Four days old and all is going well with Smudge and her six pups. Today one of the families having one of the boys from this litter, asked if I could take a photo of the boys, so I did and I have put them up tonight and labelled them. I will try and get a couple photo's of just the girls up soon. The photo's I take are taken randomly and at this stage its hard to take a posed photo as when you disturb them, all they want is to wriggle around and find Mummy's milk and you can't get their attention due to the fact that their eyes and ears are not yet open.
The video tonight is one I caught earlier of the pups being cleaned and encouraged to go toilet. At this age Mum stimulates them by licking them to empty their bowels and to urinate, around two weeks they will start to toilet without Mum cueing them. Mum though will still clean up after them and at around four to six weeks as the pups start to eat more solids the Mum will start to stop cleaning up after them.
The video shows how mobile they are already getting and how noisy they can get when they want Mum to get on with the most important thing, giving them access to the milk bar.
Three days old now and all is going well. Real time waster, watching puppies. Lots more photos and another video, this time with Smudge awake.
Because I did not milk Tuesday morning I'm making up for it by milking this evening, so husband has come home from work to do the school run and he has took the evening off to watch our oldest play rugby for his school later, so the the banging you hear in the back ground is him using the grill getting himself a late lunch.
I will get out some emails this evening hopefully as I am waiting on the first person on the list just to confirm for sure that they are going for a pup later on from Primrose. Belle has just come on heat (we are not breeding from her at this time) and last time she was on heat her half-sister Primrose came on heat 3 days after her and she does seem a little swollen, so I would expect her to be on heat in the next few days, we count the first day of bleeding as the first day of their heat. Once I have conformation that the first person on the waiting list is going for a pup from Primrose, I will then email everyone else in order of the waiting list.
The early days of a pup they are in overdrive growing, so that is why I try to get as many photo's as possible up, so people that can only visit us once before picking up their pup can get an idea of how much Mum puts into from day one until they leave her.
They are now two days old and I can see them growing before my eyes. All our girls are happy to have humans around their pups from day one and with Smudge she is also not worried about the other dogs peeping over the partition to catch a glimpse of her babies. For Treacle and Henry this is their first experience of hearing and seeing a litter of pups in the home and Treacle on hearing the first pup sqeaking kept woofing at first , as if to say, "What's that ?" but now takes no notice. As I said last night Henry was a bit weary of me and I think this was due to the fact he could here Smudge yelp as a pup was expelled but could not see her, but could see me in where the noise came from, so I think he was a little worried I was hurting her, but he's okay now with me and enjoys looking over the partition at the pups. He has a close friendship with Smudge, so I understand his concerns for her. The photo's show our two youngest in with them this evening and they only go in with the pups under strict supervision, our children don't know life without dogs, as I and my ancestors before me would of not known what it was like to not have a dog, so handling a dog/puppy is second nature to them.
Sorry to people waiting on me contacting them, I had to go and source a new washing machine today as we are getting to a code red for laundry in the home, new washing machine is now in situ, no clean underpants crisis averted, I will get to it tomorrow.
Finish on a video of Smudge and her pups. When the pups are first born up to around two weeks old they need to be kept at an ambient temperature of between 29 C to 35 C and as you can imagine this can be uncomfortable for Mum along with the fact her stomach is also insulated with her teats full with warm milk adding to the warmth she is feeling, so when Mum is nursing her pups she will tend to pant heavily due to the heat. Smudge was heavily sleeping, so we can hear her snoring heavily in the video, all short/flat nosed breeds snore to a certain extent and can be a sign of an underlying issue with their airways, especially if they snort and have a rapid or laboured respiratory rate when awake. Although Smudge is a snorer , she seems to not be effected in her breathing when awake and on the go.
It is said of dogs, "If Mum is not panting nursing her newborn pups, you have not got them warm enough." Listen out for the lovely suckling sounds.
A few photo's of Smudge and her pups taken during the day into the evening. Smudge and pups are all dong well. I normally milk tuesday morning and evening, but as things where starting up yesterday with Smudge I rang the farm I milk for on this day to warn I might not be able to milk in the morning. They said , "not to worry, we will leave it that you won't be here tomorrow morning." I got their this evening though and returned home to a lovely supper cooked by my husband and the children are all to bed now, so just got to let the dogs out and make sure Smudge is all okay for water and food, and I'm getting my ablutions done and finally to my bed, that I have not slumbered in for two nights now. I will keep the door open into the hallway and the door through to the living room to keep an ear out for Smudge and her pups. Smudge having had nine the first time and needed no help is seemingly coping easily with these six, but we must still stay vigilant making sure all are feeding well and Mum is coping okay.
Its six bonnie pups and all born naturally. Smudge is doing really well and is such a relaxed Mum and believe me that really helps when they are like that. You want the Mum attentive but to attentive and busy with the pups can be detrimental as much as a Mum that has not got a clue and looks at her pups to say, "What's that ?"
The last pup was born at 2.10 am this morning, she expelled the last afterbirth at 4.00 am, which weighed nearly the same as a pup and I stayed with her until 6 am and it was apparent that the mass in her stomach was just her uterus contracting down. My husband was up then and took over Mum and puppy watch, and also getting the children ready for school. I was up again at 7,30 am, took the rest of the pack for a quick jog, saw the children off to school and then I set about getting Smudge cleaned up and turning the labour ward into maternity ward.
Smudge has done a grand job and proves that a bitch after a c-section can then deliver naturally. With her first litter she did birth the first pup and if she had not shown that she could pass a pup through her pelvis, we would not be sitting here today admiring these six new arrivals. With her first litter, I had to be somewhere else that morning that I just could not get out of and my husband was left in charge with strict instructions that if a pup did not come in two hours, to ring the vets. A pup did not come in two hours and Smudge went to the vets and with the situation of me not in attendance and the fact that they know I would of been mortified to lose our Smudge or for her to over duly suffer, I think this may of swayed the decision to c-section than just give her a bit more time, she had nine live pups and all was okay, but whelping her in now and getting the litter off all naturally feels like I've made it up for not being able to be there for her first time round. Real sense of acheivement and although sleep deprived I'm happy and most importantly Smudge is happily nursing her six charges.
We made a bit of a mistake in weighing the first few pups, I think this might of been from lack of sleep, reading the dial wrong and the pups that where weighed at just over 8 ounces where more like nearly 10 ounces in weight. The pups range from 9 to 11 onces in weight which is big pups from a Cavalier, Smudge is big for a Cavalier but taking into account they are at least 3 days early, that shows she cooks her pups well.
After having nine with her first litter some might see six as a bit of a come down and I must admit having nine for a Cavalier litter, it can put the expectation at a high level for the next litter, but it also can spell disaster as well because having big litters can compromise the unterus to such an extent, it can even be hard to even get a bitch in pup again or with a good size litter, let alone whelp naturally, so Smudge is entering into the exceptional bitch catergory. She's got tonnes of milk and I can already see the pups have put on weight over night, have rug the vet this morning to get a bottle of calcium tablets, just to help keep her levels up, as she is an exceptional lactater.
I will be in contact with all hoping to have a pup from this litter, either today or it will be by tomorrow. Just want to try and catch a nap in a minute. We have had a bit of a crisis though yesterday, of all the days to stop working (loads of dirty towels etc from whelping in Smudge) our washing machine decided to die, so waiting on a chap to take a look to see if worth repairing, so using emergency back up. Husband as gone to mother-in-laws with the washing from the whelping, she has a bigger washing machine than my Mum's washing machine in the annexe.
Photo's below are Smudge's pups this morning and her after a clean up and in the maternity ward.
Just now waiting to see if we have any more pups to come. I think may be one more, but at this stage as the uterus contracts down, you can mistake it for a puppy. I'm trying to keep myself awake, so to occupy the time I just took a couple photo's of Smudge's six pups having a feed. Once we are sure their are no more pups we then go into clean up mode.
Whilst whelping (giving birth), we find the best thing to use is good old newspaper. They can dig it into a den and its absorbent and easily removed and replaced as the bitch whelps. You do get a lot of fluid with a bitch whelping and the green black patches around Smudge's back end is normal and from the placenta's. Smudge has very big placenta's and this reflects in the good size of her pups, as they are three days early at least, going from her first mating but all would be a very good size for full term pups. I think maybe another cup of coffe is called for.
Things just speeded up with the fifth pup being born 40 minutes since the fourth. A third girl and weighing in at a whopping 11 ounces. I weighed her a couple times and even got my husband to check it was right, but before I weighed her I said, "this is a big girl." Smudge is doing a grand job, still a few more to go though on feeling her stomach.
Smudge just delivered her fourth pup, being the second boy weighing in at just over 8 ounces. Born at 10.45 pm. Very vigorous and started sucking one of its siblings ears whilst waiting for me, as she was cleaning herself. Smudge is doing really well and that one arrived just under three hours since the one before.
Smudge has just birthed her third pup, being the second girl, weighing in at just over 8 ounces and coming out backwards like her other sister. She was born at 7.50 pm and Smudge seems to being giving birth around every three hours. She is eating having a sleep, then waking having a drink and then producing a pup. She is wonderful to watch with her pups, so gentle, especially as she nudges and arranges them so she can lie and sleep with them whilst they feed.
Just as we where getting a bit fidgety and we had loaded Smudge and pup in the car on the way to the vets, and just down the road and Smudge expelled her second pup at 4.55 pm in the foot well of the front of our car, a boy weighing just over 8 ounces, so turn around and back home. Vets are aware Smudge is in labour now and its just a waiting game again. Once the pup was there she seems to get the job done, it just seems to be taking a little time for a pup to get itself presented. I rang the vet three hours after the first one and had examined her with no pup yet presented at the cervix and the vet said, "it might be good to bring her in", but in the time we loaded her, a pup presented and she got on with it. Three hours is a long time between pups but as a pup was yet to present, its not such a worry, this amount of time lapse and the pup was in the birth canal and you would be very concerned and you would not wait that long once they are presented. In for a long haul I think, another all nighter. Smudge is happily asleep at the moment with her two pups so far and this is quite normal between each birth.
Must be quick. Smudge at 1.20 pm just gave birth to her first pup, a girl and although 3 days early weighing in at just over 8 ounces which is a good weight for a full term pup. I've been up all night and this first little girl decided to come backwards, which is a bit harder on the bitch, as they take a little longer to dilate with a blunt bum tapping against the cervix. Now the wait to see if she can expel the rest of the litter without intervention, but we now have a starting point to work from.
I'm on my own at the moment, but will update as and when.
Looks like we are on count down watch with Smudge, her temperature has dropped subtly from 37.7 C to 37 C this morning. She seemed fine when I popped off to milking at 5 am this morning , but on my return there was a change in her, when you are close to your dogs, you just notice the change. It can be a subtle as the way they just look at you and Smudge keeps looking or they are just lying in a different place and with Smudge at the moment, rather than be lying at my feet whilst doing this, she is in the utilty resting away from us. This morning whilst outside with all the dogs, although mild for the time of year, its not that hot a dog should be panting and now Smudge is intermittent panting, which to me suggests she is having mild contactions. This morning after coming back from milking a drop in temperature was noted and I then looked at Smudge's notes from her last labour. Last time she whelped (gave birth) three days before her first mating, due date, so that would be pups arriving on Tuesday. The stage we are at now can last 48 hours, she is also digging her bed ever now and then and her notes from her last whelping show a drop of temperature to 37 C base lined at that and then started to rise with this stage lasting around 24 hours until birth of the first pup. As always we are all excited at the prospect of the birth and as always it is mixed with a little apprehension to get it all right for Smudge's safety and the safe arrival of her pups.
Its been a bit ranty on the blog lately and thought this might soften the tone. My husband took this little video of me in the kitchen this morning after coming back from milking and walking the dogs, getting veg ready for dinner. Its all glamour here at Poundlane. We keep a bucket for peeling veg and fruit into and we compost it all. Yes, we eat Brussel Sprouts even when its not Christmas and we love them and as the video will show, Henry also loves them.
You will notice I've yet to get my hair cut, but Tilly is sporting rather a tight hair cut. A couple days ago unbeknownst (Bad parent award for me) to me she had got hold of a pair of scissors from the kitchen and went to her bedroom, to then reappear with a gift for me, a bowl of her hair. What could I do, but laugh, I could hardly get all high and mighty, because I did the same thing when I was about her age, believe me it did not amuse my Mum, as much as it did me when my daughter looked up at me so pleased with her efforts at cutting her fringe, Well, I say, "cutting her fringe", when I should say, "cutting all her fringe off", as there is no fringe left. I had three options, 1, make shift topee with the hair she had cut, 2, comb over with hair at the back of her head, or, 3, just cut it all short. I took the third option and you will see the result in the video. Her siblings are calling her, "Big Baby", which is a character from Toy Story 3. It will grow back, she does not seem worried about it. Walk of shame tomorrow though when I take her to school. Lol
You will notice that my husband is not that good at doing videos, he won't mind me saying that (he has other skills though) and that to start with we are unaware we are being filmed, so hopefully what I'm saying to Henry won't cause to much offence, but I do then say it again, just incase you don't catch it the first time. Henry loves eating Brussel Sprouts, we do make sure its only a couple at a time and apparently that's okay.
Well, I hope you enjoy the video and it don't get much better than sitting round a bucket peeling Brussel Sprouts with your children and your dogs. Might make "Around the Bucket !" a regular feature. Before any one gets all health and safety, no child lost an eye in the filming of this, on the knife I am holding in a rather precarious position.
Got an inbox getting a bit full with updates and photo's again and will get them all on the blog soon. Will hope to next blog with more news on Smudge.
The Cephalic Index in dogs is the cranial width compared to the cranial length which is known as the cranial ratio. This ratio does not iclude the muzzle and this confusion often sees people mistakenly classifying their dog or breed. When the muzzle is included it is known as the craniofacial ratio.
The three types of skull are as follows :
Bracycephalic : Wide or oval cranium. Short or broad headed and the length of cranium is shorter than the width. Our Cavalier king Charles Spaniels are classified as brachycephalic.
Mesocephalic: Square cranium. Cranial length is equal to cranial width, normal/medium proportion. Our Brittany Spaniel is classified as Mesocephalic.
Dolichocephalic : Long rectangular cranium. Long headed, cranial length is greater than the cranial width. Our Miniature Poodle, Reggie is classified as dolichocephalic.
For many years it has been argued that Cavaliers are not brachycephalic but I think in most cases this stems from the confusion that the muzzle is taken into consideration but as discussed above it is not and in 2011 a German study defined them not only as brachycephalic but extreme brachycephalic.
"Cephalometric Measurements and Determination of General Skull Type of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. M. J. Schmidt, A. C. Neumann, K. H. Amort, K. Failing, M. Kramer. Vet. Rad. & Ultra, 26 Apr 2011. Quote: "The general skull morphology of the head of theCavalier King Charles Spaniel (CKCS) was examined and compared with cephalometric indices of brachycephalic, mesaticephalic, and dolichocephalic heads. Measurements were taken from computed tomography images. Defined landmarks for linear measurements of were identified using three-dimensional (3D) models. The calculated parameters of the CKCS were different from all parameters of mesaticephalic dogs but were the same as parameters from brachycephalic dogs. However, the CKCS had a wider braincase in relation to length than in other brachycephalic breeds. Studies of the etiology of the chiari-like malformation in the CKCS should therefore focus on brachycephalic control groups. As Chari-like malformation has only been reported in brachycephalic breeds, its etiology could be associated with a higher grade of brachycephaly, meaning a shorter longitudinal extension of the skull. This has been suggested for other breeds."
So it was disappointing that Bill Lambert representing the Kennel Club (KC) at a Brachycephalic conference at the Royal Veterinary College in November 2013 was quoted by Dog World to say, "The researchers' definition of brachycephalic may not concur with that of dog folk and the KC, but we are surprised at the inclusion of the Cavalier and the Stafford among brachycephalic breeds." I took this up with the KC and Bill Lambert said, "He meant it it in the context of extreme brachycephalic dogs", and in a later conversation he said. " he did not consider them brachycephalic because they have a muzzle." I had sent him the article of the German study but on talking to him, it is apparent that the KC has got a different idea of what bracycephalic is because they seem to be mistakenly using the cranialfacial ratio to define skull type on the Cephalic Index, I explained to Bill Lambert his mistake, that is commonly made and pointed him in the direction of the German study that I had sent him. Hopefully he has taken it on board and we will hope that the KC can refrain making comments that keep breeders of bracycephalic dogs in denial of them being brachycephalic and the fact that being brachycephalic causes them numerous health issues. The full article of the conference can be read if you click on this link below http://www.dogworld.co.uk/product.php/104537
Another article which is interesting is an article , "The Brachycephalic Syndrome ", by Goran Bodegord, MD
Both the articles I have put on blogs before but they are so compelling towards breeding away from dogs with a brachycephalic skull and as this article is about the Cephalic Index it makes sense to include them.
I have yet to aquire a tool to measure my dogs craniums and will indeavour to get this done and publish it. It was suggested to use a g-clamp but its a bit bulky and I don't think it would give an accurate measurement without casing discomfort to the dog. I think I might invest in a pair of calipers to measure their skulls, as it will be of on going use.
End on a few photos of Smudge coming up to eight weeks pregnant this Thursday and a couple of Treacle with our Molly who yesterday after three days of sickness thankfully turned the corner and is getting better. Touch wood, at the moment no one else is showing signs of sickness. I have never had or any of our children any sickness past 24 hours and Molly was beginning to worry me but looks like she is back to her old self today and actually was riding her bicycle around this afternoon. Smudge is doing well and taking it all in her stride again as she approaches her due date which is the 27th Feb. The labour ward is up and I just need to get in some new puppy milk powder, just incase she needs any help. Come the weekend we will start monitering her temperature, three times a day. It will be nice to have the patter of tiny paws soon, after such a dark and damp winter.
On Christmas eve I finally recieved the MRI results for Belle, Smudge and Primrose after having them scanned the end of October. Smudge is a grade 2 for Chiari Malformation (CM) and a grade 1b for Syringomyelia (SM). Primrose is a grade 2 for CM and a grade 0b for SM. Belle is a grade 2 for CM and a grade 1c for SM.
Information about the British Veterinary Association (BVA) scheme for CM/SM can be found at this link http://www.bva.co.uk/canine_health_schemes/ChiariMalformationSyringomyeliaSchemeCMSMScheme.aspx
The grades for CM for Primrose and Smudge where to be expected and Primrose being 0b for SM is the best you can be at her age of three and a half years old and with Smudge being 1b for SM coming up to four years old that was not any thing to shocking but I will not hide the fact that seeing Belle as a crossbreed with no change in her grade for CM from her mother was very disappointing and that coupled with a grade of 1c for SM when her Mum and pure half-sister are graded 0 for SM, either I was going to go into a hole of depression over Christmas, or put it to the side during the festivities and then tackle whether this is such a bombshell in the New Year.
Well its the New Year and I'm now going to try and understand what at first glance looks like a step back rather than a step forward. Dog breeding is a roll of the dice (which I will explain fully in the latter part of this blog) but you might be lead to believe other wise with all the talk of health tests, genetic break throughs but each thing we learn it also teaches us how little we know and in reality I don't think mother nature will ever relinquish all of her secrets to us, she's always going to keep a bit back to mess with our heads but I certainly think she is a good teacher as long as we are attentive pupils.
Lets take a look at Belle who is age two and is a cross between a Cavalier and Miniature poodle. She has been graded 2 for CM. CM is in Cavaliers is the most common cause of foramen magnum obstruction. The foramen magnum is a large opening in the occipital bone at the back of the skull and it is this hole that the spinal cord passes through from the brain to the neck and it is the occipital bone that is not formed correctly and this condition is described as a mismatch of brain size to skull size. This condition is not just seen in dogs but is also seen in a similar form in over three thousand children yearly and thus dogs are seen as an appropriate model to look at for the treatment in humans for this condition. Ever wondered why there is so much interest by the science community in dogs ? The recent stem cell break through with eye conditions come from being used on dogs, so ironically closing off breeding pools of dogs, that is proving deterimental to their genetic well being, has now provided large pools of genetic disorders we also suffer with, in them and gives us access to study these health problems better and help to manage them better and in some cases cure them in humans. So interest in canines by the scientific community has much wider implications.
Now Belle, as some will know is a dog we bred but was not expecting to keep but stayed with us through an unfortunate accident from one of our children accidently catching her foot in the patio door and chipping her radius, she has been left with an intermittant limp from the accident. Belle is a lovely dog and her cranium is more towards the Cavalier than Poodle and keeping dogs back intentionally it may be best to retain ones that the cranium is starting to show a change and has started to lengthen in the cranium area. Belle is our first cross breed we have kept back and over one, so could be scanned on the BVA CM/SM scheme. The CM grade was the same as her Mum but the fact that her Mum at 6 is a 0c and Belle has been graded at two as 1c was not what I was hoping for and looks like a step back at a first glance.
What is a SM grade 1c ? The c indicates the age of scanning with c meaning scanned between 1 to 3 years old, b being scanned between 3 to 5 years old and a for scanning over 5 years old. The number indicates 0 for no sign of SM amd grade 1 is the dog has central canal dilation (CCD), which has an internal diameter of less than 2mm and then we go to grade 2 which is the dog has syringomyelia and a grade 2c is advised not to be bred from.
So what is central canal dilation (CCD) ? The best description I found for CCD and to understand its presence is a website dealing with the condition in humans http://asap.org/index.php/medical-articles/dilated-central-canal/ , so if you read this article you will hopefuly understand that CCD can be a indicator that a dog may proceed to have syringomyelia especially if other conditions are present, such as CM but it also can be a benign finding and be present from infancy. Our Dolly is an example of a dog over 6 with CCD but it has not progressed to any thing more, a few dogs are first diagnosed with SM over six but it is thought that the dog had SM before then but symptoms where not clinical before then, as with scanning for breeding we are diagnosing problems often before clinical signs show and a dogs graded 2 for SM will in most cases show no clinical signs of the condition unless it progresses further. So for Belle it will be a rescan in a couple years to see if we are looking at a progression or a benign finding. I must look to the positives and although I have not seen what appears on paper an improvement in the skull, I though can see an improvement with my own eyes of the conformation of the skull especially in the the cranial facial features of Belle. The nose is longer with better dental alignment (at two Belle has no plaque on her teeth with just eating regular chews, with Cavaliers plaque will be seen by this age and around four most Cavaliers will benefit from a dental to remove plaque build up. Plaque build up is more common in short jawed breeds due to the shortening of the jaw and bad alignment of the teeth, same amount of teeth have to fit in not as much room) and with a longer muzzle a better ability to regulate body temperature, eyes are better positioned and unlike mum when she is asleep, no snoring, so this would indicate better anatomy to the soft palate and airway of the dog and lastly the ears are less heavy.
Do we record this as a negative ? At the moment Belle has been recorded with CCD, which may turn out to be a benign finding. The inheritance of CM/SM is inknown and Ysobel who is the Mum of Belle although at 6 is for SM graded 0a some of her litter siblings at one years old where MRI scanned by the breeder and at one had SM grade 2c and recently I was contacted by a breeder who had bought a Cavalier pup from a show breeder who both parents had been scanned SM free and at two the Cavalier has turned out to have SM grade 2c, so by the breeding protocol of the BVA, she should not be bred from but here is the sad bit, she contacted the show breeder to let them know the dog they had bred at two had SM and he was taken aback but told the lady that she could still breed from the dog if she wanted to, which she was slightly aghast at and said to me "Knowing the dog has the condition and then still breeding from it, how can you sell pups knowing that." The lady had also had two other Cavaliers scanned at the time and are clear and she bought them from a breeder who does no testing, she took a chance and the breeder she got the clear tested dogs from is the breeder I got Jessica and Toby from, so I hope she's not used up all that breeders luck and Toby and Jessica are clear when I have them MRI scanned. Like most I also find it very hard to find breeders doing all health tests and then you have to understand the health tests. With Jessica and Toby I saw their very active Cavalier parents who moved well and did not look delicate as some Cavaliers can, they should be robust little dogs and if not and sensitive to be handled this can be an indicator of problems, so I took a chance on the rubust look of the parents.
So if you go on a forum, as I have seen, when a person asks about getting a Cavapoo and you are told to find not touch cross breeds but find a Cavalier breeder doing the health tests for SM and the heart problem Mitrial Valve Degeneration (MVD) and they will be able to gaurantee a puppy without this health problem. They is talking through their arse and equally the cross breeder who tells you that the health problems in each breed are not in each breed, so when you cross they don't get the health problems. They also are talking out of their arse. There are a few specific health problems to some breeds like Brachycephalic Obstruction Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is seen in brachycephalic breeds, the name is sort of self explanatory or Collie eye anomaly (CEA) which is mostly recorded in collie /herding breeds and has been recorded in a retriever breed but on the whole all the health conditions we know of in dogs have been seen in most breeds and if they have not been recorded in a breed it does not mean it has not had it, just its not been recorded yet.
I think its funny when you hear a breeder saying that their chosen breed, " has few inherited health problems recorded." The key is the word recorded and until recent history not much recording of health issues had been happening and when you research a breed, when a breeder makes such a remark on their website as above and you find that the research that has been done by the Kennel Club recently gives a figure of over 50% of the dogs having a on going health issue by the age of four and they also say on their website, " the average lifespan is 12 to 14 years old", but the research says, "just over eight years is the average lifespan for the breed" and lymphoma (cancer) is the biggest recorded killer and on their website they only mention a eye condition, cancer is more common in pure breeds compared with cross, mixed and mongrels, it makes you realise when looking at breeds you need to do your own research, as most breeders are either not giving full disclosure or being economical with the true picture of their breed.
As I said at the start, "dog breeding is a roll of the dice", but its how you roll the dice, with breeding from small gene pools when you roll the dice the chance of breeding dogs that look much like their parents is high but the downside is you heighten the risk also of inherited disorders but breed dogs of similar size and temperament but from open gene pools or gene pools that have not been bred together for a while your rolling of the dice means your dogs will not look so much like book ends but the greater genetic variation means a statistcally lesser chance of an inherited disorder or it being expressed to the extreme. Breeding is a numbers game and you have to do your research and decide which game you want to roll your dice, either roll them in the closed off gene pool or the open gene pool, statistics in general favour the more genetic variation and this is where research comes in because if you cross two breeds that have an high occurance of the same health problems then the statistics are not going to be lowered for the occurance in the offspring but picking two breeds that one has a high occurance for a disorder and the other has occurances of this health disorder but at what would be considered a normal rate for the genral dog population, you will statistacally lower the chance of the occurance of the health disorder, so cross or mix breeding is not a cure all but a way by more genetic variation to statistically lower the occurance of health disorders. Cross breeding produces unhealthy dogs but it is generally excepted by genetic science it is at a lower rate than pure breeding. A lot of the ideology for inbreeding stems from the myth that wild wolves are very inbred and adapted to high levels of inbreeding, so its natural to think you can transfer this ideology to dogs but there is nothing to back this theory and the only place we know that wolves are very inbreed is on the Isle Royale, Michigan, USA and this very interesting post on the website Border-Wars http://www.border-wars.com/2013/06/misconceptions-about-inbred-wolves.html rather dispels the myth that wolves are adapt to high levels of inbreeding.
So do we record Belle's scan as a negative or not ?
If every breeder followed the CM/SM protocol we might see a very slow improvement but will it ever be note worthy without looking to change the skull shape, as the presence of CM is thought to be the main factor in dogs that develop SM and with all Cavaliers being scanned so far showing evidence of CM, I think its changing the skull shape that will be of the most benefit in the long run. This is not going to happen over night and will take more than a first cross to undo and just two breeds. So I'm going to cautiously say, "so far crossing with the Poodle brings more positive changes than negatives", the fact that the back of the skull has in Belle not shown no notable change and this is only from the scanning of one of the cross breed dogs we have bred (a bit of a disappointment and we will hope with Treacle who is our next cross breed to scan and has been kept back because of a more lenghtened skull that some improvement can be seen sometimes with a first cross at the back of the skull) has to be countered with the fact that we see a vast cranial facial improvement with this cross from the cranial facial features of the Cavalier, I'm not talking from an aesthetic point, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder but from a health point for the dog.
Health testing has its place and is one of the tools in the breeders box but lets not fool ourselves that it is the saviour of the pure dog breeding world, in lots of breeds it will reduce breeding stock further and in time other health problems will spring up from creating an even smaller gene pool and some breeds are at such low numbers that it is excepted that in the breed that dogs with onset of heart conditions and other health conditions can still be bred from because taking dogs out with onset of heart condition or other conditions out would reduce the breed to even more dangerously low numbers, so the gene pool is already low enough that unhealthy dogs are excepted to be bred from. When you get to this stage and you could cite whether breeding from Cavaliers with CM is ethical, dog breeding really needs to take a long hard look at ourselves in unyeilding day light.
The painting above is what was known as the Marlborough Spaniel and was bred by the Duke of Marlborough and in the late 1700's into the 1800's these spaniels where the smallest of the working spaniel types at the time and where very sought after as flushing dogs for heavy undergrowth and noted for bringing up hares for lurchers and are the forefathers of the Blenheim Spaniel to then come under the title of King Charles Spaniel and is why the chestnut brown and white colour is called Blenheim. Look at the head shape, its not brachycephalic. By the early 1900's the painting below shows what selective breeding had done for this type of dog, brachycephalic with no face and the ears have become longer and the coat much more profuse. In 1942 the King Charles breed was seperated and we see the emergence of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and its hope was to get back to the origins of this spaniel and have a small sporting spaniel like the original types of the Duke of Marlborough, with a closed off gene pool with only five stud founders it is amazing that this breed is still here and for me one of the ways forward for this type has to be the careful use of cross/mix breeding. I would like to have dogs that are in type, harking back to the Marlborough Spaniel. Henry I think is already half way there and its whether we can safely reduce his size to get a small robust sporting type spaniel, reducing coat and ears but keeping the personage of the Cavalier.
Next blog is the cephalic index as a follow on from the MRI scan results on this blog, as thought people might lose the will to live if this blog post is much longer.
“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you,but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
― Samuel Butler
Me (Jane) with Puddin' and Teagol, waiting patiently to flush a patch of kale, December 2019
Hello, I am Jane!