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  1. 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.
  2. 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. Resources on including: Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs; Extremes of Conformation | Brachycephalics - includes links to FECAVA, BVA, other resources) Bonnnett, BN, Blog on 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
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. This article highlights DogWellNet content and resources that can assist puppy buyers, new or existing owners, dog breeders, breed managers and veterinarians to answer basic questions that pertain to health, welfare, management and breeding of dogs. And to find link to international resources. Do you have a question about a breed - about a breed-specific health condition - about health screening or genetic tests? Are you looking for guidelines or example programs that can enhance practices that improve the quality of human and dog interactions? Through collaboration and working with our partners and breed experts we are continually compiling and collating information that may be helpful to you. Check into often... bookmark this page for a list of resources. - so much better than a Google search or social media post: Impartial, accurate, evidence-based data, information, and commentary from IPFD consultants and global experts In collaboration with our partners - kennel and breed clubs, academics, specialists and veterinarians; international resources The Big Picture - how the complexities of health, welfare, and human-animal interactions come together. For all dogs.
  7. This Golden Retriever article has been compiled as part of the IPFD's series to highlight the Big Picture of health, welfare and breeding and to help develop Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles (GRIHPs) for many breeds. The creation of this content has been supported by the Morris Animal Foundation. ♦ Read about the Morris Animal Foundation's Golden Retriever Lifetime Study – the largest prospective, longitudinal study in veterinary medicine in the United States.♦ 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 Goldens. This is a 'living document' - so if anyone has more material to share or point us to - please let us know!
  8. Get a GRIHP! on Welsh Corgis This article on Welsh Corgis 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.
  9. Get a GRIHP! on Dachshunds This article on Dachshunds 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. Finnish report: An investigation would curb problems with dog breeding through monitoring criteria and ethical delegation As we have been reporting, there is a surge of regulatory efforts to address concerns about the health and welfare of pedigree dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds, in several countries. The potential impact on not only dog breeders and pedigree dog organizations, but also on dog owners and even veterinarians may be considerable, as well as on many stakeholders in the pet industry. It is apparent that some of these efforts are proceeding unilaterally rather than collaboratively, however, discussions about these issues have been ongoing for many years, without the change that many think is necessary. See, for example: Challenges for Pedigree Dogs: Regulatory Enforcement of Brachycephalic Dogs in the Netherlands; which includes links to responses from various other stakeholders and kennel clubs. The regulatory body (Finnish Food Authority) in Finland has published the Summary (below) on 02 Sep 2020. This is a brief overview of recommendations based on an investigation (separately reported see links to the original 89-page report and English translation, below). This report follows numerous other investigations and regulatory decisions being undertaken in various countries, prompted by concerns for dog health and welfare, especially, but not necessarily limited to, brachycephalic breeds. IPFD has been following and reporting on such developments, and where possible, adding links to actions being taken by national kennel clubs. The Finnish KC is an IPFD partner. Please see The Finnish KC's website for commentary on the Report at: KOIRIEN TERVEYTTÄ PITÄÄ PYSTYÄ EDISTÄMÄÄN TEHOKKAASTI KOKO SUOMEN KOIRAKANNASSA. (Finnish) Article Title, English Translation: IT MUST BE POSSIBLE TO PROMOTE THE HEALTH OF DOGS EFFECTIVELY IN THE WHOLE OF FINLAND. In her commentary, Kirsi Saino focuses on cooperation and "... emphasizes that health problems must be addressed in the entire dog population if sustainable results are to be achieved."
  11. 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, 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
  12. 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.
  13. 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 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 !!
  14. Royal Canin is a global leader in pet health nutrition. In an industry that continues to adapt to popular trends in cat and dog food, our mission will remain the same; to constantly bring, through Health Nutrition and shared knowledge, the most precise nutritional solution for cats' and dogs' health nutrition needs, by building on constantly deepened scientific knowledge and Royal Canin's roots in the feline and canine professional networks.
  15. IPFD is creating a series of articles on the Big Picture of health and welfare within breeds as resources for veterinarians, owners, caretakers, breeders and others who want to understand the key issues for individual dogs and breed populations, internationally; under the 'Get a GRIHP!' initiative, i.e. Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles.
  16. What are the Consequences of Inbreeding Dogs? Dr. Aaron J. Sams, Embark Senior Scientist The following lecture was given in February 2021 at Embark's Inaugural Canine Health Summit. More information on the Summit is available on DogWellNet. See: IPFD and the Canine Health Summit Feb 2021 by Embark Veterinary
  17. Understanding health issues and conditions in dogs is challenging, no matter whether the dog is purebred or of mixed heritage. An individual dog's health and quality of life are influenced by his/her genetic makeup and by the environment. Here we offer resources to assist breeders in making sound decisions about selection of dogs used for breeding.
  18. The Big Picture - in the Dog World as a Whole and for your next Breeding Decision Note: This topic was prompted partly by IPFD's participation in the Canine Health Summit (videos available) put on by Embark Veterinary. See our Q&A article on breeding and genetics topics here. My last blog in 2020 was on the Big Picture in the dog world - it was about Reframing Discussions, globally. Based on our document...the blog describes a webinar and links to presentations discussing all the stakeholders in dog health and welfare and their individual and collective responsibilities. IPFD's great friend and collaborator, Ian Seath has started 2021 also looking at the Big Picture - and the consequences of ignoring it. 2021: Time to see the bigger picture – my January “Best of Health” article - please, read it! Ian gives great examples from the world of dogs and parallels with the Covid situation. I'd like to focus on his comments on health testing, i.e. that a narrow focus on available DNA tests without careful consideration of other health concerns in the breed or line, getting hung up on one mutation and overusing 'clear' sires, and falling in with the marketing ploy that doing all sort of tests is evidence that you are a 'good breeder' are not best practices for breeders. I have just published another blog entitled 'Inbreeding vs. Linebreeding: Let's be Perfectly Clear' where I discuss that topic in the context of the 'art and science' of dog breeding. I worry that not only have many people strayed from an adequate focus on the Big Picture, they may have also dropped common sense as a key component of decision making. Why do people struggle with really embracing the Big Picture or bringing the broader context into decision-making? Do people shut down when presented with complex problems? Can they just not be bothered to think that hard? Are they pressed for time? Maybe it is 'yes' to all of these. But sometimes it is because they just want to do what they want to do and not be faced with a wider responsibility. For example, when legislators come out with dramatic regulations that do not take into account the full situation and are therefore unlikely to fix the real problem and/or likely to have unintended consequences - was it really an oversight or an accident? Or are they mainly focused on an immediate impact and not concerned with long term effectiveness? Do they admit this - at least to themselves? When breeders focus on simple solutions - does that reflect a lack of understanding or is it wishful thinking? For example, wouldn't it be great if just doing DNA tests would discharge their responsibility as a 'good breeder'? Everyone seems to be looking for a silver bullet, simple instructions, black and white do's and don'ts when, in fact, we all know that health, reproduction, mating of dogs, long-term breeding strategies, etc. involve many aspects of humans, animals, biology, genetics...and the one thing it is not and never will be is SIMPLE! And when things go wrong, it hurts people, dogs, and the dog world. One of the issues raised in the webinar on Reframing Discussions is that even within stakeholder groups there is a wide spectrum of individuals and attitudes, beliefs and actions. And that variability is magnified across countries and cultures. It is often difficult for those with a passionate commitment to their own hobby, lifestyle, and relationship with animals to understand and accept the views of others. Consciously or unconsciously. And this leads to judgmental behaviour and rifts. Although it is often a challenge, I try hard to be non-judgmental. It is very clear to me that how dogs and dog breeding is approached, embraced, and regulated even within the show world is very different across regions, e.g., the USA vs. Sweden. I can understand and accept that some have a passionate commitment that dogs are sentient beings with rights (almost) equal to humans while at the same time there are others who 'love dogs' and yet see them as property. That is just the way it is. There is not - and never will be - one ideal for dog breeding; no one definition of best practices. What frustrates me most, however, is when people say one thing, and do something different. Particularly, when their action or inaction leads to suffering - theirs, that of those who buy their puppies, and especially of the dogs themselves. As the popular saying goes, paraphrased, you cannot keep doing things the same way and expect a different outcome. You cannot do linebreeding and increase genetic diversity. It is extremely unlikely that you can make breeding decisions to maximize the likelihood of a win in the show ring and achieve optimal health and longevity in all your dogs, or the breed. You cannot breed dogs with extreme conformation and think their health and welfare will not be affected. As I talk about in the blog on inbreeding, what I hope for is for people to be perfectly clear. It is obvious that individuals and groups, to varying levels across and within countries or within breeds, have come to accept the impacts - for better and worse - that have happened due to selective breeding. Perhaps most feel that the good outweighs the harm, driven by their underlying attitudes and beliefs. Regardless, they accept the situation, they live with it, they may celebrate the good and lament the not so good. Some do not accept it and drop out of breeding or showing. Others may come in to the sport simply accepting the way it is, that challenges are 'normal for the breed'. When I ask breeders to be 'perfectly clear' I am asking them to look at the Big Picture, and really evaluate where they are in it. To be aware of how they function, how they make decisions, and be realistic about the outcomes. Accept that, in the main, barring unfortunate accidents, what you see in your breeds is what people wanted/prioritized in breeding. If you and your club say you want longer-lived dogs with less cancer and that is not happening - it likely means people are not truly prioritizing those goals. Just to be clear. And of course, this is directed at breeders mainly associated with the dog exhibition world. And we are increasingly aware that in many countries, that group produces a minority of the dogs that end up in pet homes. However, challenges in that regard do not release anyone in the 'Fancy' or show world from their responsibility to their dogs, their breeds and dogs in general. Leadership is needed - to benefit all dogs everywhere. There are not simply either good or bad breeders - there are multiple ways to classify those who produce and sell dogs. But for this and some other issues in dog health and welfare we will be more effective at implementing change if we accept that even if we cannot perfectly define 'best' we can probably identify better vs. questionable, and especially some unacceptable practices, attitudes, or characteristics. Then we can eliminate the latter, and promote the positives.
  19. See Brenda's Blog: Responsible Breeding and Sourcing of Dogs - Bonnett Swedish Vet Congress Oct 2020
  20. 2016 See Dr. Brenda Bonnett's presentation from the First International Conference on Human Behaviour Change for Animal Welfare. HBCAW website: All presentations from the conference are available from HBCAW's YouTube channel. Also see DWN's: Human Dog Interactions Category. How Beliefs and Attitudes about Dog Health and Welfare Limit Behaviour Change PDF: Don’t Know or Don’t Care_Bonnett_Sandoe_2016 HumanBehaviourChangeConference
  21. 2015 View IPFD Board member (emeritus) Patricia Olson's presentation at The Role of Clinical Studies for Pets with Naturally Occurring Tumors in Translational Cancer Research: A Workshop (June, 2015) Summaries from the workshop are available. Best-practices for conduct of clinical trial for animal patients "Patricia Olson, an independent consultant and former president and chief executive officer of the Morris Animal Foundation and advisor to the American Humane Association, discussed the importance of strategic, collaborative, and humane research that considers the needs of pet patients and owners. Increasingly, she said, pets are viewed as family members. A 2011 poll by Harris Research found that 69 percent of survey respondents had a dog, and 92 percent of those respondents considered the pet to be a family member. A majority of respondents allowed their pets to sleep in their beds, and some frequently purchased holiday present for their pets. A recent issue of the journal Science described some of the deep connections between canines and humans, Olson said. Canines were the first domesticated animals, for example, and humans and dogs have evolved shared hormone signaling and brain networks that encourage their interaction. The hormone oxytocin facilitates social connections between humans and dogs, and when humans view their dogs, the same common brain network for emotion is activated when mothers view images of their children (Grimm, 2015). Olson next discussed attitudes toward the role of pet patients in research. In general, she said, women are less inclined to be in favor of animal research, and they outnumber men in animal protection movements. Positive attitudes toward research are dependent on the type of research, she added. For example, research studies that might help the pet patient are looked on more favorably than those that will not. Olson said that trials for pet patients should be designed to advance disease prevention as well as to develop new therapies. She also mentioned several ethical considerations that should be discussed before launching a trial, including the appropriateness of delayed conventional therapies, limits on tissue and blood collection, and whether pet patients are likely to benefit from clinical trial research. Olson suggested that pet patients should be considered similar to pediatric patients, noting that both need independent advocates to provide informed consent. She added that pet owners are a vulnerable population; a distressed and worried owner may not be the best independent advocate for the pet patient. Means should be found to communicate with diverse populations, she said, and she noted that stores selling pet products have large databases of information on pets and pet owners. These databases might be useful for finding improved methods of communication with the owner community, she said. She concluded by saying that pet owners can become partners in the research enterprise through careful consideration of their needs and expectations for their pets." Also see: Dr. Mathew Breen's presentation at which elaborates on the powerful opportunity possible with identification of genetic factors in the dog contributing to advancing cancer research in humans and Dr. Heidi Parker's - Canine Cancer Genomics at
  22. The Kennel Club has hosted a unique webcast to discuss brachycephalic health and what can be done collaboratively to ensure a healthier future for dogs. Chaired by Kennel Club Chairman, Tony Allcock OBE, the webcast panel comprised Dr Jane Ladlow, European and Royal College Specialist in Small Animal Surgery and leading BOAS researcher; Bill Lambert, Head of Health and Welfare at the Kennel Club; and Charlotte McNamara, Health and Welfare Development Manager at the Kennel Club. The panel discussed brachycephalic health, approaches across Europe, the need for a collaborative, evidence-based approach, including how the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme can help protect and improve the health of brachycephalic dogs now and in the future, and the importance of data collection and ongoing research into the complex Brachycephalic Obstructive Airways Syndrome (BOAS). Further information about brachycephalic dog health, what the Kennel Club is doing and which tools and health screening is available to breeders can be found at:
  23. Learn more the important work being done by IPFD and our contributors as we lead the dog world from information to action - for the love of dogs...and for the people who love them. (Updated November 2020)
  24. Reframing Discussions - What is needed for progress? A webinar sponsored by the All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG), the UK Centre for Animal Law (A-LAW) and Our Dogs Magazine. December 1st, 2020 saw well over a hundred concerned and committed dog people joined virtually in discussions with IPFD CEO Dr. Brenda Bonnett. Organized and spearheaded by Marc Abraham, BVM&S MRCVS, and Lisa Cameron, MP. In September, IPFD published an article entitled: Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs: A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration and Collective Actions. The goal is to bring together all those individuals and organizations who believe that our world is better because we share it with dogs; who believe that pedigree dogs and all dogs deserve good health and welfare; that people involved with dogs have a responsibility to ensure the well-being of dogs whether they are involved as owners, breeders, veterinarians, legislators, in the pet industry or other; that the diversity of ways in which people interact with dogs varies internationally, and traditions and cultures should be respected, but never at the expense of basic dog health and welfare. Key UK canine publication Our Dogs published an opinion piece and a column by David Cavill on the IPFD Reframing article (content for subscribers only). | In a related blog post, IPFD CEO Dr. Brenda Bonnett reflects on Our Dogs' move to "wholeheartedly endorse" the IPFD Call to Action and publish our "Reframing" document - in addition to David Cavill's editorial. Why and what? From APDAWG: "There are many stakeholders in this often complicated world of dog health & welfare. However, we must all first & foremost start with our our personal responsibilities if we want to encourage change. Dr Bonnett will give a presentation about her incredible welfare work & impressive collaborative activity, including pandemic puppy buying behaviour, the need for respectful dialogue, brachycephalic update, as well as a look at effective legislation & regulation of dog welfare." Key participants/panellists: Chair Lisa Cameron MP, Marc Abraham, Tiffany Mitchell, Peter Egan, and others; as well as attendees representing many backgrounds and affiliations. Thanks to all for their contributions! The format included two talks by Brenda (see video below) that were presented separately and interspersed with polls, Q&As and panel discussions. The Philippa Robinson Dog Welfare Award was presented to the individual or organisation that has made a huge positive impact on improving the lives of dogs & humans; the recipient for 2020 is Michelle Clark from Dogs on the Streets. Congrats for great work! Goals and Highlights: In addition to the description above, the webinar aimed to Identify benefits of inclusive and collaborative rather than unilateral efforts, and to be a call to action - for individuals, groups and organizations. Key to the discussion was identification of the wide array of stakeholders that need to be engaged for effective solutions to the complex problems facing the dog world. The impact of both the supply and demand sides of the situation were stressed. Also key is understanding that, just as health/disease and welfare exist not as yes/no entities, but exist rather along a spectrum - so do attitudes and beliefs about dogs. And it is that variability across countries, regions, cultures, and individuals that requires us to both identify where we are and what we need to do, as well as to be aware of (and if possible, accommodating of the issues facing other stakeholders) if we want effective, collective and collaborative actions. Empathy was raised and discussed as an important part of communication and collaboration, even if human attitudes and feelings cannot be used as an excuse to ignore the needs of animals. Further tools are needed to help move from emotion to evidence in sensitive or contentious discussions. Given the interests of APDAWG and many on the webinar, there was a focus on the important role legislation can play in improving dog health and welfare. However, Dr. Bonnett called for increased engagement of all stakeholders in decisions and enactment of solutions, and implementation of monitoring strategies when actions are taken. IPFD and collaborators will be coming forward with a Roadmap, tools, and suggestions as to how individuals and groups can move forward to make real progress in important issues of health, well-being and welfare. Check into our evolving resources on IPFD's platform, especially Think Globally, Act Locally - Promoting Open Dialogue and Collective Actions. Presentation: Full Webinar: Additional resources: The UK Centre for Animal Law (A-law) is a charity which brings together lawyers and other people interested in animal protection law to share experience and to harness that expertise for the benefit of animals, by securing more comprehensive and effective laws and better enforcement of existing animal protection laws. APDAWG is an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) set up in 2017 to explore, highlight, discuss and challenge dog-related activities, legislation, and trends with the overall aim of improving the health and welfare of the UK's dogs and dog owners, and society in general.
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