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  1. I'm very proud to report that the Colorado State University Veterinary Animal Welfare Judging Team took first-place in the veterinary division at the international Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC) in November. Colorado State University (CSU) began competing with an undergraduate and graduate team in 2012. For the past three years, CSU's Veterinary School has also participated. This year, I coached the veterinary team with a fellow veterinary student, Angela Varnum. 

     

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    The competition, in existence since 2002, has continued to grow and hundreds of undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students have competed. Increased participation is exciting as more students see the need to evaluate the complexities of animal welfare, including science, ethics, and philosophy. 

     

    In preparation for the contest we studied journals and brought in species experts for the six veterinary students who competed. Through our preparation, we learned more about the welfare of breeding dogs, laying hens, guinea pigs, and meat sheep. As the veterinary team coach, I integrated what I learned in my IPFD project, A Veterinarian's Role in the Ethics and Welfare of Breeding Dogs, into our preparation. The resources created through IPFD proved very helpful for the students. 

     

    More than 100 veterinary, graduate, and undergraduate students competed this year, representing 15 schools. The CSU Veterinary team competed against 9 other veterinary teams. CSU's graduate team also took first-place in the graduate division. 

     

    The competition is supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association. For more information and how to participate, please see the AWJAC's webpage. 

     

    Thanks again to the Skippy Frank Fund for supporting my IPFD project.

     

     

     

     

  2. Why is it so hard to engage breeders in breed club health initiatives?


    In September I had the pleasure of making a presentation to the Breath Health Coordinators of The Kennel Club, in the UK:  I asked them to share with me their biggest challenge relative to their work on the health of their breeds and with breed clubs.  Many said their greatest difficulty was getting members of breed clubs to engage actively in health-related efforts, specifically in sharing accurate data on the occurrence of health problems.  This problem has been raised by many breed clubs, in various countries.


    Why is this such a challenge?  Here’s a partial list that comes to my mind:

     

    - Denial – if we don’t talk about ‘it’ and don’t count ‘it’ maybe we can pretend the problem isn’t that bad.  funatdogevents1.png
    - Protecting my line, my brand – not wanting to admit that there are any problems in my dogs.
    - Afraid of the fall-out that might come with honesty; worse now with social media.
    - A feeling that others won’t be transparent, so why should I?
    - Wanting to celebrate the good aspects of the breed, of the dogs… to have fun with shows and breeding and not focus on the ‘negative’.


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    - Perhaps not understanding enough about health issues or recognising problems.

    - Frustrated with results of previous attempts?
    - Maybe it all just too overwhelming.
     

    I can really understand the desire to go to shows, have fun looking at beautiful dogs; to have puppies and enjoy them and that whole process.  But dog breeding should be seen as a great responsibility, not simply a right – not something to do just because you can.  And we should all think that beauty is not just skin deep – a truly beautiful dog / breed must be healthy and have good temperament, be free of issues compromising welfare and quality of life – and maybe even have a good chance at a long life.  


    With this attitude, there would be commitment to the tough stuff, not just the fun.  And understanding that the responsibility includes collaborative work with others to improve and maintain the health of the breed – health in its most holistic sense.  Collaborative is an important term here… none of this can be done by an individual – it has to be a collective group effort.  But then, data sharing, for example, must occur in a respectful, supportive – even compassionate – environment.


    But let’s face it… this is a somewhat idealistic picture.  Everyone is busy, could use some support and we all want to see results.  Is all this work paying off?

     

    What if you could find those working in other countries on the same issues?  What if you could share the load and have fun making a difference with other like-minded individuals?  What if you could help prevent someone from making the same frustrating mistakes you made?  And what if you could learn from others' successes and challenges?

     

    So… here’s what we are doing on DogWellNet.com.  Welcome breeders, health committee representatives and breed clubs to share information with us - e.g. on their breed, on health surveys and data collection efforts and to help pass it on to others who are interested.  We are also looking to share experiences and expertise - stories about successes and failures, what has worked and what has not.  We also will endeavour to connect those who share a breed, or interests or challenges from around the world.  Strength in numbers!

     

     At DogWellNet.com we can also provide restricted-access or open forums for discussions - by breed, by project, etc.  We can help you get talking internationally.  Collaborating and sharing with an underlying goal to support actions to enhance health and well-being.

     

    If you have material to share let us know!  If you have comments, we would love to hear them.

     

    In the Spotlight section of our latest Digest, see what breeds’ reps have joined us lately and also some of the great work being done.

     

     


     

  3. A walking test developed for brachycephalic dog breeds will be adopted by the Finnish Pug Dog Club. The Club has included the test in their requirements for breeding dogs. The requirement of passing the walking test will come into force when tests can be carried out all over Finland.

    The Finnish Kennel Club (FKC) and the University of Helsinki arranged a news conference and a colloquium for the breed clubs of the brachycephalic breeds earlier this week. Preliminary results on a study examining walking test results on Pugs and Bulldogs were presented. The results showed that the test is able to distinguish between good and bad breathers.

    The FKC and the University researchers will develop more detailed instructions concerning the performing of the test. The test is similar as the one used in the Netherlands for the Bulldogs. The dog will pass the test if he/she is able to walk 1000 meters at most 12 minutes and is also able to recover during the next 15 minutes.The test will become an official Finnish Kennel Club health test, and the results will be recorded in the FKC breeding database.

    Other breeds may be included in the test in the fall. At least French Bulldogs are participating, and interest has been shown in other breeds as well.

  4. Published a few months ago, a study of Marsden et al. (2016) used whole sequence data of 90 canids to investigate the importance of population bottleneck, inbreeding and artificial selection of the health of the dog.

     

    In order to investigate this issue, the authors compared sequences from breed dogs, village dogs, and gray wolves, measuring (i) the proportion of amino acid changing variants, as an indicator of genetic load, and (ii) the number of Mendelian disease genes, considering genes already identified in dogs and human. Several interesting results were found.

     

    Based on their measurement of amino acid changing variants (corresponding in general to mutations with deleterious effects), it has been estimated that dogs carry between 2 and 3% more deleterious alleles than wolves, which is comparable to the genetic load in the non-African human population (around 1-3%). This seems surprising, as dog breeds may appear to have undergone more severe bottlenecks during their demographic history than human populations. Also, the authors found that bottlenecks during domestication and breed creation were more responsible of the current genetic load in dogs than recent inbreeding.

     

    On the other hand, it appears that genomic regions under selection (also called selective sweeps), were enriched in disease-related genes. This enrichment could be either explained by the fact that genes controlling artificially selected traits in dogs could also confer Mendelian diseases, or to a linkage between genomic regions where disease genes and genes under selection are.

     

    On the basis on these different results, the authors concluded that artificial selection incidentally reduced dog fitness. Also, given the fact that repeated population bottlenecks and small effective population size seemed to have more impact on accumulation of weakly deleterious variation than recent inbreeding (i.e., mating between close relatives), the focus should be more on maintaining large population size, than avoiding inbreeding.   

     

     

    Given the number of studies that showing the impact of recent inbreeding of fitness and selected traits in dog (Ólafsdóttir and Kristjánsson, 2008; Urfer, 2009, Leroy et al. 2014) or other domestic species (Leroy 2014), I would nevertheless disagree with this last recommendation. It would be therefore be interesting to investigate why the results of this genomic study differ from more phenotype-oriented ones. There are several potential explanations, one being that the traits investigated in those latter studies are under different genetic mechanisms that the one studied here. In any case, we may expect that further studies will confirm, refute or further clarify these first interesting results.

     

    References

    Leroy, G. 2014. Inbreeding depression in livestock species: review and meta-analysis. Animal Genetics 189, 177-182.

    Leroy G., Phocas F., Hedan B., Verrier E., Rognon X. 2015. Inbreeding impact on litter size and survival in selected canine breeds. The Veterinary Journal.

    Marsden, C. D., Ortega-Del Vecchyo, D., O’Brien, D. P., Taylor, J. F., Ramirez, O., Vilà, C., ... & Lohmueller, K. E. 2016. Bottlenecks and selective sweeps during domestication have increased deleterious genetic variation in dogs.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(1), 152-157.

    Ólafsdóttir, G.Á., Kristjánsson, T., 2008. Correlated pedigree and molecular estimates of inbreeding and their ability to detect inbreeding depression in the Icelandic sheepdog, a recently bottlenecked population of domestic dogs. Conservation Genetics 9, 1639-1641.

    Urfer, S.R., 2009. Inbreeding and fertility in Irish Wolfhounds in Sweden: 1976 to 2007. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 51, 21.

  5. IPFD People Out and About

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    patricianolson
    Latest Entry

    By patricianolson,

    IPFD Board Member Dr. Patricia Olson was the keynote speaker at the Inaugural One Health Program at Midwestern University on October 8, 2015 (Downer’s Grove, Illinois). 

    Midwestern University also has one of the newest veterinary schools in the U.S. (Phoenix, Arizona).  Physicians were paired with veterinarians to deliver lectures on obesity, pneumonia, osteochondritis dissecans and epilepsy.  Dr. Olson’s lecture was on collaborative research, using the clues from animals to help advance both human and animal health/welfare. 

    See the pdf of her thought-provoking talk here: 

     

     

     


     

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    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.

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    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.

     

     

     

     

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

     

     

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    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

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    gallery_2_6_3978.thumb.png.c634dcbb47849In June of 2014, the OFA Board of Directors voted unanimously to become a founding member of the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD). With the majority of the founding members made up of national kennel clubs, the OFA is somewhat unique as a non-profit foundation. So why the decision to support the IPFD as a founding member?
    Overwhelmingly, it was the commonality in the two organizations’ missions, and the belief that the OFA could both contribute to and benefit from the collaboration.
    The mission of the OFA is “to improve the health and well-being of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease.” The OFA achieves its mission through four specific objectives:

    • To collate and disseminate information concerning orthopedic and genetic diseases of animals.
    • To advise, encourage and establish control programs to lower the incidence of orthopedic and genetic diseases.
    • To encourage and finance research in orthopedic and genetic disease in animals.
    • To receive funds and make grants to carry out these objectives.

    The mission of the IPFD is to facilitate collaboration and sharing of resources to enhance the health, well-being and welfare of pedigreed dogs and all dogs worldwide.
    Most individuals involved in canine health understand that our issues are not constrained by borders. Internationally, we face the same challenges, whether breed specific health improvement strategies, discussions regarding phenotypic extremes, debates on genetic diversity within closed populations, harmonization of various health screening protocols, validation of genetic tests and laboratories, or the host of regulations which can impact dog breeders and animal welfare both positively and negatively.
    The OFA believes the IPFD and the new DogWellNet.com platform provides the first and best opportunity to advance early international discussions to a plan of action. We are pleased to be involved with the IPFD at its inception, look forward to working with the other members, and mostly look forward to our combined efforts leading to healthier dogs tomorrow.

  • Dog Health Workshop

  • Our Partners
    • The Norwegian Kennel Club (NKC) was founded in 1898, and is the largest organisation for dog owners in Norway.

       

      Website: http://web2.nkk.no/en/
      Norwegian Kennel Club Blog at DogWellNet: - under construction -

    • The Fédération Cynologique Internationale is the World Canine Organisation. It includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges.

       

      The FCI has five sections: Europe, The Americas and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, Middle-East and Africa.

       

      Website: http://www.fci.be/en/Presentation-of-our-organisation-4.html

       

      FCI Blog at DogWellNet: - under construction -

       

    • Agria Djurförsäkring (Agria Animal Insurance) is one of the world's leading animal insurers specialising in small animal and equine insurance. The company dominates Scandinavian pet insurance and has recognised the importance of working closely with the veterinary profession since insuring the first horse in 1890.

       

      Website:  http://www.agria.se/
      Agria Blog at DogWellNet: - under construction -

    • The French Kennel Club - SOCIÉTÉ CENTRALE CANINE (SCC) - was founded in 1881 as a non-profit organization by dog fanciers aiming to replenish native dog breeds and to bring in and establish foreign ones as well. The Société Centrale Canine became soon the reference canine organization, being recognized as a public interest organization by decree of the Council of State in April 1914. The SCC is proud to be one of the founders of the FCI in 1911, together with the Kennel Clubs from Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.

       

      Website: http://www.scc.asso.fr
      Follow this link for the French Kennel Club Blog at DogWellNet

    • The Irish Kennel Club promotes the responsible ownership and breeding of dogs throughout Ireland through education, registration, training and support schemes and events.

       

      Website: http://www.ikc.ie/
      Irish Kennel Club Blog at DogWellNet: - under construction -

    • The SKK - Svenka Kennelklubben (Swedish Kennel Club, in English), is Sweden's largest organisation dedicated to dogs and dog owners. We represent the interests of our 300,000 members – first time dog owners, experienced breeders, hunters, dog lovers, puppy buyers, exhibitors, agility competitors and many more.

       

      Website: http://www.skk.se/en/
      Follow this link for the SKK Blog at DogWellNet

      Follow this link for more information on the Swedish Kennel Club including our organizational structure, code of ethics, and more.

    • Suomen Kennelliitto (Finnish Kennel Club, in English) - Established in 1889, the Finnish Kennel Club is a nationwide expert organisation on canine matters. Its aim is to promote the breeding of pedigree dogs, support diverse dog-related activities and improve dog-keeping standards in Finland. FKC disseminates expert information and serves as a comprehensive lobbying organisation for Finnish and international dog activities.

       

      Website: http://www.kennelliitto.fi/en/home
      Finnish Kennel Club Blog at DogWellNet: - under construction -

    • Agria is one of the world’s leading animal insurers, specialising in small animal and equine insurance. Founded in Sweden over 120 years ago, Agria came to the UK in 2009 and is now a prominent feature of the UK pet insurance industry. In the UK, Agria insures cats, dogs and rabbits.

    • Founded and originally incorporated as a private not for profit foundation in 1966, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary. Its initial mission: To provide radiographic evaluation, data management, and genetic counseling for canine hip dysplasia.

       

      While the OFA continues to focus on hip dysplasia, today’s OFA Mission, “To improve the health and well being of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease,” reflects the organization’s expansion into other inherited diseases and other companion animals such as cats.

       

      Website: http://www.ofa.org/index.html
      OFA Blog at DogWellNet: - under construction -

    • The Kennel Club is the largest organization in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Its objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners.

       

      Website: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk
      Kennel Club Blog at DogWellNet: - under construction -

    • The VDH - Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen (German Kennel Club in English) is the foremost organisation representing the interests of dog-owners throughout Germany – the first address to find out everything there is to know on the subject of life with dogs, on dog sports and on dog breeding. As an umbrella organisation for its 175 member clubs the VDH today represents more than 650,000 members.

       

      Website: http://www.vdh.de/en/home/
      VDH Blog at DogWellNet: - under construction -

       

      Also see the: Rasselexikon (BREEDOPEDIA) - http://www.vdh.de/welpen/rasse
      A comprehensive online reference of 343 breeds including a detailed description of each breed which covers the general appearance, the character, the history and coat. Some breed profiles contain a video presentation (in German). In addition: the Breedopedia includes addresses of VDH member clubs and breeders with VDH-seal of approval. The breed listing is alphabetical and a specific breed search function is available.