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News and information about the work of the FKC in enhancing genetic health and welfare of dogs

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Finnish walk test for brachycephalic breeds ready

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

Katariina Mäki

Katariina Mäki


Finnish Pug Dog Club to adopt walking test for breeding dogs

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.

Katariina Mäki

Katariina Mäki


Finnish dog breed populations improving their health - hip dysplasia

In 2004, I got my PhD on the subject 'Breeding against hip and elbow dysplasia in dogs'. My conclusion was that it is possible to breed against these traits and that not much has happened though. The reason was that no systematic selection has in practice been made against these defects.   Now, 11 years later, I am glad to see that Finnish breeders have managed to achieve genetic as well as phenotypic gain. St Bernards have also increased their lifespan, as their health has been improving.   The Finnish Kennel Club started to estimate breeding values (EBVs) for hip and elbow dysplasia in 2002 for 11 breeds, and during the years, new breeds have been included. At the moment somewhat 55-60 breeds have EBVs for hip dysplasia.   It is possible to achieve genetic gain if the breeding dogs are systematically chosen from the better half of the population. There is no need to breed only from animals from the very best hips; just those that are better than the breed average. Progress will be slower, but doing it this way helps maintain genetic diversity.

Katariina Mäki

Katariina Mäki


More on crossbreeding in Finland

More on crossbreeding in Finland Pinscher
          Kromfohrländer       Due to interest in my previous post on Instructions for Crosses Between Breeds , I have been asked to provide some more information. At the moment, we have two crossbreeding projects going on in Finland: one in the Pinscher and another in the Kromfohrländer.
The crossbred progeny are always registered in the appendix, ER-register, for three generations. From the 4th generation onward the progeny is registered in the normal, FI-register. The Pinscher is being crossed with the Schnauzer and the FKC has granted permission for four F1-litters. Three of them have been made so far (the project started in the 1990s). Here’s the newest report of the Pinscher project: http://www.elisanet.fi/yarracitta/CrossbreedingsENfinal.pdf or see the article under Crossbreeding on DogWellNet. Kromforhländer has been crossed with three different breeds (Standard Poodle, Parson Russell Terrier and Tibetan Terrier) in order to keep the breed as diverse as possible and not to take it in the direction of one foreign breed only. I am waiting for some written info about the project (in English) and will try to provide this – and pictures – in the future. We have also made three other cross-bred litters:
Barbet with Spanish Waterdog
Barbet with Pont-Audemer Spaniel
Brasilian Terrier with Danish-Swedish Farm Dog (info coming on these litters as well) (Note that the breed in which the progeny is registered is mentioned first)   The main challenge with crossbreeding in Finland is this:
Many breeders here would like to crossbreed but, we always ask the opinion of the country of origin, and we would prefer to get their support. We have had problems with this – sometimes having no response to inquiries to the national kennel club. In at least one case, a request to the breed club in the country of ownership – in a breed with well-known heath issues – provoked the response that: a breeder who did any cross would have their membership from the club revoked and their stud dogs removed from the club registry. So we are very grateful for Germany and France for being so open-minded and giving our inquiry a positive feedback .   From our perspective at the FKC, we do not understand why people are so afraid of breed crosses. After all, that is how most breeds have been developed in the first place. We are just taking a short step back, in order to then move forward with healthier dogs, with appropriate temperament who are able to do the activities for which the breed is intended. We know that we might get some undesirable surprises with crossbreeding, but that might happen in “purebred” breeding as well. Of course, care should be taken in choosing the foreign breed and the individuals, as well as in deciding which crossbred dogs to use in further breeding, but this should, again, apply to any breeding, whether purebred or crosses.

Katariina Mäki

Katariina Mäki


Instructions for Crosses Between Breeds

The Finnish Kennel Club has written instructions for breed crossing. The instructions are of help for breeders and breed clubs in planning, applying and monitoring breed crosses and crossbred individuals. This information is presented in The Finnish Kennel Club: Crosses between Breeds on DogWellNet.com in the Breeding for Health section: sub.section Crossbreeding.  

Katariina Mäki

Katariina Mäki


Fitness examination being prepared for Bulldogs

The English Bulldog Association of Finland (SEBY) and the Finnish Kennel Club have launched an extensive health-promotion project for the Bulldog. Among other things, the aim is to develop an examination that scrutinises an individual's fitness for breeding – and it would be the first examination of this kind in Finland. The chairman of the English Bulldog Association of Finland, Pasi Apajalahti, says breed enthusiasts are aware of the need to improve the health situation of the English Bulldog. Particular attention should be focused on its breathing, build and ability to breed naturally. The Finnish Kennel Club guidelines state that a dog, which is used for breeding, must be able to move and breathe easily. The breathing of a breeding dog must not be clearly audible or laboured.
In addition to these guidelines, SEBY and the Finnish Kennel Club have launched a more extensive health-promotion project for the breed. A fitness examination for the breed is being designed in cooperation with the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine's Equine and Small Animal Medicine Department. It will serve to gather information and examine a dog's build and bone structure (e.g. elbow and hip joints, knees) as well as its respiratory tract. The examination would also measure the dog's overall fitness and review the availability of healthy individuals for breeding.
Same kind of a health examination was adopted in the Netherlands last June. The intention is that only dogs, which pass the examination, will be used to produce registered pups. Health data will also be collected via a health survey and a puppy survey to which the association's member breeders shall commit to. “The health situation of Bulldogs in Finland will be surveyed comprehensively,” say Pasi Apajalahti and Finnish Kennel Club’s breeding expert Katariina Mäki.   Respiratory tract examinations since 2011

In cooperation with several veterinary clinics, SEBY commenced a respiratory tract study in 2011. The study is being coordinated by the Lahden eläinlääkäriasema clinic and it is headed by veterinarian Seppo Lamberg. About 30 Bulldogs have participated in the study so far.

The study has revealed various upper respiratory tract problems. The respiratory tract examination is being developed further so that it can be incorporated into the future Bulldog fitness examination and perhaps become an official health examination that affects puppy registration.   Exaggerated features are not favoured in the breed standard

The Bulldog is one of the world's best-known breeds. Its roots lie in ancient fighting dogs. The breed was developed into a companion dog after animal fights were outlawed in England. The first Bulldog breed standard was approved in 1876.

During the previous century, some of the Bulldog's external characteristics, such as heavily folding skin, a low and wide build as well as a short neck began to be overemphasised. This caused several health problems for the breed. Heavy build, short extremities and an excessive emphasis on the line of the back exposes the dog to bone and joint problems, while excessive folding around the head makes it susceptible to skin inflammations. The Bulldog is also a short-skulled and -nosed breed. An unduly short skull and nose expose dogs to serious breathing problems.
The Bulldog breed standard was revised in the breed's native country in 2009. The World Canine Organisation FCI revised its breed standard in 2011. The updated breed standard has the aim of avoiding overemphasised characteristics in breeding and promoting a maximally healthy Bulldog population without losing the features that are typical for the breed.
In Finland and the other Nordic countries, dog show judges have been instructed to pay attention to exaggerated features when assessing dogs. It is increasingly common for more moderate dog types to gain success in the ring.

Further information

The Finnish Kennel Club:
Kirsi Sainio, chair of the FKC scientific committee, kirsi.sainio@kennelliitto.fi
Katariina Mäki, breeding expert, katariina.maki@kennelliitto.fi

The English Bulldog Association of Finland;
Pasi Apajalahti, chairman, puheenjohtaja@seby.fi
Harri Reimari, chairman of the breeding committee, harri.reimari@gmail.com  

Katariina Mäki

Katariina Mäki


Frequency of canine hip and elbow dysplasia decreasing in Finland

Frequency of canine hip and elbow dysplasia is decreasing in many breeds in Finland.
The largest improvement in hip dysplasia can be seen in the Saint Bernard, the Smooth Collie, the Newfoundlander, the Beauceron and the Bordercollie. In elbow dysplasia, the Rottweiler and the St.Bernard have improved the most. Read more about the trends in the pages of Finnish Kennel Club. Also available in our Downloads section.  

Katariina Mäki

Katariina Mäki

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