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  • Brenda Bonnett

    COVID-19 - a novel experience for dogs and people

    By Brenda Bonnett

    Sources of accurate and relevant COVID-19 information for your dog, your puppies and you. In the face of the great uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on pets and pet owners, many veterinary and regulatory organizations have been providing excellent information and advice, as have kennel and breed organizations.  It is important to remember that recommendations and restrictions vary depending on location and owners need to access and follow local recommendations, especially as t

Our community blogs

  1. Bruun, C. S., Fredholm, M., Proschowsky, H. F., & Sandøe, P. (2023). Mapping of initiatives to prevent inherited diseases and exaggerated phenotypes in dogs. Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

    PDF Link:

    (Internal: Rapport_om_avl_af_racehunde_Jan_23.pdf)


    The aim of this report is to describe initiatives – and when possible also the effects of these initiatives - to prevent inherited diseases and extreme phenotypes in dogs: research-based initiatives, initiatives taken by the breeding organizations, initiatives to inform and influence dog buyers, and legislative initiatives..."

    A concise Summary of the research is available.

    Initiatives exist at many levels to address appropriate evidence-based management of dogs - acknowledgment of, understanding and perspectives on breed-specific inherited disease in dogs is needed in order for breeders, judges, buyers, owners and vets to realistically act consciously within the bounds of their unique roles in the larger realm of keeping and seeing to dog's best interests and welfare.


    IPFD's longtime collaborator, Ian Seath, recently posted a Best of Health article - Dog Health Improvement – what’s working? – my “Best of Health” article for April 2023 | ( Ian's article offers comments on the Mapping of initiatives to prevent inherited diseases and exaggerated phenotypes in dogs research paper.  Ian's perspective and observations, gained as a dog breeder and a UK club-based health manager, a Royal Kennel Club Board member, lecturer and breeding strategy expert, have lead him to conclude human behavioral change and perhaps creating a roadmap for various stakeholders are important considerations to making progress.


    We encourage reading of the Summary, Ian's article and the full paper.


    From... Mapping of initiatives to prevent inherited diseases and exaggerated phenotypes in dogs

    "Focus and methods

    Following a brief introduction to the historical background of the problems that we are still seeing in some breeds, in this report we describe and examine the effect of the following types of initiative designed to curb the negative consequences of dog breeding:

    • research initiatives,
    • initiatives within the dog breeding community,
    • initiatives to inform and influence the prospective dog owners and
    • legislative initiatives. We cover a number of western countries.

    This report is based on

    1.  legal documents;
    2.  documents from Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), and also from the Danish and other national kennel clubs, Animal Welfare organizations and other relevant stakeholders links to which are typically found on the organizations’ webpages; and
    3. the scientific literature. Moreover, interviews were also conducted with stakeholders in Norway and the Netherlands."





  2. IPFD - non-political and evidence-based

    The International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) is a not-for-profit organisation leading a global, multi-stakeholder effort to improve the health, well-being, and welfare of dogs.

    We are an evidence-based, non-political, independent organisation that gathers, presents, and promotes issues on dog health and welfare.

    Sharing and exchange

    We are a large, diverse community whose members benefit from shared discussions and the exchange of information and experience.

    For example, there has been a wave of legislative action in many European countries regarding pedigree dog breeding. Together, we are helping ensure that decision makers are working with the best available information and support our mutual commitment to responsible dog breeding.

    And we believe that responsible dog breeding means taking full responsibility for canine health and welfare – ensuring breed-specific and more broad issues are all recognized and effectively addressed. IPFD is uniquely positioned to facilitate this process.  IPFD has been steadily compiling breed-specific management strategies and breed expert recommendations for owners and breeders as well as, resources to support veterinary-client communication.

    Practical tools

    Members of our community have developed various tools and practices to promote dog health. By sharing these practices, they can benefit from and support each other's work. For example:

    Our Partner kennel clubs have also breeding databases with various population statistics. For example Avelsdata (Sweden), Koiranet (Finland), LOF Select (France).

    On DogWellNet, we have:

    These resources, and others on, can be used by kennel and breed clubs to develop national health strategies.

    We also offer advice to our members on health screening, genetic testing, and breeding strategies. And we frequently profile the good work that our Partner kennel clubs are doing.

    Join us!

    We stand ready to lead, support, and promote healthy pedigree dogs together with any kennel club that is committed to doing the work needed. By joining us, you will demonstrate your commitment to maintaining and improving the health of dogs. You will show that you are a forward-thinking organisation working for the benefit of dogs.

    We welcome you to join us!


    Contact Us

    Marc Ralsky CEO -
    Aimée Llewellyn-Zaidi, HGTD Project Director -
    General inquiries -


    IPFD Contributing Partners:

    2023 partners.png

  3. Coefficient of Inbreeding vs. Genetic Diversity Level in Greyhoundsgreyhoundicon.PNG

    Coefficient of Inbreeding vs. Genetic Diversity Level in Greyhounds-update_2019.pdf

    IPFD Board member and veterinarian Barbara Thiel shared an English translation of this article which appeared in The Greyhound Show blog. The article includes a discussion of data available from the MyDogDNA on genetic diversity measurements in greyhounds - greyhound breeders are encouraged to read this document to gain perspective.

    Ideas presented on making assessments of genetic diversity are potentially useful considerations applicable to other breeds, i.e. ancestor loss and COI.


    Related material:

    See Brenda's blog:  Genetic Diversity: The Big Picture and Challenging Issues




  4. Working together: dog breeders, researchers, veterinarians, and kennel clubs have developed a truly international screening scheme for respiratory function. 

    UPDATE: 5/25/2023

    The OFA - just published info on participating in the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme  - see their Overview at - includes an event planning guide and instructions/rfgs forms.


    On 20 January 2023, I had the privilege of attending the Rose City Classic Dog Show, which included the North American launch of the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme (RFGS), colloquially known as the Cambridge BOAS scheme. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is licensed by The Kennel Club in the UK, to administer the scheme and train new assessors. The scheme is currently offered formally to the British Bulldog, Pug, and French Bulldog, but other brachycephalic breeds are able to participate. Participation is quick, easy, and painless for the dog. 

    This scheme is many years in the making, and is an excellent example of collaboration between dog breeders, researchers, and kennel clubs working together to make steps towards addressing a complex and challenging health condition. Owners who participate in the scheme benefit from immediate information on key areas associated with risk of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) for their dog, as well as information for selecting breeding stock. They also directly contribute to a growing body of international data that supports genetic and veterinary researchers work to improve risk assessments.  

    Basic Steps of the Scheme:

    1.    Owners fill in a short survey

    2.    A brief physical examination of the dog, while calm, to establish a baseline

    3.    Dog has a brisk 3-minute walk (not running)

    4.    A post-walk assessment to compare to the baseline

    5.    Dogs are given a grade 0-3, with 0 being lowest risk and 3 being highest. Data is recorded, and in many cases available to view online. 



    Above: The dog is assessed in a quiet and relaxing space, with their owner. The specially trained assessors, all veterinarians, look at the nares (nostrils) and listen to the dog breathing. 


    Above: The screening session is recorded, along with data on the breathing. Standardized scoring cards are used to assess the nares. 

    Not pictured: Dogs undergo a timed 3-minute walk around a standard show ring. Dogs are not encouraged to run, but simply to walk at a reasonable, quick pace. 

    During my visit, I watched several dogs undergo the assessment. Speaking to the owners, the most common reasons they wanted to participate was to demonstrate that using the scheme was the right thing to do for the breed, to help grow awareness and use of the scheme, and as part of pre-breeding assessments. The assessors on the day had a steady stream of French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Pugs, and some Boston Terriers. While at the moment the screening scheme is designed for French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, and Pugs, other brachycephalic breeds can utilize the scheme, gaining valuable information and contributing to research. I witnessed many owners who had dogs scoring Grades 0-1 (the lowest risks), both in young and older dogs. 

    It will take time to track how use of this scheme reduces the risk of BOAS in future generations of dogs, but at the very least the consistency in the data collection and the ability to identify higher-lower risk dogs to breeders is valuable and an important resource to brachycephalic breeds. 


    Accessing the RFGS screening scheme

    The scheme is available in the UK, and USA. The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) also supports this screening scheme. Currently there are 11 countries currently offering the scheme: Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland. 8 more countries are in process for 2023. 

    More information on the scheme:

    UK: The Kennel Club and University of Cambridge's Respiratory Function Grading Scheme

    FCI Countries: Brachycephalic breeds' health: agreement between the Kennel Club (UK) and the FCI

    North America: 


    The Kennel Club grading scheme details:




    The views and opinions expressed by the authors and those providing information or comments on this website are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) or
    We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

  5. Pandemic Puppies - Research Confirms the Challenges


    The first phase of the Pandemic Puppies 2020 project has led to one publication already, with another two under review.

    PACKER, R. M. A., BRAND, C. L., BELSHAW, Z., PEGRAM, C. L., STEVENS, K. B. & O'NEILL, D. G. 2021. Pandemic Puppies: Characterising Motivations and Behaviours of UK Owners Who Purchased Puppies during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. Animals, 11, 2500.


    As we have discussed previously (see 'Pandemic Puppies' and COVID-19: How to Navigate This Complex Issue) - as well as what is seen in articles on welfare and veterinary sites all over the internet - the benefits to humans of pet ownership during the pandemic is tempered by concerns for the animals, as people who were not previously thinking of getting a pet bought them on impulse.  They had more time on their hands...but they weren't thinking about what would happen when things changed in the future.  

    The research team for this article includes IPFD collaborators Rowena Packer and Dan O'Neill.  They are continuing with a further survey for UK Residents that can be accessed here.

    But this paper gives a clear indication that our concerns were justified, and that the situation for pandemic puppies is unfolding as predicted.


    The simple summary states:

    "Simple Summary: Widespread media reports suggest that unusually high numbers of the public purchased, or sought to purchase, puppies following the first ‘lockdown’ phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. This study aimed to explore this phenomenon by comparing the reasons why, the methods how, and by whom “Pandemic Puppies” were purchased during this period (from 23 March 2020 - 31 December 2020), and compare these responses with owners who purchased their dog during the same date-period in 2019. Valid responses were analysed from owners of 1148 puppies from 2019 and 4369 Pandemic Puppies. Key differences included Pandemic Puppy owners being more likely to be first-time dog owners, have children in their household, pay a deposit without seeing their puppy, collect their puppy from outside their breeders’ property, see their puppy without their littermates, and pay > £2000 for their puppy, compared with 2019 puppies. Over 1 in 10 Pandemic Puppy owners had not considered purchasing a puppy before the pandemic, while 2 in 5 felt their decision to purchase a puppy had been influenced by the pandemic, most commonly due to having more time to care for a dog. Changes in puppy purchasing during the pandemic raise a range of welfare concerns including relinquishment, behavioural problems and poor health. "

    The further statement: "Puppy owners...were less likely to seek out a breeder that performed health testing on their breeding dog(s) or view their puppy in-person, and were more likely to pay a deposit without seeing their puppy" confirms that all the worst practices of puppy acquisition were followed...and we can only wait and see whether this will end up with more challenges for the dogs in terms health and welfare and possible relinquishment.


    The pet industry has taken full advantage, and people have been helped.  But the challenge to the pets themselves is impacting veterinarians and having wider ramifications (see Trends in the Pet Industry - Interesting or Troubling?).  The fate of many of these dogs remains to be seen.


    Other relevant information:


  6. An outcome from the International Dog Health Workshop - Virtual, on Standardizing Genetic Testing, is to improve transparency on how genetic tests are performed - e.g. information on assays or other technical details. The primary focus of this was increasing transparency on where a linkage vs direct variant (mutation) test is being offered. 


    New HGTD Phenes resource:

    The phenes searchable database in HGTD has always provided genetic test provider (GTP)-specific information on how tests are undertaken, including the specific GTP-reported variants/mutations for each test they offer, especially where their test is different than the variants reported in the literature.

    The new option to include Assay/Test Information in the phenes database allows for comment not just specific to individual GTPs, and aims to add clarity where a test is exclusively linkage based, exclusively direct variant, or both. This should also improve transparency where we have reports of tests being performed as a linkage/markers tests by GTPs who are not participants in HGTD or who do not provide linkage/markers information to HGTD.


    Why would a linkage test be offered?

    A linkage or markers test may be the preferred test performance for a GTP for a number of reasons, including:

    • The direct variant(s) are difficult to assay or are part of a panel, and a linkage/markers assay is easier to perform consistently and robustly
    • The direct variant isn't known, and only a linkage/marker is available to test
    • The direct variant is patented or proprietary, and a linkage test is a way around this


    Why is it important to know if a test is a direct mutation or linkage test?

    While linkage tests are usually very accurate, generally, direct mutation tests are felt to be more robust so are often the preferred method of test performance by GTPs. Where a linkage test is used (for whatever reason), there may be an increased risk of false-results. This could explain why some owners have experienced different test results for the same genetic test, from different test providers. Knowing whether or not a test is performed as a direct mutation or as a linkage test can be helpful in increasing the confidence of a test result if there are concerns about accuracy. There can be many reasons a test result may appear to differ from the phenotype of a dog, however, so it is valuable to report to a genetic test provider when a test result is in question. It could be a testing error (including owner sampling errors), or that the phenotype is an unknown direct variant, variation on a known direct variant, or something else! In this way, we can work collaboratively to improve the robustness of genetic testing for everyone. It is worth noting that the majority of testing errors across all kinds of genetic tests are due to samples being incorrectly taken or submitted with the wrong dog details, which is why many GTPs offer to re-run a test where there are concerns about the result. 


    Additional Information:

    This week in HGTD: direct variant/mutation, linkage, and risk tests – what are they?



  7. National Kennel Clubs are major stakeholders in the governance and regulation of dog breeding. As such, they have been the targets of major criticism related to dog health issues. It is therefore interesting to investigate to what extent health and welfare is a priority for kennel clubs (KCs), and what are the capacities and actions implemented to deal with those issues.


    A survey was sent in 2017 to 40 KCs with 15 answers received from 11 European (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK) and 4 non-European countries (Australia, Mexico, Uruguay, and the USA) aimed at describing and comparing information across countries in dog breed health management (Wang et al. 2018).


    First, in order to determine the population of dogs under the responsibility of KC, the percentages of all dogs being registered as ‘pedigree’ dogs were estimated considering the 15 surveyed KCs, as well 35 other countries, using sources such as the FCI online statistics. Across countries, the average and median percentage of the entire dog population that were registered pedigree dogs, respectively was 20% and 14%.  However, there was a large variation across countries, with European Nordic countries showing, in general, a larger proportion of pedigree dogs (see Figure 1). This aspect is of importance, since it is expected that the responsibility toward general dog health, as well as the capacity to improve the situation, relates to the proportion of dogs that are at least to some extent under the influence of the KCs.


    When asked about the current challenges, KCs ranked exaggerated morphological features and inherited disorders as the most important issues, showing those two problems are now clearly identified as priorities (Figure 2). By contrast, issues such as economic constraints to breeding were rarely viewed as problematic for dog breeding. Kennel clubs also commented on challenges related to the difficulty to find balance between increased regulation and the risk of losing members; to achieve consensus and compliance of breeders and clubs toward breed health strategies; as well as lack of capacity regarding information provision and education.



    Surveyed countries showed great diversity in terms of information management, implementation of breeding strategies, recommendations, requirement, restriction and tools. Most KCs indicated that information on genealogies, breed standards and dog shows were recorded in their data base for most, if not all breeds; however, health information (e.g. screening examinations, genetic tests) was more sparsely recorded and provided to the public, both for breeds within countries and across countries (Figure 3). For instance, KCs from Austria, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, the UK and the USA provided health information status on pedigrees and in online data bases, but in general, not all breeds were covered. When considering implementation of breeding strategies, six countries indicated that there were no breeding strategies implemented by any breed clubs, while in three countries (Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands) it was reported that each breed club had its breeding strategy.



    Several countries indicated that they were planning to develop breeding tools and provide health information to users, and for instance, France and Belgium reported having ongoing work to develop tools to provide online pedigree with health information or estimate breeding values for complex disorders such as hip dysplasia.


    Although limited by the relatively low number of countries considered, this survey showed that despite large differences in their approach to breeding policies and management, the awareness to improve breeding and health of pedigree dogs was strong among the surveyed Kennel Clubs. The dog breeding world is increasingly global in scope.  The understanding of both the diversity of health initiatives and the potential for coordinated actions internationally is key to further efforts to promote dog health and welfare.


    There is probably still a lot of progress to be made in term of information provision and collection, as well as planning breeding strategies considering dog health. In particular, finding a consensus in terms of constraints and priorities for breeding, is expected to be particularly challenging for Kennel Clubs and breed clubs in order to implement those strategies. Although the situations differ across countries, exchanges of experiences may surely help to find the most adequate solutions toward improvement of health and welfare.




    Wang, S., Laloë, D., Missant, F. M., Malm, S., Lewis, T., Verrier, E., ... & Leroy, G. (2018). Breeding policies and management of pedigree dogs in 15 national kennel clubs. The Veterinary Journal.



  8. Hello all!


    Brenda’s blog gave a great overview of the American Kennel Club National Parent Club Canine Health Conference we attended earlier this month in St. Louis, Missouri. I am grateful for the sponsorship from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals provided to myself and the 31 other veterinary students in attendance.


    This conference, like the 3rd International Dog FullSizeRender 7.jpgHealth Workshop, was an opportunity to learn more about cutting edge research that is improving dog OFA Logo 2017.jpghealth. Topics were varied and included tick borne disease, epilepsy, lymphoma, and reproductive health. It was exciting to see my Colorado State University (CSU) Immunology professor, Dr. Anne Avery, present on her lymphoma research. 




    Right: View from the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch



    Veterinary Student Attendees at the AKC National Parent Club ConferenceAfter completing a CSU clinical orthopedics rotation a few weeks prior to the conference, it was especially interesting to hear what I had learned about Omega-3 fatty acids in my rotation be reiterated by presenter Dr. Wendy Baltzer from Massey University. Her Purina funded study described that a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids post-surgical correction of cranial cruciate ligament disease is helpful and results in less progression of arthritis and lameness.  

    I’m am looking forward to graduation in 9 months and continued  involvement in dog health. The opportunities I have received since first starting my IPFD project have been endless and I am very thankful for the community!


    Left: Veterinary Student Attendees at the AKC National Parent Club Health Conference

  9. Well, it's been 10 weeks... and I've learned quite a lot. I hope you have, too! As my project comes to an end, Nina and I wanted to give our viewers a big thank you. I hope you enjoyed this blog series and feel more confident about what your role is in solving antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We would also like to extend a huge thank you to the Skippy Frank Fund who sponsored this entire project, and a thank you to Dr. Jason Stull and Dr. Brenda Bonnett for being wonderful mentors every step of the way.


    It is important to keep in mind that science is an ever-changing field that is constantly updated with new material. For example there's a new study that just came out suggesting that not finishing a course of antibiotics may not cause resistance, which is contrary to the current belief. Here is the link to this article if you would like to read more about it. Even though this blog is over, I hope that you continue your AMR education as new scientific data arises. 


    To complete my summer project, I have constructed a poster that I will be presenting at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Research Day.

    Take a look!





    Here is the downloadable PDF version:

    IPFD Poster.pdf





    Be sure to keep checking for more information on dog health and wellness!




  10. The Finnish Kennel Club (FKC) has finished the protocol and the instructions for fitness (walk) testing of breeding dogs in brachycephalic breeds. The test is similar to the one used by the Dutch Kennel Club.


    Finnish test instructions have been developed by veterinarians doing research on BOAS. Their results concerning the Bulldog have already been published. The researchers are still continuing their research and testing Pugs and French Bulldogs, whose results will be published later.


    According to the Finnish guidelines, a dog gets an approved walk test result if he/she walks 1000 meters in 12 minutes or less, and recovers sufficiently from the walk within the recovery time. In the future, it is also possible to have different time limits for different breeds. The test result is failed if

    • The dog is, based on the veterinarian’s initial examination, showing signs of serious respiratory symptoms (including also severe hyperthermia).
    • The supervising veterinarian interrupts the test due to the dog’s serious respiratory symptoms.
    • The dog is not able to successfully complete the test and/or recover from it sufficiently within the required time.

    The FKC arranged the first pilot test in February, and the second pilot will be arranged in May. Also orientation for veterinarians will be held at that second pilot. After that, breed clubs are able to arrange the tests by their own.  The tests have to be carried out in accordance with the FKC's Guideline for walk tests, in order to get the test result recorded in the FKC breeding database.


    The FKC is following the development and use of different tests in other countries. It is also having close collaboration with the other Nordic Kennel Clubs on this subject. The aim is, in the long run, and with the help of accumulated experience, to develop the test further, to be as appropriate as possible.  

    UPDATED 7-15-2019

    All the information on the Finnish walk test can be found here.

    "Walk test

    The walk test is meant for short-muzzled (brachycephalic) breeds that have symptoms caused by upper respiratory tract disorders. These breeds include Pug, English Bulldog and French Bulldog. The dog's exercise tolerance and the ability to breathe normally are evaluated in the walk test and the clinical examination included in it. In the walk test, the dog must walk a certain distance in a defined maximum time and recover from the exercise within a defined time frame."

    Updated 2-18-2021 - See the 2-8-2019 FKC article

    The Finnish Kennel Club’s walk test helps eliminate dogs with severe breathing problems from breeding

  11. blog-0240470001433429240.png

    Once a year, in October, the SKK Breeding Committee organizes a weekend course for

    breeding officials based on the book Dog breeding in theory and practice by Sofia Malm (SKK genetic expert) and Åsa Lindholm.







    The Genetic Expert and The Breeding Consultant of the SKK Department for Breeding and Health are in charge of the course.




    The aim is to give breed clubs education and tools they need to work with breeding plans and breed-specific strategies.




    The contents of the course include basic genetics and guidance in how to conduct work at club level.




    There’s also a certain amount of self-directed studies.







    Every other year, in April, this education is held specifically directed to hunting dog breed clubs.



  12. blogentry-68-0-75520200-1425905164_thumb


    On the podium:

    1st : Meisterhaus Signet Higher'N Higer ; Breed: Basenji ; Owner: Lise DURLOT and Dimitri HEBERT ; Breeder: Brenda CASSELL and Tad BOOKS

    2nd : Fall In Love Forest Ohara Of Bloom White ; Breed : Samoyede ; Owner: Mira MITKOVA ; Breeder: Elisabeth FAUCON

    3rd : Eternal Drago Of Nordic Forest ; Breed : Siberian Husky ; Owner and breeder: Valérie CHARNEAU

  • Blogs Disclaimer
    The contents of these blogs are for informational purposes only and represent the opinion of the author(s), and not that of the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD). This is not intended to be a substitute for professional, expert or veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, providers, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on, or linked to from these blogs.

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