At the beginning of November 2016 we launched our Back Disease (IVDD) Screening Programme. This involves taking x-rays of a dog’s spine under light sedation and the number of calcifications is scored by an independent veterinary expert in Finland.
The programme is based on decades of research which shows the risk of IVDD increases with the number of calcifications. Over 3500 dogs have been scored in the Nordic countries and the Danish KC made this a requirement for Dachshund registrations last year.
The KC Charitable Trust has given us a 3-year grant to support the programme and this has allowed us to offer discounts from the usual £300 screening cost, down to £250. The Breed Council also pays to have the scoring done.
Initially, our plan was to publish the screening results online as this was a successful approach for promoting the Lafora screening programme. However, until we have sufficient results (probably at least 100), we have decided to hold back on publishing. We hope this will (a) allay fears of any witch-hunt against dogs with high scores and (b) reduce the likelihood of low-scoring dogs being over-used at stud.
Breeders who have already participated in the programme are to be commended, particularly those who have had the tough news of a high score which will have changed their breeding plans. There are, however, plenty who have had the good news that their Dachshund has few calcifications and is therefore a lower IVDD risk for breeding.
We currently have results for:
- 9 Mini Smooths
- 4 Mini Longs
- 3 Mini Wires
- 1 Smooth
- 0 Longs
- 2 Wires
12 dogs have fewer than 5 calcifications.
Everyone knows that genetic diversity is a challenge among pedigree dogs with closed stud books. We simply can’t afford to throw the baby out with the bathwater; sensible choices have to be made. The x-ray results are another tool in the breeder’s kitbag to help build a more rounded picture of breeding strategies that will work at the level of individual dogs and also will be positive for the breed as a whole.