Thursday, 27 November 2008

KC read this blog - it's official

In the anonymous and sometimes scurrilous Kennel Club gossip column in this week's Dog World we get a name check - something I wrote seems to annoyed someone - although they seem to think I'm being much more sensible these days, gosh I'm almost blushing at this. Who knows I may end up on their Christmas card list at this rate!

Get the facts right
Interesting to hear that Beverley Cuddy is taking a more sensible line with the KC now - working together is meant to be what it's all about after all. But I would ask her to consider the facts a little further before she puts finger to keyboard in future.
I'm told that in her coldwetnose blog she states that 'the majority of breeders (of Labradors) aren't observing good standards' - ie since they aren't hip scoring. It's very easy to look at total registration figures and make assumptions about who does and doesn't hip score but the fact is that the only dogs which need to be scored in order to be relevant to the future health of Labrador hips are those which will be bred from.
The following information comes from a report by Jeff Sampson, geneticist at the KC: "Of all the breeds that participate in the BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme the Labrador has the greatest participation. In 2007 3,842 hip scores were added to the KC database from Labradors; in total 55,775 KC registered Labradors have been scored under the scheme. The most
recent data (for Labradors) shows that in 2006, 23.4 per cent had either the dam or the sire hip scored and 51.6 per cent had both parents hip score."
Now I will accept that it is only just a majority of breeders that are scoring both parents but a further 23 per cent of pups are born into a litter with one parent scored and the result is that hip scores in the Labrador are coming down.
Whichever way you look at it, Beverley has her facts wrong because she's looking at all Labradors rather than the relevant ones - ie those being bred from.
I'm told that over the last ten year period what's called the rolling mean score for the breed has gone down from 16 to 12 which is good news. All it needs is for more puppy buyers to ask the question of the breeder as to whether or not the parents' hips have been scored - and
ask to see the certificate for proof - that way all breeders will have to get on and join the many responsible ones out there.

Just how 48.4% of Labrador litters registered at the KC not being from hip scored parents anything to brag about I really don't know!

Have these people never witnessed a dog recovering from hip replacement surgery? Or been on the end of a line to someone who can't afford to fund the operation in the first place and is in floods of tears at the thought of putting their pet to sleep.

And huge apologies KC for my 1.7% margin of error when I said that the majority of breeders aren't doing the tests. But I wonder how many of the 51.6% were actually breeding from dogs below the average hip score? How many tested for eye problems or for any other hereditary diseases you can and should test for.

Here's the bit that seems to encouraged the KC to investigate their own figures. The figures they now quote weren't ones I had seen before this column announced them. Be fascinating to see these percentages in all breeds if the KC would like to publish them!

It seems I over-estimated the total number of Labradors hip scored when I said 60,000 had been tested in the 30 years that the scheme has existed - which averages out at 2,000 dogs a year. As 45,000 Lab pups are registered every year the 3,842 tested in 2007 - which is nearly double the average since testing started - is still less than 10% of the annual additional Labrador population. Hardly anything to celebrate!

Here's the bit that appears to have riled them! Gosh, who'd have thought they be so touchy over a 1.7% error!

Who'd have thought they'd want to put the spotlight on the 21,780 Lab pups born each year to breeders not using hip tested parents.

I'm sorry - and just what exactly is the point of breeding from a Labrador and having only one of the parents hip scored? It shows some breeders are aware of the scheme but still just choose to be random and just breed on blind regardless!

COMMENT: Yet again we have a charity that should know better saying:
"While we acknowledge that most dog breeders do observe good standards..."
At the risk of sounding like a broken record. Only 60,000 Labradors Hip scored in 30 years since the hip scoring scheme started. 45,000 Labrador puppies registered by the KC last year! So the majority of breeders aren't observing good standards quite obviously as only a moron would breed from Labradors without testing them for hip dysplasia at the very least!
But great to see the vet world finally saying publicly what normal vets have been saying for years - change is long overdue!


Fairplay said...

I am not a Labrador breeder but would like to write in their defence. I am sure that almost all the show kennels of Labs regualarly hip score their stock. A breed as popular as Labs attracts a lot of BYB's and puppy farmers who just either don't know or don't care about health issues. I also have a popular breed and of all the litters (about 1700) registered in a year only around 700 are to breeders who belong to a breed club. I would wager that this is the case in Labs. Please don't knock the responsible breeders who are all trying to do their best. We all need to work together to get rid of puppy farms and educate BYB's who just have litter's to make money.

Beverley Cuddy said...

Hi Fairplay

I'm a huge fan of breeders who do all the tests and try their best to do the right thing. But we should all be on the same side in agreeing that we need a stronger KC that will elevate the standards so that all that breed do the tests not just the good folk who don't need telling.
Certainly wasn't knocking those that test - just wish there was more of them.
In other countries it is mandatory to health test before breeding in breeds like the Labrador and this has been the case for more than 20 years.
But while the good can spend some time justifiably patting themselves on the back they do also need to exert quite a bit of effort kicking the KC up the backside so that they improve the health of all dogs, we have the Swedish model to guide them.
Best wishes