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  5. This page lists resources and references that pertain to management of brachycephalic breed's health and welfare. The links below represent International and National Approaches to Brachycephalic Breed Health Reforms in Dogs. Included are: links to Current Research, Veterinary organization's policies/whitepapers, Seminars / Workshops / Veterinary Congress presentations, Campaigns and more. This article is for Veterinarians and anyone interested in the short faced breed's health and welfare.
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  7. BSAVA's Brachycephalic Resources Collection "This short collection lists a number of BSAVA brachycephalic resources informing members on the continuing brachycephalic welfare debate. Most of the content of the collection is freely available to support the veterinary profession." https://www.bsavalibrary.com/content/brachycephalic-resources Several of the resources are Open Access. The content is dated from 2018, 2019 & 2020 and 2021's BSAVA Congress Proceedings, and published content from BSAVA Companion Issues (monthly membership magazine). This article contains useful resources for veterinarians, breed managers / health committees, owners and breeders.
  8. Veterinarians and Brachycephalic Dogs - Ethics and Reality I have been starting to read the new textbook, Health and Welfare of Brachycephalic (Flat-faced) Companion Animals - A Complete Guide for Veterinary and Animal Professionals, Edited By Rowena Packer, Dan O'Neill; Copyright Year 2021 (ref below). This book has two parts. The first part offers a group of articles on the backgrounds, history, ethics, international aspects, and other aspects that define and impinge on the health and welfare challenges of dogs with flat faces. The second part is a veterinary textbook on the current treatment methods, strategies, and surgeries that are needed in these breeds who are at high risk of respiratory, eye, spinal, skin, and many other problems. Everyone who cares about dogs should read part one. We'll leave the vets to follow the pertinent bits in part two - BUT - it is crucially important that all practising vets read and consider the issues and challenges described in part one. I hope to write several blogs on various articles and issues from the text. The book should be recognized as a major accomplishment. As an author of the chapter International and National Approaches to Brachycephalic Breed Health Reforms in Dogs – work started a couple of years ago - I can attest to not being sure at first that we needed this text and wondering if it would still be vital by the time it was published. Well, the book is published, e-versions are available, and hard copies will ship soon. And the issues of brachycephalic – flat-faced – dogs are still very much a hot topic and a worldwide concern. Dr. Packer says in Chapter 3, Why Do People Love Brachycephalic Dogs and Keep Coming Back for More? "When reflecting on the paradoxical situation we face in 2020, where more than ever is known about the poor health of brachycephalic dogs, but yet their popularity is at an all-time high, the question of why owners are drawn to brachycephalic breeds, and even in the face of chronic or severe health problems, continue to show loyalty towards these breeds, is critically important to explore." Challenges are as bad or worse in 2021... Chapter 3 goes on to state that: "In a study of American Kennel Club registrations, health and longevity were not correlated with breed popularity, and on the contrary, the most popular breeds tended to have significant health problems (Ghirlanda et al. 2013)." "In the same study described above, owners’ perceptions of ‘good health’ were further revealed to be misaligned with what veterinary professionals may consider ‘good health’. " Owners in various studies (on brachycephaly and spinal problems) have been shown to underestimate the degree of health problems in their dog, presumably because they assume these things are 'normal' for the breed. "Owners reported which disorders their dog had previously been diagnosed with, the most common of which were allergies (27.0%), corneal ulcers (15.4%), skin fold infections (15.0%) and BOAS (11.8%). In addition, one fifth (19.9%) of owners reported that their dog had undergone one or more conformation-related surgeries. Despite relatively high levels of disease reported in this young population (mean age just 2.17 years), most owners in this population paradoxically perceived their dogs to be in the ‘best health possible’ (30.0%) or ‘very good health’ (40.9%)." It doesn't take much to then see the challenges for veterinarians who attend such dogs. Chapter 4 Ethical Challenges of Treating Brachycephalic Dogs was written by Anne Quain and Paul McGreevy, University of Sydney and Siobhan Mullan, University College Dublin. This chapter is a straightforward presentation of ethics and will be very hard hitting for all that are facing up to the challenges of these dogs, but especially vets in practice. “Ethically challenging situations, often described as ethical or moral dilemmas, are common in veterinary practice and are often stressful for veterinarians and their co-workers”. Veterinary organizations throughout the world are dealing with massively increasing rates of burnout and even suicide in the profession. With the increase in popularity of flat-faced dogs, clinics in most countries are having more brachys as clients - with all the attendant problems. The disconnect between many owners' lack understanding of the problems of these dogs, or their willingness to own them regardless of pain and suffering, and the expensive, heartbreaking, and never-ending medical, surgical, and humane issues dealt with by vets is ongoing. Chapter 4 goes through all this and more... including vets who 'role model' owning and breeding compromised breeds. Veterinary professional organizations internationally and nationally have come out with various position statements and recommendations (e.g., FECAVA, WSAVA, BVA). They have called on multiple stakeholders to take responsibility, they have outlined work that should be done at the professional level and the practice level. However, they have often bypassed clear instructions for individual veterinarians, perhaps because they view that as a personal decision. But, with Chapter 4, it is easy to see that the ultimate - possibly hopeless challenges - land squarely on their shoulders on a daily basis. What balanced directions are there for the caring veterinary professionals, in an increasingly busy practice? How do they cope when appointments are too short and too packed to have life-changing discussions with a client? What options are there when up to 50% (or more) of practitioners (depending on country) now work in corporate practices where decisions about which clients to see, what major efforts can be undertaken is out of the average vet’s hands? And where making money is a harsh reality. The many practical scenarios presented in Chapter 4 - in addition to the basic ethics approach - need to be read, digested, discussed, and brought into the reality that is veterinary practice today. Statements like the ones below must be combined with strategies to move forward in the current world of veterinary practice and amid the masses of brachycephalic dogs that come through the doors. "The key ethical challenge in relation to brachycephalic dogs can be summarised thus: are veterinary professionals complicit in perpetuating welfare problems associated with extreme brachycephalic phenotypes?" "Veterinary professionals who draw an income from involvement in breeding or treating dogs with extreme brachycephalic conformation have a potential conflict of interest between the interests of the animal and their own interests in drawing an income." "The possibility of alienating a client by discussing their pet’s health should not discourage veterinarians from doing so." "This concern [level of stress] underscores the need for veterinary professional associations to proactively educate members of the public about the health and welfare costs of extreme phenotypes, rather than leaving it to the individual veterinarian to act as the ‘moral hero’." Education, however, is not enough. Human behaviour change is needed, and well-meaning position statements and suggestions will not do the trick. Please read Chapter 4, or better still all of Part One of the text - no matter what stakeholder group you are in, veterinary or other or where you live - and be part of meaningful discussions. Or, sit back and deal with legislation that will come as a control of these problems. References Health and Welfare of Brachycephalic (Flat-faced) Companion Animals - A Complete Guide for Veterinary and Animal Professionals; Edited By Rowena Packer, Dan O'Neill; Copyright Year 2021. https://www.routledge.com/Health-and-Welfare-of-Brachycephalic-Flat-faced-Companion-Animals-A-Complete/Packer-ONeill/p/book/9780367207243?fbclid=IwAR2Z2AhWFHjtM-_is1nxFoZQhKkBCbRTHgxv7_Rv3b5OUeXHIv_ZMUmCwIE Resources on DogWellNet.com including: Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs; Extremes of Conformation | Brachycephalics - includes links to FECAVA, BVA, other resources) https://dogwellnet.com/content/international-actions/extremes-of-conformation-brachycephalics/ Bonnnett, BN, Blog on DogWellNet.com: Do you know that veterinary well-being is a big issue? https://dogwellnet.com/blogs/entry/153-do-you-know-that-veterinary-well-being-is-a-big-issue/ IPFD in the WSAVA Bulletin: Dog Breeds: What you need to know about the Pug https://wsava.org/news/committees/dog-breeds-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-pug/
  9. This article on Finnish Spitz is part of a series to highlight the Big Picture of health, welfare and breeding and to help develop Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles (GRIHPs) for many breeds. See IPFD's Get a GRIHP! on Breed Health Initiative.
  10. If not for the pandemic, we would have held the 5th International Dog Health Workshop (IDHW) by now. But we’re watching global developments with cautious optimism that we’ll soon be in a position to determine a date/location/format for the next IDHW. In the meantime, we are developing online events to keep important collaborations going, Based on recent discussions with key stakeholders in canine genetic testing, three topics have been identified as being important to current conversations: Standardizing Genetic Reports, Validation, and Genetic Diversity. Specific challenges have been identified for each of these topics, and IPFD is planning a series of short online workshops taking each challenge in turn to agree on goals and outcomes, and - as a community - to undertake post-workshops actions to implement necessary actions.
  11. In This Issue: News & Highlights IPFD Virtual International Dog Health Workshops (Genetic Testing) Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  12. This article on Pugs is part of a series to highlight the Big Picture of health, welfare and breeding and to help develop Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles (GRIHPs) for many breeds. See IPFD's Get a GRIHP! on Breed Health Initiative There are many others doing great work to advance heath, well-being, and welfare in this wonderful breed. We reference and link to terrific work, developments, reports, and research from the UK, USA, Sweden, Finland, and more below. Thanks to all of those working on behalf of Pugs. This is a 'living document' - so if anyone has more material to share or point us to - please let us know!
  13. This page contains links to DWN's and our Partner's & Collaborator's resources, research and reports that pertain to management of health and welfare issues in Pugs. The pug is a brachycephalic breed. Breathing issues, spinal (hemivertebrae & screw tails) as well as several ocular issues can impact the quality and length of life in the Pug breed. Locomotor concerns (hip and patella defects) are also recognized issues. Obesity, reproductive (whelping) issues and thermoregulation ( heat intolerance ) are important management concerns.
  14. 4th International Dog Health Workshop - 2 Years On Facebook reminded me that two years ago today we had just wrapped up the 4th IDHW in Windsor, UK - co-hosted by the Kennel Club. It was a great event, in beautiful surroundings. Our catchphrase for the IDHWs is captured in the workshop logo - and as described in our publications on the workshop, e.g. Moving from Information and Collaboration to Action: Report from the 4th International Dog Health Workshop, Windsor in June 2019. The word cloud image was created in the final session of the 4th IDHW - based on participants' response to a a question about the high points of the event or what were the take home messages. First and foremost was collaboration and cooperation - at the workshop and taking that forward - individually and among the different stakeholder groups. The IDHWs are one of the only events that bring together those from the diverse groups who share both goals and responsibility for dog health, well-being and welfare, and supporting the best in human-dog interactions. So, how far have we travelled in the last two years? The workshop had 5 themes and the files specifying outcomes and recommendations for action can be viewed in these links or by downloading the pdfs further below: 4th IDHW Concept of Breed 4th IDHW SUPPLY AND DEMAND 4th IDHW Extremes-Communication 4th IDHW Breed-Specific Health Strategies 4th IDHW Genetics With the pandemic, the usual work of encouraging follow-up participation was even more challenging. Nonetheless, some strides have been taken, including: Initiation of the International Collaborative on Extreme Conformation in Dogs (ICECDogs, webpage coming soon). Collaboration on a new textbook on Brachycephalic Health and Welfare - available soon. Enhancement of the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs, especially the Breed Relevance Ratings. Various initiatives relative to Supply and Demand. Ongoing communication on breed-specific issues through our partnership with WSAVA and production of Get a GRIHP! articles. Promotion of multi-stakeholder cooperation in our Reframing Discussions article. Most importantly, as I review the key issues identified, developments in the last two years have underlined the importance of the priorities set by the attendees of the 4th IDHW. Unfortunately, the challenges continue even two years on, sometimes at least partly because a lack of sustained actions. We plan a serious of blogs/articles on each topic, to raise (or try to re-raise) awareness. Please check out the files below and let us know if you have been part of initiatives to address the problems or even your perspective of where we are at in 2021 relative to 2019. The question remains - when decision leaders and those active across stakeholder groups come together and agree on needed actions, but progress is limited - how do we identify and overcome the barriers to effective change? Talk is important. Agreement is wonderful. Goals are crucial to establish. Feelings like those in the word cloud here, expressed by attendees after day 1 of the 4th IDHW, are great. But without sustained, effective actions, those positive feelings we all had at the meeting melt away... Is it time for re-evaluation and reconnection, to revitalize our collective efforts? IDHW - Extremes-Communication - Theme Outcomes (1).pdf IDHW Genetics_Theme Outcomes.pdf IDHW SUPPLY AND DEMAND - Theme Outcomes (1).pdf IDHW Concept of Breed_Theme Outcomes (1).pdf IDHW BSHS_Theme Outcomes.pdf
  15. Artificial Insemination in Dogs - Recent Information and Misinformation A recent post(s) on CRUFFA re: "Good news! Another step in law enforcement in the Netherlands. Standard artificial insemination is forbidden in the Netherlands for dogbreeding." is an inaccurate or, at best, incomplete description of the situation. Even if if were true, celebrating a total elimination of artificial insemination (A.I.) in dogs would be ill-advised and inappropriate. CRUFFA moderator Jemima Harrison wisely suggested that in her repsonse to the comments. We are in the process of tracking down the actual wording of the legislation and will post more information and links to better sources when they become available. I will also post a more comprehensive blog on both the major benefits and ethical concerns in the use of A.I. for dogs. For now suffice it to say: According to my sources, the legislation does not prevent all uses of insemination. Where there are good reasons - e.g., semen is from deceased dogs (hopefully with good health results and some degree of longevity), or imported semen used to improve genetic diversity, A.I. is allowed. Note again that I do not have the official language yet, but have good information that the main intent of this legislation in the Netherlands is to restrict the use of A.I. in breeds that are physically or conformationally unable to breed naturally. In the case cited, action has been taken against a French Bulldog (FBD) breeder. In general, and based on reports from breeders themselves, some (many?) FBD males cannot breed normally due to short backs (which arise from spinal abnormalities known to be common in the breed); females with similar conformation may be unable or uncomortable, for similar reasons. In cases like these, use of A.I. to allow reproduction in compromised dogs must be questioned from an ethical perspective. For more info on FBDs and health conditions see: Get a GRIHP! on French Bulldogs. Although the following link is also not from an official source, it seems somewhat better that the one in the post above: First dog breeder reprimanded for illegal artificial insemination. (Google translate returns an undestandable English version.) Please stay tuned to my blogs for further discussion of this important issue. In general, please: Avoid knee-jerk reactions to limited or inaccurate information. Try to embrace informed, rational, evidence-based discussions more so than emotionally-laced or confrontational conversations. Remember - 'decision-making by Facebook' will not solve the health and welfare issues in dogs! There are essentially no simple, yes-no, absolutes that apply across all breeds and all situations in the issues of dog health and welfare. And essentially all require a more balanced, multi-stakeholder approach to be effective. Please see our discussions on Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs: A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions. Let's work together for the dogs we love, and for the people who love dogs.
  16. Thanks, Lisa - fixed. Glad it points to your website. Please contact us if you have any information, newsletters, etc. that you would like to share.
  17. Hello from Canada, happy to be here, so much information! Could you please correct the name for the Canadian national breed club for French bulldogs. It's listed above under "Breed Clubs" as "Bulldog Fanciers of Canada". The correct name is French Bulldog Fanciers of Canada. The link is correct though, and takes you to the club's website. Thanks!
  18. In This Issue: News & Highlights Advances in the IPFD Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  19. This article on Black Russian Terriers is part of a series to highlight the Big Picture of health, welfare and breeding and to help develop Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles (GRIHPs) for many breeds. See IPFD's Get a GRIHP! on Breed Health Initiative There are many others doing great work to advance heath, well-being, and welfare in this wonderful breed. We reference and link to terrific work, developments, reports, and research from the UK, USA, Sweden, Finland and more below. Thanks to all of those working on behalf of BRTs. This is a 'living document' - so if anyone has more material to share or point us to - please let us know!
  20. Summary of Kennel Club Breed Records: Pug 2020 A new research report, Summary of Kennel Club Breed Records: Pug 2020, has been produced by Cassandra Smith. The report utilises publicly available data offered by The Kennel Club to describe health and breeding-related statistics and information. The author’s previous reports on similar and other breeds have been well-accepted, with appropriate methodology and presentation. This analysis includes KC-registered dogs with statistics presented separately for Pugs of Standard colour and Non-Standard (NBS) colours. Included is information on litter statistics, inbreeding values, caesareans and AI, breeding stock used, health schemes and genetic testing. The report is clear and speaks for itself. (see PDF of the full report attached); it was originally posted [CRUFFA]. Below are a few comments on/highlights from the material. For those who wonder why the separation by colour: the designation of colour variations differ from breed to breed and across registries. Generally speaking, within the Pug breed, puppies (or litters of puppies) are registered by colour as either Standard (as described in the Pug Breed Standard) or Non-Standard (and other colour). Not unique to the Pug, colour classification is often based simply on historical choices in acceptable coat colours and markings, and are not automatically indications of a dog’s “purity” or lack thereof. However, the breeding community may be quite sensitive on this issue and feel there are differences across breeders and dogs beyond the colours. Relatively rarely, genetic mutations may produce certain colours or ‘dilutions’, generally randomly, however, there are instances where deleterious colours have been selected for. Of course, it can also happen that the occasional non-standard colour puppy might simply not be registered. Interestingly, but perhaps unrelatedly, the median number of puppies per litter was slightly higher in the NBS litters. One area of particular interest in wider discussions on breed-health strategies, is the limited extent to which existing health programs have been embraced by breeders. Although the creation of such programs has been acclaimed (see https://www.pughealth.org.uk/pug-5-star-health-scheme/), the fact that they are clearly not being embraced in a way to impact the health of the breed is very disappointing. There is a caution, however, that this might have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, so future reports will be needed. Although Standard Colour Pugs have access to both health schemes, for 88% of litters neither parent had health scheme results recorded. As for Respiratory Function Grading, “Table 12 shows the RFG testing results of each parent [Standard Colour litters] prior to the birth of the litter. 12.6% of litters had at least one tested parent, with sixteen litters (2.5%) meeting the current criteria for lowest risk of BOAS, as documented in the Breeding Advice on the Kennel Club website. Testing was less frequent for NBS litters. Summary of Findings See paper for further discussion and descriptions of calculations, e.g. for coefficients of inbreeding COIs: Pugs UK 2020: summary statistics (C. Smith, 2020) Parameter Standard Colour 638 litters/2576 puppies Non-Breed Standard Colour 733 litters/3429 puppies Litter size (median) 4 5 COI % (mean/median/highest) 5.4/ 4.4/ 30.9 3.7/ 2.7/ 21.4 Litters with COI>25% 4 0 Sire age at birth of pups (mean/ median/ minimum) 3.9/ 2.2/ 0.65 3.1/ 2.7/ 0.54 Of note: some high coefficients of inbreeding. Perhaps a better picture of the challenges of inbreeding in the pug, or any breed, would be to utilize the rapidly improving "genetic COI" DNA tests available. A robust genetic COI test drastically improves precision compared to pedigree-based COI. Regardless, a COI (pedigree based or not) of more than 12, 25, 30% is a cause for concern. There is also a high proportion of young sires being used. It is generally recommended to wait until sires are at least 2 or 3 years of age, health tested, and so-far free from inherited conditions. Similarly, a considerable number of litters indicate that the dam was bred at a young age. In addition, the number of litters per sire indicates that there is overuse of certain popular sires, relative to general recommendations. Final Thoughts There are causes for concern here and much to inform evaluation of breeding within Pugs in the UK. The information should also be used by Pug clubs and breeders outside of the UK. These types of statistics – not simply the recording of the data – are crucial to monitor the breeding and breed population and to provide metrics for the uptake and possible impact of health testing programs. Ms. Smith is to be commended and thanked for her efforts. As we have written in other blogs and our recent article on the Norwegian Lawsuit on Dog Breeds and Breeding against some breeds with extreme conformation (see additional resources) it is not enough to say health and longevity is important. Breeding practices, attitudes and specific decisions must be made with those goals prioritized. Further resources: Summary of Kennel Club Breed Records: Pug 2020 – Cassie Smith. (links: to discussion on facebook and link to file and pdf - attached below) Blog: Is it "tough talk" or "open dialogue" - and why is it a challenge in the dog world? Blog: Linebreeding vs. Inbreeding – Let’s be perfectly clear Blog: The Big Picture - in the Dog World as a Whole and for your next Breeding Decision Norwegian Lawsuit on Dog Breeds and Breeding - The "First" But Not the Last? PugBreedRecordsSummary2020.pdf
  21. Norwegian Lawsuit on Dog Breeds and Breeding - The "First" But Not the Last? Author: Brenda N. Bonnett, DVM, PhD; CEO IPFD Abstract The Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA) is suing selected breeders, clubs, and the Norwegian Kennel Club for not following the country's animal welfare law; the Norwegian court has agreed to hear the case. One goal is to achieve a clearer interpretation of the language of the law. While the NSPA's motivation behind this approach is understandable, i.e., a frustration with a lack of progress on health issues by breeders and clubs over over the last 2 decades, looking for a legal 'fix' for the complex problems around dog health and welfare, dog breeding, breeds with extreme conformation, and human-dog interactions is not ideal and will likely result in unintended consequences. The dog breeding community needs to address the challenges and potential solutions, however, there are many other stakeholders who also must take responsibility including consumers, veterinarians, regulators, the pet industry, and more. Unilateral actions are unlikely to achieve the wider goals. This article outlines this Norwegian situation and builds on our previous document Reframing Discussions Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs: A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions.
  22. At a time when we're rethinking almost everything in our lives, Your Pandemic Puppy will recalibrate your concept of puppy rearing and dog ownership. Author Marty Greer, DVM, JD is a member of the IPFD Board.
  23. HGTD This Week: NEW feature - Key Comments In our continued effort to improve HGTD, we have a new addition to our breed-specific testing information. Complementing the Breed Relevance Ratings, the new Key Comments feature highlights in the breed search, any tests that have a comment related to the relevance of the test for that breed. Users can then click through to the phenes information to not only read the Key Comment, but also other general, and breed-specific information about the phene. Key comments are sourced from the researchers or test developers, as well as relevant experts. What do Key Comments look like in the breed-specific test listing? Look out for a "key" symbol next to the phenes in the breed-search list. If you see a key, then there is a key comment associated with this phene. You can click on the phene name to read the key comment, as well as other information related to the test including: clinical information, application recommendations in the breed/dog, research/gene information, etc. Once you click through to the phene, look out for the Key Comment information section. What are examples of Key Comments? Key comments are associated with the relevance of the test to specific breeds/types, and can vary in content. Provided by experts in the discovery or application of the test, the information could be related to how common the test is in a breed, specific concerns about the test for a particular breed, or breed-specific application of the test. This differs from the application information currently provided in phenes, which is a general comment on the test application and not breed-specific. Examples of key comments are for the phene congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS) in the Golden Retriever, and Golden Retriever crosses. There are currently two tests available for CMS that are available to the Golden Retriever. Each test is based on a different genetic mutation, and CMS is considered rare in the breed and its crosses. In this example, the key comment for the COLQ-related test is that it is very rare and may only be relevant for a specific line of Golden Retrievers, and not have breed-wide importance. Arguably more critical is the CHRNE-related key comment which notes that while this test may be applied to Golden Retrievers, it is actually an incorrect test. In these examples, the key comment not only has breed-specific information on the relevance and the BRR, it also supports test selection where the phene/test names are similar and may be confusing. Who provides Key Comments? Key comments are currently sourced from the original research, with the goal of testing and test results being informative and applied appropriately to a dog/breed. This is most often provided directly from the researchers, but may also be augmented with peer-reviewed publications and/or external links to additional information. In time, it may also include other breed and/or test expert comment. Where can I get more information? You are welcome to ask questions about key comments, or provide feedback by emailing aimee.llewellyn-zaidi@ipfdogs.com Image via Pexels, H. Lopes.
  24. As part of IPFD's support of new research and research participation, we welcome this guest blog by Quinn Rausch. The Puppy Project is an opportunity for breeders in the US and CA to contribute to important research on puppy socialization and behaviour development. The content of this blog, including external links and all information was provided by Quinn Rausch, and all questions should be directed to them. Background to the Puppy Project To what extent does a young puppy’s experiences affect their behaviour later in life? Every year thousands of puppies are purchased in Canada and the United States and yet little is known about the rearing environments of these dogs or attitudes of breeders around common breeding practices (ref. 1). Previous research from other countries suggests that breeding practices and attitudes can vary greatly (ref. 1-4). Early experiences are known to impact adult temperament (e.g., fear and aggression) and to influence the development of undesirable behaviours (ref. 5-7). Experiences during this period appear to be more influential than any other period (ref. 6-9). A puppy’s first critical period for learning and socialization begins at 3 weeks of age when senses and motor skills become more developed and extends to approximately 14 weeks of age (ref. 5). Broad exposure to a range of different stimuli during this period is thought to be necessary for normal behavioural development. However, it is not clear how much exposure to particular stimuli is sufficient to prevent fear-related issues, and whether early experiences prior to purchase can be protective against inadequate socialization in the new home. Competitive behaviours are also observed in puppies as early as 3 weeks, and some have suggested that early competition might reflect general tendencies that can lead to resource guarding behaviours later in life. Again, the role of early experiences prior to sale have not been fully explored. The majority of studies examining fear and aggression in dogs are based on data collected retrospectively from primary owners of adult dogs and information before purchase at 8-9 weeks of age is not available (ref. 10-14). These early experiences and management practices (0-8 weeks of age) may increase or decrease the likelihood of an undesirable behaviour developing and are important to consider. There are a number of factors that might be influential during this period, including maternal behaviour, food and resource management, and early socialization experiences but they have not been thoroughly studied. Meet the researcher My name is Quinn Rausch (they/them pronouns) and I am a PhD Candidate in the OVC Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Lab under the guidance of Dr. Lee Niel. I have always been fascinated by the relationship we have with non-human animals that share our planet and are ingrained in our society with diverse roles such as companions, entertainment, food, workers, lifelines, etc. I developed my interest in animal behaviour and welfare research early in my undergraduate degree in animal biology through volunteering and spending my summers doing research fulltime. Outside of my research, I am interested in military and service dog training and hope to meld my military career with my academic one to promote the welfare of these invaluable members of our society. Join the Puppy Project A part of my PhD research examines how breeding dogs and puppies are managed in Canada and the United States with a series of five surveys for dog breeders. These surveys will: determine which puppy and bitch management practices are common within the breeding community determine whether there are demographic variables that are associated with certain practices (e.g., breed club or community membership). In future research I will also explore whether particular management practices are protective against development of fear, competition and related undesirable behaviours. In other words, I want to know what works to encourage healthy behavioural development in dogs! The first survey about puppy management is now open for participation. This survey focuses on how breeders care for and manage puppy environments from birth onwards, as well as breeder requirements around puppy sales (e.g., owner screening, puppy health checks). If your dog has had a litter of puppies in the last two years (whether you are a breeder or not) and you live in Canada or the United States, you are eligible to participate. Each participant in each survey will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win a $100 Amazon gift card as a token of our gratitude for participation. Overall, the results of these studies will allow us to understand how to best manage, train and socialize puppies while they are still with the breeder, and once they are in the home. My aim is to work collaboratively with breeders to improve canine breeding programs and canine welfare. Results of these studies will be published in academic journals and shared on our website and social media. Updates can be found on our lab website or our Facebook Page as well as other research projects, opportunities, and recruitment: Website https://niel-lab.uoguelph.ca/sample-page/participant-recruitment/the-puppy-project/ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OVC-Companion-Animal-Behaviour-and-Welfare-Lab-942402815800631 If you have any questions about this research, please feel free to get in touch with me directly by email at companion.welfare@uoguelph.ca Survey Series Survey 1: Puppy Management Participate here! Link to Survey 1: https://uoguel.ph/puppysurvey1general Over the next six months I will be releasing the remaining four surveys including: References 1. Dendoncker, P., De Keuster, T., Diederich, C., Dewulf, J., Moons, C. On the origin of puppies: Breeding and selling procedures relevant for canine behavioural development. Vet. Record. 2019, 284, 710. 2. Worboys, M., Strange, J., Pemberton, N. 2018. The Invention of the Modern Dog: Breed and Blood in Victorian Britain. Johns Hopkins University Press. 3. McMillan, F. 2017. Behavioral and psychological outcomes for dogs sold as puppies through pet stores and/or born in commercial breeding establishments: current knowledge and putative causes. J. Vet. Behav. Clin. Appl. Res. 19: 14-26. 4. Nagasawa, M., Mitsui, S., En, S., Ohtani, N., Ohta, M., Sakuma, Y., Onaka, T., Mogi, K.., Kikusui, T. 2015. Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds. Science 348: 333-336. 5. Scott, J.P. & Fuller, J.L. 1965. Genetics and the social behavior of the dog. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 6. Howell, T., King, T., Bennett, P. Puppy parties and beyond: The role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior. Vet. Med. Res. Rep. 2015, 6, 143 7. Scott, J. Marston, M. 1950. Critical periods affecting the development of normal and mal-adjustive social behavior of puppies. Pedagogic. Semin. J. Gen. Psychol. 77: 25-60. 8. Scott, J. 1957. Critical periods in the development of social behaviour in puppies. Psychosomatic Medicine. 20: 42-54. 9. Fox, M., Stelzner, D. 1966. Behavioural effects of differential early experience in the dog. Anim. Behav. 14: 273-281. 10. Guy, N., Luescher, A., Dohoo, S. 2001. Demographic and aggressive characteristics of dogs in a general veterinary caseload. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 74: 15-28. 11. Haug, L. 2008. Canine aggression towards unfamiliar people and dogs. Vet. Clin. Small Anim. 38: 1023-1041. 12. Hsu, Y., Sun, L. 2010. Factors associated with aggressive responses in pet dogs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 123: 108-1041. 13. Blackwell, E.J., Twells, C., Seawright, A., Casey, R. 2008. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behaviour problems as reported by owners in a population of domestic dogs. J. Vet. Behav. 3: 207-217. 14. Tiira, K. Lohi, H. 2015. Early life experiences and exercise associate with canine anxieties. PLoS ONE 10: e0141907.
  25. In This Issue: News & Highlights A Closer Look at the Bernese Mountain Dog Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  26. This article on Bernese Mountain Dogs is part of a series to highlight the Big Picture of health, welfare and breeding and to help develop Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles (GRIHPs) for many breeds. See IPFD's Get a GRIHP! on Breed Health Initiative There are many others doing great work to advance heath, well-being, and welfare in this wonderful breed. We reference and link to terrific work, developments, reports, and research from the UK, USA, Sweden, Finland and more below. Thanks to all of those working on behalf of Berners. This is a 'living document' - so if anyone has more material to share or point us to - please let us know!
  27. Is "tough talk" or "open dialogue" - and why is it a challenge in the dog world? As often happens, the same topic comes up several times in a short space of time - and from different sources and angles. Someone asked me why do many kennel clubs not record or link any health information to pedigrees, when in most countries kennel clubs are under a mandate to not only register dogs, but also to protect the health of those for whom they are responsible? Explanations might include that pedigree people truly care for their dogs and breeds, and may have come to simply assume that because of that they must be acting in the animals' best interest... or, perhaps, they are rather afraid that might not be so, and they are not willing to face open, transparent statistics and information on health... or, it is too time-consuming and expensive. Notwithstanding, the priority for attention to health as part of the responsibility for registration is very evident among many of the IPFD Contributing Partner kennel clubs; but it is certainly not true of all national organizations or breed clubs. Today, Embark (one of our Sponsor Genetic Test Providers (GTP) in the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) posted on Facebook a quote from a panel discussion I participated in as part of their online Summit. Although it comes across as very direct, and might take people aback, it is really just factual. A couple weeks ago I posted a blog called Linebreeding vs. Inbreeding – Let’s be perfectly clear. That post sparked a lot of discussion on Facebook. And yet, the message was very basic. That is, linebreeding is a form of inbreeding and "Linebreeding/inbreeding - by definition - reduces genetic diversity. By how much depends on the closeness of mating pairs and the time/number of generations over which the process is repeated." Really, there should have been nothing surprising or shocking about that blog. But it seems, straight-talk, clear, fact- and evidence-based discussion, seems to startle some in the dog world. Of course, others find is refreshing and welcome it. Bodil Carlsson, in her blog Collie Friends, in Sweden, posted blogs recently with translations from our IPFD document: Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions. In her discussion, she welcomes the 'straight talk' but is somewhat surprised to hear it from someone who is an official capacity in the dog world (i.e. the CEO of IPFD). She says (Google translation to English): "[Is it surprising] ... because plain language is uncommon in the dog world, especially from leading people: they tend to have too many interests to consider to speak out." That may be a very valid, but sad point - except I truly do not think it reflects us! IPFD prides itself on being impartial yet able to talk plainly and practically about issues in the dog world. Because we are an independent and multi-stakeholder organization, one of our great strengths is being able to address challenging issues from a Big Picture view - relatively unhampered by limited or member-focused priorities. Personally, there are many occasions when I endeavour to be somewhat diplomatic, compassionate, and aware of sensibilities. However, I try hard not to let that distract from evidence-based reality. Because, let's face it, dealing with the major issues about pedigree dogs and all dogs requires participation from all stakeholders. The challenges across groups - e.g. veterinary organizations, researchers, breeders, breed clubs, kennel clubs and other cynological organizations, the pet industry, regulators, owners, and society, in general - will not be solved by ignoring the fact that all those groups have a say in the overall health, well-being and welfare of dogs. This is why the Reframing document talks about the roles and responsibilities of people in all sectors and calls on all those who care for dogs to step up. Not just the extremists; not just the loudest voices on social media; but the vast majority (I hope) who represent a sort of 'middle'. For example, those who support the breeding of pedigree dogs - but want a clear indication that the health and longevity of purebred dogs is a priority for all those who breeding them. And those who represent breeds not (currently) highlighted as having health issues who must speak up and demand increased stewardship from those responsible for the most challenged breeds - because it matters - to all dogs. And, as I have said, all this, with a little less emotion and more evidence. As Bodil said in her blog - in response to a quote from the Reframing document about confrontational actions looking like protectionism - it looks like protectionism, because it is. Next steps? A few specific ideas... As others have suggested - read, ponder, discuss - your role and personal responsibility. (Note: The Collie Friends blog, on our Reframing doc is thought-provoking. In my google translation to English there is a term 'reindeer breeds' which I believe should be 'purebreds'.) Encourage open discussion among others - open and brave and realistic. If you are a pedigree breeder or member of a breed club - start making recommendations on how to prioritize health and longevity, and maintain genetic diversity (e.g. limit use of popular sires, use a wider and larger representation of the available breeding population, use tools for health testing, genetic testing, measure of breed health, etc.). And try to move people to prioritize health before appearance or winning in the show ring. Participate in work to further define the Big Picture of health in your breed - see our Get a GRIHP! program, do health surveys, share!! Support leadership in kennel clubs as they try to focus on programs for health - don't fight them. Speak up loudly in support to balance against those in opposition or who embrace avoidance and denial. Veterinarians - look for ways to support the breeding of healthy dogs, without mainly pointing fingers at others; collaborate with breeders, educate owners. Check our out Meet the Breed features in the Word Small Animal Association Bulletin. Legislators - look at the Big Picture, embrace collaboration rather than confrontation, look at the long term implications, not mainly actions that will be popular in the short term. See our presentation to APDAWG in the UK. Check out more ideas in our Think Globally, Act Locally - Promoting Open Dialogue and Collective Actions document that will continue to evolve with more ideas on moving forward - together. NEED INSPIRATION? There are individuals and clubs approaching health in a proactive way and embracing strategies for breed improvement. Find them! Participate. We highlight them in so many areas on dogwellnet.com including in Breed Specific Health Reports, and there are tools and templates to help. If you have something to share - let us know. And let me return the favour to Embark, with another quote from their Summit. I view this as sage advice from someone with great business acumen and a commitment to the health of dogs and dog populations. Is that tough talk? Maybe. Is such talk needed, for the benefit of dogs and dog people? Absolutely. Let's all keep doing everything we can - personally and collectively for these breeds and dogs who give us so much !!
  28. The panel of expert veterinarians and breeders at the Embark Canine Health Summit (15-16 Feb. 2021) discussed the importance of genetic diversity and population management in K9 Health and how to apply these practices to breeding programs.
  29. Dr. Brian Hare is a core member of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience, a Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology, and Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. His Keynote Address, Is Your Dog a Genius?, was delivered at the Embark Canine Health Summit on 15 February 2021.
  30. The epidemiology of stifle joint disease in an insured Swedish dog population https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/vetr.197 Engdahl, K, Hanson, J, Bergström, A, Bonnett, B, Höglund, O, Emanuelson, U. Epidemiology of stifle joint disease in an insured Swedish dog population. Vet Rec. 2021;e197. https://doi.org/10.1002/vetr.197 Abstract Background: Stifle joint diseases (SJD) are common in dogs and include a variety of diagnoses. The objective of the study was to provide an overview of the epidemiology of SJD in insured dogs. Methods: An historical single cohort study of dogs insured in Agria Pet Insurance (2011–2016) in Sweden was performed. Incidence and relative risk (RR) of SJD was calculated for the whole dog population and for subgroups divided by breed, breed group and sex. Results: The study population included almost 600,000 insured dogs (>1.7 million dog-years). Ninety-three different stifle joint diagnoses were reported in 9624 dogs, and the most common were cruciate ligament rupture and patellar luxation. The incidence of SJD was 55.4 cases per 10,000 dog-years at risk. Bulldog and boerboel had the highest RR of SJD. The breeds that accounted for the highest proportion of all SJD claimed dogs were mixed breed and Labrador retriever. Female dogs had a slightly increased RR compared with male dogs(RR1.06,p = 0.006). The incidence increased yearly during the observation period. Conclusion: The study demonstrates breed-specific differences in incidence of SJD in dogs, which may be of importance for breeders, dog owners and veterinarians. excerpt... ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank Agria Pet Insurance for access to the database and especially Monica Dreijer, Peter Nord Andersson and Jan Mikael Yousif for support with data access and processing. The financial support from Agria Pet Insurance is gratefully acknowledged. Also see DWN's related content Breeds with Swedish Insurance Data Agria - IPFD Partner
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