With the growing popularity of brachycephalic (short-nosed) dog breeds like French Bulldogs and Pugs, veterinarians are increasingly concerned about the health and well-being of these dogs.
Many short-muzzled dogs suffer from a condition called BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome). Symptoms include respiratory noise, narrowed nostrils, gastrointestinal problems, sleep apnea, heat intolerance, cyanosis (low oxygen), and collapse.
The British Veterinary Association has recently announced its new #BreedtoBreathe campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about the health problems of brachycephalic breeds.
You can read the BVA’s official policy statement on brachycephalic dogs HERE. In it, they outline their concern about breeding practices (and advertising campaigns) that promote brachycephalic dogs, and provide guidance for vets on how to raise awareness about the health problems of short-muzzled dogs with clients.
The #BreedtoBreathe campaign provides a 10-point plan for veterinarians that emphasizes the need for vets to educate pet owners about the health and quality of life problems faced by many brachycephalic dog breeds.
Interested in learning more about the health issues of brachycephalic dogs and the #BreedtoBreathe campaign? Watch this short video:
Many FACE financial grants for critical veterinary assistance are awarded to owners of dogs with a serious spinal condition called intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). IVDD is a major cause of pain and paralysis in certain dog breeds, especially those with short legs like the Dachshund, French Bulldog, Corgi, Basset Hound, and Pekingese.
In IVDD, the discs in a dog’s spine can degenerate over the course of time or suddenly herniate, depending on the type of IVDD the dog suffers from. IVDD is a painful condition that often requires surgery and physical rehabilitation.
Recently, researchers at the University of California Davis have discovered the genetic mutation responsible for chondrodystrophy, which is a genetic trait that many IVDD-prone breeds share. It’s characterized by changes in bone growth, leading to short long bones (legs) and premature spinal disc calcification and degeneration.
The scientists report that dogs with IVDD are 50 times more likely to have this mutation. The gene identified, the FGF4 retrogene, was found to play a key role in bone development for dogs with chondrodystrophy. FGF abnormalities in humans can lead to conditions like dwarfism.
Identification of this mutation can help control the incidence of IVDD in dogs. The UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory offers two genetics tests for breeders and owners of short-legged breeds prone to IVDD. Breeders can test for IVDD risk in their dogs, identifying those that are carriers of 0, 1, or 2 copies of the gene.
A few months ago, we introduced you to FACE friend and supporter Linda Michaels of Del Mar Dog Training in a blog post. Linda is a top-rated dog trainer and behavior expert who created the Hierarchy of Dog Needs® approach to force-free behavior modification. Linda has expanded the ideas she outlined in the Hierarchy into a brand-new eBook called the Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual. The manual is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about force-free solutions for common dog behavior problems (pet parents, trainers, animal welfare workers and volunteers, groomers, and more). The book is available for purchase in pdf format HERE.
The manual covers both basic obedience and more advanced behavior issues like aggression and separation anxiety. Topics covered include advice on finding the right dog for your family and lifestyle, as well as step-by-step training how-tos for many key behavior areas, such as:
Socialization to people and other dogs
Dog safety and body language
Good manners and impulse control
New puppy training
How to avoid “treat dependence”
Teaching the basic commands
Protocols for dealing with serious behavior problems
Linda has an MA in Experimental Psychology and has worked not only with dogs, but also wolves and wolfdog hybrids in need of treatment for aggression. The foundation of her approach is to avoid the use of harsh, dominance-based training methods and aversive collar devices (shock, prong, choke). Linda believes that these methods are often counter-productive and can in fact increase aggression in dogs.
The Hierarchy of Dog Needs® concept is based on the idea that dogs (just like people) have fundamental needs that should be met both in the training process and throughout their lives. Besides basic physical needs like food and shelter, dogs also need to feel safe, secure, and loved. Linda’s training methods take these important emotional needs into account, leading to optimal results.
As Linda notes, traditional dominance training methods and devices can inflict irreversible psychological damage on our dogs. “This manual was written for ‘the heartbeats at our feet’ with their well-being and best force-free care and training practices in mind,” says Linda. “We no longer leave the door open for any justification to use aversive/punitive methods of training with dogs.” The key to effective training is the proper use of force-free methods…now easier than ever thanks to Linda’s contributions to the field!