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Discussion Starter #1
It seems that the poor poodle is plagued with a lot of health issues in all 3 sizes. I know other breeds have their problems too but I'm wondering, how do breeders help the breed become healthier? Is doing health testing the only way to solve these problems?
 

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Health testing is a good start, but won't spare a breeder the heartache of things like Addisons for which there are no tests to see who might be a carrier. Diligent pedigree researching to find a healthy compatible mate is a must. And breeding dogs with the aim of producing puppies with low COI's is one of my goals. I have said it before and will say it again, the Canine Diversity Project is adamant about low COI's and state that a puppy with a COI of less than 10% is likely to live up to four years longer than a pup with a higher than 10% COI. I think our last litter had a COI of 3.78% which is a pretty good indicator that there are not a lot of common ancestors in these pups. That is a good thing. All of the line breeding and inbreeding that has taken place over the years has shrunk the gene pool, especially in reds, and made it very difficult to find compatible mates for ones dogs that are not related to them. The further apart they are familially, the less risk of health issues, in my opinion. I do understand there are reasons for linebreeding and inbreeding, but I will not go there. I try to equate my breeding practices to what I would find acceptable in my family. There is a reason it is against the law for first cousins to marry and bear children, and the same risks and threats occur when you do it too often in dogs.
 

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Sadly, some of the testing is only good for the time the test was taken, such as with SA. It is no guarantee that your dog won't break with it the very next day. A combination of testing plus clearance by pedigree can give some assurances, but not total. Many issues are polygenic and the combinations of genes that produce the issue are not known. It is also easy for breeders to overreact and erradicate entire lines and years of work based on one puppy. There is a lot that is just not known, you have to work with what is known. Poodles have their issues, but many breeds have equal or worse. One of the more heartbreaking health issues occurs in Cavaliers, which I also own. 50%of them will have mitral valve disease by the time they are 5 and nearly all of them will have it by age 10 (if they live that long). For a toy breed, their average lifespan is lucky to make 10 years old. The problem is that many do not develop MVD until after their breeding years. So while you breed perfectly healthy hearts, they may develop the disease later (or not) and produce pups who develop it before they are even 1 yr of age. It is a polygenic disease for which there is no test. I have one Cav who is now 7 who has had a murmur since he was 6 months old and never has worsened. I have another who has never had an issue, but she could develop one over night and go down quickly. It is unpredictable and an accepted hazard with the breed in general.
 

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What really bothers me is too see a popular stud that's produced some serious health/temperment issue in a pedigree several times. It seems like if the dog wins a lot, no one cares if his offspring is unhealthy or has very poor temperments. I understand the need for diversity and why you can't just yank every dog w/ iffy genes out of the gene pool, but why continue to inbreed w/ a dog like that in the pedigree? Eaton's Affirmed came up here recently and I know of one of his descendents that's used quite heavily and has produced some unhealthy dogs himself. It's not uncommen to see this stud 2-3 times in a 3 gen pedigree. Another line that I've discussed here via PM's has produces some very poor temperments, yet two particular dogs (father/son) are some of the most popular studs out there. I don't get it.
 

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Health testing is fairly new and back in the day when we bred for the show ring no one really knew about genetic defects and just bred to whom ever was winning and whom they thought would make a good match. But now that we know better its going to take a while to fix everything.

I do think testing it an awesome thing as is pedigree research but when you have people breeding sub standard dogs anyway it becomes difficult.
 

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I also think its very helpful when puppy buyers let the breeder know there is a problem with the dogs offspring. How would they know otherwise. Riley is not a very healthy dog, and it is heartbreaking sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I also think its very helpful when puppy buyers let the breeder know there is a problem with the dogs offspring. How would they know otherwise. Riley is not a very healthy dog, and it is heartbreaking sometimes.
Oh I agree. Do you think all of the testing available should be done at least once on the "pets" as well?
 

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In an ideal world, yes. Doing only the breeding dogs only gives you a small slice of what is really going on in the lines. Riley has been OFA'd and thyroid checked even though he is neutered. Nothing more though as i highly doubt the breeder would take any of it into consideration.
 
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