The year 2014 has been very quiet on the health front which, since my lap-top died, taking much of my data to the grave with it, was no bad thing! As ever, of course, the Schipperke still presents as a breed which is fundamentally sound and healthy, with no structural exaggerations.
Unfortunately, this was something of a non-event, with virtually no questionnaires returned. The Health Committee had hoped that a second survey might provide more specific information, perhaps pinpointing conditions, such as cancers, which might be deemed common in the breed and which might, therefore, warrant further exploration. Given the response rate, no further health surveys are envisaged now unless significant other health concerns emerge.
The Kennel Club has recently conducted a health survey of pedigree dogs, however, and a full report will be published next year. Although only 20 Schipperkes participated in the survey, it will be interesting to view the results.
The Royal Veterinary College is also undertaking a large-scale health survey involving all veterinary practices in England. I have indicated that as a breed, we would be interested in being included in the study but it does seem likely that more popular breeds with larger populations will be selected.
The Finnish study is ongoing and I plan to have another push for samples from UK dogs soon. At the time of writing, I await a further update from the University of Helsinki.
Despite repeated assurances over three years or more, Dr Giger of the University of Pennsylvania has still not published the material on his test for this condition. This means that his premise for the test and his methodology have not been subject to review by other geneticists. I remind him on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, we have not had a known case of this dreadful condition in this country to date. Furthermore, we have not become aware of any incorrect test results for approximately seven years now. Our test result registers on the Club web-site indicate that the MPSIIIB status of progeny is entirely consistent with that of the parents. We have significant numbers of dogs which have tested normal (clear) or are clear by descent and I think there is justification for optimism overall and for continuing confidence in the test itself.
The situation in the U.S., where the problem was arguably more established, is similarly improved. Initially, many breeders there had to include carriers in their breeding plans or risk losing their established lines or, even worse, restricting the breed gene pool, thereby increasing the danger of encountering new health problems. Now, however, the test has identified increasing numbers of clear dogs and breeding from carriers is no longer necessary in many kennels.
This independent mechanism for evaluating individual breed strategies to highlight and tackle health issues, is currently under review and should be re-launched in the foreseeable future.
This topic remains on the Health Committee’s agenda and will be discussed in greater detail in the coming year.
IAN MILLAR (Health Co-ordinator) 7th February, 2015.