Advisory council experts report on priority problems

Created: 01/08/2012

THE DOG Advisory Council’s eight priority problems are discussed in detail in a new document.
  As reported in DOG WORLD last week, these priorities are ocular problems linked to head conformation; breathing difficulty linked to head conformation; syringomyelia and chiari-like malformation; idiopathic epilepsy; heart disease with a known or suspected inherited basis; breed-related and inherited skin conditions; limb defects including hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia; and separation related behaviour.
  The report discusses ‘irresponsible breeding and owning’ before moving to eyes, which  are covered by DAC chairman Prof Sheila Crispin. Among other recommendations she says breeders should avoid using dogs with exaggeration and that Standards should be kept under constant review. Judicious outcrossing should be considered as a ‘quick fix’, she said, and eye examination and tests should be routine for dogs used for breeding.

Head conformation

  Prof Dan Brockman writes about breathing difficulties linked to head conformation, and among his recommendations are that dogs with extreme conformation should not be bred from; Standards should conform to healthy conformational limits; outcross programmes could be used.
  Dr Clare Rusbridge writes about syringomyelia and chiari-like malformation and among other recommendations says breeders of dogs predisposed to the conditions should screen their stock and base their breeding choices on estimated breeding values; vets should be encouraged to submit pedigree information about dogs clinically affected with CM/SM to a central database.
  Dr Rusbridge also reports on seizures and epilepsy, saying that co-operation between breeders, breed clubs and researchers is ‘paramount’, and that monitoring of incidence and prevalence should be improved. Genetic factors involved should be identified, she said, so a DNA test can be developed.
  Dr Joanna Dukes-McEwan writes about heart disease ‘with a known or suspected inherited basis’, and stresses the importance of a primary veterinary examination before or after purchase of a puppy, so that both the new owner and the breeders can be suitably advised. She recommends heart testing and the recording of incidence.
  Dr Janet Littlewood reports on breed-related and inherited skin conditions, recommending that parents producing puppies with congenital inherited skin problems should be removed from breeding programmes.
  Limb defects, including hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, is covered by Prof John Innes, who says that screening programmes should be used and efforts continued to identify genetic association with the disorders.
  Dr Rachel Casey reports on separation related behaviour saying that the risks of this developing can be reduced by the breeder getting the puppy used to social isolation – at first momentary and building from there. New owners should be encouraged to do the same thing.
  Owners need to be aware that dogs showing separation related behaviours are distressed, rather than ‘naughty’ or ‘dirty’, she said.
  For the full report visit

‘Central issues’ glossed over by DAC report, says Kennel Club

  The KC said that while broadly welcoming the report, some key issues still needed to be addressed.
"We agree that the areas identified are significant problems, but we are concerned some central issues are glossed over, particularly regarding the conditions where puppies are reared and sold,” said spokesman Caroline Kisko.
  "We would hope to see much more emphasis in the future on the central role which irresponsible breeders play in perpetuating the vast majority of health and welfare problems that we see in dogs. We believe that by failing to recommend that people seek out an Assured Breeder if they want to find a breeder that adheres to all of the guidelines that the council sets out as best practice, the council has missed a golden opportunity to educate puppy buyers.
  "Despite the somewhat limited scope of this initial document, it is a good place to start and we are particularly pleased to see such a prominent section given to the importance of socialising puppies. The KC and Dogs Trust have already developed a Puppy Plan, which is being piloted by Assured Breeders, which aims to combat welfare concerns associated with behavioural problems caused by inadequate socialisation early in life.”
  "The council’s recommendations regarding the importance of breeders using health tests, of buyers going to responsible breeders and of breeding from healthy dogs are all crucial and underline the importance of the work that the KC is doing with the Animal Health Trust, the British Veterinary Association and others to develop health testing and to educate breeders and puppy buyers.

Welfare problems

  Turning to the eight problems, the KC said ocular and respiratory problems often related to physical conformation, which it recognised as serious welfare concerns.
  "In line with the council’s recommendations, and to ensure that dog shows are a positive force for change, dogs within the high-profile breeds most commonly associated with these problems, are already subject to a veterinary examination at KC championship shows, and if they show clinical signs associated with discomfort or pain they are excluded from the competition,” Mrs Kisko said.
  "Furthermore, our breed Standards are regularly monitored to ensure that they do not encourage exaggerations which are detrimental to health, which is recommended in the report. While the report recognises that many crossbreeds can suffer from the problems it outlines, including those related to conformation, this does not receive adequate prominence. In the KC’s view, it is the very absence of guidelines for how a crossbreed should look, and of a forum to monitor how it is developing – such as the show ring – that can cause problems in non-pedigree dogs…
  "We would gladly welcome the setting of anatomical conformation limits for brachycephalic breeds, if based on sound scientific research, and would support any moves in this direction. The KC also welcomes the use of outcrossing where scientific evidence shows that this is necessary for a breed; however, it also believes that there is much that can be done within breeds to make major conformational changes as has already been proven within certain breeds.

Responsible breeders

  "While we agree that breeders should avoid breeding from dogs that display gross exaggerations, it questions how this will be measured or regulated and argues that educating puppy buyers to go to responsible breeders who take steps to ensure the health and welfare of their dogs is the key requirement.”


Spotty Muldoon, 03/08/2012

I agree with the focus on early socialisation as a way of minimising behavioural problems. But there is a breeding component in there too. Nervous dogs should not be bred from in my opinion, and I particularly deplore the attitude that says a litter will calm a nervous bitch down.