My heart goes out to a member of our Gordon Setter community who lost her beautiful Gordon companion to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Her heart is broken. Learning, while doctoring to save her Gordon, that the food she had so carefully chosen to ensure her Gordon’s health and longevity, cost him his life instead, added unbearable pain to an already devastating loss.
We want you to be aware that DCM caused by diet has been confirmed in our beloved breed.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, are investigating this potential association.
Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, leading to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen. DCM often results in congestive heart failure. Heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification, if caught early.
The underlying cause of DCM is not truly known, but is thought to have a genetic component. Breeds that are typically more frequently affected by DCM include large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. It is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels. However, the cases that have been reported to the FDA have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds.
Diets in cases reported to the FDA frequently list potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other “pulses” (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list, indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as “grain-free,” but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.
In the reports the FDA has received, some of the dogs showed signs of heart disease, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse. Medical records for four atypical DCM cases, three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, show that these dogs had low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM. The Labrador Retriever with low whole blood taurine levels is recovering with veterinary treatment, including taurine supplementation, and a diet change. Four other cases of DCM in atypical dog breeds, a Miniature Schnauzer, Shih Tzu and two Labrador Retrievers, had normal blood taurine levels. The FDA continues to work with board certified veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the clinical presentation of these dogs. The agency has also been in contact with pet food manufacturers to discuss these reports and to help further the investigation.
Whether you’re a prospective owner researching a breed or an experienced breeder, handler, or judge involved in that breed for decades, there is no better place to learn than the breed’s national specialty show — or, simply, “the national.”
Usually held annually by the breed’s national parent club, the national is more than just a dog show; it’s where dedicated fans of the breed meet together year after year, sharing their knowledge and passion and bringing their best dogs to compete against excellent specimens of the breed from other parts of the country.
As with any dog show, the point of the conformation classes is determination of the best breeding stock to continue the breed — and this point is taken nowhere more seriously than at the national. The national offers a look at the state of the breed and where it’s going.
A class win at the national can be a high point of a dog person’s year, and a Best of Breed or Best in Sweepstakes win can be the crowning glory of a long history in the breed.
But the beauty of the national goes beyond the glory of winning, whether hoped-for or achieved. To a dedicated fan of the breed, nothing matches the experience of seeing a ringful of those dogs that are so pleasing to your eye, wonderfully presented at their best and gathered together in a number that you don’t see anywhere else during the year. If you love that breed, it’s positively heart-stirring.
The national is the best place in the world to spend time with others who share your interest. There is no better opportunity to learn from others about the breed, whether ringside or at the breakfast buffet where everyone meets bleary-eyed after walking and feeding dogs and before launching into grooming.
Most parent clubs hold their national in different parts of the country from year to year. If you are seeking in-depth knowledge of a breed, look up the breed’s parent club and find out when and where the next national will be, and try to attend.
It may seem unbelievable, but at one time AKC often shared detailed information about its legal wrangles. Transcripts, depositions, and trial verdicts were published in the AKC Gazette. Needless to say, this was never an official policy and there was no altruistic motive attached to these uncharacteristic episodes of transparency. AKC did it to make a point. A good example is the case of AKC vs. S. Boehm. It merited three months of coverage, including extensive excerpts from the trial board hearing June 22, 1930.
It centered on an editorial in Dogdom, a monthly publication based in Battle Creek, Michigan. It had a good run from 1900-1941, and its success was built on its appeal to mainstream fanciers. The content wasn’t the most polished or professional. But it delved into the issues affecting its readers, often showcasing them with very lively editorials. And this one hit a nerve at 51 Madison Avenue.
Published in April 1930, it was provocatively titled How Much Longer, O American Kennel Club. The author, S. Boehm was clearly exasperated by AKC bureaucracy- specifically its contradictory treatment of fanciers, skyrocketing fees, and endless fines imposed for dubious infractions. It wasn’t the first, last, or worst journalistic denigration of AKC management. But this author was also a breeder/exhibitor with 16 years in the game. Speed may not exemplify every AKC action, but they were on this immediately. Boehm headed the list at AKC’s next Executive Committee Meeting.
Minutes from the May 20 meeting reported, “ It was moved and carried that the Legal Committee write a letter to the publisher and editor of Dogdom, calling attention to misstatements and other statements bordering on libel… stating that if this policy is continued the matter will be referred to our attorney. It was moved and carried that the Secretary be instructed to prefer charges against S. Boehm for conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the American Kennel Club… and that same be sent to the Los Angeles Trial Board.” On July 18 the Los Angeles Trial Board’s report was presented during another Executive Committee session. “It was moved and carried that the report be received and its recommendation, as follows, adopted: That S. Boehm be suspended indefinitely from all rights and privileges of the American Kennel Club the same to take effect immediately.”
But AKC wasn’t finished. The August Gazette ran a lengthy editorial justifying for the outcome, followed by several pages of testimony from the June 22 trial. They did not share the article that had sparked this contentious incident, instead quoting statements to which AKC “particularly objected.”
Here’s a sampling:
“The AKC has developed into an institution that seems to look up on the dog game as an easy source from which to draw money.”
“Conditions prevail that are absolutely unbelievable. The majority of American fanciers acknowledge this.”
“The AKC is of no use to the average fancier.”
The writer qualified that remark, saying that registrations were the only benefit he’d derived from the organization – and he paid for this service. He specifically questioned why small specialty clubs were charged $50 licensing fees, a considerable sum back then, and receiving no tangible benefits in return. Admittedly, Boehm’s tone verged on volatile, but he raised timely issues. They were especially pertinent to West Coast fanciers who felt completely disconnected from AKC. Boehm wasn’t the only fancier baffled by its contradictory policies and erratic enforcement of rules. Pointing out that some violations received draconian penalties, while others were ignored; he added that many infractions resulted rampant clerical errors by AKC staff, a fact that never seemed to merit consideration. He made rather blunt comparisons between dictatorial government regimes and AKC’s autocratic manner. Even so, by today’s standards, Boehm’s rant seems tame. But AKC was determined to discourage similar journalistic criticism. They retaliated.
Then as now, AKC never suffered a lawyer shortage. When presenting the matter to Gazette readers, they repeatedly emphasized that, “The trial was based not upon the defendant’s criticism of the AKC, but on statements that appeared in Dogdom.” The relative impartiality of AKC trial boards remains a perennial source of debate. In this case, the Los Angeles Trial Board consisted of Al Christy and John Sinnott, chaired by Freeman Ford. They utilized the classic defamation strategy of proving that Boehm’s statements were false and therefore legally actionable. That was obviously the point AKC sought to illustrate when they published this transcript. However, it revealed much more than they bargained for.
They requested that Boehm submit evidence supporting the veracity of his statements.
Instead, he brought five witnesses to testify at his hearing – and he had plenty to say. Like AKC, he used the typical legal defense, contending that his comments were editorial opinion. “The AKC now attempts to deprive me of my privileges not because I have broken one of their many rules, nor because I have committed a fraud, but because I have stated my opinions to the press – and it did not suit the AKC.” Christy responded saying, “I don’t think they mind your opinion, as much as they mind your printing your opinion – broadcasting it.”
That pretty much set the pace for this candid, sometimes comical, documented exchange. More than once, the testimony veered into that discomfort zone about the vague parameters that separate defamation, justified criticism, and the constitutional right to free speech. They sensibly avoided suggesting that Boehm had malicious intent, instead accusing him of inadequately researching the issue before launching his editorial blitzkrieg.
One witness, Z. B. West, admitted that Boehm might have gone a bit overboard, but also took the opportunity to complain about his personally frustrating experiences with the AKC registration department. “AKC clerical and detail work is very unsatisfactory… it seems to me there are grounds for a good deal of criticism of the detail work as it is handled… For example, it took me eight months to get one bitch registered and transferred, meanwhile two wins were cancelled. It took six months to register a litter brother to the bitch.” He cited plenty of detail to support his claim. The trial board wasn’t prepared for that topical detour. They reluctantly concurred that there was room for improvement, and eased through that awkward impasse with a bit of that vintage whine, “good help is hard to find.”
Pasadena breeder/judge Kyle Onstott, the era’s perpetual voice of restraint and reason, also appeared on Boehm’s behalf. “I would like to say that sentences taken out of context do not furnish a particularly good interpretation of the purpose or intent of the article.” His remarks sent the discussion off topic again as they debated the average fancier’s access to AKC rules pertaining to registration procedures and dog show regulations. Bohem chimed in to say that complete information was not readily available since that required purchasing the Gazette “at a fee.”
Another witness, Dr. Frank Porter Miller of Los Angeles, admitted that some rules were needlessly complicated and could seem unfair, “when a specialty club puts on a show of 11 dogs and pays fifty dollars… the article was a little raw, a little bold, but primarily there was a lot of truth in what was said… we should not condemn the opinion of a man.” Then as now, AKC rules were constantly revised and amended, and constituents often had trouble following the plot, especially since AKC did not publish a complete set of rules until November, 1932.
In September the Gazette ran another lengthy editorial. “Since the Boehm case, the American Kennel Club has received an astonishingly large number of letters complimenting the Club upon the verdict.” However, the surprisingly conciliatory tone suggests that those letters touched on a few more issues. Rather than rattling sabers, they brandished an olive branch. Entitled An Invitation to the Press, it stressed AKC’s commitment to transparency.
“Without thorough knowledge, no one can write with intelligence upon any subject. Take the American Kennel Club for example.” It goes on to say that few writers bother to ascertain the facts. “As a rule, he knows very little about the problems that confront the American Kennel Club and its officers. Quite often, he knows very little about dogs. Still, he plunges eagerly into the subject, and offers a lot of suggestions and changes that he believes will be beneficial to the sport, but in reality, are impractical and impossible in operation.” That observation is equally valid today. Misinformation in the mainstream media has fostered a deep rooted and possibly irreparable anti-AKC bias.
“Why these conditions exist has no bearing upon the subject. The American Kennel Club acknowledges that they do exist. And it is anxious to have them altered so writers will get firsthand information regarding the organization.” AKC summed up by suggesting that major publications arrange for regular press visits to AKC headquarters in order to ensure accurate reporting about touchy issues like their obsession with legislative detail, and the reasons for perpetual clerical delays. Registrations totaled roughly 800,000, and the article noted that back in the day when half as many were on file, “business moved considerably smoother than it does today.” Rather ominously, readers were warned that they were approaching the one million mark and, “the situation will become impossible if additional changes are not made in the system employed by the Club.”
AKC eventually reconsidered its harsh verdict against Boehm. His privileges were reinstated and, somewhat paradoxically, he carved out a successful career as a Gazette feature writer. As predicted, registrations soon passed that fateful milestone of one million in 1935. That lucky dog, a Sheltie appropriately called Sheltieland Alice Grey Gown, and his owner, Miss Catherine Edwards Coleman, attended a grand ceremony at AKC headquarters to mark the occasion.
It took half a century to reach that goal, which obviously wasn’t sufficient time to improve procedures to handle the volume of business. Nor did that happen during the next two decades as registrations surpassed five million. By then, AKC was immersed in phenomenal post-war growth. Annual registrations exceeding one million became routine. Since then, AKC has continually overhauled and streamlined procedures to achieve their time honored goal of efficient customer service. A century later it still seems perpetually out of reach.
Although its overall growth has slowed, in my opinnion, AKC never ceases to revise the map with new breeds and events – and endlessly changing rules. I think Boehm would likely cringe to see the current complexity of regulations governing AKC participants. This information is certainly more accessible, but to me that’s the upshot of internet technology rather than any drastic revisions in AKC philosophy. As always, it seems its commitment to transparency waxes and wanes along with the mood of the board. This might not ease your concerns about AKC management. But keep it in mind the next time you feel completely frustrated about your slow progress toward a personal goal.
I’m an owner handler exhibitor – well, I used to be an owner handler before I matured into an older lady who runs with a gimp, if she runs at all – I let a handler do the running these days. But, while I was an owner handler I love, love, loved being in the ring, and it goes without saying that my love amplified to a rock music decibel when I won. I’ve finished many dogs from many various classes, especially Bred by Exhibitor, and I’ve won my fair share of trips to the winners circle at Gordon Setter Specialties. Group judging was beyond what I considered my forte, that’s where I’d really expect a dog to shine, and knowing my limitations, that’s when I would choose to step back and let a pro take the lead. Today, because of my physical restrictions, I content myself to sit ring side leading the cheering squad. And, manning the water bucket…and handing over the brush…and passing out the bait…
With that said, frequently, I hear comments by exhibitors about how political the judging was, or how “the win” was stacked before the show even started. And just as frequently, I happened to agree with the judge’s decision that day (even if my dog lost) which left me wondering if falling back on that oft voiced complaint, was doing more harm to exhibitors than most of us realize. Certainly if you think about it, if my dog with a pro handling was a winner that day, I didn’t think that judging was political…I thought we deserved that win. Wouldn’t you? For the winners sake, and many other reasons, I’m hoping to help bring understanding, especially for folks who are struggling to win, about the many, many variables of conformation judging. Sometimes, and often times, politics had nothing to do with the winners that day. I’d like us to give judges, the pros, and the sport a break, at least when it’s deserved!
When I’m watching judging, I am often overwhelmed with the desire to help some hapless exhibitor gain control over their dog, or grab a dog to help the owner learn a better way to groom, or maybe just to shake an exhibitor into consciousness so they go to the ring when called. I’m no professional folks, I’m just like all of you, but one thing I do know, and would share with you, is my belief and experience that the professional often wins because he or she is a professional, doing a professional job. (can you paint your car, bake cupcakes, do taxes, or any one of a million other jobs as well as a pro?) Most times there is an obvious difference in the ring appearance of a professionally handled dog versus the owner entry, and what I would share is that we owner handlers must develop our skill so we look and act like the pro, to make our dogs appear their best, to present only well-groomed, conditioned and trained dogs, if we intend to compete on an equal level. Owner handlers can and do win without doubt, but we too must do the work of a pro, and earn our wins by showing the judge the best our dog has to offer.
So, I started out to write this blog about what an owner handler can master to be competitive in the dog show ring, when I remembered that well-worn phrase “Google It” and that worked! I found many well written articles that offer the same advice I would write for you. Whether you’re just starting as a novice handling your own dog, or simply believe you “just can’t win”, before complaining or blaming another for your loss, or worse yet leave the sport, perhaps you’ll read this, take time to evaluate yourself and your dog, and objectively consider the “picture” you and your Gordon Setter presented when you lost. Did you do your best but were beaten that time by a better dog, or could you have done something more to improve the odds in your dog’s favor? No, it’s not always your fault your dog loses, but you’ve got to even the playing field first with skill, know your dog’s attributes and faults, and then consider, carefully, very carefully, if politics was at play, or if perhaps, you just don’t agree with this judge’s opinion on this particular set of dogs.
I love owner handlers and I would do anything to help you win, so you learn to love the sport as much as me, because I’ve lived that dream and know it can happen…but if you want really good advice, ask the pros, and take the time, lots of time, to watch them work, really watch them in action. There is so much you can learn there!
There’s a list below, links to articles to help you prepare to win. These are a great place to help get you to the place where you can know the thrill of being a winning owner handler. (Oh, and also “Google It” for yourself, there’s so much more information out there, I’ve only picked a few.)
Finally, go to dog shows to watch and observe. Spend hours watching the grooming, various random breed classes, the Groups etc., paying close attention to the pro’s and those winning owner handlers! Best use of your time and classroom setting ever!
Win or Lose never forget BE A GOOD SPORT!
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Photo by Bob Segal from GSCA National Specialty 2014
Chicken necks are a common treat for dogs, but pet owners are being warned they have been linked with a potentially fatal form of paralysis.
As pet ownership increases across the world, our furry (as well as feathered and scaly) friends have become firmly established members of the family.
Wanting the best for our pets, we often offer special treats, and chicken necks are a favourite in many families – often considered a ‘healthy’ option.
But vets are warning raw chicken, particularly chicken necks, can lead to a debilitating and potentially fatal form of paralysis in dogs.
A new study, led by the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital, found the consumption of raw chicken meat increases the risk of dogs developing a paralysing condition called acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) by more than 70 times.
Dr Matthias le Chevoir, chief investigator on the project, says the cause of APN in dogs has baffled the veterinary community for a long time.
“It is a rare but very debilitating condition where the dog’s hind legs first become weak. It can then progress to affect the front legs, neck, head and face. Some dogs may die from the disease if their chest becomes paralysed,” he says.
“Most dogs eventually recover without treatment but it may take up to six months or more in some cases.
“In our clinic alone we see around 30 cases per year and around three in ten cases would not recover. Watching your pet suffer is obviously very distressing and it can be difficult for owners to nurse their pet if the condition can gradually improve.”
Paralysis results from the dog’s immune system becoming unregulated and attacking its own nerve roots, progressively worsening over several days.
APN is the canine counterpart of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in humans, a condition that also causes muscle weakness and may require ventilation if chest muscles are affected.
Dr le Chevoir says the bacteria Campylobacter is now considered a triggering agent in up to 40 per cent of GBS patients. It may be present in undercooked chicken, unpasteurised milk products and contaminated water.
“Our team at U-Vet Animal Hospital wanted to understand if consuming raw chicken could also be triggering APN in dogs. Many of us have previously worked overseas and know that a raw meat diet is less common there, so we were intrigued by this potential connection,” Dr le Chevoir says.
The team studied 27 dogs with symptoms of APN and 47 dogs without, examining physical symptoms and interviewing the owners about recent behaviours and diet; focusing on the consumption of raw chicken meat.
Faecal samples collected within seven days of the presentation of clinical signs (such as changes in voice, hind limb weakness or a choppy gait) showed the dogs with APN were 9.4 times more likely to have had a Campylobacter infection than the control group without the disease.
“The microbe Campylobacter is likely to be the reason for the dysregulation of the dogs’ immunity and the symptoms of paralysis,” lead author Dr Lorena Martinez-Antòn says.
“These bacteriological results were consistent with the hypothesis that the uncooked chicken meat was the source of the Campylobacter and as a result, triggered APN.”
In humans, scientists think Campylobacter, which is most commonly found in commercial poultry products, contains molecules similar in structure to part of the nerve cell. This similarity confuses the immune system, which attacks the body’s own nerves, resulting in paralysis.
Dr Martinez-Antòn and Dr le Chevoir say there appears to be a growing trend for feeding dogs raw meat diets, which is concerning given the risks.
“A significant association is also found between APN and smaller dog breeds. Based on our clinical experience this seems to be because smaller dogs are more likely to be fed smaller bones like chicken necks,” the doctors say in the research paper.
“We recommend owners choose regular dog food rather than chicken necks until we know more about this debilitating condition.”
E.D. This content was altered to remove the photos and video links supplied in the original publication. All other content of the article is retained in it’s entirity.
I received this article from Gail Clark who asked me to share it with you. Understanding there are many opinions among conformation exhibitors about the causes for the declining entries at AKC events, and knowing the importance of being open to dialog on all the perceived issues, I decided to do just that, publish this for you.
I have a deep respect for professional handlers, love the folks I’ve hired over the years, and being afflicted with Fibromyalgia, I really, really need them. I cannot run to show my Gordons because of pain. Without a handler to show my entry, I would not be able to participate in a sport I’ve loved for over 45 years.
Many of the breeders/exhibitors who are in the game today, have aged just like me, to the place where they too hand their dog over to a pro with younger legs. I believe this aging exhibitor base has had some impact on the increased number of handlers in the rings, and I also believe that judges must give the owner handled dogs equal consideration to the professionally handled. Otherwise, entries will continue to decline, and there, along with the entry, goes another chunk of the gene pool. By no means however, do I suspect or imagine, every time a professionally handled dog wins, that it is because the judge was political. One must also be able to appreciate the quality of another exhibitor’s entry when applicable. But, that is another sticky wicket, for discussion on another day!
E.D. NOTE: This article strictly represents the opinion of the Authors. Since the perception of politics is certainly real in the minds of many, I have decided to print what was sent for your review. Most (rational) well-meaning views are welcome here so feel free to share and discuss in the comment section at the end. Sally
Where Have All the Show Dogs Gone?
by Jim Tomsk, AKC Judge and Gail Clark, PH.D, Canine Behavioral Psychologist
Originally published in Dog News July 11, 2014 in the column The Judge Speaks.
Where have all the show dogs gone, long time passing? Where have all the breeder/owner/handlers gone, long time ago? Gone to other playing fields one and all!
As the economy has declined and the cost of living and travel expenses have risen, the presence of Professional Handlers (PH) increased two-fold in the AKC class competition for championship points. Popular PH are walking into the ring and winning with puppies that can barely keep four on the floor and adult dogs that have been repeatedly shown by their breeder/owner/handler without earning points. Can this sudden success by the PH be a coincidence? Was the puppy’s structure so outstanding that the judge could imagine flawless movement as an adult? Did the veteran show dog, who was never able to earn a major, suddenly blossom? Some blame politics for this interesting coincidence, and others, mostly judges, rationalize that top PH only show quality dog clients and have the experience to superbly present a dog in a way that minimizes their faults. When money and clients were plentiful, and PH only dominated the Best of Breed class, the PH were more discriminating in the clients they chose. In our depressed economy, PH must either cut costs or increase business to maintain their income, so choosing only the top quality dogs to show may be a luxury of the past.
Breeders are also looking to cut costs, and hiring the biggest name in professional handling to finish a championship in a few shows on a dog that hasn’t been winning is a win-win situation for both PH and breeder. Unfortunately, what may be a win for the PH and breeder may be a serious disservice to future generations of our breeds. When championship points are awarded because of who is showing rather than the merits and quality of the dog, future generations will inherit the faults so expertly disguised. Breeders produce their breeding stock from show winners. The PH who dazzled the judge with a superb presentation will be long forgotten and the faults will live on. Choosing the winning dogs based on the pH who is hired to help, and not committed to the advancement of the client’s breed, can often propagate changes in the breed that may not be easily repaired. For example, when judges chose the larger specimens for the Winners Circle, breeders will follow the current winning trend and larger dogs are bred for the show ring. The trend for the larger dog in many breeds generally does not maximize function and structural health. Judging the wrong end of the lead is committing a very serious injustice to the purebred dog.
The world of AKC dog shows, as we have known it for over 100 years has changed. At one time, the AKC was the only game in town for prestigious Championships. As more breeders realize AKC Championships can be bought with the right PH, the AKC title is becoming less prestigious and coveted. The purist and traditionalist breeder/owner/handlers are leaving AKC competition in search of more equitable venues like the UKC, where PH are excluded unless they are showing their own dogs. Until now, the UKC, International Dog shows, and our neighboring countries, Mexico and Canada, which hire the same AKC approved judges for their shows, have not been serious rivals to the AKC. These days, those who want Champion lines find puppies for sale with UKC, CKC, and International Dog Show Champion parents. The majority of the general public puppy buyers no longer care if their puppy’s parents are AKC Champions. As the breeders leave AKC competition, they don’t promote AKC Champions in their lines.
There was a time, not too long ago, when PH were primarily hired for the Best of Breed/Group rings, and a breeder/owner/handler who brought a quality dog to the ring was serious competition for the PH, even in the Group arena. Class competitors were, for the most part, equally unknown to the judges, and the dogs were typically judges on their own merits, not the handler on the end of the lead. Today, even with higher quality dogs, breeder/owner/handlers are, more often than not, simply point fodder for the PH. As the number of PH increased in the classes, breeder/owner/handlers have done the math and determined that competing against the familiar face that shows up at all the best dog shows in town, winning under the same judges, was financially unfeasible.
The AKC is feeling the financial strain as many exhibitors realize the futility of showing in an increasingly political playing field. New registrations in the AKC are declining with the number of breeder/owner/handlers leaving the show arena. Breed clubs are having difficulty breaking even financially with holding AKC breed shows because of the drop in exhibitors over the last several years. In addition, the AKC is moving in the wrong direction for their financial health by endorsing PH with badges they may wear in the ring to identify themselves to the judge.
The AKC and the conformation judges seem to think that throwing dedicated breeder/owner/handlers an occasional bone will keep them coming back for more. In their efforts to recover from the financial impact of the economy and decreasing entries and registrations, the AKC has exacerbated the problem by not supporting the breeder/owner/handlers, the faction that makes up most of the AKC’s entries and registrations. Instead, the AKC decided to even the playing field for more sport, by introducing the Amateur Owner Class.
What was the AKC thinking? The AKC should have added a Professional Class instead of an Amateur Owner Class. In this scenario, PH would be restricted to the Professional class or the Best of Breed Class. The new playing field would consist of one PH in the Winners class competing against all the class winners that were chosen on their merits. For those judges who continued to judge the PH and reward presentation over merit, the records would reflect their preferences by the wins from the PH class, and then breeder/owner/handlers could choose which shows and judges were financially feasible to enter under instead of quitting over the politics.
And then comes another AKC bone to the breeder/owner/handler. If the breeder/owner/handler can’t compete with PH for Best of Breed, how about the “Grand Champion” (GCH) program, which generated a renewed income stream to the AKC, superintendents, and clubs. Exhibitors might compete for a GCH once, and some might compete for a GCH again, but eventually they wake up and wonder what a GCH title actually represents. If a GCH can be awarded the title without ever winning Best of Breed, the GSC is a champion of whom? The GCH appears to be another meaningless title or gimmick for the AKC to fund it’s financial dilemma through the breeder/owner/handler. The latest AKC attempt to appease the breeder/owner/handler is the AKC National Owner-Handled Series (NOHS). While potentially a good idea, the system is so confusing that after over two years of offering the series, show giving clubs are still struggling to administer it correctly, and many have decided to not even offer it at their shows. The AKC has promoted a national rating system for the NOHS, but since it is not being offered at all shows, it puts many breeder/owner/handlers who would like to compete nationally at a distinct disadvantage. To top it off, many PH (as defined by AKC) are still exhibiting in the series and the AKC expects the EXHIBITORS to police the series concerning these individuals.
Nothing that the AKC has presented to-date will have a lasting, positive impact on the sport as much as conformation judges doing an honest and unbiased evaluation in the ring. ALL exhibitors pay their hard-earned money for a judge’s unbiased opinion, and deserve nothing less. It is the judge’s responsibility to sift through the entry and select the best dog, not the best mannered, the best handled, or an old friend. The future of our AKC dogs is dependent on unbiased judging and honest evaluations based on the quality of our stock, not who is on the end of the lead.
Poor decisions by both the AKC and conformation judges are driving dedicated breeder/owner/handlers away from the sport in droves. Unless the AKC wakes up and becomes committed to creating an environment that supports the breeder/owner/handlers that generate most of the AKC registrations and entries, other venues such as the UKC will become a strong force as an alternative to the AKC. The AKC must realize that as breeder/owner/handlers disappear, so does the sport.
So, where have all the show dogs gone, long time passing? So, where have all the breeder/owner/handlers gone, long time ago? If the sport is to survive and thrive, major changes need to be made: not just bogus titles or another silly class that are nothing more than an insult to the intelligent, dedicated breeder/owner/handlers. The AKC has changed its philosophy and is allowing non-purebred dogs to compete in companion events. Perhaps it is time for the AKC to offer separate, independent, competitions (all-breed shows) for breeder/owner/handlers and PH. If it is not to late.
“One of the most bandied about terms among … breeders today seems to be linebreeding. Despite it’s widespread use, however, linebreeding is frequently misunderstood and miscommunicated; in fact, it is not altogether uncommon for an outcrossed pedigree to be mistakenly viewed as linebreeding by the novice. The present discussion defines linebreeding and how we can more accurately define our linebred litters.”
From – “Let’s Talk Linebreeding” written by Claudia Waller Orlandi, Ph.D. published in ‘Tally Ho’ the Basset Club of America Newsletter (July-August ’97). The online article may be found by clicking here.
(While this article was written with the Basset Hound breeder in mind, one can change the name to Gordon Setter, or any breed for that matter, as the material is “one size fits all” when it comes to the topic of breeding.)
From pro-handler Will Alexander a You Tube video chock full of tips about prepping your Setter for the ring on show day. While Will is working on an English Setter in this video, his tips for brushing and grooming are fantastic and will help make your dog look like a million bucks! Will’s posted many more tips and tricks on You Tube for those who seek more, check it out! Thank you Will for this fabulous site.
Jerold s Bell DVM, Clinical Associate Professor of Genetics, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
To some breeders, determining which traits will appear in the offspring of a mating is like rolling the dice – a combination of luck and chance. For others, producing certain traits involves more skill than luck – the result of careful study and planning. As breeders, you must understand how matings manipulate genes within your breeding stock to produce the kinds of offspring you desire.
When evaluating your breeding program, remember that most traits you’re seeking cannot be changed, fixed or created in a single generation. The more information you can obtain on how certain traits have been transmitted by your animal’s ancestors, the better you can prioritize your breeding goals. Tens of thousands of genes interact to produce a single individual. All individuals inherit pairs of chromosomes; one from the mother and one from the father. On the chromosomes are genes; so all genes come in pairs. If both genes in a pair are the same gene (for instance, “aa” or “AA”) the gene pair is called homozygous. If the two genes in a gene pair are unlike (for instance, “Aa”) the gene pair is called heterozygous. Fortunately, the gene pairs that make a cat a cat and not a dog are always homozygous. Similarly, the gene pairs that make a certain breed always breed true are also homozygous. Therefore, a large proportion of homozygous non-variable pairs – those that give a breed its specific standard – exist within each breed. It is the variable gene pairs, like those that control color, size and angulation that produce variations within a breed.
There are ways to measure the genetic diversity of a population. One method is to measure the average inbreeding coefficient (or Wright’s coefficient) for a breed. The inbreeding coefficient is a measurement of the genetic relatedness of the sire and dam. If an ancestor appears on both the sire and dam’s side of the pedigree, it increases the inbreeding coefficient. The inbreeding coefficient gives a measurement of the total percentage of variable gene pairs that are expected to be homozygous due to inheritance from ancestors common to the sire and dam. It also gives the chance that any single gene pair can be homozygous due to inheritance from ancestors common to the sire and dam. It also gives the chance that any single gene pair can be homozygous.
The types of matings that you choose for your breeding animals will manipulate their genes in the offspring, affecting their expression. Linebreeding is breeding individuals more closely related (a higher inbreeding coefficient) than the average of the breed. Outbreeding involves breeding individuals less related than the average of the breed. Linebreeding tends to increase homozygosity. Outbreeding tends to increase heterozygosity. Linebreeding and inbreeding can expose deleterious recessive genes through pairing-up, while outbreeding can hide these recessives, while propagating them in the carrier state.
Most outbreeding tends to produce more variation within a litter. An exception would be if the parents are so dissimilar that they create a uniformity of heterozygosity. This is what usually occurs in a mismating between two breeds, or a hybrid, like a Cockapoo. The resultant litter tends to be uniform, but demonstrates “half-way points” between dissimilar traits of the parents. Such litters may be phenotypically uniform, but will rarely breed true due to a mix of dissimilar genes.
One reason to outbreed would be to bring in new traits that your breeding stock does not possess. While the parents may be genetically dissimilar, you should choose a mate that corrects your breeding animal’s faults but complements its good traits. It is not unusual to produce an excellent quality individual from an outbred litter. The abundance of genetic variability can place all the right pieces in one individual. Many top-winning show animals are outbred. Consequently, however, they may have low inbreeding coefficients and may lack the ability to uniformly pass on their good traits to their offspring. After outbreeding, breeders may want to breed back to individuals related to their original stock, to attempt to solidify newly acquired traits.
Linebreeding attempts to concentrate the genes of specific ancestors through their appearance multiple times in a pedigree. It is better for linebred ancestors to appear on both the sire’s and dam’s sides of the pedigree. That way their genes have a better chance of pairing back up in the resultant offspring. Genes from common ancestors have a greater chance of expression with paired with each other than when paired with genes from other individuals, which may mask or alter their effects.
Linebreeding on an individual may not reproduce a outbred ancestor. If an ancestor is outbred and generally heterozygous (Aa), increasing homozygosity will produce more AA and aa. The way to reproduce ab outbred ancestor is to mate two individuals that mimic the appearance and pedigree of the ancestor’s parents.
Inbreeding significantly increases homozygosity, and increases the expression of both desirable and deleterious recessive genes through pairing up. If a recessive gene (a) is rare in the population, it will almost always be masked by a dominant gene (A). Through inbreeding, a rare recessive gene (a) can be passed from a heterozygous (Aa) common ancestor through both the sire and dam, creating a homozygous recessive (aa) offspring.
The total inbreeding coefficient is the sum of the inbreeding from the close relatives (first cousin mating), and the background inbreeding from common ancestors deep in the pedigree. Such founding ancestors established the pedigree base for the breed.
The total inbreeding coefficient is the sum of the inbreeding
from the close relatives (first cousin mating), and the
background inbreeding from common ancestors deep in the
pedigree. Such founding ancestors established the pedigree
base for the breed.
Knowledge of the degree of inbreeding in a pedigree does not necessarily help you unless you know whose genes are being concentrated. The relationship coefficient, which can also be approximated by what is called the percent blood coefficient, represents the probable genetic likeness between the individual whose pedigree is being studied, and a particular ancestor.
We know that a parent passes on an average of 50% of its genes, while a grandparent passes on 25%, a great-grandparent 12.5%, and so on. For every time the ancestor appears in the pedigree, its percentage of passed on genes can be added up and its “percentage of blood” estimated. In many breeds, an influential individual may not appear until later generations, but then will appear so many times that it necessarily contributes a large proportion of genes to the pedigree.
The average inbreeding coefficient of a breed is a measurement of its genetic diversity. When computing inbreeding coefficients, you have to look at a deep pedigree to get accurate numbers. An inbreeding coefficient based on 10 generation pedigrees is standardly used, but requires a computerized pedigree database to compute.
The average inbreeding coefficient for a breed will be based on the age and genetic background of the breed. A mating with an inbreeding coefficient of 14 percent based on a ten generation pedigree, would be considered moderate inbreeding for a Labrador Retriever (a popular breed with a low average inbreeding coefficient), but would be considered outbred for an Irish Water Spaniel (a rare breed with a higher average inbreeding coefficient).
Most breeds start from a small founding population, and consequently have a high average inbreeding coefficient. If a breed is healthy and prolific, the breadth of the gene pool increases, and the average inbreeding coefficient can go down over time. Some dog breeds were established on a working phenotype, and not on appearance. These breeds usually start with low inbreeding coefficients due to the dissimilar backgrounds of the founders. As certain individuals are linebred on to create a uniform physical phenotype, the average inbreeding coefficient can increase.
There is no specific level or percentage of inbreeding that causes impaired health or vigor. If there is no diversity (non-variable gene pairs for a breed) but the homozygote is not detrimental, there is no effect on breed health. The characteristics that make a breed reproduce true to its standard are base on non-variable gene pairs. There are pure-bred populations where smaller litter sizes, shorter life expectancies, increased immune-mediated disease, and breed-related genetic disease are plaguing the population. In these instances, prolific ancestors have passed on detrimental recessive genes that have increased in frequency and homozygosity. With this type of documented inbreeding depression, it is possible that an outbreeding scheme could stabilize the population. However, it is also probable that the breed will not thrive without an influx of new genes; either from a distantly related (imported) population, or crossbreeding.
Fortunately, most breeds do not find themselves in the position of this amount of limited diversity and inbreeding depression. However, the perceived problem of a limited gene pool has caused some breeders to advocate outbreeding of all individuals. Studies in genetic conservation and rear breeds have shown that his practice contributes to the loss of genetic diversity. By uniformly crossing all “lines” in a breed, you eliminate the differences between them, and therefore the diversity between individuals. Eventually, there will not be any “unrelated line” to be found. Everyone will have a mixture of everyone else’s genes. The practice in livestock breeding has significantly reduced diversity, and caused the reduced diversity, loss of unique rare breeds.
A basic tenet of population genetics is that gene frequencies do not change from generation to generation. This will occur regardless of the homozygosity or heterozygosity of the parents, or whether the mating is an outbreeding, linebreeding, or inbreeding. This is the nature of genetic recombination. Selection, and not the types of matings used affect gene frequencies and breed genetic diversity.
If two parents are both heterozygous (both Aa) for a gene pair, on the average, they would produce 25% AA, 50% Aa, and 25% aa. (These are the averages when many litters are combined. In reality, any variety of pairing up can occur in a single litter.) If a prolific male comes out of this litter, and he is homozygous aa, then the frequency of the “a” gene will increase in the population, and the frequency of the “A” gene will decrease. This is known as the popular sire syndrome. Of course, each individual has thousands of genes that vary in the breed, and everyone carries some deleterious recessive genes. The overuse of individual breeding animals contributes the most to decreased diversity (population bottlenecks), and the increased spread of deleterious recessive genes (the founders effect). Again, it is selection (use of this stud to the exception of others), and not the types of matings he is involved in that alters gene frequencies. Breeders should select the best individuals from all lines, so as to not create new genetic bottlenecks.
Decisions to linebreed, inbreed or outbreed should be made based on the knowledge of an individuals traits and those of its ancestors. Inbreeding will quickly identify the good and bad recessive genes the parents share, based on their expression in the offspring. Unless you have prior knowledge of what the offspring of milder linebreedings on the common ancestors were like, you may be exposing your litters (and buyers) to extraordinary risk of genetic defects. In your matings, the inbreeding coefficient should only increase because you are specifically linebreeding (increasing the percentage of blood) to selected ancestors.
Don’t set too many goals in each generation, or your selective pressure for each goal will necessarily become weaker. Genetically complex or dominant traits should be addressed early in a long-range breeding plan, as they may take several generations to fix. Traits with major dominant genes become fixed more slowly, as the heterozygous (Aa) individuals in a breed will not be readily differentiated from the homozygous-dominate (AA) individuals. Desirable recessive traits can be fixed in one generation because individuals that show such characteristics are homozygous for the recessive genes. Individuals that pass on desirable traits for numerous matings and generations should be preferentially selected for breeding stock. This prepotency is due to homozygosity of dominate (AA) and recessive (aa) genes. However, these individuals should not be overused, to avoid the popular sire syndrome.
Breeders should plan their matings based on selecting toward a breed standard, based on the ideal temperament, performance, and conformation, and should select against the significant breed related health issues. Using progeny and sib-based information to select for desirable traits and against detrimental traits will allow greater control.
This article can be reproduced with the permission of the author. Jerold.Bell@tufts.edu
Sometimes tube feeding is the only way to save newborn puppies, however there are other options that can be tried first, and this article offers advice on that topic. By clicking on the title below”To Tube or Not to Tube” you will be taken to Mary Wakeman’s website where many other useful articles scan be found. Enjoy!
March 16th, 117 The Best of Breed of Online Show Dog Magazines
The answer to this depends entirely upon whether you want your puppies to live or not. What! You say, tubing is the ONLY way to save puppies. And besides, it’s fast. Fast, yes, and deadly. It’s one of those things that sounds too good (easy) to be true; and if it sounds too good to be true it is; we know that it is in our most private thoughts.
Fast and deadly isn’t doing your part by the bitch or the puppies. You may be certain that you are getting the tube in the esophagus (which leads to the stomach) and not the trachea (which leads to the lungs). But, this isn’t the problem I’m referring to. Consider this: when we eat, the process of eating stimulates waves of contraction throughout our entire GI tract. You know very well that as puppies nurse they defecate. That reaction is due to these waves of contraction, which are called peristalsis.
OK. So, we have a sluggish or weak puppy. We put it on the bitch and it won’t nurse. What to do! TUBE. NO! If the puppy does not have a good sucking reflex, it will not have any peristalsis. This means the milk we force in through the tube will just sit there. When the tube is removed, it forces itself back up the esophagus, into the trachea, and ends up in the lungs. It does not travel down through the stomach into the intestine.
Now, how big is the stomach of a newborn puppy in your breed? 1/2 cc? Less? As much as 1cc? Probably not much more. That stomach is just a slightly wide spot on a narrow tube.
So; let’s stick 2 1/2 cc into it . Fast and Deadly. The stomach and esophagus will stretch a bit, then return to it’s original shape and size after the milk runs into the lungs. Not going to raise many puppies that way.
Well then, what do we do? Easy. We give them sub-cutaneous dextrose and saline. Sugar in salt water. The solution which is used for IV therapy. All puppies need 3 things. Warmth. Water. Sugar. That’ all they need right away and for an additional few days if necessary. So, we take the weak puppy out of the whelping box. We drop a few drops of colostrum onto its tongue several times in the first few hours. Got that immunity taken care of. We keep it in a confined box with a heat source – a heating pad or light bulb, and we give subQ dextrose in saline to supply the sugar and water. We gently stimulate it to urinate and defecate. We’ve met all the puppies needs.
How much fluid do we give? We give enough to satisfy any current dehydration debt and to provide a cushion for an hour or two in the future. How much is that? It is enough so that when we refill the syringe with dextrose and saline, the last 10 cc injection we gave hasn’t already disappeared. And it will disappear, just that fast, if the puppy is already dehydrated.
So first, we need to satisfy the back log, and then we put in some more. We want to raise a good sized lump – say the size of a golf ball on a 12-16 oz puppy. We want that golf ball to stay there a while. If it does, we can safely leave the puppy for a couple of hours. As time goes by, the fluids in this reservoir will be absorbed and the lump will disappear. Also, gravity will take a hand in removing the lump, shifting any spare fluids down around the neck. We can keep this puppy going in this way for 2 to 4 days easily. There no danger here, if the area is clean when and where we inject, and as long as the needle is parallel to the body – not pointed down at the body. We don’t want to pith the puppy (look it up). With the needle parallel to the body, the worst we can do is squirt the wall. The wall can take it.
Fluids given intravenously, by contrast, would run the risk of drowning the puppy – excess fluids in the veins will force their way out through the lungs. This result is essentially the same as that of tubing. Not good. SubQ fluids are essentially outside the circulatory system – just in a repository under the skin. If a fluid defecit exists, they can be instantly drawn into the blood stream. Until then, they have no other effect on the body.
While we are satisfying the puppy’s needs in this way, we will also repeatedly present a nipple to the puppy, several minutes after we have placed a drop of Karo syrup on its tongue. The Karo give the puppy an energy boost, so that when we place it on the bitch, it will make as strong an attempt to nurse as it can muster. We will also present the puppy with a bottle, as it will be easier for it to get milk from the bottle’s nipple than from the bitch, most of the time, during the first couple of days.
One of the greatest deterrents to getting puppies started, after tubing, is the ‘Pet Nurser’ which is widely available. Few if any breeds will nurse off of this thing – maybe a couple of toy breeds I’ve never encountered. Rather, puppies from 4.5 oz to 2# and up will readily take a Playtex preemie, or Playtex 0-3 months nipple (slow flow), one which has a flat, button-like shape. ANY puppy which does want to suck, but is unable to get enough from the bitch, should be asked to take the Playtex nurser. And if they don’t learn to nurse from it within the first few minutes, as soon as an hour or two after birth, it’s your fault, because they like this nipple just fine.
Of course, you have to put the right stuff in it. The concept of using a formulated synthetic milk replacer seems a bit bizarre. Cow’s milk is good, it’s complete, it contains the same things as dog milk. It’s not quite as good as dog’s milk, however, because it’s too dilute. Cow’s milk is 1/2 as concentrated as dog milk. So, all we have to do is go to the store and buy evaporated milk. Nothing could be simpler; comes in a can, easy to store and have on hand, useful for other purposes. We use the evaporated cow’s milk, in the slow flow nipple (no modifications to the nipple, we want it to go in slowly, and to require some exercise from the puppy to make it work). We add a dollop of Karo syrup for energy and palatability, warm slightly, and that’s it; it’s perfect.
Some of us seem to have a need to make life more complicated than it has to be. If you think your puppies suffer from the rare human problem where the size of the cow butterfat globule is too large for comfort, you can search out a source for evaporated, canned goat’smilk. And you might wish to do that because it will make it seem as though your puppies have a special problem, not a routine, ordinary problem. However, goat’s milk has no special benefit for dogs. It also must be fed undiluted from the can, with some Karo.
Note: The only puppies I have ever seen which were nutritionally stunted – and didn’t recoup their early deficits when put on solid food – were 2 giant breed siblings which were fed fresh goat’s milk. To this day these two are ‘minis’. Fresh ruminant milk has 50% too much water in it. Evaporated ruminant milk is just fine as long as you don’t screw it up by adding water. If you are faced with total milk replacement due to the death of a bitch, you will eventually have to add an egg yolk (without the white) to a can of evaporated milk with Karo, in order to raise the protein level even more. But, there is no need for this when we’re simply supplementing.
These puppies which are eager to nurse, but just can’t get anything from the bitch’s nipples, will have good peristalsis. They will work at the nipple and develop their lungs and their body muscles, though only a fraction as well as they would if they were working on the bitch’s nipples. One caution when supplementing the large litter to lessen the stress on the bitch. You must be careful not to OVER feed. The idea is to take some load off her, so you should keep her out of the box for some time every day. We don’t want to supplement and then let them drink their fill from their mother as well, then we’ll only have fat and colicy puppies, not a mother in better shape.
The next question is, will their mother lick them and stimulate the urination and defecation reflexes? If she’s not yet into that, we also have to wash their tummies with a warm wet tissue. This will stimulate the elimination reflexes. We can’t skip this part either. If we do, they’ll all colic. Some bitches, even though they have milk and the puppies nurse with no problem, just don’t like to clean their puppies. If so, then it’s our job. We caused these puppies to be born, the buck stops with us; if they need to be cleaned we have to do the job. We have to be gentle, but we have to be just as certain that we’re successful in stimulating defecation and urination as we are that the puppies are getting enough to eat. What goes in must come out!
One good way to help you be certain you’re getting each one fed and cleaned is to place colorful yarn collars around their necks. This way we can identify each puppy at a glance, no waking them or dislodging them from a nipple in order to check markings. And later, when one puppy is repeatedly striking a pose we can see from a distance which one it is. Helps us identify that BIS Puppy.
We are dedicated to building a knowledge base and a sharing site for those who are involved in all of the various aspects of competition with Gordon Setters, competitions that showcase the Gordon Setter’s Beauty, Brains and Bird-Sense.