About this Site

Dog at window

The Aim of this Site

The main aim of this site is to provide prospective pedigree dog owners with information about the possible health issues each breed suffers so that they can make informed choices when they decide what breed of dog they want.  Owners will be able to find, for example, lists of diseases to which certain breeds are predisposed and more in depth articles about particular breeds.

A secondary aim is to make a contribution, however small it may be, towards bringing pressure to bear on dog breeders, kennel clubs and dog breed associations, to change their breeding practices and breed standards.

Once upon a time

Once upon a time dog breeds were created by selective breeding to be suitable for specific tasks, such as  herding, guarding and hunting. Today it is more likely that they are bred for their looks and to conform to written breed standards drawn up by a kennel club or a breed association. These breed standards often include requirements for physical characteristics that are frequently detrimental to the dog’s  health. This has led to Dachshunds, for example, having backs that are too long in proportion to their legs, making them more susceptible to spinal problems and Bulldogs, Pekinese and Pugs with faces that are too flat making it difficult for them to even breathe properly. One report states that over 50% of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, which is the most popular toy breed in the UK, suffer from syringomyelia, which causes chronic head and neck pain. Another report on the same breed suggests that 59% of them will develop a heart murmur by the time they are 4 years old. The problems suffered by this breed are hardly surprising when one considers that all the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels existing in the world today are believed to have descended from only SIX breed founder dogs!

The exaggerated pursuit of conformity to breed standards has led to excessive inbreeding (breeders prefer the term “line breeding”) and therefore many diseases are inherited within breeds. Larger dog breeds suffer from inherited hip and elbow problems and a large number of eye problems are inherited by both large and small breeds.

Some experts believe that some pedigree dog breeds are being inbred out of existence and, given their lack of genetic diversity, if they were wild animals they would be on the endangered species list. Others have said that many breeds are literally falling to bits.

In a report published by the Genetics Society of America in 2008, which studied 10 representative dog breeds in the UK, the authors state that they found:

……extremely inbred dogs in each breed except the greyhound and estimate an inbreeding effective population size between 40 and 80 for all but 2 breeds. For all but 3 breeds, >90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations, indicating a dramatic effect of breeding patterns on genetic diversity.”

“Population Structure and Inbreeding From Pedigree Analysis of Purebred Dogs, Federico C. F. Calboli, Jeff Sampson, Neale Fretwell and David J. Balding”

3 Comments on "About this Site"

  1. briard owner | December 3, 2009 at 8:38 pm |

    First of all i would like to thank you guys for putting all of this information on 1 website.
    The reason for this comment is that I’ve been scouring the web for statistics. It’s great to know which diseases to look out for but knowing how often they occur is pretty important to see the whole picture.
    I have a wonderful 2 year old male briard, not the most common breed and that makes it even harder to find cold hard facts.. i’m hoping that because of the fact that this is a working dog, health is more generally valued among breeders but then again if that were the case a breed like the german shepard wouldn’t be in trouble either.
    choosing a both physically and mentally healthy breed is a priority for me so for future reference it would be most helphull to have a list of the most healthy dog breeds.
    I know that I could just choose good old healthy mixed breed but I like being able to choose the kind of personality and appearance that would fit me better predictably. i hate to repeat that choosing a good breeder is critical because by buying we sustain.. if unhealthy dogs are discriminated by buyers breeders will start prioritize health out of necessity instead of choice. i discovered some of the possible pitfalls myself unfortunately and i will do anything not to fall into the trap again hence my cry for information.
    thank you

  2. Hi briard owner,
    I’m glad you found the information useful. There are still a lot of breeds I need to add but unfortunately my time has been short lately. What you say about dog breeders is very true. While many are well intentioned they seem blind to the effects their “line breeding” has had and is having on some breeds. They seem to downplay the problems their breeds have. At the end of the day they can afford to, as many of the diseases manifest themselves years down the line when it is the owner who has to deal with the often very expensive problem.

    For example it was only after the very public outcry caused by the BBC documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” that the British Kennel Club finally decided not to register the offspring of very closely related dogs. Up until then they didn’t see any problem with daughter to father mating.

    I hope to be able to dedicate more time to the site in a couple of weeks when my work slacks off. The general idea is to list the diseases the various breeds are predisposed to and then write other, hopefully, informative articles about the effects of these diseases.

    Thanks again

  3. – Happily, Oregon prohibits these breed-specific bans. But not Washington, and in Cathlamet, (adjacent to my isanld farm) pit bulls are banned. Even worse, back home on the (Umatilla) Reservation pits are banned along with three other breeds: Dobies, German Shepherds and Labs!! Soverign Nation they can do what they want, even in Oregon. I can’t imagine the legal mentality that considers this a good solution or even how it can be enforced! Labs!! It seems like a third of the dogs I come across are some kind of Lab. And Rez authorities have the power to put down a dog that’s been 86 ed from Umatilla land. Arbitrary and judgemental I guess using the term racist isn’t an accurate term when discussing dog breeds, but it arises from the same reflexive, knee-jerk thinking.August 18, 2010 9:30 pm

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