Thursday, September 30, 2010

Further on the Belgian Tervuren Investigation

Sandi Weldon has left a new comment on your post "RE: A Belgian Tervuren Investigation.":
Sandi: 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: Anyone reading this note needs to realize that I was considering the Tervuren back in 10-09. After that investigation I decided to eliminate the Tervuren from the list of the breeds I was considering because I was not willing to risk getting a dog with epilepsy. Sandi Weldon wrote me a note in 2-10 in response to my 10-09 note (not too different from her above note) and I responded to her in the note referenced above. Her second note is as you see above, but there is roughly one year between the time I did the investigation and the present. I am not doing any current thinking about the Tervuren.

Nevertheless some of her comments are provocative. As to where I got the 30% figure, I don't recall what I was referring to a year ago, but I found the following this evening: "Epilepsy is present in the Belgian.  It is estimated that anywhere from 6% - 30% of Tervuren are affected.  It is in practically every dogs pedigree out there.  Conscientious breeders will not breed from affected animals (those that themselves seizure) but may judiciously use non-seizuring relatives in their breeding program.  If someone tells you their lines are seizure free, be suspicious...if there were such an animal, breeders would be lined up for miles to breed to those lines!  Sadly, the mode of inheritance of epilepsy is as of yet, unknown.  However, studies are underway to identify the DNA of affected and carrier animals, we hope that a marker test will become available within the next year or two.  Then, in time, it may indeed become possible to have dogs that are epilepsy free."

I also saw the figure 21% in a couple of places: is one of them. This abstract surveyed 938 dogs, 738 of which had no seizures. That comprises a seizure rate of 21 % .

As to Sandi's warning to stop looking at the Tervuren; I gave up on the Tervuren back in October 2009.

The breeds on my current list are the Rhodesian Ridgeback because I am very familiar with the genetic problems in this breed and unlike the Tervuren, Ridgeback breeders can breed around the more serious problems.

The Beauceron is on my list. This is a European working breed which seems not to have been corrupted by the AKC world quite yet. There is a breeder near me who seems to emphasize defensive dogs. She also breeds the Belgian Malinois and runs a K-9 training course. The Malinois wouldn't suit me but the Beauceron might.

The Airedale is on my list because I've located a breeder who breeds "working Airedales." He isn't at all concerned about showing his dogs. He has been breeding them for a long time and claims to produce healthy dogs.

The Irish Terrier is on my list. This isn't a popular breed, but seems to be pretty healthy.

There are breeders of all of the above breeds fairly close to me; so when the time comes I'll check them out more carefully -- although I've already checked out the Irish Terrier breeders. The downside of that breed is its pugnaciousness around other dogs.

Also, my wife decided she wanted a lap dog and after much discussion and negotiation she opted for a Schnoodle; which is 1/2 miniature Schnauzer and 1/2 Miniature Poodle. The breeder is in Gilbert Arizona and has been breeding Schnoodles for 23 years. She claimed that her pups were healthy. I liked the idea of the larger gene pool than that of either of the derivative breeds.

No comments: