Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Well there has been plenty of comment about the BBC program 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed'. I guess that it will continue for some time, and rightly so.

We had a lot of dogs dumped on us with hereditary problems like hip dysplasia and entropion (ingrowing eyelids). There are also behavioural problems like retrievers who can't and aggressive labradors.

There are responsible breeders , but some who don't care. I knew someone who bought a pedigree German wire-haired pointer as a puppy, and which started to have fits as it grew up. The breeder knew that the sire had fits but still bred from him and didn't warn people! Grossly irresponsible.

Breeding for looks only is not a very good idea. There is a divergence between working dogs and show dogs.
If you look at old pictures of dogs you can see huge changes in some breeds. The bulldog is a good example of bad breeding practice. They used to have longer legs and more open faces and could work. Look at them now!

Here are some examples of what I think is bad breeding to 'standards'.

  • Bulldogs - The body is now a strange shape. Many show dogs cannot mate without human assistance, or give natural birth
  • Boxers - Suffer from life threatening issues such as heart disease, high rate of cancer, brain tumours.
  • Pekingese - Breathing difficulties and overheating
  • Pugs - Breathing problems, slipping patellas (knee joints), entropion (in turning eyelids)
  • GSDs - Severely sloping back: 'half-dog, half frog'
  • Golden Retrievers - High cancer rates, hip dysplasia
  • Cavalier King Charles - Most have heart problems. Nearly a third have skulls too small for their brains - an agonising condition
  • Shar-pei - Suffer from entropian (in-growing eyelids, a painful condition)
  • Dalmatians - Deafness

There are more examples!

If you are interested in letting your views be known or in signing a petition here are some links.



Dogs Trust are suggesting you write to:

Lord Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health at Defra,
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

For interesting and informative comment from good sources try these.


http://www.coldwetnose.blogspot.com/ ( Beverly Cuddy editor of Dogs Today magazine)
http://www.terrierman.com/ (click through to the blog)
http://www.dogsworld.co.uk/ (a trade paper - out of fairness)

The Kennel Club has released a statement in defence of pedigree dogs:

The Kennel Club feels that the programme, Pedigree Dogs Exposed (BBC1 19 August) missed a real opportunity to progress the cause of dog health. It appeared to have a very specific agenda repeating prejudices, providing no context for the debate, and failing to put forward constructive proposals. It left viewers with the mistaken impression that all pedigree dogs are riddled with a wide range of health problems and that the dog community is doing little or nothing to improve the situation. This is patently not true.
Whilst the Kennel Club was shocked and saddened by the dramatic imagery used in the programme, and accepts some of the important issues raised. What it does not accept is that these problems apply widely across the 200 plus breeds in the UK. Pedigree Dogs Exposed also failed to show the real progress being made by both the Kennel Club and responsible breeders in improving dog health or to recognise that 90 percent of dogs will not suffer from health problems that have a detrimental impact on the quality of life.
More than that, the programme drew upon a new study on dog genetics by Imperial College to underline its criticisms of dog breeding, without acknowledging the fact this study was entirely enabled by the Kennel Club as part of its commitment to health research. This research will now provide the Kennel Club with a valuable scientific platform to enlist the support of breeders in tackling key health problems where they occur.
Commenting, Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club spokesperson, said: "In reality the gap between some of the views expressed on the programme and those held by both the Kennel Club and most responsible breeders is very small. Over the last 20 years we have been working to develop tests and health screening schemes to identify and eradicate problems, many of which are historic. One example of this is the elimination of canine leucocyte adhesion deficiency (CLAD) in Irish Setters, that caused early death in puppies which was eradicated through the concerted efforts of both the Kennel Club and Irish Setter breeders.
"However, it is important to put this into context. The Kennel Club has no legal standing, unlike some similar bodies in other countries. We have to work on these issues through partnership and persuasion – not coercion. The danger of introducing draconian measures is that some breeders could choose to operate outside the Kennel Club’s jurisdiction; with absolutely no controls. That cannot be the best way forward.
"The programme also made some sweeping, and far from accurate assertions. The Kennel Club refutes that it would put ‘looks’ above the health of pedigree dogs, in fact we actively discourage the exaggeration of features in any breed. The standards have been, and will continue to be amended when necessary to ensure the breeding of healthy, well conformed dogs. Dog show judges are also educated to judge to those standards ensuring that dogs with obvious problems that could affect their quality of life do not win, and that the rewards go to fit, healthy dogs. All of this of course is dependent on the responsibility of breeders and owners – and this is where our efforts must be concentrated."
"We can state categorically that the majority of pedigree dogs in the UK are healthy. We increasingly have in place checks to monitor health issues going forward. In those few breeds where there are problems, including those highlighted in the programme, we have been and will continue to work with breeders to improve long term health through the development of tests and screening programmes."
Kennel Club health initiatives include: funding research to identify problems and develop efficient screening for health, such as eye testing and hip scoring; the introduction of the Accredited Breeder Scheme, to act as a ‘kite mark’ for responsible breeders; and most recently the launch of a major campaign which seeks further to promote health improvements across breeds - ‘Fit for function – fit for life’. This, in conjunction with breed clubs, focuses on tackling unnecessary exaggeration in some breeds, whether that is of coat, weight, skin, angulation, eye formation or shortness of muzzle. All dogs should be fit for function, even if that function is to be a pet - all dogs should be able to see, breath and walk freely.
"By their lack of context, programmes such as Pedigree Dogs Exposed, far from helping the situation run the risk of damaging the work already being done. This work will not be carried out by TV production companies – but by the hard work of the Kennel Club and the country’s responsible breeders," said Caroline Kisko.
In summary, health issues are of primary concern to the Kennel Club but changes cannot be made overnight. We are working proactively with breeders to make these changes – but we are dealing with the legacy of 100 years. What we need is the support of experts such as those featured in the programme, not their condemnation – support which we have indeed received from a number of respected bodies such as The Animal Health Trust, The Blue Cross and the British Veterinary Association

Terrierman (an excellent blogger) has already had a good read of the report and here is his summary :

1. The study is based on a 10-breed sample of 2.1 million dogs in the Kennel Club's electronic pedigree data base. The Kennel Club's database contained records of a total of 5.7 million dogs from 207 breeds as of the end of 2006. The Kennel Club's electronic data base was begun in 1970.

2. This is the first systematic attempt to study Kennel Club population structure using The Kennel Club's own pedigree database.
3. The 10 breeds examined were: the Rough Collie, the Golden Retriever, the Boxer, the English Bulldog, the Chow Chow, the Greyhound, the German Shepherd Dog, the Labrador Retriever, the English Springer Spaniel, and the Akita Inu.
4. The researchers note that inbreeding condenses and exacerbates genetic disorders with a population:
"Dog breeds are required to conform to a breed standard, the pursuit of which often involves intensive inbreeding .... This has adverse consequences in terms of loss of genetic variability and high prevalence of recessive genetic disorders. These features make purebred dogs attractive for the study of genetic disorders, but raise concerns about canine welfare."
5. The researchers note that many dog breeds are associated with specific genetic disorders that have been magnified by inbreeding:
"Many diseases affecting dogs have high prevalence in one or a few breeds, such as Addison’s disease, common in Portuguese Water Dogs (Chase et al., 2006), interstitial lung disease in West Highland White terriers (Norris et al., 2005), and dermoid sinus in Ridgeback dogs (Salmon Hillbertz et al., 2007)."
6. The authors found disturbingly high levels of inbreeding within most Kennel Club breeds they looked at:
"We find extremely inbred dogs in each breed except the Greyhound, and estimate an inbreeding effective population size between 40 and 80 for all but two breeds. For all but three breeds, more than 90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations, indicating a dramatic effect of reeding patterns on genetic diversity."
7. The number of generations studied ranged by breed from 5.9 in Greyhounds to 9.0 in the German Shepherds, with an average over the ten breeds of 8.0 generations of dogs analyzed.
8. Popular sires are part of the problem, but not all of the problem.
"Popular sires (defined here as > 100 recorded offspring) are evident in all breeds except Greyhound. Golden Retrievers have the largest proportion of popular sires (10%), and conversely the lowest proportion (5%) of male dogs that are sires. . . . Highly-prolific dams (> 40 offspring) are concentrated in three breeds: German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever. Most dams have just one litter recorded."
9. A closed registry system is the core of the problem.
"Dog registration rules have only been rigidly enforced for about 50 years, prior to that occasional outcrossing was still possible."
10. The Kennel Club needs to change the way it does business.
"We have found that the loss of genetic diversity is very high, with many breeds losing over 90% of singleton variants in just six generations. On the basis of these results, we concur with Leroy et al. (2006) that remedial action to maintain or increase genetic diversity should now be a high priority in the interests of the health of purebred dogs. Possible remedial action includes limits on the use of popular sires, encouragement of matings across national and continental boundaries, and even the relaxation of breed rules to permit controlled outcrossing."

Plenty of food for thought there.

On a final note, I think that banning Crufts won't achieve anything. There is a real need to stop the breeding of dogs which have serious problems. Possibly by having all registered breeders dogs checked by independent Vets and the compulsory neutering of dogs and bitches if there is a serious problem.

Monday, 25 August 2008

That's a Fine mess You've Got Into - Dog Mess That Is! Clean Up Your Act & Scoop The Poop!

Dog mess is unpleasant to step in and nobody wants their young children getting it on themselves.

It doesn't take many irresponsible dog owners to create a noticeable problem and we all get the blame for it.

Local Councils are taking strong measures to deal with the problem of dog faeces :
  • Big fines for dog owners
  • Banning dogs from certain areas like playing fields and children's play areas
  • Insisting that dogs are kept on lead in all public places. This includes fields with a public footpath running through it.
  • Threats of CCTV surveillance

All we have to do is take a supply of bags with us and clean up as we go.

I buy purpose made bags at a local petshop. They are cheap. You can use carrier bags, but be careful of the holes!

I have found it useful to buy 2 types of bag, one is longer than the other and a bit more expensive. The bigger bag is useful for a large output, or if it is sloppy, or in long grass.

I don't use any special tools. All I do is turn the bag inside out, put my hand in it, pick up the mess, pull the handles back over and tie off. Then drop it into the nearest bin. You can legally do this if the bag is securely tied. EASY! No problem. Everyone is happy.

Notice how the black bag comes further up my arm - better for bigger problems!I've picked up the mess at this point

Bag tied off and ready for disposal.

Lost, Stolen or Strayed Update. Useful Internet Links for Lost Dogs

Just an update to my last blog entry on lost dogs. (Monday 18th August)

I forgot to add the power of the internet in trying to find your lost dog!

Useful links in no special order :

There are others of course. Just enter 'lost dogs' into you search engine and take your pick.

Finally, a true story on the usefulness of microchipping your dog.

A stray Jack Russell terrier was brought into the rescue by the local dog warden.

We scanned it and found a microchip. Fortunately, the owners registered details were up-to-date (very important!) and we were able to reunite the dog with the joyful owners.

The little dog had been stolen from the Bristol area the day before and ended up in the East Midlands!

There are 3 lessons to learn from this :

  1. Have your dog chipped
  2. Keep your details up to date
  3. Search nationwide for your lost dog - not just locally. A stolen dog can be moved a long way in a few hours. This is where the internet can be of great help. You can register with a lost dog site and upload details of your dog plus a photograph.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Lost, Stolen, or Strayed - What To Do If Your Dog Goes Missing

Losing your pet dog is upsetting and worrying, but there are practical things that you can do to find your missing dog. All common sense things to do, but, in the panic of the moment, easily forgotten.

If you are on holiday still do this. Your dog won't be familiar with the local territory unless it has been there before.
  • Search the area systematically and call your dog's name loudly!
  • Your dog may find its way either to the car or back home, so phone home and keep checking the car.
  • Ask other people to keep a look out. Give them a contact number.
  • Put up posters with a clear picture of your dog, a description and your dog's name. Add your contact details. Consider offering a reward.
  • Contact the local dog warden. They work for the council.
  • Contact all animal rescues in the area.
  • Contact local vets
  • The local radio station may have a spot for lost animals or may put out an appeal.
  • Try the local police station. The police no longer have a responsibility for strays, but may have had a report. Also, they will know if dog thieves are operating in the area.
  • Go nationwide if necessary. Put an ad in the dog magazines and papers. (e.g. Dogs Today, your Dog, Dog World)
  • Don't give up. Check with everyone at regular intervals. Missing dogs do turn up - even after some time.
  • If your dog has pet insurance, you may get a sum of money to help you recover your dog, e.g. to pay for advertising.

Prevention is better than cure, so I advise doing the following.

  • Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an identity disc securely attached. This should have your name and address (this is required by law) and a phone number. Keep the details up to date.
  • Have your dog microchipped. If it loses its collar or disc the chip is still there. Dog wardens, vets, and many animal rescues have scanners and will check any stray that comes in.
  • Make sure that the microchip registration details are kept up to date.
  • Don't leave your dog tied up alone outside of shops, etc. They can be stolen in seconds.
  • If you have to leave your dog alone in a vehicle (with windows open enough for ventilation and in the shade!) make sure that it is in public view.

One last thing - dog theft. This is a nasty business which the police are starting to take seriously. Dogs can be stolen because of their value. They can also be kidnapped (dognapped is a term sometimes used) for ransom. The people who do this sort of thing are scum. Threats of mutilation and death are made. I've heard of dog owners paying thousands of pounds to get their much-loved pets back.

Good luck to anyone in this position and don't give up hope. There's a lot of goodwill and help out there.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Taking Your Dog On Holiday - Pet Passports, Dog Ticks, Dogs In Cars, Pet Friendly Accomodation

Continuing on the holiday theme!

There can be quite a few potential problems when taking your dog on holiday.
- Are you going abroad with your dog?
- Do I need to worry about dog ticks and Lyme's Disease?
- Is your dog car sick or travel sick?
- Where to stay with your pet dog?
- What if my dog falls ill?
- What to do if you have to leave your dog in the car.

Going Abroad with Your Dog - Pet Passports

You will need to plan ahead and allow plenty of time to organise the paperwork, vaccinations, microchip, and rabies blood tests. You also have to arrange to see a vet before you return home.

Refer to my Dogs A-Z blog archive for 23/02/2008 and 10/02/2008

Also I suggest visiting the following links:

- the DEFRA site : http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/pets/index.htm

- the British Veterinary Association (BVA) :


Ticks On Dogs and Lyme's Disease

Ticks have to be remove completely and carefully as soon as possible. The bite must then be very thoroughly cleaned.

Lyme's Disease is curable if caught early. If you suspect any problems get help at once - don't wait until you get home.

Please refer to my Dogs A-Z blog archive for 19/03/2008 , 19/07/2008, 10/05/2008

Als0 visit the following links :

Is Your Dog Travel Sick?

- Your vet can prescribe drugs, but they can make your dog very drowsy for much longer than the journey time.

- Get a car sick dog used to the car. Feed it in the back of your vehicle while it is stationary - the dog then associates it with something nice! Take your dog on increasingly longer trips ( stop before it gets sick!)

- Ginger settles the stomach. A ginger biscuit given before the start can be beneficial.

- Take plenty of breaks. Give your dog a short walk.

- Make sure the dog is comfortable (my greyhounds have their quilts to lie on)

- Ensure plenty of ventilation through the vehicle

- Only give a very light meal before departure - or possibly starve.

- Important. If travelling by air speak to your vet and the airline. This is also a good idea if taking a long sea crossing.

See my Dogs A-Z blog archive for 23/02/2008

Where to Stay with Your Dog

Pet friendly accomodation is so important.

- Look out for 'Pets Welcome' or 'Dogs welcome' signs and descriptions.

- There is usually a dog symbol in holiday guides

- Speak to your friends and colleagues

- Ask the locals if your stuck, including the local Tourist Board.

- Always check with the owner that they will accept your dogs

Finding somewhere to eat can be problem.

- Again ask the locals

- Don't be afraid to walk into a pub and ask if dogs are allowed. You can almost always sit outside with them at tables.

What if my dog falls ill on holiday?

- Look on the internet or yellow pages for vets in the area where you are going BEFORE leaving home.

- If your dog is on medication make sure that you have enough.

- Take your vet's phone number in case they need to be consulted.

- Make sure your pet insurance is valid and take the certificate or policy details with you

- Take a doggy first aid kit. You can buy these.

- I suggest that you have the following items: a) claw clippers, b) tick remover c) muzzle (if your dog needs one for vet type things) d) salt to make solution for bathing cuts etc. e) wound powder for small cuts etc. f) blunt ended scissors g) micropore tape h) cotton wool i) kitchen towel j) tweezers

Dogs In Cars

A potentially serious problem! AVOID doing it.

Obviously try to avoid leaving your dog unattended for long periods.

Beware of dog thieves!

Plenty of ventilation - all windows left open by at least 4 inches/ 10 cm. (the width of your hand)

Leave the car roof open - hot air rises!

PARK IN THE SHADE - an absolute must. Temperatures can soar in minutes inside a vehicle - even with ventilation

Offer your dog water to drink at regular intervals

Check often

Take it in turns for somebody to stay with the dogs with the doors open if possible

The hottest time of the day is around 3pm in the UK.

A Final Word On Going On Holiday With Your Dog

Prepare everything in advance.

Take plenty of poo bags

Don't forget your dogs food, bowls, toys, leads, bedding, medication.

Above all Relax and Enjoy!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

We Took the Dogs on Holiday to the Lake District - Our Greyhounds Loved It.

We've recently got back from a great holiday in the Lake District just south of Coniston. The weather was fantastic. It was warm enough to have a swim in the sea! There were very few visitors where we were staying. Our two greyhounds loved it.

The dogs love the car (an estate) and are really good travellers. In fact, greyhounds are good travellers.

We stayed in a cottage on a farm. You can walk straight out onto the fell. Dogs are very welcome.

A lot of the local pubs are dog friendly. We were able to have the dogs with us while we had a meal, as long as no other diner minded them being there. Good local food and beer.
One pub we went to was The Greyhound Inn near Broughton-in-Furness. Dogs welcome (subject to the approval of the resident dogs!). They have a Pharaoh Hound. I can highly recommend this pub. More details at http://www.lakedistrictletsgo.co.uk/greyhoundinn.html

This is Olive our greyhound girl (12 years old) refusing to leave the beach!

There was a strong wind blowing the sand so we had to watch the dogs eyes. If this happen gentle bathing with clean warm water or salt water (a teaspoon per 500ml) will usually clean the eyes.

She also enjoyed the sea! (which was good for her paws - another corn has appeared.)

Olive doesn't do much uphill work now. She has arthritis. So when we went up on the fell we were able to leave her behind in the cottage. Now that is dog friendly accomodation!

Boris, our 6 year old greyhound dog, loves the fell. So did our old boy Spot. We put some of his ashes upon the fellside.

To make for easier walking I use a long lead rein instead of the usual clip lead. It only cost me £2.50. By putting a knot in the end of the rope you have a good hold. We don't let the dogs off lead on the fell because of the sheep that roam free.

The fells are covered with tall bracken at this time of year (July/August). Tick country. So I had to remove a few from Boris. We also had to check ourselves as well as the dogs. This particular place isn't too bad (Woodland Fell), but a couple of miles away we've had a big problem with ticks.

There is normally a visible path through that lot!

Anyway a good time was had by all!