Animal Nutritionist to Speak at July Meeting


The Fort St. Clair Kennel Club is pleased to welcome Dr. Gregory Sunvold, nutritional scientist, as our guest speaker for the July meeting. Dr. Sunvold has worked for twenty years in the field of animal nutrition, and has registered 300 patents in animal nutrition. He has helped develop foods for all life stages of pets, as well as prescription diets for weight loss, diabetes and renal disease.

The meeting is Wednesday, July 10th at 7 p.m. at the KFC Restaurant 1200 N. Barron St. (State Route 127) in Eaton, Ohio. As always, guests are welcome. We are asking that you bring canned dog food or a dog toy for our friends at the Humane Society of Preble County. If you have questions about the meeting, or the club, feel free to call our secretary, Larkin, at (937) 781-6561.

Kennel Blindness

claudia with biscotti

By Claudia Waller Orlandi, Ph.D.

A dog breeder’s knowledgeable use of genetic principles is of paramount importance to the success of a breeding program. But an all-too-common phenomenon known as kennel blindness can stop some breeding programs dead in their tracks. Most works on dog breeding devote relatively little space to the concept of kennel blindness, although the seriousness of this “breeder defect” and the lasting harm it can have on breeding success merit a closer look.


Found in many purebred dog kennels, kennel blindness is a “disease” that results in breeders’ inability or refusal to admit to the failings in their own lines of dogs, whether they relate to conformation traits described in the AKC breed standards, behavior or genetic disease. Kennel-blind breeders are given to justifying the dogs they breed by developing warped and unrealistic interpretations of their breed’s standard, said Ann Seranne in her book, The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog.

Because a kennel-blind breeder can become “blind” to serious faults and health defects in their dogs, these problems may become fixed in a couple of generations. Unless quickly diagnosed and treated, kennel blindness can lead to the demise of a successful breeding program.

Fortunately, most common symptoms of kennel blindness are easy to spot. Following are three of the most pervasive symptoms:

Symptom 1
The tendency to ignore the virtues and focus on the faults of a competitor’s dogs. Kennel-blind breeders tend to focus on negative features in dogs that are not their own. Oftentimes, what they view as a fault in someone else’s dog may be an acceptable variation of a style in that breed.

Breed standards are breeders’ guides
Each breed of dog recognized by the AKC has its own standard, which is written by the national breed club or “parent club.” The breed standard provides a blueprint or complete picture of what the ideal dog of a particular breed should be like in appearance, structure and temperament. The standard may specify everything from the curvature of a dog’s tail to the color of its eyes. The breed standard is the official guide by which dogs are judged at dog shows.Visit to view a complete breed standard for all the breeds recognized by the AKC. You may order breed-specific educational videos from the AKC. Many parent clubs offer more detailed information on the standard, such as amplifications and illustrations. Visit the AKC web site for links to national parent clubs.

Reread your breed’s AKC standard and understand that standards outline the essential aspects of a breed and that more than one style may be acceptable in your breed.

Be sure you understand the difference between breed type and style. A dog’s breed type is defined by its breed standard, which is the written description of the ideal dog of that breed. Style, on the other hand, is how individual breeders interpret the standard and artistically express various elements of breed type in the dogs they breed. Each breeder’s interpretation of the standard can therefore result in a variation of styles within a breed. This may produce a range of excellence in a breed and allow dogs of various styles to be correct and fit their breed standard.

Finally, pretend you are a dog show judge, and get into the habit of looking first for the virtues in dogs bred and owned by others. If a dog is consistently winning under a number of different judges, it usually means that the dog has obvious virtues compared to its competition.

Symptom 2
The belief that you have bred the “perfect” dog. No “perfect” dog has ever or will ever be bred in any breed. Even what you consider your best can usually be improved upon.

Realize that your concept of what is an ideal representative of your breed may become modified with the passage of time. Experience with a breed may gradually change the priority a breeder gives to certain features. A breeder who is a stickler for correct heads may gradually start realizing that angulation and movement are also important aspects in their breed.

Symptom 3
Blaming the fact that your dog is not winning on bad judging, politics or anything except the possibility that there may be something wrong with your dog. Bad sportsmanship and kennel blindness can go hand-in-hand. Kennel-blind people always have an excuse for why their dog didn’t win. While some of their reasoning may be legitimate, consistently losing under a variety of judges usually means a dog does not fit the standard in one or more important aspects.

If your dog is not winning, ask several knowledgeable people to objectively evaluate your dog. Tell them to be honest, and listen to their comments with an open mind.

Are you at risk?

Kennel blindness is more apt to be a problem for …

Breeders who do not have an “eye” for a dog.
An eye for a dog is an almost innate ability to view a dog as one piece and to recognize balance, quality and correctness in any breed. Some breeders are simply not born with an eye for a dog. Despite having read and studied their breed’s standard, they may be incapable of correctly evaluating structure and movement in the dogs they breed. Hence, they are blind to their dogs’ shortcomings.

Novice or even long-time breeders who are strongly affected by a dog’s temperament and personality.
Many kennel-blind breeders think all puppies are cute. These owners usually decide to breed their dog, not to improve the breed, but because they love its personality and want more puppies just like it. Breeders such as these are blinded by the love they have for their dog and can remain “blind” to the fact that their dog may lack quality.

Breeders who have produced quality animals in the past but are now struggling to stay on top.
Breeders who may have had a superstar in the past are usually looking for their next big winner. In some cases, their superstar may have resulted from good luck as opposed to thoughtful breeding practices based on genetic principles.

One scenario is a breeding program based solely on non-genetic breeding practices, such as like-to-like matings. Offspring of like-to-like matings cannot usually be counted on to pass on their traits because their homozygous gene pairs are not identical by descent. It is an accepted genetic principle that offspring that carry higher proportions of identical by descent genes have a greater chance of passing on traits that are influenced by these genes. As a result, there may be less consistency and quality in the offspring.

A second scenario concerns the breeder who is confronted with inbreeding depression but refuses to consider outcrossing (the mating of unrelated individuals of the same breed) to bring in hybrid vigor. With each generation, the quality of dogs declines. In both scenarios, a burning desire to produce the next star may make breeders blind to the fact that they are producing below-average dogs.

Breeders for whom every waking moment revolves around dogs.Breeders working with small numbers of dogs.
Because small breeders have less to choose from, there is more pressure to make a litter “work out.”

Making dogs a live-or-die situation can hamper the breeders’ ability to objectively admit to their dog’s shortcomings.

Individuals who were mentored by kennel- blind breeders.

In these cases, like may beget like.

Characteristics of the NON-kennel-blind

  • They are truly objective concerning what they produce and are always aware of what they need to improve in their next generation.
  • Regardless of time and effort already spent, they are ready to remove dogs from their program that do not pan out, even to the point of starting over with new foundation stock.
  • They have an eye for a dog and can appreciate an outstanding dog regardless of who bred or owns it.

Tips for correcting vision
If caught in time, kennel blindness can be cured before it has a lasting, detrimental effect on your breeding program. Try these tips:

  • Avoid over-emphasizing a certain feature in your breeding program to the detriment of overall correctness. Although many breeders try to emphasize the excellence of the whole dog, it’s human nature to be drawn to certain features. In fact, the importance we give to a particular trait in our dogs may be part of how we express our breeding style. One breeder may be a stickler for fronts and another for backlines. The danger here is that by focusing on just one feature we can become blind to other faults that may be creeping into the breeding program.
  • To assess your kennel blindness level, ask someone whose opinion you respect to objectively evaluate your dogs. Some of the best people to ask are knowledgeable breeders who have produced good dogs and who are not kennel blind themselves. Request they honestly critique the virtues and shortcomings in your dogs. Ask more than one qualified person, and compare their evaluations with your own.
  • Be prepared to make changes, even to the point of eliminating or adding new dogs to your breeding program. As difficult as it is to admit we are not succeeding, the realization that our dogs are not measuring up to our expectations can be the first step in devising a plan to obtain what we really want.

Portions of this article have appeared in TALLY-HO, the official newsletter of the Basset Hound Club of America.

Golden retriever study suggests neutering affects dog health


Neutering, and the age at which a dog is neutered, may affect the animal’s risk for developing certain cancers and joint diseases, according to a new study of golden retrievers by a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The study, which examined the health records of 759 golden retrievers, found a surprising doubling of hip dysplasia among male dogs neutered before one year of age. This and other results will be published today (Feb. 13) in the online scientific journal PLOS ONE.

“The study results indicate that dog owners and service-dog trainers should carefully consider when to have their male or female dogs neutered,” said lead investigator Benjamin Hart, a distinguished professor emeritus in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

“It is important to remember, however, that because different dog breeds have different vulnerabilities to various diseases, the effects of early and late neutering also may vary from breed to breed,” he said.

While results of the new study are revealing, Hart said the relationship between neutering and disease-risk remains a complex issue. For example, the increased incidence of joint diseases among early-neutered dogs is likely a combination of the effect of neutering on the young dog’s growth plates as well as the increase in weight on the joints that is commonly seen in neutered dogs.

Dog owners in the United States are overwhelmingly choosing to neuter their dogs, in large part to prevent pet overpopulation or avoid unwanted behaviors. In the U.S., surgical neutering — known as spaying in females — is usually done when the dog is less than one year old.

In Europe, however, neutering is generally avoided by owners and trainers and not promoted by animal health authorities, Hart said.

During the past decade, some studies have indicated that neutering can have several adverse health effects for certain dog breeds. Those studies examined individual diseases using data drawn from one breed or pooled from several breeds.

Against that backdrop, Hart and colleagues launched their study, using a single hospital database. The study was designed to examine the effects of neutering on the risks of several diseases in the same breed, distinguishing between males and females and between early or late neutering and non-neutering.

The researchers chose to focus on the golden retriever because it is one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. and Europe and is vulnerable to various cancers and joint disorders. The breed also is favored for work as a service dog.

The research team reviewed the records of female and male golden retrievers, ranging in age from 1 to 8 years, that had been examined at UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for two joint disorders and three cancers: hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumor. The dogs were classified as intact (not neutered), neutered early (before 12 months age), or neutered late (at or after 12 months age).

Joint disorders and cancers are of particular interest because neutering removes the male dog’s testes and the female’s ovaries, interrupting production of certain hormones that play key roles in important body processes such as closure of bone growth plates, and regulation of the estrous cycle in female dogs.

The study revealed that, for all five diseases analyzed, the disease rates were significantly higher in both males and females that were neutered either early or late compared with intact (non-neutered) dogs.

Specifically, early neutering was associated with an increase in the occurrence of hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear and lymphosarcoma in males and of cranial cruciate ligament tear in females. Late neutering was associated with the subsequent occurrence of mast cell tumors and hemangiosarcoma in females.

In most areas, the findings of this study were consistent with earlier studies, suggesting similar increases in disease risks. The new study, however, was the first to specifically report an increased risk of late neutering for mast cell tumors and hemangiosarcoma.

Furthermore, the new study showed a surprising 100 percent increase, or doubling, of the incidence of hip dysplasia among early-neutered males. Earlier studies had reported a 17 percent increase among all neutered dogs compared to all non-neutered dogs, indicating the importance of the new study in making gender and age-of-neutering comparisons.

Other researchers on this UC Davis study were: Gretel Torres de la Riva, Thomas Farver and Lynette Hart, School of Veterinary Medicine; Anita Oberbauer, Department of Animal Science; Locksley Messam, Department of Public Health Sciences; and Neil Willits, Department of Statistics.

About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 33,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget of nearly $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

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reposted from the blog, Angryvet