Tuesday, February 23, 2010

C-Sections at the Kennel Club

A Mastiff gets a c-section.

A study paid for by The Kennel Club, and published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice notes that in some breeds, the vast majority of dogs are now born cesarean.

The study looked at 151 breeds that reported on at least 10 litters. A total of 13,141 bitches, whelping 22,005 litters, were included in the analysis. The frequency of cesarean sections was estimated as the percentage of litters, by breed.

The top ten breeds for cesareans were:

  • Boston Terrier (92.3%) (#19 AKC breed in 2009)

  • Bulldog (86.1%) (#7 AKC breed in 2009)

  • French Bulldog (81.3%) (#24 AKC breed in 2009)

  • Mastiff (64.6%) (#27 AKC breed in 2009)

  • Scottish Terrier (59.8%) (#52 AKC breed in 2009)

  • Miniature Bull Terrier(52.4%) (#125 AKC Breed)

  • German Wirehaired Pointer (47.8%) (#74 AKC breed in 2009)

  • Clumber Spaniel (45.2%) (#128 AKC breed in 2009)

  • Pekingese (43.8%) (#53 AKC breed in 2009)

  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier (41.4%) (#151 AKC breed in 2009)

What's the cost of a c-section on a dog? Anywhere from $500 to $1,200 or more.

There were only seven breeds for which there were no reported cesareans. These were the Australian Silky Terrier, Curly Coated Retriever, German Pinscher, Hamiltonstovare, Irish Terrier, Pharaoh Hound, and the Portuguese Water Dog.


HTTrainer said...

Had a discussion with vet on this subject. He agreed that this is not good for dogs. If the dogs can't naturally breed then there maybe other problems lurking in the DNA code.

Pai said...

C-sections are on the rise because it's more convenient, controlled, and 'safe' (no chance of a breach, etc.), not always because the breed 'can't whelp'. With the huge investments of money and time those pups represent, many breeders don't want to take the risk of letting nature take it's course.

But yeah, most of the bulldog-shaped breeds have such a high failure rate they just get C-sectioned as a rule, even if the bitch might've been able to whelp naturally without it. The breeder would never let her try to begin with.

Pai said...

The German Wirehaired Pointer which you list, with a nearly 48% C-section rate, isn't extreme at all. For whatever reason, it's just become 'the thing to do' among people in that breed. And like I said before, it's becoming more and more common in breeds where you wouldn't think it necessary due to their conformation. Because it's more about protecting an investment and not wanting to 'risk' the loss of even one pup, which could represent thousands of dollars.

In a country where HUMAN females are getting convenience c-sections quite frequently (which is something I find disturbing), how can we expect people to view that same practice in dogs as something outrageous? It's not a coincidence that as human beings have embraced over-medication and excessive medical procedures for ourselves, that it's on the rise for our animals as well.

PBurns said...

The differential rates in cesarians are due to differences between breeds.

Yes, at some point there is a tipping point, and the vet has an easier time selling an unnecessary service which the client may even request because they assume ALL births to the breed are going to be FUBAR, but that is NOT happening with most breeds.

The breeds with high cesarians rates are those that have been SELECTED FOR DEFECT by kennel club breeders who pay blind obedience to contrived standards requiring big heads and narrow hips or distorted bodies (or all three).

Let's be clear: the dog breeders are SLICING UP THEIR DOGS UP for the vanity of a show ribbon. There is NO other reason to breed dogs with these kind of extreme morphological exaggerations.

And let's be clear that THIS COULD NOT HAPPEN without the participation of veterinarians who pocket the cash, and whistle pass the problem in silence.

Neither the AVMA nor any private coalition of veterinarians have stood up to speak out about Kennel Club breed standards in this country.

Welcome to the Kennel Club freak show where every mutant dog has some apologist waving away its shortend lifespan, physical incapacitations, miseries and deformities.


an American in Copenhagen said...

How on earth did the wirehaired pointer score "higher" (lower?) than the pekingese?

PBurns said...

American in Copenhagen -- The answer is *probably* a much lower N (total number in sample) which would give you much greater bias do to natural data wobble. Most of the "0" c-section results are dud to the the same phenomenon. Get four or five bitches in there with the same genetic issues (weak pelvic muscles, small hips, big heads), and you can get a "data burp" that may not play out across a larger cohort.

It may also be also be that there is some problem in terms of uterine inertia in this breed. Wirehaired Pointers are built very similar to Doberman (German) Pinschers, but obviously the genetic weaknesses will be different, and perhaps uterine inertia is a problem.

Finally, let us not discount breeder stupidity. How many times do breeders cover much smaller females with larger males? In some breeds it happens all the time, and the result is blockage. The "right way" to breed to avoid c-sections, is same size to same size, or smaller male to larger female. Not alway done, is it?!


Heather Houlahan said...

I know of lines within some non-extreme breeds that cannot breed or whelp naturally. One bitch line that I know of in a popular hunting breed has not had a natural breeding in four generations.

Why don't they tie, or why don't they conceive if they do tie? Dunno -- Nature is Just Saying No to making More Like This. So, surgical insemination.

Why don't they whelp? Either uterine inertia or breeder unwilling to "risk" natural delivery.

Not all hideous deformity is visually apparent.

Jess said...

Pai, but doesn't that put the lie to the mantra that 'responible' breeders don't do it for the money? If saving *one* puppy is THAT important? You spend a couple grand on a c-section and you are already in the hole, if one pup kicks off it shouldn't matter. There is a reason dogs have litters.

Reproductive competence is actually a fascinating subject and spending even a small amount of time on a breeding oriented mailing list will disabuse you of the notion that very many breeders actually give a crap about it. Most don't. They don't breed often enough and their dogs don't have enough pups (close breeding for generations typically reduces litter size) so that they cannot pick and choose among them, for the most vigorous pups coming from the best mothers/easiest whelpers. They are stuck with what they've got if they want to continue 'their' lines.

Patrick, I will disagree on your size thing. It may be important with toy dogs, but I keep large sighthounds (Salukis, Afghan, Azwakh) and they often have a big size disparity between bitches and dogs. Newborn pups are pretty much the same size, whether they are born to a big bitch or a small bitch, big sire or small sire; litter size seems to affect pup size somewhat (larger litter, smaller pups, smaller litter, bigger pups.) My litter from a large Afghan cross bitch to a small Afghan dog (six pups) had pups of the same size as my big Saluki bitch/big Saluki dog litter (five pups). A good bitch, properly fed, with a 'normal' number of pups for the breed, should not have problems.

PBurns said...

Can't speak to running dogs, but in putaitve working terriers, the problems come from putting over-large males to small females. The size differential may be only 2 inches at the shoulder, but in terms of absolute size (weight) it's quite a lot (maybe 50 percent more weight on the male than the female) and it seems to have an effect on cesarian rates, which is why the best advice I know is from Eddie Chapman, which is to "breed down hill" -- smaller males to larger females. Hard to find a good small male these days!

Of course, a problem across a lot of pedigree dog breeds may be Kennel Club obession with heads, which tranlates into dogs with big heads and big chests (needed to carry those big heads).

It's the heads and chests of pups that got up caught inside. In fact, head shape and size does not have much to do with working terriers or working dogs of most varieties so far as I can tell. That big head on a Mastiff? What use is that when the dog cannot run like it once did? The old mastiffs, as David Hancock notes, were a lot lighter and could run distances like a hound. No more!

Something has been lost, and what has been lost is knowledge of what it takes to do the job. So many breeders are pretenders and fantasists!


Heather Houlahan said...

I agree with Jess.

Sexual dimorphism varies by breed, making the small male/big bitch notion a near-impossibility in many medium or large breeds. Beagles of either sex seem to be about the same size, but this is not true of many working and hunting breeds. A 20# gender disparity is normal in GSDs, and 10-15# not unusual in our English shepherds. Neither breed generally has much trouble whelping. (The GSD is mysteriously missing from the study you reference -- wtf?) Puppy size at birth generally has little to do with adult size, though as Jess points out, bigger litters tend to have smaller individuals.

Maybe small breeds would have less dystocia if they were less inbred, and therefore averaged larger litters of smaller pups. This is an alternative explanation for the high incidence of dystocia in Scottish terriers -- a notoriously inbred breed that I'm guessing has a small litter size.

Pai said...

Pai, but doesn't that put the lie to the mantra that 'responsible' breeders don't do it for the money?

Of course it does. I'm not defending it, I'm just saying there's more to the subject of rising c-section rates than simply 'unnatural conformation' and inbreeding depression. There's a cultural component to the fact that more pet owners and dog breeders feel blase about over-medicating and over-treating their dogs -- because it's becoming a norm in people, too. I'm not claiming it's a good thing, nor do I think it's 'okay' to breed dogs unable to whelp naturally.

PBurns said...

The Kennel Club and the German Shepherd community seems to be at a cross roads. Though every other breed sent in usable 2004 health survey results, the GSD data was too thin to use I am told. Basically, the GSD (often called the Alsatian in the UK) is such a healthcare basket case they do not want anyone looking over their shoulder. The Kennel Club is pushing things to a point here. See >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2010/02/battle-of-britain-for-german-shepherd.html

I think in the end, the KC may have to simply replace the GSD club in the UK with a new one with health dogs. The club they have now is wedded to, and invested in, defect. But of course, defect actually DEFINES a lot of other breed standards doesn't it? The GSD, of course, was not supposed to be one of them.


wftmom said...

Interesting piece. And the comments are almost even more informative. I totally agree with Patrick, it's ignorant and borderline cruel to breed dogs that are unable to whelp naturally.
I used to have a GSD and it hurts me to see what's being done to the breed in the ring. I have noticed the working GSD's are still in good condition though. I know a few cops and their dogs still resemble GSD's of the past. I guess, like Labs there are two versions? A working and a show variety? One can only hope.

Retrieverman said...

German wire-haired pointers are supposed to be tougher than nails and very versatile. It's the most common working gun dog in Germany and Austria.

However, this dog is split in two separate strains (at least in North America). I'm assuming that the KC dogs are all what we'd German wire-haired pointers.

You cannot call them Drahthaars (at least in North America). Drahthaar does mean German wire-haired pointer in German-- just as Teckel can mean dachshund. However, in North America, we have a working registry for Drahthaars, which is based upon the German registry system.


That is actually the best website I know on this particular breed.

As an "improved" and "standardized" breed, they have only existed for about 100 years. If you look in their pedigrees, you'll be surprised to find poodles (and these are not pudelpointers, which are indeed a similar breed).

I wonder what the C-Section rate is on one of these dogs. The Nazis used to make propaganda films with the dogs, showing how eugenics made tougher and smarter animals.