Boy A's Four Generation Pedigree Chart

COI 21.65




New information @

Stories are a fundamental part of our lives. Connelly and Clandinin (1990, p. 4) suggest of stories and people that “People by nature lead storied lives and tell stories of those lives, whereas narrative researchers describe such lives, collect and tell stories of them and write narratives of experience.” New understandings about the content and context of a situation can begin to open up possible new imaginings for future stories to be lived.   “A person is, at once, engaged in living, telling, retelling, and reliving stories” (Ibid, p. 4). This living of new stories can become an endless process, as differing perspectives continue to influence understanding. (Spilchuk, B. THE JOURNAL OF ASIA TEFL Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 53-76, Summer 2009)

Connelly and Clandinin (1990, p. 3) suggest that “the educational importance of this line of work is that it brings theoretical ideas about the nature of human life as lived to bear on educational experience as lived” and is, therefore, “the starting point and key term for all social science inquiry” (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994, p. 414).  Narrative inquiry is a form of empirical narrative where the stories, themselves, become the data for research interpretation (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990, p. 5). Data for narrative inquiry can be gathered from field notes, interviews, story telling, letter writing, autobiographical and biographical writing, and historical artifacts such as letters, philosophy statements, newspaper articles and metaphors. (Spilchuk, B. THE JOURNAL OF ASIA TEFL Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 53-76, Summer 2009)

Hoffman (in Florio-Ruane, 1997) indicates that storying and restorying our stories offers an opportunity for "reconciliation of experience, and the hope of rediscovering a sense of self in a decentred world" (p. 159). In this inquiry, I explore the experiences of a new owner-handler of Havanese dogs named Sara with her. I focus upon how Sara’s world decentered, how she responded to her experiences and what her plans were for restorying herself in the future.


Ethical Considerations

To protect Sara and the Breeder in this research, Sara has been given a pseudonym and the dogs, all from the same kennel, have been labeled with the letters - B, C, S, A, C2 and J. The names of the veterinarians, and surgeon/pathologist specialists have also been eliminated as well as specifically named events and locations. The purpose of this research is not to point a finger at any specific breeder but at breeding practices that do not protect the Havanese Breed. It is hoped that this inquiry will be instructive for all breeders and new owners of Havanese dogs. This, then, is Sara’s story.

Looking Backwards: Sara’s Story

Sara started her journey into the dog world with high hopes and such positivity. She purchased her first girl, ‘B’, and was told that she could show her if she wanted to. The first girl did well with a Junior Handler. Sara also went into the ring with this girl, and at the age of 14 months, this girl finished her CDN CH on a professional handler. She had been in a total of four shows.


As Sara went along in the dog world, she saw things around her that did not fit with her beliefs about what was ‘good and right’ but she says that she ignored those things because she was new and in the center of the pack, participating fully in supporting her kennel. The first incident that decentered Sara’s dog world occurred when B, was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disorder. Sara said that she and her husband offered to pay all of B’s medical costs if the breeder checked all breedable dogs in the mother and father’s lines to determine where this disease had come from. In the end, that did not happen. B’s mother and half-sister were left open and untested. Sara says that she accepted that the breeder had tried to do the right things right, however, and she moved on, buying puppy number 2, ‘C’, and then puppy number 3, ‘S’.


Fred Lanting (2014), an internationally respected show judge, approved by many registries as an all-breed judge, explains the cycle Sara found herself caught in: "At the time, I was like most people who call me now for consultation: unwilling to walk away from the ante after seeing I had a bad poker hand—I kept wanting to believe that if I put a little more into the pot, my luck would change with the next card dealt. I learned the hard way, having put more money into “better” pups but successively coming up with three more dysplastic dogs supplied by the same judge! It is often best to swallow hard and start over again somewhere else." (Lanting, F., THE BREEDER/BUYER RELATIONSHIP: GUARANTEES AND ETHICS. Retrieved on May 18  @ )

Sara showed both girls, and at a large show in 2016, a friend showed S where S beat 23 other dogs and her father and became a CDN CH at 8 months of age. The judge told the breeder and Sara that S was better than her father. She was “The Next Generation” and the breeder should be proud. 

Shortly after that show, S was limping. Sara took S to the vet and the initial diagnosis was that S may have pulled a muscle in her hind end. The vet told Sara to bring S back if the limping recurred and she would do an x-ray.  The limping went away with rest but was back within a week, so back she went to her vet. At this point, Sara’s dog world decentered again; S was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease.


Stories have many sides

There are many sides to a story. In this story, I have only included the email comments that Sara says she sent to her breeder, as they applied to the diagnosis of LCP in S. As an author of this story, I do not want to be accused of manipulating what the breeder responded to Sara, or of what she actually believed, so the Breeder’s emails are not included. These emails, Sara’s emails, show the chain of events that occurred from her perspective in her story. Readers are invited to interpret the data in Sara’s Story for themselves. "When we ask people to tell us their story, we start with the assumption that no two stories will be the same. We agree with the understanding that no two people see the world the same ... There's no one interpretation; there's no single cause and effect. There's your story from where you sit in the complex system. There's my story from where I sit in the complex system and then there are all those millions of others."  (Wheatley, July 4-9, 1999, taped version)


Sara’s comments to the breeder are in black. Her vet’s comments and other letters from specialists are in green. Quotes from articles about LCP, genetics and breeding ethics are in red.


From Sara to Breeder:


Thursday, April 21, 2016 2:43 PM

The news about S is not good. When I have a report from the radiologist, you, my husband and I will have a serious discussion about our future plans for our girl, and your responsibility in those plans.



Retrieved on May 16, 2016 @


LCP is believed to be an inherited disease, although the mode of inheritance is not known. Because there is a genetic component, it is recommended that dogs affected with LCP not be used in breeding programs.


From Sara to Breeder:


Thursday, April 21, 2016 3:16 PM

(Our) vet is qualified. I saw the x-rays. They have gone to a radiologist. We will get the report and then we will talk to you about our three girls and our plans for them.



Retrieved on May 21, 2016 @


Causes of Legg-Perthes Disease

Legg-Perthes disease in domestic dogs is considered to be “idiopathic” – which means that it has no known cause. It tends to occur in young, small or miniature-breed dogs of either gender and is thought to have a strong genetic component. For some reason, the normal blood supply to the upper part of the femur bone becomes disrupted, without any recognizable precipitating traumatic event. Interruption of the blood supply (called “ischemia”) causes the affected bone and surrounding cartilage to degenerate, deform, fracture and die. The entire area around the affected hip joint becomes irritated, inflamed and increasingly painful. Once the cells of the upper part of the femur die, they start to be replaced by fibrous and granulation tissues that are not as strong as bone. The body tries to revascularize the area and remodel the dead and dying bone and cartilage as it is reabsorbed by the body, but these attempts are not successful. This degenerative process causes the hip joint to become disfigured, lose its structural integrity and become non-weight-bearing. Eventually, the hip collapses. Legg-Perthes disease can show up bilaterally (in both hip joints) or unilaterally (in just one).

From Sara to Breeder:


April 21, 2016 3:30:04 PM PDT (CA)

This is a more of a hereditary issue, like B's - not a play issue. Just a heads up. And now you and I will have to wait for the radiologist's final report.

April 21, 2016 3:51:24 PM PDT (CA)

My husband wants you to know that your jump to a 'play' conclusion of injury is not acceptable. No point in becoming defensive. When we get the final report on S, we will deal with the outcome with you like reasonable people who all care about S's well being. This outcome will include the financial costs of mediating this degenerative disease for S. We expect that this will be far more costly than B's hereditary disease, so be prepared for it. Our only purpose now is to ensure some measure of quality of life for S.

April 22, 2016 2:59:04 AM PDT (CA)

The vet has made a diagnosis. She is getting a second opinion from the radiologist. We should have that second opinion today. As soon as we have it, I'll send you the results and we can talk. As you can imagine, I/we are emotional right now.


April 22, 2016 9:04:15 AM PDT (CA)

PetRays Report: Conclusions

Avascular necrosis of the left femoral head and neck. Secondary left coxofemoral subluxation and left hip and thigh disuse muscle atrophy. Cause of the disease is not known with certainty however is likely a result of ischemia from vascular compromise: ….genetic cause has been proposed.


April 22, 2016 9:29:36 AM PDT (CA)

We do need to have a plan for S, long term. You have a partnership part in that plan.  If this disease is hereditary, then it is clear that S will need to be spay at some point. Until we agree upon a definitive method of treatment, we do not intend to do that.


By this point in my research, I have learned that the Havanese Club of America, as noted below, considers Legg-Calve-Perthes a Hereditary/Genetic disease.



Retrieved on 14/05/2016 from


The Havanese breed is relatively healthy, but there are several inherited health issues new owners should know about. They are listed below in alphabetical order.


      Cherry Eye



      Hip Dysplasia

      Legg Perthes (or Legg-Calve-Perthes)

      Liver Shunt

      Patellar Luxation (slipped kneecaps)​


      Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP) is another disease of the hip joints in small dog breeds. It occurs when the ball portion of the hip is damaged due to lack of blood supply. Symptoms usually appear between 5-12 months of age and involve limping, pain, and eventually arthritis. LCP can usually be confirmed with X-rays. Treatment of this condition varies according to the severity of the signs seen. Atrophy of the muscles of the affected leg is not uncommon. If atrophy is severe it can slow the recovery period considerably and may make medical therapy less likely to work. It is typically treated surgically by removing the head of the femur and letting the muscles form a "false joint." Dogs usually recuperate well from surgery. The reasons LCP occurs are not clear, however, it is assumed there may be a genetic component to the problem. Visit the Canine Inherited Disorders Database website for more information. The OFA has recently started a database for LCP.

From Sara to Breeder:


April 22, 2016 10:08:33 AM PDT (CA) Taking her back is not an option. Taking responsibility to assist in the financial repercussions of her treatment, long term, is. That is the response we are waiting for from you.


If I recall correctly, one of the situations you are talking about that involved LCP may have occurred with J's sister? You indicated that you suspected blunt force trauma had occurred in that incidence whereas, as I recall, her owner also indicated to you that this was not the case.

Your Vet has never examined S.  Nor does he have the x-rays to read the results appropriately as our radiologist has done. Blunt force trauma has not occurred with S in our care. Our Vet is continuing to research S's issue. Her question is, “If this is not hereditary, why spay?” She is posing this question to the medical community.



Retrieved on 17/05/2016 @


Since most cases of necrosis of the femoral head are inherited, there’s a limit to what you can do to help prevent this disease in your pet (other than not breeding animals carrying Legg-Calve-Perthes DNA).


Sara asks her Veterinarian to check, specifically, whether the timeline for an operation of ‘sooner rather than later’ is preferable. The surgeon’s response is below:


April 25, 2016

Email from my Veterinarian to _________, VIN Orthopedic Surgery Consultant

“Owner is also wondering if surgical treatment is recommended sooner rather than later in hopes of improving the long tem outcome. My thoughts are that surgery is indicated if and when medical management is not controlling pain, but that it doesn’t affect the outcome.”

April 25, 2016

Response from ____________, VIN Orthopedic Surgery Consultant

“Couldn’t have said it better myself. FHO is designed to address pain and lameness. It has no bearing on long-term outcome. The only other thing I would say is that you have to watch muscle atrophy in these little dogs.”

What I have now learned through my research is that many sources believe that LCP is caused by autosomal recessive genes that come from the mother and the father although the specific gene has not yet been identified. What is known, however, is that LCP is a Mendelian disorder.  In Mendelian inheritance, there is no such thing as environmental triggers; these play a role in autoimmune associated disorders like the one B has but not in orthopedic diseases like LCP, the disease S has.


From Sara to Breeder:


April 22, 2016 2:13:59 PM PDT (CA)

Thank you for the phone call.

Further to our discussion, having relayed the gist of the information to my husband, we now understand that you have no intention of committing any financial support to S's recuperation and/or treatment unless, and this has only been said verbally, a pathologist determines, without a doubt, that the reason for the disease is hereditary. Since we do not know whether massage therapy and or acupuncture, as suggested by you below, may not make a significant difference to S's condition, jumping right into an operation including a pathology report followed by spaying S is both premature and unreasonable. Certainly our vet believes this and we will follow the advice of our Vet and other professionals we are referred to.


S will get the best care possible. We will ensure this. We are not arguing with you about S and our/your responsibility to her. It is clear that you are going to do what you are going to we shall do what we will do with respect to S and the betterment of the Havanese breed.


April 22, 2016 6:51:36 PM PDT (CA)

We have the best veterinarian services and animal acupuncturist in the valley starting to work with S on Monday. Thank you for that advice.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Retrieved on May 21/2016 @


Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (femoral avascular necrosis) is a multifactorial genetic disease of small-breed dogs characterized by osteonecrosis of the proximal femoral epiphysis and secondary osteoarthritisThis disease occurs almost exclusively in toy- and miniature-breed dogs.


At this point, Sara tells me that S’s LCP is being managed weekly by her Veterinary team though acupuncture, massage therapy, Glucosamine HCL, Omega 3 and Metacam as necessary. Her legs muscles are massaged and measured daily. S also receives daily exercise to strengthen the muscles in her back left leg. S is doing very well, so on most days she can walk, run and play with her sisters with no overt favouring of her leg. On those days when she does hop, she receives additional massage therapy from a registered Canine Masseuse and/or Metacam and her movement is limited.

Legg Calve Perthes Disease in Small Breed Dogs

Retrieved on May 21/2016 @


Specific causes of the disease are not completely understood, but it is thought to be an inherited disorder, caused by an autosomal recessive gene that is inherited from both parents. 


Sara’s veterinarian also continues to search for information about LCP from experts in the field through VIN consultants. Below is the first response she received from one of the VIN surgeons:


April 23, 2016 3:40:35 AM PDT (CA) From our Veterinarian


Hi _________,


So far I have received the following from Dr. ________. My questions are listed first followed by his reply:



I have a 9 month old female Havanese purchased for showing and breeding purposes who presented for a LH lameness March 30th. She was treated with rest and NSAIDs but by April 20th was not improved. Very sore on extension and abduction of the left hip. Radiographs attached with interpretation by ________, DVM, Diplomate ACVR as follows:  



5 radiographs of the pelvis are available for interpretation.  The left femoral head is small and the femoral head and neck is slightly mottled with poorly defined regions of radiolucency and poorly defined regions of sclerosis. The left coxofemoral joint is widened and there is decreased coverage of the femoral head. The soft tissues of the left hip and thigh are present as compared to the right. The right coxofemoral joint is unremarkable. The stifles included are normal. The caudal aspect of the lumbar spine is within normal limits. No abnormalities of the intra-abdominal structures included are seen.  



Avascular necrosis of the left femoral head and neck. Secondary left coxofemoral subluxation and left hip and thigh disuse muscle atrophy. Cause of this disease is not known with certainty however is likely a result of ischemia from vascular compromise; genetic cause has also been proposed.  


My client is concerned that she has purchased a puppy for breeding purposes with a possibly hereditary condition. The breeder has told my client that this has developed because of hard play as a puppy.  


What is the current understanding about the heritability of this condition? Anything specific for the Havanese breed? Is there any evidence that play or exercise contributes to or causes this condition?


Dr. ___________’s reply:


I don't think there's the slightest doubt that it's a heritable condition and it doesn't have anything to do with "hard play." Having said that, would it be possible for a pup to suffer a trauma that damages the blood supply in this area causing aseptic necrosis? Yes, in the same way it would be possible for an overweight, 4 year-old Labrador to step in a hole and traumatically rupture his cruciate ligament with no prior degenerative disease in the joint… the same way it would be possible for me to pass over a bowl of butter pecan ice cream….possible in theory but highly unlikely.



VIN Orthopedic Surgery


________ I have replied asking the question about whether histopathology after surgery could differentiate between injury vs. genetic disease.  Will keep you posted.

Sara decides to contact Dr. Starr-Moss from Clemson University on April 23 to ask for updated information about the status of genetics in LCP, and offers S’s DNA and 5-generation pedigree for use in the research ongoing there. At the time of writing this article, she had not yet heard back from Dr. Starr-Moss.



Retrieved May 16/ 2016 @


      Not completely understood

      Genetics - can be autosomal recessive gene in some dogs

      Because of the potential heritability of this disease, affected dogs should not be bred.


To be fair to the breeder, Sara tells me that she shared the information presented to her by her veterinarian in an email dated April 25. She indicates that her hope was to ‘move’ the breeder away from what she believed to be her apparent locked in position that LCP was trauma based or triggered. Her continuing concern was that if the breeder truly believed that LCP was trauma based, then she would breed dogs together who had known LCP offspring or siblings in their backgrounds, and not take into account the genetics of the situation. Insisting upon the breeder taking some financial responsibility for S’s condition would ensure that she took the genetics in LCP seriously. Could Sara’s family afford to pay for S’ operation themselves? Of course. A person does not take an animal on without knowing that at some point there will be medical bills for their care. The breeder’s apparent continued determined position that trauma caused in the care of the owner absolved her of her responsibility within her breeding program for improving the tracking of disease only served to strengthen Sara’s resolve to push the envelope in S’s situation as the story continues…

From Sara to Breeder:

April 25, 2016 8:21:47 AM PDT (CA)

I am informing you about what is happening with S and updating you with what the experts in the field advising us/our Vet have said.   Below are two examples of the responses our Vet has received to her questions about trauma vs genetics from VIN Orthopedic Surgeon/Surgical Oncology Consultants and the ability of a pathology report to determine the difference between the two:

"I don't think there's the slightest doubt that it's a heritable condition and it doesn't have anything to do with "hard play."  

_____________, VIN Orthopedic Surgery Consultant"


and another....


‘I have a very diligent client who's 'breeder' is telling her that mis-management caused the puppy to develop this condition.

"This is a very common scenario for a lot of problems. Too many breeders are self-enamored and always seek to deny problems or blame problems on someone else doing something wrong, rather than just owning up to the fact that there are heritable problems, and that even the most responsible breeder will encounter such problems precisely because we don't yet have genetic tests to identify such problems. They erroneously think that pedigree analysis and phenotypic analysis somehow prevents genetic diseases from entering THEIR breeding pool. 


In the event that an FHO was performed, would histopathology be able to differentiate between a traumatic vs. genetic origin?"

"I'm not aware of any such ability to make that differentiation." 


_____________, DVM , ACVS Board Certified Surgeon 

Senior Staff Surgeon 
_____________ Veterinary Medical Center 


VIN Consultant/Editor: 


Surgery-Soft Tissue 


Surgical Oncology


Retrieved on 17/05/2016 @


Toy breeds and terriers are most commonly affected, but most any small breed dog of a young age (usually under 12 months) can inherit this disease.

To understand this disease, imagine the ball end of the ball and socket hip joint (the ball portion is made up of the “head” of the leg’s femur bone while the socket is the pelvis’s purview). When the femoral head (the ball) lacks blood supply due to either trauma or a genetic predisposition to poor circulation here (by far the most common cause), it starts to die. Dying bone can lead to extreme pain for these dogs, as does the collapse of the cartilage that makes up the joint. Because the resulting change in the shape of the bone leads to a poor fit in this ball and socket joint, arthritis (and more pain) inevitably ensues.- See more at:


On April 27, Sara decided to write to OFA to ask them why Havanese have not been included on their list of Toy Dogs susceptible to LCP since The Havanese Club of America has included this disease on their hereditary/genetic list of diseases that Havanese are susceptible to.

April 27, 2016 6:09:07 PM PDT (CA) 


Dear OFA

I am very confused.

1. The Havanese Club of America (2016) have included Legg Perthes as one of the Hereditary/Genetic Diseases for the Havanese on their website. However, OFFA has not included the Havanese in their list of toy dogs with this genetic disorder.


2. The CIDD Database (PEI, CA, 2011) referred to by the Havanese Club of America (2016) have indicated that this genetic disease is typically diagnosed in young dogs between 4-12 months of age. However, OFFA will not accept application for animals less than 12 months of age for acceptance within the LCP DATABASE - a timeframe often significantly past when an x-ray has occurred and a radiologist has read the x-ray to determined LCP in a young animal.


My girl, S, a show/breeding female, was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the femoral head on 04/21/2016.  Are we to wait for three months to apply to have her included in your database? I have to wonder if this is why many dogs are not included in the OFFA Database, specifically Havanese, because your catchment timeline precludes young Havanese puppies from being included.


Of note, another bitch, J, is the sister of C2, a female from the same kennel as our S. C2 was diagnosed at 7 months of age with LCP.  C2, now 2.5 years old, was neutered and underwent an operation to correct the LCP as a puppy. I know this girl is also not in your system as her disease occurred much before the 1year timeline.


I intend to make it my business to ensure that Havanese are included in your list of Toys with Inherited LCP disease, as the Havanese Club of America has indicated. How can I work with you to do this? I have attached my Havanese girl's radiology report and the incomplete OFA form I would like my Vet to submit for inclusion in your database.


I look forward to your response




On May 1, Sara informs the breeder that she has communicated with OFA and has had her veterinarian submit S’s x-rays to be read and posted on the LCP site with OFA.


From Sara to Breeder:


May 1, 2016 5:40:14 PM PDT (CA)

The 3 x-rays taken of S by our vet have been sent to OFA for a second opinion… The genes for LCP come from both the mother and the father. Since S's mom has been spay, this means that you will have to vet female lines carefully that you breed S’s father to, to ensure that there is no LCP in their background.


LCP has now been added to the list of hereditary/genetic diseases by The Havanese Club of America. As soon as these people (HC of A) inform OFFA of this, LCP will also be added to their hereditary/genetic list.


S is doing well.  She is taking supplements and has daily a massage. Acupuncture every two weeks. A professional canine masseuse will see her this week for an hour and we will go from there. The hope is that she will never have to have an operation if we can increase the blood flow to the area affected by necrosis.

Monday, May 02, 2016 12:32 PM

FYI the OFA Dr. also indicated that even if small trauma factors were noted in the x-rays, it would be impossible to tell when they occurred.  Certainly no pathologist could pinpoint a specific month when a small fracture occurred, only that it had occurred. Something else to consider.

Monday, May 02, 2016 9:19 AM

Can your people please contact OFA to discuss this? It would helpful if OFA also told us the same thing. As it is, they are saying they should be able to see any hairlines fractures on the 3 x-rays we have sent them and will make their diagnosis from those. We need to be working together on this. It would be good if we all had the same information.


Tuesday, May 03, 2016 11:20 AM

And the really good thing about the Open Database on Havanese with LCP is that YOU can check to see if there are any dogs from a kennel like the one that you are considering having S’s father bred to in order to check to see if there is LCP in their lines so you can avoid those lines.


During my investigation, I learn that any OFA LCP screening of S’s parents will only determine if the dam or sire, her or himself, have LCP. The screening will not screen a dog from passing on LCP through recessive genes that exist within the dog’s biological makeup to progeny/get.



Retrieved on May 21/2016@


LCP is believed to be an inherited disease, although the mode of inheritance is not known. Because there is a genetic component, it is recommended that dogs affected with LCP not be used in breeding programs.

The Story takes a turn


Sara indicates that on May 7, the story took an interesting turn when the Breeder posted a prospective breeding between S’s father and the dam, J, both of whom have LCP in their lineage (J’s sister, C2, was diagnosed with the disease as a puppy and spay.)  This was a breeding Sara indicated she was very concerned about. Aside from the fact that there is known LCP in both the potential dam and the sire’s lines, the bitch, J, is a product of half brother / half sister mating with a high COI. If bred to Sara's dad that's line breeding on two dogs and, again, high COI.


Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding

Bateson, P. (2010) Micropress Ltd., Halesworth, Suffolk


Any thoughtful breeder of dogs should be concerned about the potentially adverse effects of inbreeding, but breeders are typically faced with a dilemma. Their impulse is typically to go for purity in order to fix desirable qualities and, if this means mating two dogs that are closely related, desire for purity often wins over any fears about inbreeding too much. Some breeders will tell you they are not in-breeding; they are line breeding’. What is meant by this is that the breeder is carefully selecting mates on the basis of a detailed knowledge of their geneology and their family’s breeding history. Sometimes this is done to avoid perpetuating a recognizable inherited disease. More usually they are choosing mates carefully to generate, it is hoped, prize-winning characteristics.


The mating between S’s father and the dam, J, appears to support the ‘prize-winning characteristics’ referred to by Bateson, not in an effort to ‘avoid perpetuating a recognizable inherited disease’ since it is now known that both J and Sara’s father’s lines carry LCP. Although the specific genes have not yet been isolated, many researchers believe that the disease has a heritable component passed by recessive genes from the mother and the father to their get/progeny. 

Three Key Strategies to reduce Genetic Disorders in Dogs

Carol Beuchat, PhD., 1/27/2016. Blog The Institute of Canine Biology

Retrieved on May 22, 2016 @


Most genetic disorders in dogs are caused by recessive mutations that have been lurking harmlessly in the gene pool for hundreds of generations. They suddenly become a problem because of the way we breed purebred dogs, by inbreeding in a closed gene pool. The level of inbreeding in a closed population will increase relentlessly, and as homozygosity increases so will the expression of disease-causing mutations. This is not just predictable, but inevitable.


It's for this reason that recessive mutations are more dangerous in a sense than dominant mutations. Dominant mutations have consequences; the problem might not be obvious, or it might only occur late in life, but by definition it will be expressed. If detected, these genes can be managed by removing the dog from the population before spreading it far and wide. Recessive mutations, on the other hand, are like a virus with a long incubation period such as measles.


1) Increase the number of breeding animals

2) Eliminate popular sires
Popular sires are a double whammy on the gene pool. Not only do they reduce the number of male dogs contributing to the next generation by doing more than their fair share of breeding (see #1 above), they also distribute dozens or even hundreds of copies of their mutations (and ALL dogs have mutations!) in the puppies that they produce. The pups might all be healthy because they got only one copy of a mutation, but a generation or two down the road, those mutations will start showing up in pairs and suddenly breeders will find themselves dealing with a new genetic disease that seemingly came out of nowhere. In fact, the new genetic problem is the completely predictable result of a breeding strategy that creates many copies of a particular dog's mutations.

3) Use strategic outcrossing to reduce inbreeding

The coefficient of inbreeding is equal to the risk of inheriting two copies of the same mutation from an ancestor on both sides of the pedigree.

Sara goes on to tell me that she received the following communication between her vet and Dr. _____, a highly respected ACVS Board Surgeon and Senior Staff Surgeon in the ______Medical Clinic, supporting her beliefs about inbreeding and the heritability of LCP:


Good conscience demands that we not breed dogs with well-known genetic faults. AVN in a young terrier, for example, is pathognomonic for Legg-Perthe’s Disease, which is known to be heritable. We do NOT know the precise genetics of the heritability, so it is possible that combined with the right sires, no subsequent pups would have the phenotypic condition. BUT, the genes will be passed on and with the wrong sire, may result in pups with LCP.


_______________, DVM , ACVS Board Certified Surgeon 

Senior Staff Surgeon 

_____________ Veterinary Medical Center 


VIN Consultant/Editor: 


Surgery-Soft Tissue 



The story continues on May 9th, when a Championship photo of J with her Care Family and all of her ribbons from a recent show is posted on the Breeder’s Puppy Website along with the notice of prospective breeding between S’s father and J. The story escalates as Sara becomes even more determined to ensure that the breeder takes into account the genetics of this breeding because, if she does not, and if Sara says or does nothing, another S is possible for another family like hers. Sara tells me that it is at this point that she sends a copy of the CKC Code of Professional Conduct to the Breeder and also to the Care Family for J, along with articles to read and breeding considerations to consider.


Below is an excerpt from A Conversation About SA in Japanese Akita Inu with Dr. Niels Pedersen by Peter Van Der Lugt. While the specific dog breed being discussed with Dr. Pedersen is different, the genetic concepts under discussion are the same as those presented in this inquiry:

For the people that aren't too familiar with genetics, the starting point is to take into account that genes come in pairs, of which dogs inherit one from their mother and one from their father. When looking at inheritance patterns, the simplest situation to describe is when a health problem is "dominant" and only takes one bad gene to express itself. Those problems are fairly easy to exclude and dogs having issues that are inherited this way aren't fit for breeding. However, some issues aren’t dominant and instead have a recessive component. They need two of the same to result into a successful “evil pair”. In that case, if a dog ends up being affected, both parents are always to blame. But if a dog ends up receiving only one problematic gene from its parents, then the issue won’t show up. The latter is of course beneficial to the dog itself (as it won't have that specific problem), but it still is a carrier, so when this dog is used for breeding it will transfer that one "evil" gene to a part of it's offspring.” (Retrieved on June 1, 2016 at )


On Monday, May 9, Sara says that she tries a new tack by writing the following conciliatory letter to the breeder, hoping against hope that the breeder will see reason:


May 9, 2016 5:26


Dear Breeder

I have no idea why you are insisting upon breeding S’s father with J in spite of the poor COI and the existence of LCP in both lines. For whatever reason, I am sincerely asking you to reconsider. I believe this decision is no longer a case of "doing the right things right" but of having a need to 'be right'.  If I have pushed you to this, I apologize. If there is even a 10 percent chance that you are wrong, I wonder if you are prepared for the consequences within the first, second and third generations of puppies from this mating, and the pain of another LCP pup or some other genetic/hereditary disease being progenated in a COI too close, to the potential buyers of these puppies.


What do you gain by insisting on proceeding? What can you lose? What do the puppies gain and lose? I am living with an LCP puppy that came from your kennel. I am asking you to park your egos on the fence and do the right things right. Use another stud. Jump generations to S’s brother after having him x-rayed now and in two years time to ensure that there is no obvious LCP, and replace S’s Dad with him.  The research suggests that this is the right thing to do. You cut the chances by 50% of recreating an S situation for another family.


I don't know who your experts are but I do know who mine are. Whatever you think you heard from OFA, I can assure you that it is more about what you wanted to hear than what they actually said to you. LCP is not trauma induced. It is has a strong genetic/hereditary base. J's sister, C2, likely had the LCP genes passed to her, so her LCP disease would have occurred with or without the trauma that apparently was noted at the time.


Please, back away from this breeding. It does not make you weaker.




Retrieved on May 21, 2016 @é-perthes-disease


Breeding advice: 

Affected dogs and their parents (considered carriers) should not be bred. Siblings are suspect carriers. A registry is maintained by the Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals ( for Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease in terriers and miniature and toy poodles. Using the registry, breeders can select dogs for breeding with no family history of this disease. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS DISORDER, PLEASE SEE YOUR VETERINARIAN.


Sara now tells me that she has heard via the grapevine that J’s Care Family’s Veterinarian does not support the breeding between J and S’s father, so the advertisement for puppies from that breeding are, apparently pulled.


An Interesting sideline


Genetics And Breeding Strategies: Essays For The Dog Breeder

Dr. Susan Thorpe-Vargas

Reprinted with permission @

Retrieved on May 22, 2016


You all know them. The ones that put winning above all other goals. "It doesn't matter as long as the dog wins," is their mantra. Their dogs must win, as must their dogs' offspring, and woe betide anyone who stands in their way as they pursue greater breed and personal glory... If a genetic problem isn't apparent they will ignore it. If it can be (surgically) fixed they will. If it can't, they will employ some variant on "shoot, shovel and shut-up," or recoup their losses by shipping the dog a long ways away, preferably across an ocean or two.


I share this quote with Sara and she tells me that this piece from Dr. Thorpe-Vargas’ article referring to “shipping the dog a long ways away, preferably across an ocean or two”, helps her recall that S’s father was bred to J’s mother when he was less than a year old, in a ‘Trial Breeding’.

I will call the get of that breeding, boy “A”. His COI is 21.65%, back to the founders. It's a typical line breeding pedigree on two lines, the line of bitch 2 and the line of dog 5. The breeding also doubled up the recessive LCP genes in A’s biological makeup. 

Boy A's Four Generation Pedigree Chart     COI 21.65

Thinking about Sara’s Story


What I’ve learned from this inquiry is that a story like this is never over…


On May 29, Sara receives a newsy phone call from J’s mom. During the conversation she tells Sara that she still does not know who J will be bred to, but that it will be a top American stud.


On June 4, Sara learns via email that S has become an LCP Poster Puppy in the US. Her 5 Generation Pedigree Chart from the Havanese Gallery is being passed around among top breeders there. Sara tells me that she is sad but she understands; these kennels are doing what they can to protect their lines.


I know from my own communications with some of my critical friends, who are themselves breeders, that the networks between kennels not only in the US but also in Europe and in Canada, are vast and when breeders learn about dogs affected by a hereditary disease, particularly when those dogs are NOT their dogs, they will pass the information around like wildfire. I also understand from those conversations that LCP is not in every kennel and in every line because many breeders believe LCP is hereditary and they care enough to avoid breedings that will extend LCP throughout their lines. They collect information like S’s LCP Pedigree Chart, and use it to plan their breedings.


On June 5, 2016, Sara reads that S’s father was bred to J between May 27-28.


Sara shares with me how sad she was when she heard this, but she says that she was still hopeful that this breeding was not true even though one of her critical friends suggested to her: “Polyanna, hate to say it but ‘I told you so’, oh ye of little faith…When people show you who they are, believe them.” 


So it is possible that there will be a litter of puppies born to S’s kennel end of July/beginning of August that will carry doubled up LCP recessive genes. Also, again, since J is a product of a half brother / half sister mating, when bred to S's dad, that's line breeding on two dogs that would result in a high COI like boy, “A”."

Genetics and Breeding Strategies: Essays for The Dog Breeder

Dr. Susan Thorpe-Vargas

Reprinted with permission @

Retrieved on May 22, 2016


The question one should ask oneself is, are you breeding for yourself and your ego or are you seeking the betterment of, and indeed the continued existence of, your breed? Let me suggest that some current breeding practices are neither in the best interest of the individual dog in terms of health and temperament, nor do they bode well for breeds the future.


As a result of this research, I have begun to think about the number of puppies born in a single year to the owned/co-owned/leased or CKC/AKC contracted bitches from Sara’s kennel. On June 6, I looked at the puppy website of her breeder; there were 7 litters of puppies listed that had either already been born or were expected. Sara tells me, that there could be as many as 15 litters out of this “kennel family” in a year as dams and studs are farmed out to many families. If I do that math, it is possible this constitutes approximately 60 plus puppies per year if one averages the litters at 4 per. I wonder how many of those puppies are born with diseases like the ones Sara’s B and S have.


If breeders withhold information about the genetic disease in their breed or within their line, then we face an insurmountable barrier in any attempt to control those diseases. Open discussion about problems your dogs have produced allows other breeders to make more informed choices. Secrecy and denial only perpetuate the problem. Genetic testing may help; however, if the disease does not appear until late in the dog's life, then only by alerting your puppy owners "downstream" from the affected dog can you hope to prevent further misery for both the dogs and owners. (Ibid)


Borders and Border Crossings

Lugones (1987, p. 8) discusses how borders are created when there is a shift from acceptance to rejection of an individual, thereby situating the person as an outsider to the community: “Their world and their integrity do not require me at all. There is no sense of self-loss in them for my own lack of solidity. But they rob me of my solidity through indifference, an indifference they can afford and which seems studied.” It is in these situations and in these relationships that Lugones suggests that we begin to perceive others “arrogantly in their turn” (p. 5).  It appears that when “arrogant perception” is insinuated into a relationship, regardless of from which direction, the response may be “arrogant perception” in return. Greene in Witherell and Noddings (1991, p. xi) suggests that it is only when we become the “friends of one another’s minds” that we are able to cross borders of understanding to one another.


Sara tells me that she highly doubts that she will ever be a friend of her breeder’s mind again following her experiences. That border has been permanently closed.  Her relationships with the rest of the Breeder’s kennel people have also been terminated. Further, after only two and half years of owning and showing Havanese dogs, she now has 2 dogs with hereditary diseases that are spay and will need long term care, and a third that she will spay because she no longer has the heart for the ring or for breeding her last standing girl. She and her husband accumulated, overtime, a debt of over $20,000 for this short venture.


Life is like that…openings and closings…we must be ready for both in our lives.


How storying can help us learn to live with past experiences


Cooper (in Witherell and Noddings, 1991, p. 97) suggests: “Telling our own stories is a way to impose form upon our often chaotic experiences and, in the process, to develop our own voice. Listening to our own stories is a way for us to nourish, encourage, and sustain ourselves, to enter a caring relationship with all the parts of our self.”  This, then, is what I have been doing by writing this narrative with Sara. Through me, she has found her voice and is able to share her story as a new owner handler of Havanese dogs in safety. I believe that it is only when all voices like Sara’s are heard in the breeding of dogs that change will be made.


As one of the authors of this inquiry, in the company of others who are more knowledgeable about the subject than I am and who have empathetic, listening ears, I have also begun to understand about good and bad breeding practices and how The Havanese Breed will be affected, over time, by both.



Barbara Spilchuk, PhD, is an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia. She is also the online consultant for the International Schools Review and a published author. Dr. Spilchuk focuses on narrative inquiry as a research methodology for exploring the lived experiences of people.  It is with huge gratitude that Dr. Spilchuk thanks the breeders, researchers and professionals who assisted her during the journey of writing of Sara’s Story. Please contact Barbara if you have a story to share about breeding and breeding practices that would help to protect the Havanese Breed.



Senija Hodzic, BA, owner of Bailemos Havanese and a member of the Havanese Club of Netherlands, provided links to LCP and genetic referencing and Mendelian inheritance as it applies to LCP, as well as information about line and double line breeding as noted in the 4 generation pedigree chart of dog ‘A’.  Senija was one of the two people who organized Havanese World to take part in the Genetic Diversity Study at UC Davis.  Please contact Senija if you are interested and/or have questions about that study.



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Thousand Oaks. CA: Sage Publications Inc.


Clandinin, J., & Connelly, M. (1994). Personal experience methods. In N. K. Denzin

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Connelly, M., & Clandinin, J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry.

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Connelly, M., & Clandinin, J. (1994) Telling teacher stories. Teacher Education

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Florio-Ruane, S. (1997). To tell a new story: Reinventing narratives of culture,

identity, and education. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 28(2), 152-162.


Lugones, Maria. (1987). Playfulness, world-travelling and loving perception. Hypatia,

2(2), 3-19.


Spilchuk, 2000, When Principals Engage in Public Acts of Resistance: Stories of Relationships. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Alberta: Edmonton, AB, CA


Spilchuk, B. THE JOURNAL OF ASIA TEFL Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 53-76, Summer 2009


Witherell C. & Noddings, N. (1991). Stories lives tell: Narrative and dialogue in

education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.


Wheatley, M.(July 4-9, 1999). Bringing life to change (audio cassette). Unpublished

paper. Edmonton, AB: 8th International Conference on Thinking.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease

Affected dogs and their parents (considered carriers) should not be bred. Siblings are suspect carriers. 

A registry is maintained by the Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals ( for Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease in terriers and miniature and toy poodles. Using the registry, breeders can select dogs for breeding with no family history of this disease. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS DISORDER, PLEASE SEE YOUR VETERINARIAN.



Bateson, P. (2010). Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding.  Micropress Ltd., Halesworth, Suffolk


Beuchat, Carol, PhD. (1/27/2016). Three Key Strategies to Reduce Genetic Disorders in Dogs

Blog The Institute of Canine Biology. Retrieved on May 22, 2016 @


HEREDITARY AND GENETIC. Retrieved on 14/05/2016 from




LCP CAUSE. Retrieved May 16/ 2016 @




LEGG-PERTHES DISEASE. Retrieved on 17/05/2016


LEGG PERTHES DISEASE IN DOGS. Retrieved on May 21, 2016 @


LEGG-CALVE-PERTHES DISEASE. Retrieved on May 21/2016 @


Retrieved on May 21/2016 @



Retrieved on May 21, 2016 @é-perthes-disease


OFA LEGG CATHE PERTHES. Retrieved on May 16, 2016 at


Peter Van Der Lugt. (2016). A Conversation About SA in Japanese Akita Inu with Dr. Niels Pedersen. Retrieved on June 1, 2016 at 


Susan Thorpe-Vargas, Ph.D. Genetics And Breeding Strategies: Essays For The Dog Breeder

Reprinted with permission @

Retrieved on May 22, 2016

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