Friday, February 19, 2010

RE: A Belgian Tervuren Investigation.

        I received the following blog response from the "Sandi" regarding "A Belgian Tervuren Investigation":

        "Would I sell you a puppy? No. No dog is perfect, and if you have read Padgett you know that all dogs carry multiple genetic problems, they are just not all expressed. If you consider gingival hyperplasia a problem, then it seems to me that you are looking for the perfect dog, and I don't have one to sell you. Minor health problems will often show up throughout a dog's life, just as throughout a human's life. This has to be expected and not a reason to not get a dog. I am a Belgian Tervuren breeder, I list all health information on the dogs I have bred on my website, I require health testing of all of the dogs that I place and I talk to every prospective puppy buyer about epilepsy. Am I unusual? No, many reputable tervuren breeders are doing the same thing."

          MY RESPONSE:  My note ended up saying, "So, knowing what I know (from my investigation) would I buy a Belgian Tervuren – even though in other respects it seems like an excellent choice for my circumstances? No, not unless I learned something from a breeder (assuming I believed her) which countered what I had read. If she told me that she had no Epilepsy in her line, that might cause me to reconsider the Tervuren, but as it is, I could not bring myself to buy a dog knowing it was possible that 30% of all Tervuren pups would develop epilepsy. I'm better off sticking with allergies and Gingival Hyperplasia."

Sandi's comments don't relate very well to my note.  I said in the quoted paragraph I wouldn't buy a Belgian Tervuren unless I had the assurance from some breeder that she had no Epilepsy in her line.  Sandi doesn't provide me those assurances but says she wouldn't sell me a Belgian Tervuren.  Which is a moot thing for her to say inasmuch as I said I wouldn't buy one unless the Tervuren breeder could provide me the assurances I required. 

Also, Sandi doesn't deny my statistic but instead says that she talks "to every prospective puppy buyer about epilepsy."  She then asks the rhetorical question, "am I unusual?"  And answers it "No, many reputable Tervuren breeders are doing the same thing."   Well, yes, if you know 30% of your breed is going to have epilepsy, then you may be staving off the anger of some percentage of the 30% of the owners you sold Tervurens to by warning them of epilepsy.   This is would be sort of like Toyota continuing to sell automobiles with sticky accelerators, but warning buyers up front of the problem.  Only 32 people have been killed, the Toyota salesman would be able to say, "and that is a tiny percentage of the cars we have out there on the road."  That may be true, but why wouldn't I prefer buying another brand – a brand without the sticky accelerator?

Sandi implies that I am looking for the perfect dog because I consider gingival hyperplasia a problem.  The logic of that comment escapes me.  Gingival hyperplasia is definitely "a problem."  I had to take Ginger to a vet so she could be operated on.  But in the scale of "problems" as I say in my note, "I'm better off sticking with allergies and Gingival Hyperplasia."  That is, better off with those problems than taking a 30% chance of getting a Tervuren with epilepsy.  Epilepsy seems a far more serious "problem" to me than Gingival Hyperplasia and allergies.  Does Sandi think otherwise?  I can't tell.

As to Padgett's describing the "multiple genetic problems" dogs have, I seem to take a different view of those problems than Sandi does.  I don't think that since multiple problems have shown up in virtually all breeds that one breed, health-wise, is as good as another.   I will take note of the genetic diseases Padgett mentions and question a breeder about them; which, in fact is something I did with the breeder I got my Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Ginger and Sage, from.  She didn't take offense.  Some of the diseases were apparently very rare in the RR for she had never heard of them.  In regard to others, she said that while she knew of breeders whose dogs had those genetic diseases, none of hers had them.  This breeder was recommended to me by a person who is extremely knowledgeable about Rhodesian Ridgebacks.  If I opt for a different breed next time, or even a different breeder of Rhodesian Ridgebacks, will I repeat this process?  Absolutely.  


Sandi Weldon said...

I guess my point to you was that while no breed of Belgian Tervuren can tell you that they don't have epilepsy in their lines, we can all help each other by being open about the problems we have produced. No breeder who has been breeding almost any breed of dog for some time can tell you that their lines are free of problems. It just doesn't work that way. So you need to look for a breeder who is open about what they have produced in the past, and what they know about the dogs in the pedigree of their current puppies. This breeder is being truthful, while the one who will tell you they have no problems is not.

I also don't know where you got the number 30% tervs suffering from epilepsy. Health surveys undertaken by the National Club show the numbers to be around 17-20%, which is still a very high number. I don't know of any reputable US breeders in the current times who are having 20% epilepsy show up in their puppies. I think we have made progress by being open with each other about this and other health issues.

Nope, you wouldn't buy a puppy from me, because I won't tell you that my lines are clear of health problems. And, I won't sell you one because I have yet to produce the perfect dog. So, we're in good shape then, aren't we?

You may well say that this message doesn't address your point either. My point to you is that you can stop looking for a line of Belgian Tervuren that is clear of any health issues, because there is no such thing, in this or in any other breed. It seems to me you would be well served by doing your research and finding a reputable breeder who will help you make an informed decision.

Lawrence Helm said...

Sandi, see my response at