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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

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  1. A Nordic collaboration study aimed to reveal if there is enough phenotypic and genotypic variation to breed for a change in anatomy and predisposition for Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

    The study gathered data and samples from each Scandinavian country on a wide variety of individual dogs of four brachycephalic breeds – English bulldog, French bulldog, Pug and Boston terrier.

    Here's the summary of the study:

    Lack of success in reduction of illness related to a brachycephalic constitution have been proposed to be due to lack of genetic variation (Pedersen et al 2016). Crossbreeding with non-brachycephalic breeds is repeatedly proposed to handle that but is neither practiced to any greater extent nor favoured by many breeders.
    A multicentre Nordic study with data and samples from each Scandinavian country on a wide variety of individual dogs of the brachycephalic breeds – English bulldog, French bulldog, Pug and Boston terrier aimed to reveal if there is enough phenotypic and genotypic variation to make it possible to select for a change in anatomy and predisposition for Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

    Initially “Breed” -gatherings of as many individuals as possible in these breeds at various locations to attract registered as well as non-registered individuals nationally and internationally aimed to be obtained reflecting the within breed variations. Later results from BOAS testing have served the same purpose.

    Results: Several dogs already operated on mainly nostrils. Almost all considered healthy by their owners but affected by heat and variable but high Body Condition Scores in many dogs. Variations within and between breeds in clinical signs, in shape of nostrils, in length of nose, in width of neck, in cranio-facial ratio and a verification of earlier noted correlations between conformation and clinical signs.

    You can download the whole report as a pdf file below.

    BOAS invention study Nordic Countries.pdf

  2. Cavalier.jpgNorway's Supreme Court has upheld the order of the Court of Appeal, which ruled that it is contrary to Section 25 of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act to breed the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

    For the English Bulldog, the judgment requires health screenings for the breeding dogs. The requirements are identical to those of the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK) today, so for the organized breeding of the English Bulldog, the verdict has no new consequences.

    English Bulldog.jpg"This is a recognition of the work NKK has done over a long period of time with health surveys and managed breeding to reduce the risk of disease and suffering. The judgment confirms that we can continue to breed the English Bulldog within the framework we do today. It is about knowledge-based, responsible and organised breeding, where we constantly work for healthier dogs," says chairman of NKK's Executive Board, Nils-Erik Haagenrud.

    Haagenrud says that NKK must now thoroughly study the verdict regarding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and discuss with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority how it should be interpreted, also how to find out whether the dogs can be used in a crossbreeding project that is already planned. It is also important to emphasize that it is not prohibited to own or import Cavaliers.

    Read more here: English Bulldogs can still be bred




    The Norsk Kennel Klub (Norwegian Kennel Club) is a Contributing Partner of the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD).






  3. Finland is a pioneer in cross breeding!

    See the press release: The Finnish Kennel Club accepted separate cross breeding projects for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and French Bulldogs


    "The Board of the Finnish Kennel Club accepted cross breeding projects for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and French Bulldogs in their meeting on 15 June. In the same meeting, a decision was made to start a new cross breed register where the crossbred dogs will be registered in."

    The FKC's Scientific Commission and the breed clubs have carefully prepared the crossbreeding programs.

    The press release includes selected breeds for the outcrossings for each breed - the choices based upon the breed's behaviour and character, and that the dogs are not known to have same or similar health issues.

    Registration and exhibition information is available - "A new cross breed register enables crossbred dogs to participate national shows subject to the Finnish Kennel Club".










  4. animal welfare - the human element.pngThis week is the anniversary of the First International Conference on Human Behaviour Change for Animal Welfare that took place in the UK 2016. All the talks are on their YouTube channel.

    See our article following the Conference.

    I was honoured to give a presentation - and in that process to learn about the knowledge, methodology, and tools available from human behaviour change theory and practice to help us.

    My talk is posted on the HBC's YouTube channel under the title:  How Beliefs and Attitudes about Dog Health and Welfare Limit Behaviour Change.


    In fact, the entire title was: 

    Don't Know or Don't Care? How Beliefs and Attitudes about Dog Health and Welfare Limit Behaviour Change.  

    See the Video Presentation and article/PDF presentation HERE

    and the video (below) is also available on YouTube...


    I am in general not a fan of watching videos of myself.  But this is a good talk - helped by the fact it was prescribed to be only 15 minutes long!

    However, reviewing this talk I was struck by something that was equally positive and extremely disappointing.

    The material in this talk is as relevant today as it was 4 years ago.  

    Perhaps even more so.  We are coming out with more material this week on challenges around brachycephalic dogs that will highlight the pros and cons of legislative actions, the diversity in opinions, even from those within the world of pedigree dogs, from total denial to intense concern.  There will be more talk about complexity, and the role of various stakeholders , e.g. veterinarians -- are they really doing all they can?

    I know that 4 years is not very long in terms of change for people or dogs.  But we have also recently completed a chapter for an upcoming textbook and that work highlighted that problems in flat-faced dogs have been discussed at least since the late 1960's.  So that is not 4 years, it is over 50 years.  There has been a phenomenal increase in evidence for the prevalence and high risk of health issues, many of which incur welfare concerns, in the worst affected breeds. This has intensified in the last 10 years as the popularity of these breeds has increased, and then skyrocketed (see our Get a GRIHP! article on French Bulldogs).  There have been many creative attempts to educate the public, and research to understand attachment to these dogs.

    Given all that.. I am sadly concerned that:

    • There may still be some 'Don't Know' people out there... and we can continue trying to reach them. 
    • But, unfortunately there are some people, some very loud on social media, some in positions of influence in the dog world, who are displaying behaviour that comes across as  'Don't Care'. 
    • At least it seems that they don't care ENOUGH about the dogs to be willing to undertake the human behaviour change needed to sustain a healthy future for the breeds they 'love'.

    We have to find a way to help people understand that admitting there are problems is the first step towards resolving them.



  5. 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




  6. 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.

  7. 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?



  8. 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.



  9. 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

  10. 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!




  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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