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New Research

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Here we will be featuring links to current research that may be of interest to clubs, health committees and dog breeders. Comments and perspectives will be posted as time permits. Viewpoints and impressions - dog breeder, veterinary epidemiologist, health club advisor

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Research - Long-term impact of DNA tests on dog diseases

2019 Lewis TW, Mellersh CS. Changes in mutation frequency of eight Mendelian inherited disorders in eight pedigree dog populations following introduction of a commercial DNA test. Plos One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209864 DNA Testing - General Subject: DNA Testing Type: Research Journal/Source: peer-reviewed research publication Authors/Researchers: University, Kennel Club (IPFD Partners); HGTD Participants Recommended For: Veterinarians, Owners/Breeders This study is one of the very few to investigate the impact of DNA testing on changing a dog population's disease risk. The research looked at determining changes in frequency of disease causing mutations (how common a mutant gene is in a population) as a result of breeding-pair selection based on DNA test results. The results indicated that there has been an overall decline in disease causing mutations in the 8 diseases in 8 breeds investigated. While the paper recognises that there can be variations in how quickly a disease is reduced or eliminated (such as breed population size), it concluded that where dog breeders appear to incorporate DNA test results as part of breeding plans, there is success in decreasing the frequency of mutation. The study looked at: prcd-PRA in Labrador Retriever and Cocker Spaniel, HC in Staffordshire Bull Terriers, EIC in Labrador Retriever, PLL in Mini-Bull Terrier, EF and DE/CC in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, PRA rcd-4 in Gordon, and Irish Setter, and spinocerebellar ataxia in Parson Russell Terrier. Within the UK at least, this represents a spectrum of large and small breeds, and generally "known" diseases within the breeds. 2019 Lewis TW, Mellersh CS. Changes in mutation frequency of eight Mendelian inherited disorders in eight pedigree dog populations following introduction of a commercial DNA test. Plos One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209864   See also: Nearly 20 Years of DNA Testing – What Can We Learn? :  IPFD CEO's blog post with discussion of wider implications of the study's approach and findings; based on Ian Seath's commentary (Dog-ED: Social Enterprise) with a breeder/health council perspective on the article above. IPFD Harmonization of Genetic Testing (HGTD) and search on  the mentioned diseases for more information on the the condition, phenes, tests and more.        

Consequences and Management of Canine Brachycephaly in Veterinary Practice: Perspectives from Australian Veterinarians and Veterinary Specialists

Consequences and Management of Canine Brachycephaly in Veterinary Practice: Perspectives from Australian Veterinarians and Veterinary Specialists Fawcett, et al., including Paul McGreevy, University of Sydney, Australia Animals 2019, 9, 3; doi:10.3390/ani9010003 https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/1/3
  For: Veterinarians, health care professionals, all stakeholders       Review: Brenda Bonnett, DVM, PhD This comprehensive review covers the health problems and welfare issues in brachycephalic dogs highlighting a veterinary perspective.  The text of the paper comprises 19 pages and includes a wide-range of topics.  This paper is an excellent resource for veterinary health care professionals and clinicians.  However, topics in this paper are also important for all stakeholders involved with the brachycephalic issue in dogs.  At the end of the paper, there is an important discussion of the ethical challenges for veterinarians, both as individuals and the profession as a whole.  Concerned that readers, especially those who are not clinicians, may not persevere through the clinical information to reach this important section, I will highlight the importance of that discussion below.  First, a general overview: “Simple Summary: Canine and human co-evolution have disclosed remarkable morphological plasticity in dogs. Brachycephalic dog breeds are increasing in popularity, despite them suffering from well-documented conformation-related health problems. This has implications for the veterinary caseloads of the future. Whether the recent selection of dogs with progressively shorter and wider skulls has reached physiological limits is controversial. The health problems and short life expectancies of dogs with extremely short skulls suggests that we may have even exceeded these limits. Veterinarians have a professional and moral obligation to prevent and minimise the negative health and welfare impacts of extreme morphology and inherited disorders, and they must address brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) not only at the level of the patient, but also as a systemic welfare problem.” The broad range of topics include: ·        Concern that “Despite well-documented conformation-related health problems, brachycephalic dog breeds are increasing in popularity.”; ·        Detailed enumeration and description of associated health problems; ·        Behavioural impacts of brachycephaly, as well as ·        “substantial evidence that brachycephaly compromises the welfare of affected dogs”, highlighting insurance data and research findings; ·        Problems for individual dogs and their owners as well as for breed populations; ·        Immediate concerns as well as future perspectives; ·        Clinical diagnosis and management of BOAS and other problems in brachys, and ·        A thought provoking discussion of “Ethical Challenges Associated with Brachycephalic Breeds” and the role of veterinarians.   Understanding the Complexity – the veterinary perspective Past all the discussion of clinical findings and approaches, the section on ethical challenges has excellent coverage of the concerns and conflicting interests for veterinarians.  For example, the best resolution for competing issues is not always clear, e.g.: ·        the best interests of an individual dog, in general, and in relation to a specific health event; ·        its owner’s attachment, attitudes, wishes, needs, and ability to provide care; and ·        concerns for the breed overall, as well as ·        the practical reality of the veterinarian as both a caregiver and a business person.   Two of the authors have also provided this summary: “Vets can do more to reduce the suffering of flat-faced dog breeds”: February 12, 2019 2.16pm EST http://theconversation.com/vets-can-do-more-to-reduce-the-suffering-of-flat-faced-dog-breeds-110702   It is important for all stakeholders to be aware of the challenges facing others as the dog world moves toward doing is what is best for dogs.   Also see: DWN's Extremes of Conformation Category Latest on brachycephalics from Sweden Approaches to Breed-specific Extremes

Ann Milligan

Ann Milligan

Pilot study of head conformation changes over time in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed

Pilot study of head conformation changes over time in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed https://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/184/4/122.full Breed Specific: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Conformation Traits/SM|CM Knowler, SP., Gillstedt, L., Mitchell, TJ., Jovanovik, J., Volk, HA., Rusbridge, C.   (2019) Pilot study of head conformation changes over time in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed    Veterinary Record 184, 122.   Abstract Modern interpretation of head conformation in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (CKCS) has favoured a smaller, more exaggerated, brachycephalic type than originally described in the 1929 breed standard. Recent research studies identified brachycephaly and reduced hind cranium as two conformational (dysmorphic) features that increase risk for symptomatic Chiari-like malformation and secondary syringomyelia (SM). A prospective pilot study investigated the hypothesis that dysmorphic head features could be assessed visually and correlated with risk of SM. Thirteen CKCS, selected from anonymised photographic evidence, were physically appraised by authorised Kennel Club judges using a head shape checklist. These subjective evaluations were then matched with objective measurements of the cranium (cephalic index and rostrocaudal doming) and their subsequent MRI. A positive correlation (P=0.039) between the judges’ checklist score and rostrocaudal doming (hindskull ratio) and a positive correlation between the cephalic index and hindskull ratio (P=0.042) were identified. Five CKCS had no SM and their status tallied with 62 per cent of the judges’ evaluation. Although the ability of adjudicators to identify differences in head conformation varied, there was sufficient association between the dysmorphic parameters and the risk of SM to cause concern and propose a larger study in CKCS breed.   Breeder viewpoint: This research paper is a readily understandable PILOT study that covers how head shapes relate to scientific information on SM/CM in Cavaliers. Which skull shapes represent identifiable extremes and can/should anything be done to curtail the drift towards hypertype over the past few decades? Which direction do the breed enthusiasts want to go?   In the Discussion section, "breeders have acknowledged that there has been a more brachycephalic interpretation of the breed standard over the last few decades."  Further, " The concept that increased exaggeration of head shape in the CKCS can be recognised visually and supported by the proven association of brachycephaly with resulting rostrocaudal doming5 suggests the possibility for selection against the extreme head shape in the CKCS to enable a reduction in CM/SM incidence." Take a look at this study for photos that represent different shapes and measurements of CKCS head type/backskulls. Maybe it's worth considering the information offered when choosing dogs for showing and breeding. Yes, it's a small study - and yes, there is some variation in interpretation of the degree to which dogs viewed are visibly extreme,  and, there are Limitations to the study that are outlined by the researchers. But given the possible relationship between squished backskulls and their potential association with SM/CM  and its impact on the quality of life for dogs - maybe this research is worth a glance for breeders and for judges. Lots of illustrations and pictures were helpful.    Breed Advisor viewpoint: Veterinary Epidemiologist viewpoint:  

Ann Milligan

Ann Milligan

  • International Dog Health Workshops

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    4th IDHW - DWN's Pre-Meeting Resources

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