Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pedigree Dogs Exposed Generates Research

From the Sydney Morning Herald comes this article:

Hip Pain a Bone of Contention for Pedigree Pooches

Lissa Chrtopher :: December 24, 2009 .

THE case for pedigree dog breeders to stop pursuing exaggerated physical traits and focus instead on breeding healthy animals has been strengthened by Australian research published in The Veterinary Journal.

Dog breeds with relatively long bodies for their height were significantly more prone to hip dysplasia, found Taryn Roberts and Associate Professor Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney faculty of veterinary science. In hip dysplasia the ball joint ''slops'' around in the socket, wearing away cartilage and bone. The condition dooms many dogs to a life of crippling pain and costs owners thousands of dollars in vet bills.

Treatments include hip replacement, about $6000 per hip, stem cell therapy which costs about $5500, and a lifetime of medication. Many dogs with the condition are euthanased.

The hip dysplasia research comes after Pedigree Dogs Exposed, a controversial BBC documentary shown in Australia in September, found many dog breeds in Britain were plagued by health problems that were the result of breeding for extreme physical characteristics, and the mating of closely related dogs. Australian pedigree dog breeders employ many of the same practices and breed standards.

Pedigree dog breeders and show judges had ''inadvertently exacerbated'' the prevalence of hip dysplasia by preferring longer-bodied dogs and enshrining the look in breed standards, Professor McGreevy said. The condition is particularly prevalent in labradors, pugs, dogues de bordeaux, St Bernards, neapolitan mastiffs and basset hounds.

Taller and more square-shaped dogs were less likely to suffer hip dysplasia, he said.



Pai said...

Interestingly, Pugs are not long-backed, but square, which the study says should predispose them -against- getting hip dysplasia. Conversely, they also tend to be very, very fat, which I'm sure contributes to stresses on the joints, as it does with any dog. I'm not sure about the other breeds, but they all seem to be heavy-boned, massive types, which is another stress on the skeleton in general.

When defining 'hip dysplasia', was the study using OFA scores or PennHIP scores? Both? Or using dogs that were actually suffering from arthritis of the hip joint vs ones that tested poorly but had no visible issues? Because a passing grade in one test can be a failing grade in another (since both test different things), and also, many dogs with a 'poor score' in one or the other never end up with arthritis at all. I'm also surprised that GSDs didn't make their 'top 6' list.

Carolyn Horowitz said...

I don't know a thing about the others, but Saint's aren't supposed to be long. An overly long back is called out explicitly as a fault at least under the AKC standard. The Saint is really a 'slightly longer' breed, 7-10% longer than tall. Visually they should appear almost square.

The SBCA has a detailed discussion of proportions in their Illustrated Standard on their website. It's been there for years. I have a Saint we decided not to show partially because she was long.