Here’s to you, Mrs Robinson – my July 2017 “Best of Health” article

Many Breed Health Coordinators have been waiting expectantly for Philippa Robinson to publish the results of her KarltonIndex (KI) review for 2017.

Like me, they are no doubt disappointed to have read the following announcement on the KI Facebook page recently: “I have to extend sincere apologies to everyone waiting for an update on the Karlton Index. A combination of masses more health activity and breed health information means that it takes far longer to assess each breed than ever it did back in 2013. For this, the breed communities should be very much applauded. This, together with an unexpected personal family health scare has resulted in yet another delay. However, with regard to the Karlton Index assessment I have to conclude and accept that the project just does not have the resources currently to fulfil this. Consequently, I am going to reconfigure the whole process and will report back first to the breed communities who have recently been cooperative and interactive with the work, and then wider groups.”

Background

I have written about the KI before but, for those not familiar with it, here’s a quick bit of background. Philippa Robinson picked up her pedigree puppy, Alfie, in November 2002, having done years of research into what breed to have and which breeder to buy from. Her experience of finally getting the dog of her dreams only to have it shattered by ill-health, familial disease and heartbreak, is the motivation behind all of her campaigning.

Set up in Alfie’s memory, The Karlton Index was launched in March 2011 with the hope of bringing something constructive and helpful to the heated debates around dog welfare. Philippa brought tried and tested tools from the world of business, a world in which she had excelled for three decades, and applied them to activities related to dog health. The framework is designed to explore how people can engage with, collaborate on, and discuss dog health more objectively. The first I knew of it was when someone emailed me to say there was an article in Dogs Monthly announcing the Dachshund breed was “Top Dog” in a review of breeds. With my background in business improvement, the framework appealed and made complete sense to me as a potential way to accelerate the work being done to improve pedigree dogs’ health.
The Karlton Index measured all UK breeds for the first time in 2011, then again in 2013. I was delighted to find our breed once again rated as Top Dog against some very worthy peers including the Irish Wolfhounds, Flatcoated Retrievers, Otterhounds, Leonbergers and English Springers.
In collaborating with Breed Clubs, Philippa quickly learned that most breeds are blessed with breeders of passion and commitment, individuals who make it their life’s work to develop and nurture the best for their dogs. Working alongside breed ambassadors like that and ensuring that those individuals receive the credit, the support and the encouragement they deserve has now become a central pillar to The Karlton Index. Giving due recognition for the hard work achieved in many breeds culminated in the inaugural Breed Health Awards 2013, with the generous support of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.
Philippa would, I’m sure, be the first to admit that her work completely changed her perceptions of where the root causes of breed health problems lie. She remains an active campaigner for canine welfare but her interests and influence go far beyond the role of Breed Clubs and the KC.
Progress and successes

Having spoken with her recently, I know how disappointed she is that she has not been able to complete her 2017 analysis in the timescale she had hoped. Being a “glass-half-full” person, my take on it is not disappointment but delight. That fact that, in just 6 years, there is so much more information that Philippa has had to review is a measure of the progress that has been made. This is particularly true when you realise that Philippa was only reviewing a sample of 20 breeds this year, not the full list of KC recognised breeds. There must be a remarkable amount of activity being implemented by these breeds and, I’d hazard a guess, the same is true in many of the breeds not in this small sample. Of course, the real test is whether or not there is any progress being made in the health of the dogs.
The KI assesses progress in four areas: Leadership, Communication, Participation and Impact. Arguably, only “Impact” matters. In reality, without the enablers (Leadership and Communication), there would be no Participation and then no Impact.
I make no secret of the fact I am an enthusiast of the KI approach. I would be, irrespective of what score my breed had achieved. I have used similar approaches in my work to help numerous organisations improve their performance. I am, therefore, keen to see what options Philippa comes up with to reconfigure the KI process. I won’t attempt to pre-empt the outcomes of this but I will comment on a couple of things I think would be really helpful to see for the future.
Firstly, the KI has amassed a wealth of information on good practices in breed health improvement. This is well-aligned with the aims of the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD). The IPFD website is becoming the go-to place for international examples of good practice. Indeed, many of the plans emerging from this year’s International Dog Health Workshop, held in Paris, referred to the use of dogwellnet.com as the obvious repository for sharing knowledge. If there was some way for UK good practices identified by the KI to be shared using this same channel, it could be a win-win as well as reducing duplication of effort.
Secondly, in 2013 we saw the inaugural Breed Health Awards and, last year, the first Breed Health Coordinator of the Year Award. Both of these are excellent ways to showcase the fantastic work being done to improve breed health. Pedigree dogs and their health continue to be in the public spotlight and there are many vocal critics who seem not to be aware of the sheer amount of good work being done (by volunteers). What better way to shape the story than to have a range of awards from an evidence-based model to celebrate progress and achievements? We need to recognise the many unsung heroes who work tirelessly to protect the futures of their breeds.
I’ll end this month by thanking Philippa for her vision in establishing the KI and also congratulate those breed clubs who have been collaborating with her in recent months. It is so encouraging to hear about the great work being done within many breeds; long may it continue.

International collaboration on dog health – part 2: My June 2017 “Best of Health” article

Best of HealthLast month, I wrote about the Breed-specific Health Strategies workstream that I participated in at the third International Dog Health Workshop. This month, I’m sharing some of the discussions from the other workstreams.

  1. Show me the numbers

This group emphasised the importance of asking “why collect this data?” so that it would be clear how the answers could actually make a difference. Picking up on breed trends and eco-epidemiology (recycling of datasets) could also increase the speed at which improvements could actually be realised. Some of the issues flagged by this group included:

 

  • the need to prioritise data requirements
  • the importance of a unique ID for every dog
  • the potential value of national registration systems to include non-pedigree dogs, although there are clearly cultural issues affecting compliance levels

The group felt that one of the biggest scandals is not mining the available data and they agreed to work together to catalogue data resources within their network and to coordinate objectives across multiple studies (e.g. breed and disorder). They would aim to publish whatever is possible and look to promote fair-access collaboration internationally and inter-disciplinarily.

Dogwellnet.com could act as a dating agency, matching research questions with data owners and analysts. There is always a risk of balancing steering vs. funding; those who fund projects may want particular answers.

The lack of a standard nomenclature hampers collaboration, with various systems already in place (e.g. VeNom, SnoMed, Petscan, Agria). However, there is the potential to establish “jigsaw projects” with linked databases.

It is always important to understand the uses and limitations of data and to be clear about what analytical methods are appropriate. Ultimately, data should be used to enable change and improvement; the focus should be on dissemination, not just on research.

Extremes in conformation

This workstream focused on brachycephalics and everyone agreed this is the most severe and significant problem related to extremes of conformation in dogs.

However, there is still a need to gather accurate data to quantify the issues in dogs from different sources: KC-registered dogs vs. puppy-farmed dogs. Whatever the source, increasing popularity means more dogs are suffering, even though the evidence suggests many owners don’t realise this. Often, owners see the symptoms as “normal for the breed” (or worse, as “cute”).

Buyers need more information in order to make informed choices; vets have a key role to play here in educating their clients and have to work more closely with Kennel Clubs on this.

Campaigns such as CRUFFA have been instrumental in flagging the issues of flat-faced dogs to advertisers and the media. This awareness-raising needs to continue as it has the potential to reverse (or, at least slow) the trend in popularity of these at-risk breeds.

Overall, an aim to move the mean “health score” so that the population improves is a valid goal and there are options to consider, such as the breeding of new, less extreme, brachy types (retro-pugs) or even cross-breeding. All of this does require a suitable way to measure progress, of course!

The team focused on Brachycephalics and confirmed an action to revisit FCI Breed Standards to clarify wording and to ensure breed-specific instructions are available for 4 priority breeds. They also agreed sub-groups to exchange data, research and implementation. The latter included media communications and effective ways to change buyer/owner/breeder behaviours.

Education and Communication

This workstream took as its particular focus the issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) related to the over-prescription of antibiotics. They agreed the establishment of an AMR network would be valuable, together with the development of global guidelines for vets and breeders, based on data to support the utility and achievement of particular approaches.

More “stories” about the dangers of overuse of antibiotics are needed, to counter the numerous anecdotes about the importance of prescribing them (e.g. to get bitches in whelp).

As with many such programmes, the challenges are cash, data, geography, politics and buy-in.

DNA test harmonisation

There are currently no Quality Assurance processes in place for DNA tests. (Almost) anyone can set up a lab and offer DNA testing. The IPFD harmonisation project will establish a framework to validate providers and tests, and in Phase 2 will develop support around genetic counselling.

A web-based resource is under development and will be available via dogwellnet.com. This project is already well underway with IPFD having appointed a project director (Aimee Llewellyn) and building an early proof of concept on the dogwellnet website. Evaluation of the range of available tests using a template of questions will be a priority and further funding to ensure sustainability of the system will also be important, given the rapid rate of change and development in the genetic testing field.

Behaviour and welfare

This workstream stated that “socialisation” was a subset of “welfare” and started in utero. They felt there was a need for positive messages and these could be a way to add value to the sale of well-bred dogs. The 5 Freedoms would be a logical framework upon which to base these marketing messages.

The group confirmed the need for more positive messaging to the general public regarding pedigree dogs and breeding of dogs. Their action plan included identifying currently available messaging on the importance of socialisation and to develop any new resources that might be needed to fill any gaps. In the longer term, they felt it may be necessary to conduct further research into what might be needed to ensure breeders and owners are aware of effective approaches during pregnancy and early weeks of a puppy’s life.

Kennel Clubs could include socialisation as part of their breeding requirements, where they have schemes in place. As with several of the other workstreams, a lack of data and funding were identified as key barriers. In addition, a challenge here is how to reach all the puppy producers, particularly if they lie outside the sphere of influence of Kennel Clubs.

The workshop wrapped-up with thanks to the organisers, hosts and facilitators as well as all the participants who had collaborated over the 2 days.

I really enjoyed the workshop and picked up new ideas to share with Dachshund colleagues and other Breed Health Coordinators. I didn’t really know what to expect as this was the first IDH Workshop I have attended but I made some useful contacts and have a better understanding of what the challenges are around the world as well as some of the good practices that are already available “off the shelf”.

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FCI Dachshund Breed Standard – updated 2017 – what’s changed?

FCI 2017

The Spring edition of the WUT Magazine presented an updated version of the FCI Breed Standard for the Dachshund. I have summarised the changes in the document attached, where I have also aligned the FCI Standard with our UK one. You can read across from each UK clause to see what the previous and new FCI Standards say.

At the moment, the revised FCI Standard has not been published on the FCI website so I believe it will not officially come into use until that happens.

The main changes appear to be some tidying-up of the translation into English as well as some specific refinements:

  • General appearance now includes His build allows agile, quick work above and below ground
  • Head and Skull adds Occipital peak not pronounced
  • Nose adds Nostrils well opened which I feel is a good thing given some of the exaggerations that have crept into Brachycephalic breeds (although I would hope we’ll never face that sort of issue!)
  • Addition of Jowls: No pronounced jowls
  • Eyes adds Eye lids well pigmented
  • Ears adds Sufficiently long to the edge of the lips which clarifies how long these should be
  • Forequarters adds Tight-fitting skin and states that the feet should be positioned at the lowest point of the chest
  • Angles are defined for the shoulder blade and, perhaps rather oddly, the elbows, but I suspect the latter actually means the angle between the upper arm and the foreleg (130 degrees)
  • Loins are now described as Strong, broad and well-muscled, losing the previously ambiguous “sufficiently long” (whereas in the UK we ask for “short and strong”)
  • The croup adds not straight or sloping too much
  • Body adds Chest smoothly transitioning to the belly in a continuous line which emphasises that it should not be cut-up
  • Hindquarters clarifies the required angulation:
    • Upper thigh: Should be of good length and strongly muscled. (hip joint angulation ca. 110 degrees)
    • Stifle (joint): Broad and strong with pronounced angulation. (90 degrees)
    • Lower thigh: Short, almost at right angle to upper thigh.  Well muscled
    • Hock joint: Clean with strong tendons. Angulation of 110 degrees
  • Tail carriage is clarified: The tail is carried in a harmonious continuation of the topline, slightly falling off, not carried above topline
  • Movement adds Ground covering movement
  • The description of the Wire coat now includes Soft coat on the head (top-knot) and soft furnishings on the feet is highly undesirable
  • All the descriptions of colour and pattern have been updated and provide more explicit explanations of what is acceptable and not acceptable 
  • The size clauses have been changed and the previously quoted weights have been removed so that chest circumference is now the only criterion for assessing size. Dogs are now specifically allowed to be bigger than bitches

I would like to have seen some amendment to or, at least, clarification of the topline clauses to address the faults that are becoming evident. I have written previously about the trend towards ski-slope toplines that drop at an angle from the withers to the croup. The FCI clause says of the back: Behind the high withers, topline running from the thoracic vertebrae straight or slightly inclined to the rear.  

There are some clear differences between the UK and FCI Breed Standards but, in the UK, we would do well to remember the FCI Standard comes from the breed’s country of origin. The translation into English has been improved in the new version which makes it easier to read.

Download the Breed Standard Comparison: FCI Breed Standard revision 2017

You can also find a commentary on the (old) FCI Breed Standard here (pdf).

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My Wire Dachshund Critique from S. Counties 2017

 [Above: BOB/BCC and DCC]

Thank you to all the exhibitors for an excellent entry. When judging Wires, you inevitably have to discount the upright shoulders as so few have the required layback. Thankfully, the flat, terrier fronts don’t seem to be in evidence as much as previously and I found plenty with good, not over-prominent, prosternums. Hindquarters were my greatest concern; far too many moved close behind or toeing-in when moving away from me. There seems to be two extremes of hind angulation fault; either too long in the lower thigh, or those that are too straight behind and lack bend of stifle. Temperaments were good. I found a couple with edge-to-edge bites and a few with dirty teeth that showed a lack of care in preparation and presentation. There were some excellent harsh coats but several that were soft and appeared to have been clipped. In general, the dogs were presented in good, muscled condition, but a few could clearly lose some weight and do with more, regular, exercise. It’s over 3 years since I last judged the breed and it is good to see that we have quite a few new (and younger) exhibitors. I hope they are being made to feel welcome and that they feel they can ask our more experienced owners for advice.

Puppy – Dog
Entries: 7 Absentees: 2

1ST SILVAE KINSMAN (MR D C & MRS K D MCCALMONT) 12-month dark brindle boy with an excellent, harsh coat and who is well up to size for his age. Excellent reach of neck and good, prominent forechest. Not overdone in depth of body, so he has good ground clearance. Good length of ribbing. Well-angulated behind. Moved very true going away from me. Held a good topline on the move. Best Puppy.

2ND BRAMALODGE BRAVAC BORIS (MRS J HOWE) 12-month brindle of smaller, more correct size than 1 and good, balanced, proportions. Good amount of ground clearance. Elegant neck and held a firm topline in profile. Not quite the forechest or bone of 1. Would prefer a bit more bend of stifle but he moved well and parallel going away. One to admire on the move, rather than stacked.

3RD ALLFREYS LONDON LOOK (MISS C P GIBSON)

 

Junior – Dog
Entries: 8 Absentees: 2

1ST ALLFREYS HERE’S LOOKIN AT YOU (MISS C P GIBSON) Dark brindle with an excellent coat, just over 12 months. Correct 2:1 proportions. Reachy neck, good front construction with length of upper arm and he moved very true coming towards me. Neat, tidy underline but just losing his topline a little in profile movement. Moved well with front extension and rear drive.

2ND DEROCHAISE VERSACE JW (MRS E & MISS V MAES-JONES & BATES) Handsome dark brindle 17-month boy. A really well-balanced dog with a firm topline which he held at all times. Good, prominent forechest but with slightly more crook in front coming towards me, than 1. Really well-angulated behind, which he used to advantage in profile, on the move. Lovely, underline.

3RD PIER DU CHAPEAU BJWNL16 [ATC AT03063NLD] (MR P E E VAN OOSTEN)

 

Post Graduate – Dog
Entries: 3 Absentees: 0

1ST MEGLINE ARAMIS (IMP ROM) (MRS & MISS MOORE & DOWNES) Dark brindle boy with great bone and substance. Correct 2:1 proportions. Prominent forechest. Elegant neck running into a good topline which he held on the move. Must have been feeling the heat as he was a bit reluctant to step out today.

2ND HOTOTO’S BARK AT THE MOON (MISS C CHAMBERS) Good sized boy of correct proportions with a lovely, harsh coat. Rather looser in the elbow than 1. Good reach of neck and forechest. Very tidy underline but tended to lose his topline a little in profile on the move.

3RD CISHELVINE CAUGHT OUT (MRS R M VINE)

 

Limit – Dog
Entries: 6 Absentees: 1

1ST AVENTINE THE KINGS GENERAL (MISS D HINDER) A smart brindle boy of correct proportions and not too big. Good layback of shoulder and tight-fitting elbows. Good length of ribbing. Held his topline on the move and had good, parallel front movement coming towards me. Nothing exaggerated. RCC

2ND DEROCHAISE BLACK TARQUIN (MS E A & H M WHARTON & PUGHE) Another handsome boy, turned out to perfection and who is lovely to watch in profile movement as he holds an excellent topline. Reachy neck and prominent forechest. Not the harsh coat of 1 and moved slightly closer in front coming towards me. Well-angulated behind and moved parallel going away.

3RD TENDROW ELBERTA SHCM (MISS D LANGRIDGE)

 

Open – Dog
Entries: 3 Absentees: 0

1ST CH FRANSIN BRASILIAN TP PANETTONE (IMP ITA) SHCM (MR S A & MR P C MCPHERSON & PATERSON) This impressive dog seems to get better with age and really commands the ring when you watch him stepping out in profile movement. Good size and proportions. Super front construction with good length of upper arm and he moved so parallel and true coming towards me. A worthy champion, expertly handled and I was pleased to award him the DCC and BOS. Sire of my BCC/BOB.

2ND CH WIRETAP HERE I AM (IMP CAN) (MRS V PHILLIPS) Red boy of good size and proportions who has a reachy neck and good amount of forechest. Not the front construction of 1, so he doesn’t have the same reach and extension in front movement. Good amount of ground clearance, ribbing goes well back and a tidy underline. Well angulated behind and he moved parallel going away.

3RD TENDROW REPLAYS THE RED GUY AT KINDEACE SHCM (MR K S & MRS S M PASKINS)

 

Veteran – Dog Or Bitch
Entries: 1 Absentees: 0

1ST LESANDNIC SUBLIMITY SHCM (MR C & MRS S HASTINGS) Hard to believe this red boy is now a veteran as I awarded him a RCC in 2013. He has excellent front construction with a well laid-back shoulder and good length of upper arm.  Good reach of neck. True, parallel movement both coming and going.

 

Puppy – Bitch
Entries: 10 Absentees: 1

1ST PENDYFFREN MISS DOLCE BY ATAHIRA (MRS C DAVIES) Attractive red bitch of just 10 months. Correct size. Excellent coat. Excels in front construction; elegant neck, prominent forechest but not over-done. Good ground clearance. Neat, flowing underline and held a good topline in profile movement. No doubt she will tighten-up her hind movement as she matures.

2ND WAGSFORD HESTER (MRS A S WARREN) Slightly more compact type than 1 and not the front construction, being a bit loose in elbow. Correct size. Good length of ribbing and tidy, flowing underline. Super hind movement; very true going away.

3RD AMBIESQUE APERITIF (MESSRS P & B PATERSON)

 

Junior – Bitch
Entries: 7 Absentees: 3

1ST DEROCHAISE ELUSIA (MRS E & MISS V MAES-JONES & BATES) This was my find of the day. Stunning 17-month dark brindle girl who is a lovely, correct, size and so beautifully proportioned. Super topline and neat, flowing underline. Great front construction with elegant neck and tight-fitting elbows. Turned out to perfection and a dream to watch in profile movement; good reach in front and drive behind. CC & BOB.

2ND BYSTOCK PANNACOTTA (MS H M & MS C PUGHE & FRASER) Another lovely girl who is a bit more compact than 1. Good reach of neck and held a firm topline. Good ground clearance. Well-constructed and good movement in front but I would prefer a bit more bend of stifle.

3RD WAGSFORD JENNIFER (MRS A S WARREN)

 

Post Graduate – Bitch
Entries: 6 Absentees: 1

1ST GREYHAYNE BLACK VELVET (MS L WHARTON) This girl is one to watch on the move as she does show herself to good advantage and there is nothing exaggerated. Good coat. Correct size and proportions with good ground clearance and a neat underline. Moved true going away from me.

2ND LESANDNIC SLEEPYTIME SHCM (MR C & MRS S HASTINGS) Super, harsh coat on this good-sized girl. Good layback of shoulder and length of upper arm so she moved really true when coming towards me. Needs more bend of stifle but, despite this, moved parallel when moving away.

3RD BRUMBERHILL BELLEZZA (MR S A MCPHERSON)

 

Limit – Bitch
Entries: 9 Absentees: 1

1ST BRONTILLOW GRACE DARLING (MRS J N DEAN) This bitch has the correct, 2:1 proportions and good, overall balance. Looks a real picture when stacked. Elegant, reachy neck. Not overdone in forechest. Tidy underline and good length of ribbing. Good bend of stifle and she has true, parallel movement coming and going away.

2ND GRAVETYE KISS ME KATE CISHELVINE (MRS R M VINE) Red bitch of correct size, lovely type with good ground clearance and not over-long in body. Good amount of forechest but not quite the front construction of 1, being slightly loose in the elbow. Well-angulated behind and moved absolutely parallel going away from me.

3RD GREYHAYNE LOTTY MERRY (MS L WHARTON)

 

Open – Bitch Entries: 5 Absentees: 2

1ST CH TENDROW A PAGE IN TIME (MRS V PHILLIPS) Absolutely classic, typey, red bitch with correct proportions who looks so balanced when standing. Very well constructed both in front and rear. Good length of ribbing. A joy to watch in profile movement, with extension in front and drive from behind. RCC.

2ND CH BOLORIA’S NAUGHT BUT NICE SHCM (MRS J & MISS R ROWE) Very attractive Chocolate and Tan who is slightly more compact than 1 and not quite the ground clearance. Lovely front construction; elegant reach of neck flowing into a good topline, held on the move. Neat, flowing underline. This girl is handled so well and really looks super in profile when she drives round the ring.

3RD WAGSFORD LYDIA (MRS A S WARREN)

 

Judge: Ian J Seath

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International cooperation on dog health – my May 2017 “Best of Health” article

Best of HealthIt would be very easy to view the event run by the International Partnership for Dogs in April as a talking shop for those of us actively involved in breed health improvement work. I’ve not attended the previous two events, so have nothing to compare it with but, overall, it was an impressive example of international and inter-disciplinary collaboration.

By inter-disciplinary I mean not just geneticists, vets and epidemiologists, but also breeders, owners and campaigners. Clearly, they are never all going to see eye to eye but this event majors on collaboration, with clear messages about what actions can be taken, even if it is by sub-groups of interested parties.

Whenever you get dog people in a room, they inevitably want to talk about their breed and their specific issues. They are passionate about their breed and really want to find practical ways to improve things. That’s something of a challenge in this type of workshop because it can probably never deal with specifics like one breed and one health condition. The real value is bringing these knowledgeable people together to share what works and to generate some energy to create new resources for others to use.

I had the privilege of making one of the plenary presentations and that was a nerve-wracking experience in front of an audience such as this. There were representatives of 17 Kennel Clubs, the FCI and world-renowned scientists as well as lay people who “just” own dogs. Judging by the feedback, my session went down well. Quite how I was supposed to encapsulate the work our Dachshund Breed Council team has done in less than 15 minutes I don’t know. Nevertheless, I was able to give a flavour of our approach which combines everyone’s passion for the breed with some good data and some basic change management principles that I bring from my day-job as a management consultant. I am sure many of them found me something of an oddity; talking about my enthusiasm for data combined with ideas on how to enthuse people on health projects and change behaviours.

Breakout working groups

The main work at the event was done in 6 breakout groups, each of which had its own theme and a team of facilitators to help guide and shape the discussions. I worked in the “Breed-specific health strategies” team which came up with some practical actions that should create a series of resources for breed clubs and kennel clubs around the world.

What was fascinating to me, but probably shouldn’t have been surprising, was the impact of national cultures on which approaches will or will not work. For example, the Nordic countries are well advanced in developing Breed-specific strategies and have a culture where they can achieve high levels of regulation of, and compliance from, breeders. Others, like the Benelux and Southern European nations would risk driving breeders away from their Kennel Club sphere of influence if they were as prescriptive. All this does, however, lead us to the definition of an interesting range of approaches and some understanding of where they might be useful and effective.

Breeding Strategies

I hope five things will emerge from this working group:

  • a framework for defining the starting point for an individual breed (e.g. the characteristics that define the issues facing Cavaliers and how they differ from those affecting Bernese Mountain Dogs).
  • a set of templates for breed data collection, covering health, welfare, temperament and conformation. There is a model for this already available via the AKC and we also have a health surveys toolkit available in the UK.
  • a framework for summarising the range of options available to address health issues, together with some understanding of where and when each might be appropriate. This is needed to help give people practical solutions, but also to enable them to see why some may not work or what the unintended consequences might be. At the moment, it’s very easy for people to leap to solutions like “change the Breed Standard” or “do an outcross mating” without having defined the problem adequately.
  • a set of implementation guidelines and case studies which address some of the behavioural change issues many breeds currently face. These need to cover aspects such as education, communication, “nudging behaviour”, recognition and enforcement.
  • finally, some example templates for summarising Breed Improvement Strategies. The Swedish RAS framework is well-proven and, again, our KC has its Breed Health Improvement Strategy Guide.

If we can put all this together, it will be an amazing resource for people to use. We need tools that are practical and which don’t require years of delay while more data is collected or more research is conducted. That’s not to say these won’t be necessary in some cases, but, for many breeds they need well-thought through actions, sooner, rather than later.

My definition of a “strategy” is an action plan with a rationale; this set of resources might just help accelerate the creation and importantly, the implementation, of strategies that benefit the dogs.

I blogged separately throughout the weekend about what happened at the workshop and the plans developed in each of the 6 workstreams. Time will tell if the energy visible in Paris actually turns into actions.

Brenda Bonnett, CEO of IPFD did a fantastic job of designing this workshop and the French Kennel Club team brought it to life with a real passion. The next International Dog Health Workshop will take place in the UK in 2019. Paris will be a hard act to follow!

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