By Dr. Andrew Jones
I recently watched a very disturbing documentary called”
‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’
In 2008, Jemima Harrison directed Pedigree Dogs Exposed, a BBC documentary which uncovered the extent of health and welfare problems in pedigree dogs.
The film itself is very disturbing, and being a practicing veterinarian for nearly 20 years, and seeing the host of health problems with purebred or pedigree dogs, I couldn’t agree more with her.
Her documentary gives the example of a ‘new’ neurologic disorder seen in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Syringomyelia (SM)
In this disease the affected dogs can not walk correctly, they fall to the side, and their legs fail to work properly.
This is a condition in which fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord near the brain. Supposedly it is also known as “neck scratcher’s disease”, because one of its common signs is scratching in the air near the neck.
SM is rare in most breeds but has become very widespread in cavalier King Charles spaniels. The number of diagnosed cases in cavaliers has increased dramatically since 2000. Researchers estimate that up to 95% of CKCSs have Chiari-like malformation (CM or CLM) – also known as caudal occipital malformation syndrome (COMS) or occipital hypoplasia (OH), the skull bone malformation present in all cases and believed to be at least part of the cause of syringomyelia – and that more than 50% of cavaliers have SM. The severity and extent of syringomyelia also appear to get worse in each succeeding generation of cavaliers. (Source: Cavalier Health.org)
Ectropion, 3rd eyelid prolapse in a Winning Basset
Another example that she posted on her blog (http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.ca/) was of a Basset that was disqualified at a major UK Dog Show.
Buzzed Lightyear… the DQ’d Basset
And the final dog in the 15 highlighted breeds to not be awarded its BOB at Crufts 2012 was the Basset Hound Ch Buzz Lightyear at Dereheath.
Here is a picture of the Bassett:
Most disturbing is that this dog could EVER be considered healthy to show, breed, and pass on these genes to other dogs.
Here is a more prominent sample of the problem:
The picture shows a dog with everted eyelids ( ectropion), and bilateral prolapsed 3rd eyelids ( cherry eye)
A painful, a very irritating chronic condition that would require surgery.
It has a strong genetic correlation- meaning there are lines of Bassets with ‘normal’ eyes.
But they don’t necessarily look good in the eyes of the judges
SO they are not winning dog shows.
Dr Andrew Jones
P.S. Ultimately it’s up to us as dog owners to CHANGE what is happening.
Make this illegal, and change the breed standards.
Make HEALTH a priority, NOT looks as is the case now.
Ban cosmetic surgery, such as tail docking, ear cropping.
If you are to obtain a purbred/ pedigreed dog, ensure that ALL of the genetic testing that could be done for common diseases in that breed has been done.
That the breeder is breeding for health and functionality..NOT for SHOW
Demand that veterinary governing bodies get more involved- and start to advocate for the animals…by being passive an not saying anything, they are quietly approving of this.
P.P.S. Consider adopting from an Animal Shelter.
Mutts make great pets too.
I have a few which I love, and who happen to be very healthy.
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