Bernese News 19th March 2019




Today I received a request from Annie Wilson to publish her proposal to the BMD Club of Great Britain Annual General Meeting plus her associated comments and they are reproduced below EXACTLY as received.


BMDC of GB AGM Proposal 2019
Proposed by Annie Wilson and Seconded by Gary Dybdall BVM&S MRCVS

I propose that the GB BMD Club General Code of Ethics following sections should be amended as the following:

15.2 Dealing with Specific Hereditary Conditions

. ………..Breeders shall treat mild cases as they would any other fault and exclude from their breeding programme dogs with more severe evidence of elbow dysplasia or with a poor EBV rating for Elbow Dysplasia.. It is prohibited as a club member to breed from any animal with an ED score of 3.

15.3 ……..Remove : This makes the setting of meaningful standards of test results impractical. And replace with… In extreme cases it is possible to apply a standard to test results and as such it is now prohibited for club members to breed from any animal with an ED score of 3. (ref 23).

The reason that I have brought this to the attention of the club and members is that I have a Bernese puppy who has severe Elbow Dysplasia and has been through numerous surgeries and vast amounts of pain medication to make her comfortable and pain free. She was bred from a bitch with grade 3/3 elbows and is not the only puppy in the litter that has developed this problem. I would like to confirm that this is not a personal vendetta against the breeders, but having been through the heart ache of this crippling condition with my puppy, I would like to reduce the risk of other puppy buyers having to go through this.

There seems to be nothing down in black and white for breeders, just advice and recommendations and it seems to be left to individual breeders to decide what to do regarding interpreting hip/elbow scores used for breeding. Whilst I do respect and understand breeders’ concerns about “being told what to do,” I also feel that with extreme results such as the Elbow grade of 3 this choice should not be available, therefore reducing the amount of litters produced that are similar to the litter that my puppy was from.

The more that I research about this painful condition, the more that I read the recommendation NOT TO BREED WITH ED 3 with some other countries that have the restrictions to only breed from grade 0 or grade 1 elbows. I have provided some of my research into breeding advice from this country and others below:

The British Veterinary Association (BVA)/Kennel Club Elbow Dysplasia Scheme give the following breeding advice:

It is strongly recommended that breeders wishing to reduce the risk of elbow dysplasia should select their breeding stock (both dogs and bitches) only from animals with an overall grade of 0.

The BVA Canine Health Schemes ED in dogs leaflet:

Advice on Breeding: The overall grade is used internationally as the basis for breeding advice. Ideally dogs with a ‘normal’ (grade 0) elbows should be chosen and certainly dogs with 2 or 3 arthrosis should not be used for breeding.

University of Prince Edward Island – Canine Inherited Disease Database information:

Breeding Advice:
Do not breed affected dogs, or dogs which produce offspring with ED.

Kennel Club Breeding Guidelines for Dogs that have been Elbow Graded:

It is strongly recommended that breeders wishing to reduce the risk of elbow dysplasia should select their breeding stock (both dogs and bitches) only from animals with an overall grade of 0.

Other Countries criteria:

Switzerland – Only breed ED 0 with ED 1. ED 2 and ED 3 are not in the breeding.

Finnish kennel club – Do not register dogs with ED 3 score applies to all breeds. Many breeds have stricter breeding programme where only score 0 or 1 are allowed.

German Framework Breeding Regulations IV Numeral 10 - …Breeding of dogs with ED-Grade 3 is prohibited. In connection with a scientifically approved breeding program approved by the VDH, dogs with ED Grade 2 can be bred to ED free dogs. It is recommended to mate dogs with ED grade 1 only with ED free dogs.

Danish Kennel Club (DKC) has a breeding program for ED in Bernese Mountain Dogs. It is mandatory to screen the breeding animals and only grade 0 or 1 is recommended for breeding.

Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding: Standard for Breeding Dogs:

Section 16: Standard: Breeding stock must be selected on their temperament and their physical and genetic health irrespective of other factors such as a breed standard…. Where scientifically validated tests for inherited disease are available, dogs intended for use in breeding must be tested and re-tested where appropriate….Guidance: Where such tests provide a score, no dog should be used for breeding if their score is worse than the average published for the breed.

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) : Relationship of parent score to percentage of ED progeny

Normal x Normal = about 12%
Normal x Dysplastic = about 28%
Dysplastic x Dysplastic = about 40%

Can a score of ED 3 be a result of trauma and therefore not hereditary? Since I was told that the mother’s score was the result of trauma, I put this question to the IEWG, OFA and the BVA and here are the answers that I received:

BVA CHS: The signs of hereditary disease and trauma are usually quite distinguishable if not then this is communicated to the individual before a grade is given.

OFA – Trauma is taken into consideration if noted on the radiographs and reported as such. An ED 3/3 would be genetic/inherited disease.

Chief Scrutineer Where there is clear evidence of previous trauma e.g. a fracture close to the elbow, this would be taken into consideration before a grade is determined: in some cases this could result in the decision not to issue a grade.

International Elbow Working Group (IEWG) . dr. H. A. W. Hazewinkel: ED score of 3 means that the pathology of the hereditary form of ED is visible on radiographs.

Given the above recommendations I do not think that it is unreasonable to suggest that dogs with grade 3 elbows should not be bred from and feel that at least the GB BMD Club should have this written in black and white in their code of ethics. It seems that it obviously isn’t enough to just make recommendations not to breed from dogs with these scores and there needs to be something written in black and white prohibiting the breeding of dogs with such high scores for this debilitating condition.

With reference to the Animal Welfare Act 2018.

Given the new Animal Welfare act I urge that this is taken seriously as it is quite obvious that breeders who are producing conditions like this knowingly using such high scores could be taken to court and compensation required.

Schedule 6 – Specific conditions: Breed Dogs.

Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease

6 – (5) No dog may be kept for breeding if it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype, phenotype or state of health that breeding from it could have a detrimental effect on its health or welfare or the health or welfare of its offspring.

There seems to be conflict within the code of ethics as quite obviously the inherited condition that my puppy and her littermates have were bred knowing that the mother’s scores were the worst possible.

Wouldn’t it be great for this club to be pioneers of change in the way we use the ED scoring system and I would hope others would follow. This would help future puppy buyers know that only non-members of the GB BMD Club breed from dogs with the Elbow Grade of 3. I do feel that lots of prospective puppy buyers use this club and their handbook to look for breeders.

Please for Button’s sake and other puppies like her, swallow your pride, allow yourselves to be guided by heeding the scientific advice and take this big step and help further reduce the incidence of this devastating disease.
Annie Wilson.

Jude Simonds

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