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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Issue: 18/08/2017

Common misunderstanding

IT WAS with some consternation that I read Steve Dean's recent last week regarding the Sloughi. His article was cleverly worded so it was difficult to ascertain exactly what was meant, so I have spoken to the Committee of the Sloughi Club and our Chairman, Pam Marston-Pollock, an A3 listed judge and well respected Sighthound expert who has been involved with the breed for many years has written the following:

'The Russian Sloughi was clearly undernourished showing signs of no evidence of fat at all. This was illustrated clearly on the dog's skull between ear and eye corner, an area which should be rounded (as stated in the breed standard not flat and sunken). The body showed high detail of its skeleton. In a correctly conditioned Sloughi the ribs should be covered with a thin layer of fat apart from the last two ribs. The spine can be seen where there is a natural rise over the loin and the pin bones are required to be evident NOT prominent.
 'There is a common misunderstanding where the word leanness is used in Sighthounds generally, the Borzoi head for instance is described in its standard as long and lean. Leanness in a Sighthound should relate to the general appearance in comparison to say a Basset Hound, which may be lean in condition but its build is not lean but the standard uses lean describing the foreface.

'The Sloughi has been bred to withstand the heat of the desert and as a cooling mechanism does not carry excess body fat under the skin, any owner will tell you they eat more than most large Sighthound breeds but only maturity in an older animal will allow the building up of a slight broadening and rounded look.

'For over forty years this primitive breed has constantly been queried over its natural leanness in this country and the Sloughi Club has taken every possible precaution to both educate and allow those interested to understand. It is therefore disappointing that when such a case as the Russian Sloughi is highlighted, the Sloughi which has changed little since the beginning of the last century is not acceptable".

The Club now holds regular breed seminars to educate interested parties, where the function and the physique peculiar to the breed is fully explained. Perhaps Mr Dean should consider attending one before passing opinion on what is a specialist breed. We have just received word from the Kennel Club that we are being downgraded from a Category 2 Breedwatch (for significantly underweight) to a Category 1 as there have been no reports for three years, in fact, there has only ever been one case reported which was a veteran. Fortunately, it appear the judges we have at Championship shows appear to understand that their leanness is part and parcel of the breed for its work in their COO. The comment that in regards to the Sloughi "less is more" insinuates that we either breed or starve our dogs to appear emaciated. One only has to look at the breed in its natural environment to see that this is untrue.

We are a small group of passionate enthusiasts who work hard to promote the breed both here and overseas and we feel justifiably upset that someone who declares himself no expert feels he can castigate the breed in this way.
Yours etc
Kath Clark
Hon sec



Homeopathic experience?

In reply to Archie Bryden's letter, in which he made offensive and unsubstantiated remarks about the manufacturers of herbal and homeopathic medicines, I wonder if he has any experience of the efficacy of these products? 

We have been using them for many years, and find them to be very good, whether for maintaining general health and vitality or for treating a particular condition. As an example, we have a bitch who was diagnosed with Lymphoma, and given 2-4 months to live. The vet said all they could do was to keep her comfortable for as long as possible. With nothing to lose, I put her on a slightly higher than recommended dose of Dorwest's Garlic and Fenugreek tablets, and she is now not only still alive but happy and playful. The diagnosis was in February 2015.
Many veterinary practices either sell or recommend the use of Dorwest products, which they would not do if Mr. Bryden was right. I don't know what he does for a living, but can he honestly claim to know more than the Veterinary Medicines Directorate who licence many of Dorwest's products?

There may be one or two suppliers in the market whose standards are not high enough, and Mr. Bryden may have been unfortunate enough to have used one of them, but you get what you pay for. On the whole, herbal medicines are a very useful and reliable alternative to expensive veterinary visits.
Yours etc
Roy Wheatley


Great weekend for Danes

VISITORS FROM India, America and Europe, attended the Great Dane Festival held recently at the Holiday Inn, Rugby. This has only made possible by the recent changes and innovations of the Kennel Club Working Party now permitting 'back to back' shows. 

This was a very 'high profile', event, two Championship Shows that took a huge amount of organising by the sponsors, the two National Clubs of the breed, i.e. the Parent Club the Great Dane Club, established 1883 and the Great Dane Breeders and Owners Association, established 1926. 

Just about everyone who is anyone in Great Danes attended this 'ground breaking' event and it was ovely to see many old timers with decades of experience, having so many memories, to share of past great dogs, and their influence of many of today's top winners. The social side, with Saturday evening hog roast, plus a 'must have' disco, for some(!)really made it a 'fun' week-end to remember. 

My reason for writing about this event, is I am sure,we have seen something new arrive on the show scene? It could well whet the appetite of other breed Clubs. With dates and venues, often well booked in advance, it takes time to set-up initially. This for the two Great Dane Clubs was a 'pilot' event. But I can certainly see with forward planning, this Great Dane Festival, will become an Annual high profile event. An International Bonanza, attracting both overseas visitors and exhibitors! 

The full results will be found elsewhere in the breed notes. However, well worth recording that the big winning dog, Champion Vanmore Stop And Stare At Castleon, won Best of Breed both days. The first day equalling the breed record with his 36th Ticket, and breaking it next day, with his 37th ticket. Something for the record books, an unforgettable week-end, for us all.
Yours etc
Jean Lanning
President Of The Great Dane Breeders and Owners Association   



Support needed

I write at the request of the small international group of Boxer people (boxerjkd.com) who have dedicated much of their time over the last few years trying to understand and find a way through the inherited kidney disease problem that has come to attention in the breed.  They are appalled by the comments directed at them by the Breed Notes correspondent who has also consistently sought to diminish and discredit the evidence on JKD from the start.  We feel that a rebuttal that will put the whole problem into perspective is needed. 
Nearly 40 years ago at a London and Home Counties Boxer Chatter event,  a veterinary neurologist, Ian Griffiths, and I were describing an inherited progressive axonopathy (PA) that had emerged in Boxers when ago one famous Boxer breeder of the day stood up urging that PA was not so important and did not merit the attention it was being given. She was shouted down by the rest of the audience.  This was at just one of a series of the open meetings on the subject organised by all the breed clubs around the country, not only to describe the disease and its inheritance but also to show explicit film of the affected dogs.  

Everyone was very hot on the subject.  Ultimately a very tough breeding control scheme was adopted with extensive breeder input; it was a total success.  We no longer have PA.  This action started a movement to deal with other Boxer health issues that came to the fore.  This took us through the heart conditions aortic stenosis (AS) and cardiomyopathy  (CM or ARVC) with these also being reduced or eliminated from the show section of the breed.  But here we are now with an inherited lethal kidney disease and the spirit of that breeder of 40 years ago rises again.  How is it in the new era, when everyone is aware of genetics and inherited disease in dogs, there is still such a lack of understanding? 

We are told all we need to do is be mindful of the situation.  What on earth does this mean?  The health committee and, I am afraid, Breed Council have advocated the pedigrees of affected cases should not be made public.  So how is any one to be mindful?  Were it not for the boxerjkd.com publication of JKD pedigrees, Boxer breeders would have had to rely on treacherous ringside gossip and the like.  I think boxerjkd .com has done very well by the breed both in this country and overseas.

And then there is criticism of hysteria about JKD on facebook.  There was no facebook 40 years ago but with PA there were masses of very upset people.  But they were mainly show breeders, because the non-show section did not follow the dog papers or club news and so would barely have heard of the disease and they had no way of discussing it either.  Odd cases of PA would have remained odd cases. Whether these folk knew it or not their fate was in the hands of show breeders and this was to prove well-placed.  But now we have a turn around with non-show people having the larger voice, on facebook, and once the kidney disease was mentioned there, everybody was aware.  New cases were reported in this medium, and so the movement for action took off with some show people leading the way.  And, through facebook, which is the only medium that is not tightly controlled, JKD quickly became recognised as a major international problem despite the lack of concern expressed in the dog press and the absence of any open meetings.  Was this hysteria?  It was real.  We could not wish it away.  Something had to be done and the only group to take it up were the boxerjkd.com members, greatly aided by this public support and also by many concerned show breeders.   Cases were reported and pedigrees published along with carefully-assessed breeding guidelines.  But do we have support from the Breed Notes correspondent?  In my opinion we are considered merely as trouble makers.  Are we now back to the ignorance and poor thinking of 40 years ago?

But why the turn-around in thinking about inherited disease?  My answer, based on genetical issues rather than political, is that with PA there was a neat recessive inheritance where on average 25% of puppies in affected litters suffered the disease.  Everyone could understand this.  But now with JKD, as also also with ARVC, there is the problem that only a small proportion of the genetically affected cases actually develop the disease and this leads to disbelief in the severity of the problem.  So is JKD really a major breed problem?  Is it worth bothering about?  Yes it is, because it is not just the incidence of affected pups that we have to think about but the far greater incidence of carriers and undetectably affected dogs.  These will greatly increase in frequency if we continue to breed from JKD-producing animals.  This is how JKD is to be found everywhere in the world; it is an international problem for the breed.  I suggest the lack of perception of JKD in earlier days was not necessarily a hide-it-under-the-carpet thing'; the kidney disease was simply not recognised as inherited - until mass inbreeding in the UK and over-used of certain dogs brought it to light.   

So the bottom line is that the only means at our disposal for dealing with JKD is NOT to breed further from animals that have produced it (and widen the stud dog options).  To do otherwise only propagates the disease gene.  Such selective breeding is aided by the JKD pedigrees published by boxerjkd.com, but probably limited by the withholding of other pedigrees by the health committee.  

The breeding recommendation was made by boxerjkd.com, and do not forget that members of the group have successful breeding and showing experience with Boxers here or abroad, and have many years' experience on health committees.  Moreover, three of us are professional research geneticists.  And, for my part and blowing my own trumpet, I have probably worked with more new mutations and totally novel inheritances than anyone else on the planet.  Furthermore, none of us is linked to any breeder group that could be deemed to risk personal bias, and indeed I felt I had to drop all Boxer breeding to deal with what I saw as the emerging huge JKD problem.  

There is, as everyone knows a last ditch effort to find the location of the gene for JKD.  This attempt uses a very different approach from all other methods and has had had enormous backing from Boxer breeders around the world.  It is funded by the former Docked Breeds Council and notably also by The Kennel Club.  I pray that it has success, but believe me, if it does there could then be serious panic notably in the UK where I expect the incidence of carriers in UK populations might be frighteningly high.  So, again, it would be wise to apply some simple selective breeding now to reduce the incidence of carriers as much as possible before any gene test comes into play. 

What is needed in effect is an end to all this opposition and unwarranted criticism and instead full support from all, including our Breed Council, both for the efforts of boxerjkd.com to help breeders, and the research to find the location of the gene.
Yours etc
Bruce Cattanach

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