Heath Rept 2010/2011 Cont'd....

*on behalf of:
The English Springer Spaniel Club
The English Springer Spaniel Club of Scotland
The English Springer Spaniel Club of Wales
The Lancs & Cheshire English Springer Spaniel Club
The Southern English Springer Spaniel Society
The Midland English Springer Spaniel Society
The Northern English Springer Spaniel Society
The South Western English Springer Spaniel Club


Following the conclusions of the all party Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) Inquiry and the Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding (Bateson Report), a consortium of organisations concerned with the welfare of dogs formed an interim ‘Review Board’ to take forward their key recommendations. The unanimous view was that the most important first step should be the formation of an Independent Advisory Council to provide advice and guidance on how to improve the health and welfare of the nation’s dogs.

In June 2010, Professor Sheila Crispin was appointed as the founding Chairman. This was followed, in November 2010, by the appointment of eight Council Members. Their work will include:

Improving the effective enforcement of animal welfare law as it affects dogs and considering the need for new legislation;
Raising public awareness of problem areas, such as the ways in which some puppies are produced and sold, and advising on how to prevent irresponsible dog breeding and ownership;
Engaging with a range of organisations to develop and implement action to resolve the welfare problems caused by inherited disease and exaggerated conformation.

The Council Members will be consulting widely with relevant individuals and organisations, examining available data and information, and drawing on views generally, before making recommendations. It is important to recognise that this is an opportunity for anyone to make their views known to the Council on any aspect of canine welfare. It is of course a particular bonus for our Breed that its Health Co-ordinator, Lesley Bloomfield, has been appointed as a Council Member.

Further information and updates on the Council’s work can be found on their website at http://dogadvisorycouncil.org.uk/.

The Kennel Club has announced two significant new regulations relating to breeding restrictions and litter registration. Both regulations will come into effect for litters born on or after 1st January 2012:

The KC will not normally register more than four litters from any one bitch, because of concerns that the current limit of six litters can potentially be detrimental to a bitch’s welfare. Six litters per bitch is the current legal limit under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999.

Puppies born by caesarean section from any bitch which has already had two previous caesareans can no longer be registered, except for scientifically proven welfare reasons, and where application for KC registration is made prior to the mating. A third litter of puppies born by caesarean to the same bitch will be refused KC registration irrespective of whether the puppies from either of the first two caesarean litters had been registered with the KC.

Following discussions with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, these organisations have agreed to advise their members that any caesarean sections which they perform on a Kennel Club registered bitch should be reported to the Kennel Club. To allow the reporting of such operations by veterinary surgeons, an additional section will be incorporated into the form which is presently completed to notify the Kennel Club of any operation which alters the natural conformation of a registered pedigree dog.   Further details relating to the timing of reporting by veterinary surgeons will be announced in due course.

The KC hosted its first seminar for Breed Health Coordinators on 26th October 2010 attended by approximately 60 Breed Representatives. The seminar included presentations on the following:

Kennel Club Development and Initiatives for Breed Health Surveillance & Health Data Recording, Development of the Mate Select Tool & Incorporation of EBV’s (Estimated Breeding Values) -
Professor Jeff Sampson, Kennel Club Genetics Consultant
Tailoring the KC Accredited Breeder Scheme to Help Raise the Profile of Breed Health Issues -
Bill Lambert, KC Health & Breeder Services Manager
Collecting the right samples for developing DNA tests -
Sally Ricketts of the KC Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust

This was followed by four breed specific invited talks and a question and answer session. It is hoped that further seminars will be planned in the future.


The Kennel Club is working with The Animal Health Trust, Newmarket in two specific areas:
1. Molecular genetics (headed by Cathryn Mellersh)
2. Population and quantitative genetics (headed by Sarah Blott)

There are now approximately 50 DNA tests across many breeds for simple recessive genetic mutations.
(English Springer Spaniels – Fucosidosis, PRA Cord 1 and PFK)

The current KC thinking and plans for the breed health surveillance and health data recording includes the development, and recent launch (at Crufts 2011), of the MATE SELECT tool and the incorporation of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs).

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) is a technique appropriate where there are complex diseases, not associated with single gene mutations; e.g. Heart disease, Cancers and Epilepsy. With these conditions, typically 30-35% of the condition can be attributed to inherited factors and 60-65% is due to environmental factors (such as feeding and exercise). EBVs strip out the effect of environmental factors and make use of data from a dog's relative's health. The health of a dog's progeny can be used as an aid to predicting the health of other dogs in the population. It was suggested that use of EBVs could lead to a 20% improvement in Hip Dysplasia.
By definition, pedigree breeds are “closed genetic populations” where increased inbreeding is inevitable. Line-breeding is one form of in-breeding, albeit not so extreme as the relationships already banned by the KC.

The use of so-called “popular sires” (and to a lesser extent, “popular dams”) can be a major risk to any breed as it often results in genetic bottlenecks, with reduced diversity. Imperial College had carried out an analysis of the KC's pedigree database for a number of popular breeds to determine the effective population size (EPS). They found, for example, that the EPS in Labradors is 114 dogs, from a registration database of 97,000 dogs. An EPS of less than 50 would be considered to be an endangered species and some pedigree breeds are at that low level of genetic diversity. The introduction of genes from other similar breeds may, in some cases, be needed and the KC has given permission for such matings to be done (e.g. in Belgian Shepherd Dogs).
The problem of reducing diversity and EPS is compounded by the fact that only about 20% of the dogs registered get bred from. This inevitably reduces the EPS in each successive generation and increases the Coefficient of Inbreeding. There is then a corresponding risk of increasing health problems.

In March 2011 (Crufts launch) the KC introduced its Mate Select online tool which will:

identify the impact of any proposed mating on the overall population of a breed;
identify the Inbreeding Coefficient of any registered dog and compare this with the average for the breed;
predict Inbreeding Coefficients for any proposed mating (and recommend selecting Inbreeding Coefficients that are lower than the breed average);
print 3 generation Health Pedigrees (showing all recorded health tests for any dog in that pedigree).

Mate Select will eventually be expanded to provide EBV reports.

The KC is also introducing a Health Data Postbox for people to submit health information on named dogs, if supported by veterinary evidence.


Further details about any of the above issues can be found on the Health pages of either the ESSC (www.englishspringer.org) or the SESSS (www.sesss.org) websites.

Anyone needing information, help or support is asked to contact the Health Co-ordinators.

UK English Springer Spaniel Clubs* Health Co-ordinators

Lesley Bloomfield
Tel: 01923 823579 Email: lesley@fernlin.free-online.co.uk

Louise Scott
Tel: 020 8427 3396 Email: louise@goldcliffe1.freeserve.co.uk

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