My annual reports have tended to be rather repetitive over the years and this year is no different. Apart from the conditions highlighted regularly in the past, none of them at all prevalent, there are very few health issues associated with the Schipperke. While individual animals can, in common with all living creatures, develop health problems, the breed is free of any constructional exaggerations leading to health complications and most dogs remain fit and well in to a ripe old age.
It is disappointing and frustrating that details of the test offered by The University of Philadelphia have yet to be published for peer review. Over a number of years, I have been repeatedly assured by Dr Giger at the US facility that publication is imminent but nothing has materialised. In January 2016, however, he contacted me to say that he now has a draft manuscript which requires some final amendments by a colleague, so this may be an encouraging development. I will continue to remind him regularly.
Nevertheless, we have never, to my knowledge, had a case of MPSIIIB in this country. I am also unaware of any further errors in test results in the last eight years and the status of tested dogs over this period is entirely consistent with that of their parents. Sadly, not all breeders have chosen to make use of the on-line test result registers on the Club web-site but with steadily increasing numbers of dogs now “clear by descent”, there is room for optimism. In order to maintain this healthy position, I would urge all owners and breeders to provide details of their dogs’ status for publication to assist fellow breeders and for the benefit of the breed as a whole.
FINNISH EPILEPSY STUDY
This is progressing steadily. Samples from older (10+ years) dogs are still particularly welcome. I await the next update from Helsinki University.
I have heard of no affected animals in recent years.
KC HEALTH CO-ORDINATORS’ MEETING
This was especially interesting this year. Pedigree dogs are frequently in the limelight these days with popular emphasis on undesirable “in-breeding” or “over-breeding”. Schipperkes are a minority breed with a small breeding population and it is important that we keep the gene pool as open as possible if new health problems are to be avoided. Easy to understand data on this topic was provided at the symposium and this was circulated to all exhibitors at the Club CH show last October. Breeders are strongly advised to consider this information when planning matings. The KC’s on-line Mate Select tool is also very useful.
There was also a detailed presentation on canine cancers. It has been suggested to me on several occasions that cancers of various types may be of particular concern in the breed. This is not borne out by the admittedly limited responses to the two health surveys carried out by the Club or by the KC/BSAVA survey available on the KC web-site. The symposium presentation underlined that the overwhelming majority of canine cancers, most occurring in elderly animals, are random and have no hereditary risk component. The committee has concluded, therefore, that there is no compelling evidence to suggest that further exploration is needed at this stage.
I can be contacted in confidence to discuss any health matter affecting the breed.