Exclusively Setters

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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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Is this the one you meant Ursula? This is from the belgian irish setter website. I don't think it came from me originally, as the swiss figures are not correct... our system is also based on A B etc.
That is the one I ment, I could not make head or tail out of the canadian one as it did not have the "excellent" compared to anything else...although the one you posted, Susan is slightly out of date. Sweden is also using the FCI-grading now.
But it DOES compare the A-B-C-system to "excellent" etc.
OFA is actually an American registry but many of us in Canada use it. In Canada we also have the Ontario Veterinary College (Guelph) registry. They just recently put their database online but it is depending on owner permission and there are few dogs in the registry at this point. I tried to add two of my own dogs that were certified through Guelph back in the 80's but they were not able to add them right now, they said maybe in time they could add older results. So because of the newness and incompleteness of OVC's online database, I am using OFA for my dog's certifications. There is also the incentive to get multiple tests done so dogs can be CHIC registered.

Makes me very sad, seeing some breeders taking huge risks when mating bitches with studdogs that have been involved with several cases of bad hips.Not just C or D but so bad as E and young dogs have been put to sleep because of it. Just wonder how someone can with this knowledge take such risk? Have been there myself and would never, ever even think about this seeing how much pain it can cause to the dog and the owner. Just wonder where the morality has gone?
I wonder if part of the problem stems from a view of "out of sight, out of mind." Unless a dog is actually symptomatic for HD, some people might be fooled into thinking all is well - and therefore not bothering to get the hips checked. And there are plenty of dogs with terrible scores who really never present with clinical signs of HD, or who don't present until old age takes its toll, and by then, the dog might have been bred many times. This is of course bad management on behalf of any breeder. How can one claim to have the breed's best interests at heart, and not check their breeding stock for every known problem?

I think it also pays to realise that ANY score beyond 0:0 is HD...the severity of the diagnosis depends on the extent to which the head of the femur sits outside of the hip, and the hip itself doesn't conform to the required shape. We can and should be be proud of GOOD scores, scores that are lower than the average, and we should aim to reproduce these low scores in every puppy...but we should never fail to lose sight of the fact that any score beyond 0 is proof of an imperfect hip.

I doubt a single gene will ever be found to be responsible for HD. The fact that two dogs with excellent scores can produce a pup with bad hips means that there is more at work than one solely-responsible gene. Polygenetics, diet, environment, nurture...all go into producing - and definitely exascerbating - the potential for a problem in any given dog. I think perhaps our quest to find the "responsible genetics" is potentially damaging, as it detracts from the search for other causes for the problem. Taking a leaf from Rachel Paige Elliot's teachings (thanks Myra for putting me onto her wonderful work!), perhaps we should be looking at the conformation of the Irish rear as a whole? Perhaps the angle of the pelvis is a factor? Perhaps the breed's slightly sloping topline is at fault? Who knows? But waiting for a magic pill to take the problems away is not conducive, IMHO, to an extensive search for a whole solution.

I also find it interesting that all the focus in the breed is on HD. Yes, this has been the problem to date. But without breeders also looking at elbows, how will we ever know if a problem is developing? When I had my dog scored, I was told not to bother looking at elbows as "there is no problem in the breed." Really? How do we know if we don't keep an eye on it? All it takes is for one dog (or bitch) with bad elbows to be used extensively, and suddenly, there's another problem...and no one will know about it because no one is looking at elbows. Perhaps this is paranoia or ignorance talking. But I'd rather be accused of paranoia than of putting another problem into the breed.




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