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Old 01-05-2013, 01:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Poodle Health Rant

I hope that to our kind friends who have followed our beloved Annabelle's final week with us, that you will allow me my final rant about health in Standard Poodles.

We have been aware of the irresponsible practices of many poodle breeders and dog breeders in general. Do responsible breeders exist? Yes of course they do and I'm sure there are some on this forum, but I fear they are not in the majority. There are far too many puppy mills or glorified puppy mills in this country and as pertains to our beloved breed, too many of these breeders seem overly obsessed with breeding for…"the perfect tail, the perfect face/snout, the perfect legs" blah blah blah and whatever, ultimately receiving points toward their championship, another step towards getting their stud fees, and a certain price for the puppies.

Our first dog was a black spoo, a live breeding son of the aforementioned Eaton Affirmed (callname Snapper who lived in 1978), who appears to be the god of all poodles in the last 3 decades as he appears in practically every lineage somewhere down the road in so many poodle pedigrees along with all the diseases that he shared with the generations to come after him.

Our first dog was named Magic. Magic had epilepsy from the time he was a puppy. He suffered from petty mall seizures his entire life until he reached 12 years of age. At 8 years old, he bloated and finally, suffered from dementia at age 12 at which point we made the decision to put him down because his behavior was so unpredictable.

Francesca (Fresca for short) was our second, black spoo whom we got when Magic was 6. She suffered from severe SA from the age of 3 throughout the rest of her life. She also suffered from seizures (both petty and grand mal) and ultimately died from Lupus right before her 12th birthday.

Both blacks were from the same breeder.

Our next two silver poodles, Picasso and Annabelle, were from another breeder in California. Picasso did suffer from temporary grand mal seizures in the first couple of years of his life and then they stopped. Now, he was relatively healthy until the age of 9 when he was diagnosed with IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) which we later realized was caused by a lymphoma that we discovered in a later diagnosis by the time he was 10. We lost Picasso at 10 when his stomach torsioned. We were never advised by the breeder to have Picasso stomach tacked at the time we neutered him.

Annabelle, we got at close to 6 months of age when Picasso was 6 years old. I don't believe she was ever healthy a day in her life. I can remember from the day we picked her up, her eyes were bloodshot. She suffered from terrible allergies, hyperkeratosis (chronic dry nose), she was diagnosed with Addisons by the time she was 3 having previously crashed twice being closed to death. At first, the emergency vets couldn't even figure out what was wrong with her. Our primary vet was on vacation at the time. Once she had Addisons, she was put on florinef for the rest of her life ultimately at 8 pills per day plus 5mg of horrible Prednisone. She was never the same after that which brings us to the present time where we ultimately lost her to Squamous Cell Carcinoma in the mouth. Crossing my fingers, our current white spoos with much lower coefficients of inbreeding and from a different breeder who is VERY responsible, live relatively healthy, long lives.

This was a quick synopsis of our personal poodle history and the health issues we've encountered over the years.

As much as we wish it wasn't, I think we should all realize that this is a business with all that such a business implies: awards at dog shows, points towards championship, doggie parts being judged by today's AKC standards, and whatever else. Health is simply NOT a priority, not even by some breeders who claim that it is with their lines. Saying it doesn't make it true. Now, interestingly enough, hips always have to be checked BEFORE breeding as well as specific genetic diseases for which there are tests, but so many things cannot be tested for. THAT is where genetics comes into play and the evils of line breeding. I have to tell you that our beautiful silver girl's parents were the daughter and grandson to the same dog. What angers me about breeders like this is that they try to pretend that inbreeding is not dangerous, that paying attention to the health histories of previous generations is simply not possible. Once the beautiful puppy that you fell in love with at first sight is in your arms and fully paid for, anything that happens from that point on is your problem. Additionally, it infuriates me when a breeder plays dumb about various health conditions that they KNOW exist and have existed in the past particularly with their own lines (i.e. cancer, bloat, addisons disease, laryngeal paralysis, heart murmurs, SA, and the list goes on). "Oh cancer??? My lines don't have cancer…..Addisons???? I've never heard of that!…."Seizures??? Interesting. I've never heard of that…" Yeah….RIGHT! Of course you haven't.

Although COIs (coefficients of inbreeding) and pedigrees are available on resources like the PHR (Poodle Health Registry), it is never the complete answer. Many issues go un-reported which, in and of itself, is a crime when it comes to the breeders. That being said, whatever information IS available is certainly an essential component to understanding the potential health problems possible with your dog and its relatives.

I do not want to see others needlessly suffer as we did through the life of a dog who, from 3 years of age or less, had a very bad case of Addisons disease with reactions to medicines. Don't even get me started on the affects of Prednisone on dogs and what it does to their personalities! Annabelle was not even 7 years old when Squamous Cell Carcinoma led to her death.

What does this boil down to? There needs to be responsibility and accountability. Obviously, nobody (breeder, vet, or owner alike) can be perfect and prevent everything bad from happening. That said however, I truly believe that competent vets should have the ability to say, "You should NOT breed these two dogs" for the very same reason that they are able to say "I will not pass on this dog's hips because there is too high a chance for hip dysplasia in offspring." Why can't breeders and vets look at a dog's genetics/pedigree and do the same thing? Obviously they can't weed out everything, but they can research and do their homework. It seems that purebred dogs in general have more problems rather than less at younger ages as time goes by.

By playing dumb with what is in their lines, breeders make that bad for business and cause future owners of these dogs nothing but pain, anguish and heartache. So we now return to the major point of this post. Do your homework before buying your puppy. That's never a guarantee, but it can save you a lot of heartache. Make sure you have a knowledgeable vet, one that is particularly knowledgeable about your own breed! For example, a vet should know that spoos should have a gastropexy (tummy tack) when they are neutered or spayed by a vet who does the procedure often. Bloat leading to torsion is the #2 killer of standard poodles. If a vet tells you that bloat and stomach torsion won't happen until the dog is much older or some other garbage not relevant to the reality of the situation, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…FIND ANOTHER VET. Vets are another rant for another time.

All this said, please do be well all of my poodle people and doggie lovers! I wish you health and happiness in the year that awaits.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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TheBigRoo, you have been on my mind since Annabelle's passing. You are right to be angry. Hopefully your post will be read by people looking for a puppy and they will consider more than the color of the puppy or the fact that there is a breeder who is conveniently close by. I pray that your white spoos live long health lives. You have suffered more than your share of heartache.
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I feel for you. I, too, had a standard poodle with a lot of issues! It broke my heart to put her down at 11 years old after years of skin problems, ear infections, bad hip dysplasia and frequent digestive issues. I went on a search for a healthy poodle from healthy parents and I did not care so much that the poodle was perfect looking. I only wanted a healthy poodle first and a great personality second. I got one. She is robustly healthy- no allergies, great hips, etcetera. The difference is night and day, but she is an adorable pixy, smaller in stature with a mini thrown in several generations back and an agility line (stockier), yet she is loaded with poodliness. I just submitted her DLA haplotypes.

I decided to bite the bullet and try again for a larger standard with the pretty lines everyone loves including myself. I chose my new puppy from the same breeder, but a totally different type of breeding. I had to wait quite a while for him. While I waited I looked around at other poodles, but decided that I liked this combination of dogs. The sire was/is very healthy and now 9 years old from a wellknown show kennel. The dam was/is 7 years old and very healthy with excellent hips. This was her last litter and she had produced healthy puppies in the past. I got my boy. He is healthy AND he is a typical looking full sized, sparkly standard poodle with no mini in his lines.

My message is that a beautiful healthy standard that fits closely with the poodle standard IS possible. I was not convinced when I got my Bonnie that it was. I was very jaded and a little bit angry. You have to search and look through pedigrees. My new boy does have Eaton Affirmed way back there on both sides, but it would be hard to find a standard with those elegant looks who didn't have him, but the last 5-10 generations are a total mixup of dogs, all healthy. My puppies COI is only 2.18%. His AKC champion black sires COI is over 10% with a 55% Wycliffe, but he is older and very healthy. My pups dam has a COI of 2.4% with a Wycliffe of 37%. For a black standard a Wycliffe of 37% is pretty good. Both my puppies sire and dam were from those typical, original show lines.

I guess my point is-people can and do breed healthy standard poodles from show lines. If I ever buy another one, I will be very careful again, though. I almost threw in the towel on the standard poodle, but I am so glad I didn't.

Many of the current breeders of show poodles are well aware of the health issues that were produced. I believe that many of them ARE putting health up there with beauty. My boy is young still, but he shows no signs of anything other than robust health and he is beautiful to me.

I wish for you that your current poodles live long, healthy lives!

Last edited by outwest; 01-05-2013 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hello The Big Roo,

Thanks for your "Rant'. I hope your tale is read by many prospective puppy owners... I hope that things will change, and there are breeders willing to disclose all that we know. You have had more than your share of health issues, and vet bills, I am sure, to prove it!

Pedigree analisis is a useful tool, in conjunction with testing, and a knowledge of what is not on the books. It is also useful to know the age that the parents and grandparents lived to, any health issues, temperments and what they eventually die of.

It would be nice if everyone disclosed, but at this time, many breeders fear the disclosure. There are some breeders that use disclosure of all problems on PHR as a "whipping board" of sorts.... Buy my dogs.... Look at X, their dogs are not healthy. In reality, they have even more problems, but do not disclose....At least with dislosure, we know what to breed away from, and how not to double up on risks.

Please do put your dogs on the PHR database... It is really important to have the data. Even though these babies are gone, the data will help good breeders find the "Real" health risks of a breeding. If no-one reports the cancer, epilepsy, bloat in a line, how can we know it is there? The forms are now very simple to fill out, and update.

It will take a couple of weeks to show up, as the girls are still working on the Haplotype study updates, and I will be sending them lots of more work.... Please do take the time.... We need everyones help.

Please PM as to the Silver pups. I have Silvers, and would like to know if the risks are behind my kids.... Pedigrees help, Registered names are best. I am not looking to finger piont, and can tell you all the risks of my guys have that I am aware of.... It is what we don't know that is hard to assess....

Wishing you much better health, and many years with your present babies!

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Old 01-05-2013, 05:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I am grasping for words here. The heartache you've recounted is incomprehensible. You have every right to ask us to think long and hard and deeply about the responsibilities of breeding, and to become the most educated poodle buyers we possibly can. You are also due change of fortune; may Samson and Luna live long and with vigor!

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Old 01-05-2013, 09:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am very sorry about your misfortune. :( I was seriously considering adopting a standard poodle in the future. They are so elegant, beautiful, and majestic but their health problems have swayed me away.. :/ I only rescue so I wouldn't even know their pedigree. Thank you for sharing your experience. I will stick to toys and minis.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I am very sorry for all of the pain that you have been through.

I have owned dogs all of my life, both mixed-breeds and pure bred. The passings of my dogs have all varied in cause, as does the passing of beloved humans as they age. Where I live, cancer has been stated by physicians as almost a given. Elderly people and even myself have been told my physicians that they feel, well, that cancer simply resides within us, awaiting a downfall of our immunity, to emerge in some variety. Therefore, when one of us makes it to a ripe old age without some diagnosed cancer......as happened with my sister's FIL, his doctor made the statement that he was amazed that it had not happened earlier. My own father passed on last year. After his death, we found that, although he had never been diagnosed with cancer of any form, his body was completely riddled with a variety of cancers. Might my father have live a longer life? My dogs who have lived to 12/13 yrs, I do think fall into a similar category. Certainly, I do not want them to pass on, and I certainly do not want them to suffer.

I do think you will all understand what I am trying to say in as harmless and as roundabout way as I might.

On the other side, I can tell you that my sister and husband have only had one dog ever. He suffered at a young age from hip dysplasia, and was being treated for Cushings at the time he had a severe "stroke" and was finally put down. My sister had him cremated, and stil has his ashes. This was about 13 yrs ago, and this broke her heart so badly that she has forever refused to ever have another dog.

I take the alternate road in my life. Sure, it hurts. But, at my age, it has hurt to lose beloved friends and family, as well. I know that I was much better for having them in my life; both people and dogs.

I am hoping that I do get the 12 or so years of companionship from my current pets. I am not expecting much more, as it has never gone that way for any of my pets, although I did once know a mixed-breed who lived to over 20yrs. (It wasn't a pretty sight, but the dog was basically happy)

I understand what you are saying about breeders and breeding. I do think they can only do the best that they can do and I am thankful for those who do. Each and every one of us, dog or man, is going to pass on, and, yes, for most there will be a diagnosis of some disorder which causes it. We only hope for easy and peaceful passings for all and celebrate the wonderful times we share with each other.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Every dog I have ever had has been very healthy and lived to be very old. I now have 2 spoos. I hope to have the same luck. I did not know about the issues with poodles before I got Carley , she is 8 years old and so far very healthy. I just got Stella a few months ago and so far she has had no issues either, she is 2 and a half. I was told after I got her, that she had bad ears and was very itchy, needing to take shots every few months... so far I have not seen this to be true. She came to me very itchy, but with a new diet, new shampoo and more grooming she is not itchy now.

I hope you have better luck with your new dogs... this is so heartbreaking. I think I would have given up on the breed. Glad you did'nt.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I feel the pain in your words, and I am so, so sorry for the heartbreak you've experienced. But anecdotally, amongst my friends who have standard poodles (you know how you drift toward others with common interests and soon you know quite a few, even casually or through others), no one that I know has ever had the bad luck you have had with your dogs. So you're due some new good luck! There are still good, healthy standard poodles out there and the points about breeders needing to be upfront and honest are valid; so are your points about the need to do our research before buying a dog. But many people are doing those things and so there is hope for this beautiful breed.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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My first poodle died of liver failure at 7 months (we think it got nicked during neutering). My childhood poodle lived to be 17 although my parents should have put her down at 16. She had skin tags and allergies but was otherwise healthy.

My Omar is almost 14 and has never had any issues (knocking on wood) except for bad teeth. Lila passed away at 12 and 1/2 after liver issues. She lost all her teeth as a young adult. She also had luxating patella corrected when she was 3. Maggie is going on 9 and has had no health issues except her baby teeth never fell out and had to be pulled as an adult. Nicholas was born with grade 3 luxating patellas in both legs and we had them fixed when he was a year old. He is going on 7. Penelope is almost 2 and has one patella which is a bit loose but they doubt it will cause her problems.

I also had a black lab Irish setter mix who was healthy as a horse and lived to 14 despite her propensity to eat bees (while they stung her), any sort of rancid garbage she could find, toys, throw rugs, wood, plants etc. you get the idea. She was a billy goat in disguise. Never had any shots or took heartworm or any tooth issues at all.

It is heartbreaking when our pets have health issues but I guess they are like humans. Sometimes you get what you get. I agree irresponsible breeding contributes to the problem as does our environment, food etc now a days as we continue to poison the earth with our toxic wastes.

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