have tried to speak to people about this over here a lot of then have just wanted to sweep it under the carpet.
Thank you Kirsty, that was very interesting reading!
Too bad that some people wont x-ray their dogs because of the expenses, I would surtenly not selling a puppy to that kind of people. Fear of what to find, Oh yes I have felt it many times, but for the dogs best I would do it!
Also to bad when it comes to discuss this serious defect, it suddenly gets very quiet...

Kind Regards, Kristina
Thanks Kirsty, I read your article and it certainly makes us reconsider the benefits of always wanting to feed 'the very best' - and sometime even adding extra calcium to promote healthy joints...! I was actually of the impression that loosing the correct balance between phosphor and calcium is said to be worse when it comes to the influence of nutrition than actually the protein level. But I am no scientist.

I have heard those words many times: "So-and-so has his dogs hip scored, I think he's got a problem..."
But I try to stay optimistic that one day ALL breeding stock will be scored and breeders will recommend their puppy buyers to do the same. I've found, like Kristina, that actually my puppy buyers are impressed and willing to have their dogs x-rayed so as to be doing something in the interest of the breed. I also refund 50% of the cost.

What I find interesting in the ISAE article is that "breeders are recommended not to overly protect or overly stress their dogs developement. You do not want to mask the expression of dysplasia causing genes in breeding stock".

Normal exercise will hardly cause HD unless there is already a genetic predisposition there in the first place... It is too easy for a breeder to say: Oh well, he's the only one in the litter, you must have done something wrong!
It is much harder to accept responsibility.
A quickie answer between baby bottles!
Since a few years already I put the pups on 'Adult' food at 4months, less protein; and mine now get only half biscuit food and half meat; I still use the complete food as that way they do get the vits, minerals etc that they need, so not having to supplement; as usually when you give vits,calcium etc as supplements, well its hard to get the right dosage;
I always insisit that people don't over exercise! whether they listen or not is another matter; with my own young ones they get free running only, that way they stop themselves when tired; also I don't let the young ones run with the adults so as not to overdo it;
I do think that the vets could make a bit easier for the breeders by keeping the 'breeder' price low - in January I had 4 young dogs done at 210euro each, in all, with the commission price;

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