If by Precipitate you mean Asshole, then Yes: Health Testing, Disclosure and you. A Rant.

21 May

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.”

You are that chunky bit that looks like the bottom of a park bench right there. That’s you.

Bah dum chhh! Chemistry nerds (or just people who took year 9 science) will get this joke and that’s because it is true and hilarious. One area where “the precipitate” is something even more unpleasant than the gunk floating in your test tube is dog breeding. That’s right kids, if you as a breeder aren’t part of the solution, you’re not only part of the problem you are the problem. Full stop.

What pray tell is the problem? Well, that depends on who you ask, but I’ll break it down for you.

For better or for worse (depending on who you ask) in the United States breeders, hoping to do the right thing by their dogs and developed in conjunction with universities, veterinarians and people who just gave a damn, created tests to quantify the quality and health of their stock. How well that works in the case of OFA hips/elbows is debateable* but the genetic tests and marker tests alone have been a wondrous addition to the world of dog breeding. In educated hands they make what was once a total crapshoot in terms of health, something potentially predictable; as much as these things can be and for breeders who care that is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It allows breeders and buyers to make truly informed and educated decisions on where they want their program to go in the case of breeders and functional dealbreakers in terms of what is and is not acceptable, needed or wanted. I truly love what testing has brought to the table in both of my breeds, and this dear friends is the crux of the issue.

Anything short of full disclosure on health testing results is spitting on your breed standard, insulting fellow breeders and defrauding your buyers. Full Stop. No Excuses.

Every Single One

I’m not sure when “A little information is a dangerous thing” became the norm in dog breeding but we need to knock that shit off. Information is glorious. Information does nothing but allow you to make BETTER decisions for your dogs.

“But Fang! People are mean and other breeders are cannibals. One sign of a problem in my dogs and they won’t sell me a dog or breed to mine and I won’t be able to sell my puppies, woe is me poor innocent waif blah blah.”


Newflash! People are already trashing your dogs, your haircut, your personality, what you bred, what you didn’t breed and they’re doing it on hearsay. People say your dog has shitty elbows and carries EIC and sneezes lime Jello? Prove them wrong, test and make that shit public. Or prove them right and show you have nothing to hide. You know what sketchy? A breeder who does not test.

Secondarily, you know what’s really sketchy?  A breeder who hides the bad things. Guess what kids, people who care are going to do the research. If there is a lack of a test on one of your dogs but suspiciously everything else has it with sunshine and rainbows flying out its ass? That’s a bad sign. “Why wasn’t “x” done when everyone else was?” To people in the know, I’m sorry but the implication of that is you’re hiding something. Who hides things? Scummy, suspect people.

It really is, dog.

Dog people eat our own. We know we do and we should own that. We hold others to our own, hopefully high standards, and love our dogs, our breeds and our communities to distraction. We want what’s best for all of those and often times, the vehemence and nastiness in those disagreements spirals out of control. This however is no excuse.

I will argue to the ground that any information, regardless of actual result or status, is the only service breeders can offer their buyers and the public at large. You cannot guarantee health, beauty, temperament, titles, or a death date beyond reasonable precautionary measures but you can offer piles of information for those who want to hear it. If someone doesn’t want to hear it, they probably don’t need one of your dogs. You can also offer other breeders the courtesy of allowing them an unvarnished look at other lineages and what they could be risking or breeding in to. Would you not want the same courtesy? I can tell you from just clicking through databases, a single bad result does not remove a dog from the breeding pool. It removes the shock of a bad result in offspring, and forces breeders to be more conscientious about future breeding choices (And what is and is not a good choice to minimize or eliminate a problem). What about this is a bad thing?

In essence anything short of full disclosure on a database such as OFA which is publicly accessible to any and all who may look is morally reprehensible.

Or at least the standard clump and toss in some extras for funsies. Otherwise you’ll be viewed with suspicion, doubt and distrust. It’s up to you, really.

Any information is better than no information.

Complete information gives the community at large a better chance at beating back the ever encroaching health problems that plague breeds. Hiding that information is an insult. Do us all a favor and try being part of the solution. It’s the right thing to do.

And now you know.

*But only a little, so no excuses peeps.

16 Responses to “If by Precipitate you mean Asshole, then Yes: Health Testing, Disclosure and you. A Rant.”

  1. Dawne Deeley May 21, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

    Best. Post. Ever (says this 25-year veteran of the breeding wars….)
    I’ve shared it on FB, and I’m going to keep sharing it until I feel like I’ve knocked a few heads.
    Thank you thank you…oh, and thank you 🙂

    Dawne Deeley
    TsarShadow Perm Reg’d Karelian Bear Dogs.

  2. Sheryl Hohle May 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

    Amen. BTW, the other day, a group of people were sitting around the agility ring making comments about proper/improper boy dog peeing behavior – where it’s allow and where it isn’t. I’m thinking that some people need some educating and I’ll bet you have an opinion about that.

  3. Rosemary May 21, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    Testing goes only so far as dog buyers asking and verifying it. (www.offa.org)

    A cattledog breeder with a memorable name told me years ago “I don’t have to have my breeding stock’s hips x-rayed because they work.” His website boasts an AKC “Breeder of Merit Participant” logo. He also boasts of 52 years with 400 AKC Champions. That’s a lot of breeding with little testing.

    Progressive Retinal Atrophy has always been a problem in ACDs. It’s a simple recessive and 25% of cattledogs went blind despite reputable breeders’ best efforts. It took years and lots of work to develop a DNA test so we no longer have to have dogs losing their sight in the prime of life. I am so proud of the parent club for requiring that ALL pra/prcd results be published on the OFA website.

    • TheDogSnobs May 21, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

      If only BAER and PLL were so noted too. :/ It’ll never happen but cattle dogs can dream.

      • Psycht May 21, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

        It would be difficult, if not impossible, to require all BAER testing be published. Unlike PRCD-PRA which is tested by only one provider in the USA, BAER testing occurs at hundreds of facilities in the USA each day so there is not just one clearinghouse for results. I have always said you cannot legislate integrity or morality. The only thing that can be done is to educate individuals purchasing dogs the importance of going to breeders who health test. In a perfect world I would love to see every dog bred have a CHIC number but it is not a perfect world so I can only do my part in testing, publishing, and making educated breeding decisions based on those test results.

      • TheDogSnobs May 21, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

        If wishes were horses… etc. My comment was more on wishful thinking (Which wouldn’t be required at all if others were upfront about issues) than the reality of the situation.

        It’s very hard to make educated decisions, or even preach to others about the importance of testing when others aren’t forthcoming with their own results, not to mention it sets an acceptable precedent for hiding the undesirable for reasons I can only reduce to
        1) Thinking everyone is too stupid to understand the implication and will be unable to see their value as a potential contributor to the breed.


        2) Not wanting to tarnish a perfect dog and either denying the existence of said flaw or pretending it’s somehow unimportant in the scheme of things.

        You can’t legislate much of anything really especially in dogs, but peer pressure in the right direction certainly can’t hurt. I don’t pretend it’s black and white, but leading by example doesn’t appear to be moving in a particularly upward direction.

        Ironically I don’t care what people prioritize beyond being upfront with what they’re doing,

  4. Christine Warren May 21, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    For a breed with a (not entirely undeserved) reputation as sinkholes of poor health, I have to say that my peeps in the BMD community have done an incredible and useful thing in setting up the Bernergarde breed database. In addition to collating the IDs of registered Berners, it allows for a one stop shop listing of all health certs and testing done for each dog and is freely available for the public to search.

    Of course, it still can’t force breeders to DO the tests, but once they are done, it pulls results from sites like OFA etc and makes then easy to see, as well as accepting submissions of certs directly from breeders and owners. That alone exerts some nice peer pressure on breeders to test so that all the blank health entries on their dogs don’t make other breeders and owners go, “Hmmm.”

    My intact male has been tested for every condition considered prevalent in the breed and the results are proudly displayed in Bernergarde, and he’s only sired one litter. But I know that all the information on him helps his breeder and the breed at large to help the dogs we love so much.

    I wish all breeds would take a similar initiative. As a PPO, I would make mad use of the information before selecting a breeder, let alone a puppy.

  5. Susan Mann May 21, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    unfortunately, we have a small number of tests compared to the number of health issues in most breeds. And the reason we have such high numbers of issues boils down to decreased genetic diversity in these breeds, whether due to popular sires or linebreeding/inbreeding. If you are breeding high COI (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3559126/referably total, or at least 10 gens, not the 4-6 generations more commonly used) you are also contributing to the problem, as a COI of 30% will also give you a 30% chance of two maladaptive identical recessives showing up and causing a problem- even in fully tested breeding stock. If all we do is test and ten we continue to breed high COI and ignore the dangers of lack of genetic diversity, we will continue to have more issues crop up, and have to do more and more tests.

    • Susan Mann May 21, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

      sorry, don’t know why that link popped up in the middle of my post!

    • Elen June 30, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

      And in no health problem is that more true than idiopathic epilepsy. Holy crap, there is some ugly stuff out there. In my breed, epi is a real and serious issue, and very few people want to talk honestly about it. I have sadly developed a reputation for being not-a-team-player and witch-hunter by asking awkward questions. I don’t do it to be a bitch, I do it because I have my own reputation to protect and the goodwill of my puppy people to keep! The families have to live with my pups, so I have to make the best-informed decision I can about the stud/s I use. There are two historically significant lines that are all over the place in my breed — and don’t you dare cross the streams, you will hate what you get. Guess what — my girls has one of those lines behind her, and that means three-quarters of the stud dogs out there are ineligible boyfriends. Either there’s too much of the same line, or the other one is present somewhere back there. I can’t tell you how many stud dogs I’ve rejected because of this issue. We don’t have a test yet, but hopefully we will soon. I personally cannot wait, and don’t give a damn how much it costs. Meanwhile, we all research the hell out of pedigrees (I go back 12 generations and look at siblings and half-siblings, and nieces and nephews too when ever possible),whisper our questions to each other (and hope our buddies in the breed are discreet — yeah, right) and go quietly mad while making guesses in the murk. The stud owners who are honest with me are treasures, and they deserve my honesty in return. If my bitch produces epi, it affects their stud’s reputation too.

      • Ibizan's Rule! July 6, 2015 at 3:33 am #

        I want to scream this a million times out loud!

        I am not a dog breeder. But, when I went to purchase my first dog, I did tons of research. Thoroughly checked and vetted the breeder (who did the same to me!) and also verified all their health testing.

        I went in with confidence. Imagine the devastation when my beautiful boy had a seizure at a year old. Little did I know, the nightmare had only just begun. Over the next 6 months, my world spun into the depths of hell….and ended with euthanizing my baby at only 1.5 years old. After 10’s of thousands of dollars of tests, medications and 3 different anti-epileptics at once…he was having up to 40 seizures a day.

        It’s been 6 months since he passed, and I’m still devastated and heart broken. But, what kills me even more…is, after my boy passed, it came to light that several pups from the sire had seizures! And, it wasn’t unheard of for them to seizure viciously and die young!

        Apparently, “no one talks about it” – so it wasn’t common knowledge. Even when my breeder asked the owner of the stud about health issues, they didn’t say anything. Apparently, it wasn’t worth mentioning. And no one mentioned it, until a sibling of my boy started having seizures as well…then, it was brought up that yah, this was a bit of a problem in this line.

        Talk about rubbing salt in the wounds! It has made me very distrustful of the whole dog world now. The reason I went for a purebred, and this breed in particular, was because of their lack of health issues. And all the research in the world does nothing if people aren’t forthcoming about the health concerns.

        So, that’s my long rant…but, if only people realized the devastation all of this can cause. And how the deceit feels. It really is going to take a long time to come to terms with.

  6. Gwenda May 22, 2015 at 1:48 am #

    I have a love/hate relationship with this post. Love the shaming of those who don’t health test and publish the results. (Somewhat) Hate the implication that just because you health test and publish shitty results gives you the right to breed any dysplastic/blind/deaf/etc dog you own. Not every dog should be bred and just because you and other people know what crap you’re breeding doesn’t mean you should be able to breed it. Maybe that makes me a Euro-socialist hippie, but I’ve seen so much kennel blindness overcome outrageous health testing results that it makes me want to lobby for regulations to prevent people from breeding anything without proper (and passing) health clearances. And yes I know about small gene pools etc (I’m a Molecular Biologist for dog’s sake). Commence flames.

    • Gwenda May 22, 2015 at 1:53 am #

      Also wanted to add that this is my fundamental problem with the AKC CHIC program. A dog could fail every test the breed club designates for CHIC and still get the “CHIC” designation. I know it’s trying to encourage health testing but that just seems wrong to me.

    • TheDogSnobs May 22, 2015 at 3:37 am #

      I don’t think that everyone needs to breed every craptastic dog they own, but it is their right to do so for better or for worse, and most importantly crap is in the eye of the beholder. The premise that issues (Whose importance varies on your priorities) don’t exist or can be entirely avoided is just wrong. Every thoughtful breeding is a compromise. Every thoughtful breeding is hoping that the good outweighs the bad.

      And if you carry through your assumption you have to look at what kind of line you’re drawing. You can’t breed deaf, blind, dysplastic… well there are hereditary aspects in most of those what about siblings to those dogs? Parents? Half-siblings? Offspring of half-siblings? How far does it need to go before the gene pool is perfect and clean…? The reality is every dog has issues. A dog with a Grade I elbow never lame a day in his life at thirteen years of age or a dog who passed his elbows but has produced Grade II elbows? A bitch whose great grandmother was a uni or a bitch with a mother with a failing hip?

      Look hard enough and *every* dog will have a drawback beyond the superficial ones.

      Honesty is the first step. Knowing what it is you have is 90% of the battle. From there you can pick smart and yes, you will often go backwards to go forwards, but all breeders who do something you personally wouldn’t do (Breed fair hips? Carrier/Carrier breeding when over 75% of the population is a carrier or affected) are not necessarily kennel blind or doing something partciularly outrageous and if they’re open about it with the people who will have the dogs, what does it really matter? I can personally understand a lot of less than ideal compromise decisions to produce the best dogs you can. IF they’re honest about how they do that… great. Dishonest and we have an issue.

  7. wkmtca May 23, 2015 at 3:51 am #

    i am going to forward this to many of the fb groups i am on.. except, of course, to the one with the breeders because they believe it is NO ONES BUSINESS EXCEPT THEIRS what they test their dogs for or the results. or the fact that they don’t test. which i why sm/cm will become more prevalent in my breed in the u.s. than in europe.

  8. Jean June 7, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

    good and informative article. Get new more things here- http:// trainyourshelterdog dot com/

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