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  1. 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
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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."
  6. Version 1.0.0

    257 downloads Executive Summary The EU Dog & Cat Alliance was established in 2014 and brings together dog and cat welfare organisations from across the EU. The Alliance is calling for EU action to build a better Europe for dogs and cats. Currently there is no EU legislation protecting cats and dogs in the context of commercial practices, other than rules on transport and health requirements when moved over borders. Legislation to protect the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices is therefore left to EU Member States. National legislation can vary greatly across the EU, with strict legislation in some countries, and little at all in others. This situation can have serious consequences for animal welfare, but also for animal health, human health, consumer protection and the functioning of the internal market. To assess the national legislation relating to dogs and cats involved in commercial practices in the EU, the EU Dog & Cat Alliance gathered information on identification and registration, breeding, trade and surgical mutilations from each of the EU’s 28 Member States on the basis of a list of questions. The results are summarised in this report.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. This article discusses the benefits and risks to imposing extensive health requirements on the breeding of dogs, and outlines the alternate approach of the Norwegian Kennel Club. The full open access article is available in our Downloads section under Breeding: Animal welfare in modern dog breeding by Astrid Indrebø - One of our DogWellNet Experts
  10. See Brenda's Blog: Responsible Breeding and Sourcing of Dogs - Bonnett Swedish Vet Congress Oct 2020
  11. 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
  12. 2013 2013 Discussion Forum Speaker: Chris Laurence, AWF Trustee The 'AWF Impact Session – what happened next?' We look back at some of the most talked about animal welfare issues from recent Discussion Forums (2006-12) and explore how these issues were taken forward. This video offers a historical perspective of animal welfare issues in the UK. A complete group of AWF/BVA videos in the Discussion Forum is at: • The videos cover many species; dog's/companion animal's welfare concerns are included in some of the talks. Also see AWF's website:
  13. 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
  14. From the First International Conference on Human Behaviour Change for Animal Welfare Visit the Human Behaviour Change for Animals website: See more videos from the HBCA organisation at... Also see: Kelly Arthur's Blog post, Welfare Consultations to Improve Pet Wellbeing and Generate Revenue
  15. 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)
  16. Think Globally, Act Locally - Promoting Open Dialogue and Collective Actions Our world is better because we share it with dogs. Let's share responsibly! IPFD has published an article (and done a Press Release) entitled: Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs: A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration and Collective Actions (see more below). This article aims to build on the call to action in that publication, with further resources and suggestions on moving forward, and eventually to direct stakeholders to tools to help us pursue individual and collective actions. This will be a 'living document' as we add links and resources over time, including reporting on the efforts of others, globally. Our aim is to encourage open and respectful dialogue, collective and collaborative actions, and a global perspective on issues affecting the health and welfare of dogs, including the impact of human dog interactions, the culture of dogs, legislative approaches, and emerging challenges. 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. We are stronger together. Everyone who wants a great future for dogs has a role to play. IPFD has a mission to bring people together for the good of dogs. Below you will find ways to participate and lots of information, links, resources, and tools. These will expand and evolve over time.
  17. 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.
  18. Link to a talk by Dr. Bonnett and to further resources... For additional comments and resources: See Brenda's Blog... Responsible Breeding and Sourcing of Dogs - Bonnett Swedish Vet Congress Oct 2020
  19. Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions For all those who want a sustainable future for healthy pedigree dogs. Author: Brenda N. Bonnett, DVM, PhD, CEO, International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) Note: This article is available in Nederlands, English, Suomeksi, Français, Deutsch, and Español (download below).
  20. Our Dogs Newspaper: IPFD and our Call for Collective Actions for Dog Health and Welfare Our Dogs Newsletter is a respected and highly subscribed information source, especially for the dog show community, in the UK and around the world. Our Dogs is a subscription-only site, however, articles can be purchased. We are pleased and grateful that they have not only shared our Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions document, but they have also published an editorial as well as an article by David Cavill in their 16 October 2020 Issue. A few excerpts follow. Authors of editorials and articles in Our Dogs have also been calling on the dog show world to participate actively in discussions and actions for dog health and welfare. In his piece, David Cavill re-iterates IPFD's statements on the need for collective actions from all stakeholder groups: "It is refreshing too, that for once a report is not simply a demand for further legislation: it is much more sensible in that it asks that we consider the psychology of pet ownership, our personal commitments and attitudes to all pets and ‘work together for what is truly in the best interest of dogs and the people who care for them’. Brenda also recognises that there are no quick and easy solutions but that what is needed is a roadmap to engage everyone involved. She concludes that those ‘deeply committed to ensuring the survival of all that is good about pedigree dogs need to participate in open and respectful dialogue to identify actions for the benefit of all dogs and people. Each of us should honestly consider how our own attitudes and actions – or inaction – have contributed to the current situation and then together find a positive way forward'." IPFD is working towards a 'roadmap' for next steps and welcomes comments and contributions as to what tools and resources would best support actions. We have a start in our article Think Globally, Act Locally - Promoting Open Dialogue and Collective Actions, and this will be a dynamic process. In the Our Dogs Opinion piece, the author mentions previous material they have posted on the extremes of opinions in the dog world, and how that polarity does not help to foster collaborative and collective actions. We recently wrote in this column: “At one end the extreme traditionalists seem to take a hard line which tells the rest of the world to ‘keep their hands off our precious breeds’ and to‘mind their own business’. At the extreme margins of this group are those who appear not to recognise that there is any problem at all in the various short faced breeds concerned. This is probably an untenable position." “Diametrically opposed to this group are those that think that concessions should be made and breed standards adapted to meet the demands of the fanatical animal rights people. They think that only by making dramatic changes to breed standards and substantially changing their appearance, will the banning of those breeds be able to be prevented." “The middle ground is surely where the sensible proponents of the brachycephalic breeds ought to be.” "The main thrust of Dr Bonnett’s essay is that “Rigid attachment to the status quo of the show world or denial of pressing issues in specific breeds will not protect pedigree dogs.” In saying they "wholeheartedly endorse" the IPFD Call to Action, Our Dogs is helping to foster collaboration and to motivate those concerned with a sustainable future for health pedigree dogs. Here's to engaging all those 'in the middle'!
  21. According to a press release from the University of Surrey in the UK: "Movement of German Shepherd Dogs is dependent on their shape". Perhaps most people might first respond like I did, i.e. No Kidding! I do not think it takes an anatomist or veterinarian or experienced dog person to think that the dogs in these images might 'move differently' and that it likely would have something to do with their shape. But hey. We all try to find catchy titles for press releases. This one is to introduce new research from a group at the University of Surrey. Table of Contents Research on Movement and Posture of German Shepherd Dogs and Labrador Retrievers Locomotor Problems - GSDs and Labradors Research Design and Findings Take Home Message Research on Movement and Posture of German Shepherd Dogs and Labrador Retrievers. Biomechanical comparison of standing posture and during trot between German shepherd and Labrador retriever dogs Humphries A, Shaheen AF, Gómez Álvarez CB (2020) PLOS ONE 15(10): e0239832. "This study provides a detailed quantitative description of the trotting movement and standing posture of the GSDs and LRDs by presenting kinetic and kinematic parameters for each breed, together with conformation measures." (HINT: There are many many research and review articles on gait analysia, kinetics and kinematics. Feel free to Google. But, basically, knowing that these tests are done in labs with advanced equipment and analyses that yield objective, quantifiable, and repeatable information on normal and abnormal gait in dogs is probably enough to get you through this. For many more resources, videos and links, see Additional Resources, below.) Locomotor Problems - GSDs and Labradors I am sure the authors were not surprised that shape influenced gait. They say "It is widely accepted that canine breeds stand and move differently depending on their individual breed characteristics [1–3]. A number of pure canine breeds have a higher prevalence of common musculoskeletal disorders such as hip and elbow dysplasia [4,5]." [Note: See these and other references in the article from link above or PDF attached below.] The two breeds in this study are at high risk for both these conditions. See Demography and disorders of German Shepherd Dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK from our IPFD Collaborating Partner VetCompass, and the chart below from the Swedish Insurance Data. Note that in these Life claims, GSDs had higher risk compared to All Breeds (yellow line) for death (euthanasia) due to hips and elbow than Labradors. Also note the marked higher risk for spinal problems (would include lumbosacral issues) in GSDs. See full Agria Breed Profiles for breeds. "Conformation measures and resulting movement patterns have been previously reported", say the authors, and they go on the review the techniques and findings on conformational differences, in general, and between dogs with and without hip dysplasia. And make the point that kinetic measurements can show differences in dogs where lameness may not be obvious to an observer. Research Design and Findings What is particularly new in this research: "To date, there are no studies comparing GSDs and LRDs nor describing any breed in standing posture." ... "Objective descriptions of standing posture, gait and body morphology may be key in identifying links between mechanical and anatomical features. This will lead to an improved understanding of the consequences of combining features that may favour abnormal joint loading and therefore result in pathology over time." The main goal of the research was to develop baseline parameters for standing and trotting, together with conformation measures and to compare between the breeds. As I read to this point I was thinking... and what about differences within a breed - especially as there are considerable variations in conformation/type in each of these breeds? For GSDs and Labradors. In the Discussion, the authors clarify that they did not select on or differentiate between show and working lines, in either breed. This is unfortunate, as the study would have been much more impactful with that comparison. Twelve dogs of each breed were recruited. And, as they only included dogs that were healthy and not lame, (and rightfully so!) they would likely not have recruited the most extreme dogs. Findings: We won't go into details here - their material is technical, but well-presented in the article. I would highlight this result. The GSD has increased flexion in the lumbosacaral joint (between the spine and the pelvis), which resulted in a greater incline of the lower back and increased pelvic tilt compared to LRDs. The GSDs had "more flexed hocks and stifles, extended hips and shorter tibias". You can see their figure 9 which shows the effect on the hind end of the GSDs compared to the LRDs. Take Home Message You cannot breed for a 'look' or appearance on the outside without changing what is on the inside! Unfortunately - this may not be in the best interests of a sound dog. The authors site a study by "Fischer and Lilje, 2014 in GSDs, where 10 GSDs from a working background and 14 GSDs with a background in the show ring were studied" which showed even shorter hind limb bones in the show line GSDs. Lumbosacral disease is known to occur at high risk in GSDs - and even if quantitative evidence is limited - it is not unreasonable to hypothesize that there would be some impact of the conformation/anatomy. And, So? Most breeders, especially of active or working breeds prioritize structure and movement in selecting dogs for breeding. Certainly, in the show ring, movement is an important criteria - in fact, observing the dog in motion comprises the majority of the judge's time and attention. Many of these breeders and judges will have a personal library full of books on canine locomotion and anatomy. Canine movement is exceptionally diverse and well-studied. However, as we have seen for some - breeders, show hobbyists and owners - extremes in body conformation have become trendy or desirable. The research described in this blog was no doubt prompted by a situation at the Crufts dog show in 2016, when a GSD displaying extremely compromised movement was awarded Best in Breed. The dog's agitation was cited as a contributing factor, however, it seemed obvious to the public that the extreme curvature of this dog's back affected her ability to move and the spectacle that day was deemed unacceptable. Of course, those who prefer and promote the sloped conformation of latter-day show German Shepherds tend to claim there is no negative influence on them. So we come to my mixed feelings on this research: 1. Well done research. Some concern about the number of dogs and the selection for them. Nice to see locomotion linked with conformation. This will support further work to address impacts of conformation on health. 2. Really? Do we need this level of proof when, if we are honest about what we observe and employ common sense we would acknowledge that the extreme conformation of many GSDs obviously and not surprisingly impacts their movement? I guess there are at least two questions: Does it matter? and Who decides? So, we come again to where we have been before. Do people in favour of extremes of conformation "Don't know? or Don't Care" - see this blog, e.g. Have they consciously decided that satisfying their ideals in terms of dog design is justified regardless of the impact on health or welfare, or a dog's ability to perform normal functions, activities and behaviours? Or do they simply feel that the impairment is unimportant or insignificant? Whatever the case, as we have seen with brachycephalic issues, it seems that more facts and research evidence do not necessarily convince them there are problems. But at least, research like this gives those trying to make improvements more evidence for their claims. Identifying the most deleterious characteristics which affect health and welfare of breeds and working towards breeding healthy dogs, in the long run, will benefit both dogs and the people who love them. PDF of original research : Shape influences biomechanics U of Surrey Oct 2020.pdf Additional resources: At the 2nd IDHW we had a session on movement with German expert Martin Fischer (referenced in the article): see Dogs in motion: Interdependencies of skeleton, muscles and locomotion: 2nd IDHW: Abstract: More on locomotion in canines: Standards, Health and Genetics in Dogs - Chapter I - Gait, movement and related characters in various selected breed standards - Martin S. Fischer (Germany) 1.0.0 For a write-up on The Jena Study referenced in Pr. Fischer's section of this book see: This Nordic 2017 symposium PDF has a really nice write up on Martin Fischer's work - has some details... For further information available on the VDH's website see "Dogs in Motion" : Prof.Dr. Martin S. Fisher from Jena University in Germany has presented the results of the most extensive study worldwide concerning the motion of dogs and demonstrated precise insights into their course of movement for the first time. Prof. Fisher's book Dogs in Motion explores the locomotion of dogs in a highly scientific yet easily accessible manner. An innovative illustrative style brings the dog anatomy to life and makes clear the way in which the skeleton, the muscles, and locomotion fit together. Based on the results of the largest-scale study on the subject ever carried out, an experiment that involved over 300 dogs and 32 different breeds, the book delivers completely new insights into the motion sequences performed by dogs. The accompanying DVD (without sound-files) features over 400 movies, X-Ray movies and 3D animations and demonstrates both the variety and uniformity of dog locomotion with unparalleled precision and clarity. Video of Breed Judging for GSD at Crufts in 2016:
  22. Finnish Investigation: Improving the implementation of animal welfare legislation in animal breeding Part II: Preliminary analysis of problems and means of intervention in the breeding of dogs Officially published in Finnish; unofficially translated to English. This investigation describe and attached here (see below) was summarized in Finnish report: An investigation would curb problems with dog breeding through monitoring criteria and ethical delegation. (That link contains a translation of the Summary written by the Finnish Food Authority as well as link to Kirsi Saino's Commentary, IT MUST BE POSSIBLE TO PROMOTE THE HEALTH OF DOGS EFFECTIVELY IN THE WHOLE OF FINLAND which was recently posted on the Finnish Kennel Club's website.) The full report/investigation outlines monitoring criteria with the aim is to eliminate dog breeding that causes the animal suffering and hereditary diseases. It is encouraging that the recommendations from the Finnish authorities are based on the excellent investigation described below and that they included authors and experts with a background in and understanding of pedigree dog breeding as well as veterinary science. For example, Katariina Mäki, PhD (animal breeding) and researcher, participated as an independent expert, and with the permission of Kennellliitto (the Finnish Kennel Club, FKK), where she is employed as a Breeding Expert. Through her role with the FKK, Katariina is a great collaborator with IPFD and has provided excellent content to (see below) and participated in the International Dog Health Workshops. Legislative and monitoring efforts for pedigree dogs and all dogs are more likely to be effective when efforts proceed collectively rather than unilaterally.
  23. Get a GRIHP! on Salukis This article on Salukis 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. PLEASE NOTE: This installment is just the beginning...we will add further statistics and information as they become available.
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