Almonds, genes and discs – a Dachshund education day!

Dach Seminar 020417 (1)Dach Seminar 020417 (2)

Around 70 people attended a seminar run by Eastern Counties Dachshund Association and the Miniature Dachshund Club at Roade on 2nd April. The three topics covered were the Dachshund Breed Standard (Mandy Dance), screening for back disease (Ian Seath) and the genetics of coat and colour (Helen Geeson).

Mandy Dance was the first speaker and she kept everyone interested with a good mix of humour and practical experience, using a selection of her Mini Wires. She demonstrated the correct Dachshund proportions (2:1) with her measuring stick and emphasised the importance of adequate ground clearance (which is not the same as “low to ground” that actually relates to height at the withers). Everyone received an almond, which will surely remind them of the correct shape of a Dachshund’s eye!

Ian Seath spoke about the Breed Council’s recently launched X-ray screening programme for Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) which is the key health issue in the breed. Dachshunds’ discs degenerate and calcify at a younger age than in dogs with longer legs. There is a body of research evidence that shows how calcifications identified by X-ray in dogs between 24 and 48 months are a good predictor of IVDD risk. The aim of the screening programme is to enable breeders to avoid using dogs with high numbers of calcifications as this will reduce the risk of their puppies also having many calcifications and a higher risk of IVDD. The Breed Council is subsidising the cost of the screening programme which is available via CVS Veterinary Group and has also applied to the KC Charitable Trust for a grant to support further research.

Helen Geeson took on the challenging task of explaining the genetics of coat and colour in Dachshunds. The inheritance of coat is easy to understand: Wire is dominant to Smooth which is dominant to Long. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that, prior to 1977, cross-coat matings were allowed and we have the legacy of this in the gene pool. It results in litters with “Recessive Coated” puppies: typically, Smooths crop up in Wire litters and Longs crop up in Smooth Litters. This is why the Breed Council asked the KC to insist on DNA testing for health conditions such as Lafora should be done before a recessive puppy is registered.

Colour genetics in Dachshunds is very complicated due to the huge variety of colours/ patterns that exist and the large number of genes responsible for them. We have dominant and recessive colours and dominant and recessive patterns in the breed. Understanding how these colours/patterns interact can help to predict the colour of puppies and also can help to avoid certain health problems that are linked to particular colours and patterns.

In the afternoon there was a practical, hands-on, session with opportunities to go over a selection of dogs from each of the six Dachshund varieties under the guidance of experienced judges. Demonstrations of gait were carried out on the playing field in the sunshine at the end of the afternoon. Helen and Ian’s presentations will be available on the Breed Council’s website: www.dachshundbreedcouncil.org.uk

Many thanks to the organisers and all the helpers who provided the catering and the dogs for the practical session.

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