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Exaggerations of Conformation Theme: Outline for Participants

    General Goals and Outcomes - all Themes: 
    By the conclusion of the 3rd IDHW participants should leave with a clear sense of key decisions on priorities / needs within the theme; remaining gaps/ challenges/ controversies; List of specific tasks/ actions to be undertaken over the next two years, by whom; and a clear understanding of how they, personally, will help achieve the desired outcomes.
    Please see: 3rd IDHW_Program Overview, Schedule, Themes and Speakers  for further information.



    Exaggerations of Conformation Theme
    •    Working Group Coordinator(s): Åke Hedhammar, Sweden; Kristen Wear-Prestrud; Norway
    •    IPFD/SCC Steering Committee Liaison:  Brenda Bonnett, Canada; 
    •    Resource persons:  Rowena Packer, UK; 
    •    Facilitator(s):  Pekka Olson, Sweden;
    •    Notetaker:  Astrid Indrebö, Norway



    Keys To The Exaggerations of Conformation Theme
    Exaggerations And Extremes In Dog Conformation: Health, welfare and breeding considerations; latest national and international efforts. 

    Exaggerations of conformation affect the health and welfare of wide variety of dog breeds from giant to extremely small breeds, those with exaggerations of physical characteristics like skin or ears, or anything that might be referred to as hyper-type.  Recently, there has been intense focus, in many countries, on health and welfare concerns in brachycephalic dogs.  In addition to issues for the dogs, themselves, any treatment of the problem should include discussion of the human factors that lead to a demand for extreme dogs, in general.  

    As a basis for discussion, we propose the following:
    •    There is a need for further good quantitative data, but there is reasonable evidence that there is a high prevalence of health and welfare problems in several breeds with exaggerations/ extremes in conformation.  
    •    The Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is the most severe and significant example of problems related to Extremes in Dog Conformation
    •    The extent of suffering and discomfort related to the brachycephalic constitution is not properly understood among owners, breeders and puppy buyers. It is common that certain health issues are regarded as breed-specific characteristics and often classified as “normal for the breed”, even at least implicitly by some veterinarians. This leads to several problems: 1) failure to exclude sick dogs from breeding; 2) failure to give sick dogs the treatment they need; 3) failure to reduce the desirability of these breeds.
    •    Despite attention and awareness in most countries, there has not been a successful reduction of health problems related to BOAS; in fact, by increased popularity of brachycephalic breeds more dogs than ever suffer from BOAS related health problems. 
    •    It is unclear what percent of affected dogs are coming from commercial breeders.

    Continue reading below or download PDF


    3rd IDHW Guide for Participants_Exaggerations of Conformation_14April2017.docx


    Possible Questions for the Breakout Sessions: Exaggerations of Conformation
    •    Who is doing what and where... and what is making a difference? (Introduced by plenary speaker Rowena Packer, RVC)

    o    What are existing resources?  Programs/ guidelines/ recommendations/ regulations? 
    o    What is the situation in your country and from your perspective and experience – in terms of most pressing issues, proposed actions, and challenges?
    o    What are similarities and differences across countries and regions?
    o    Are there any metrics to show what is working?

    •    What are the opportunities to reduce problems in brachycephalic dogs in the short term and over a longer term?  What are major challenges?   E.g. relative to:

    o    How to implement actions aiming to reduce prevalence of BOAS changes in selection of breeding stock
    o    Standards and their interpretation/ application in awards/disqualifications at dog shows
    o    Laws, regulations and recommendations of  authorities and/ or cynological organisations
    o    Health certificates /fitness testing 
    o    Communication, information and education 
    o    Affecting demand  for extreme breeds/ appearances

    •    What are the roles and responsibilities for authorities, breeders, cynological organizations, geneticists, veterinarians and welfare organizations?
    •    What actions can be pursued at the workshop and afterwards?  What is most important to be done at an international level? Are there other stakeholders who could/ should be involved?


    Possible Specific Outcomes The Exaggerations of Conformation Theme:
    These are preliminary examples; actual outcomes will depend on priorities identified by delegates. Assign post-meeting working groups to, e.g.:
    •    Build a catalogue of what is being done in different countries.
    •    Identify the most pressing issues and controversies around standards; and propose specific solutions.  
    •    Identify better ways to:

    o     motivate prospective owners to demand dogs that do not suffer from welfare problems related to extreme conformation and in-breeding. 
    o    change the public perception that dogs winning dog shows represent the ideal appearance for the breed – and instead encourage appreciation of the whole dog – health, welfare, temperament and function.   
    o    ensure that dog shows do not profile dogs with unhealthy conformations.

    •    Determine what are effective and positive measures for selection of breeding stock with reference to health problems related to exaggerated anatomical features?
    •    Determine actions for the international veterinary community … other stakeholder groups.
    •    Identify sources of funding for this work.



    Organisation of Breakout Session:
    Time frame (refer to 3rd International Dog Health Workshop Paris 2017: Program Schedule, Speakers and Breakout Themes):
    •    To be accomplished before 1st Sharing session on Saturday at 16:05-17:45) 

    o    Breakouts: 11:15 - 13:00 and 14:30-15:45 Saturday
    o    Introduction - Pekka Olson

        Explain the background for the group and what tasks are required
        Explain discussion format; facilitator’s role:  

    o    Initiating statements:  Åke Hedhammar, others
    o    Address questions; identify and prioritize issues; identify gaps; identify issues that should be covered in other themes.

    •    To be accomplished before 2nd Sharing session on Sunday 10:45-13:00

    o    Breakout: 08:30-10:15 Sunday
    o    Identify specific actions; 
    o    assign names to working groups or initiatives

Edited by Brenda Bonnett

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