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about the health of show dogs

Sara’s Story (Sara’s Story: ) continues as Sara looks backwards at her experiences in the Conformation Ring coming to bear upon her beliefs about what is good and right about the breeding and showing of dogs. In this article, I explore the conflicts and tensions that arise out of Sara’s Story about what makes a championship dog, how a ‘type’ Havanese dog seems to dominate the ring and whether breeding healthy dogs rather than ‘type dog winners’ for the ring shouldn’t be a criterion when selecting how a pairing is made. Discussions with doctors and breeders contribute further to Sara’s Story – The Havanese Conformation Ring. These leave me with many wonders about where this sport is headed in the future, how it may change and who might effect those changes. 


This article supports narrative inquiry as a methodology and term as described by Connelly and Clandinin (2006, p. 477):


"People shape their daily lives by stories of who they and others are and they interpret their past in terms of their stories. Story, in the current idiom is a portal through which a person enters the world and by which their experience of the world is interpreted and made personally meaningful. Viewed this way, narrative is the phenomenon studied in inquiry. Narrative inquiry, the study of experience as story, then, is first and foremost a way of thinking about experience. Narrative inquiry as a methodology entails a view of the phenomenon. To use narrative inquiry methodology is to adapt a particular narrative view of experience as phenomena under study."

Narrative Inquiry. In J.L Green, G. Camilli, & P. Elsmore (Eds). Handbook of complimentary methods in education research (3rd ed). 9pp. 477-487), Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

In narrative inquiry,

 “A person is, at once, engaged in living, telling, retelling, and reliving stories” (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990, p. 4). This living of new stories can become an endless process, as differing perspectives continue to influence understanding.

Spilchuk, B. Crossing Borders and Negotiating Conflict: Lucian’s Story of Teaching English from within the Singapore Primary Classroom.  THE JOURNAL OF ASIA TEFL Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 53-76, Summer 2009

The Beginning


Sara was relatively new to dogs and certainly to dog breeding. From the moment she met the Havanese dog breed, she was smitten with their characteristics and eye appeal. Over the past 2 years, her experiences with her three Havanese puppies opened up a world for her that she would never have imagined. It was a world where the darker side of breeding was exposed, and her moral responsibilities as a dog owner and dog lover were challenged.


Consequences of breeding

For almost 4,000 years people have been breeding dogs for certain traits—whether it be a physique ideal for hunting pests like badgers or a temperament suitable for companionship. But the vast number of modern breeds—and the roots of their genetically caused problems—came about over the past two centuries, as dog shows became popular and people began selectively inbreeding the animals to have specific physical features. Over time the American Kennel Club (AKC) and other such organizations have set standards defining what each variety should look like. To foster the desired appearance, breeders often turn to line breeding—a type of inbreeding that mates direct relatives, such as grandmother and grandson. When a male dog wins numerous championships, for instance, he is often bred widely—a practice known as popular sire syndrome (pdf)—and his genes, healthy or not, then are spread like wildfire throughout the breed. As a result, purebred dogs not only have increased incidences of inherited diseases but also heightened health issues due to their bodily frames and shapes, such as hip dysplasia in large breeds like the German shepherd and the Saint Bernard, and patellar luxation, or persistent dislocation of the kneecap, in toy and miniature breeds.


Maldarelli, C. (February 21, 2014) Although Purebred Dogs Can Be Best in Show, Are They Worst in Health? Scienceline. Retrieved on July 6, 2016 @

Sara’s Story – The Havanese Conformation Ring, leaves me with many wonders about where this sport is headed in the future, how it may change and who might effect those changes

100 Years of Breed “Improvement”

It is unrealistic to expect any population to be free of genetic diseases but show breeders have intentionally selected traits which result in diseases.


Elegans, C. (2012/09/29). 100 Years of Breed “Improvement”. Retrieved on July 8, 2016 @


This is certainly the case in some breeds such as the Bulldog and other short faced (brachycephalic) dog breeds with breeding issues as well as some long backed breeds like Dachshund that often suffer from hernia and other ailments. In other words, all physical characteristics that have been pushed to the extreme will cause a problem for the breed.


Conformation dog breeders claim they are improving the breed and yet they are often the cause of these problems (that many purebreds are faced with). If “improvement” in looks imposes a health burden then it is not a breed improvement. (Ibid)


In the Havanese, there is, generally, no generic problem with exaggerated breed characteristics (at least not yet). However, while it is unrealistic to expect any population to be free of genetic diseases, when one of the main aims of a breeder becomes breeding for the show ring, the very methods of breeding and selecting the future breeding stock tends to lead to an increase in diseases as the main selection criteria becomes, singularly, outstanding appearance. In other words, the show breeder wants to breed a dog that, to a very high degree, conforms to the written breed standard for the country that the breeder is registered in:


The Problem with Pedigree Dogs.

In order to maintain ‘purity’ each breed had a written description of its size and appearance, called a breed standard. Once a breed had been established the stud books were closed.

This means that in order to breed a purebred dog you must only breed within this closed gene pool. Further selection took place due to the competitive nature of dog showing – everyone trying to breed from dogs which had a Champion (or many) in its pedigree. Certain dogs which were greatly admired were, and still are, over used – the so called ‘popular sire syndrome.’ In this way a breed’s gene pool becomes narrower and narrower, and if a popular dog happens to carry faulty or disease causing genes (gene mutations) this will be spread far and wide throughout the breed population. Genes are inherited in pairs, one each from the dam (mother) and sire (father). For many diseases a dog would need to inherit a deleterious (harmful) gene from both its dam and sire. The narrower the gene pool in a dog breed the more likely this is to happen.

Generally speaking, a healthy species is one that has a great deal of genetic diversity, like humans. Genetic diseases do occur in humans but they are rare, whereas in dog breeds a genetic disease can affect a large proportion of the population.


The Problem with Pedigree Dogs. Retrieved on July 17/2016 @


In this article, we first look back with Sara at her continuing story with her Havanese dogs as she recalls her experiences in the Havanese Conformation ring. We then focus on the problems that arise as Havanese breeders breed ‘to the standard’ that produces ribboned dogs without maintaining a wider view on protecting the health of the Havanese breed.


Looking backwards


In the first part of this article, Sara recalls her initial experiences with the Conformation Show Ring with her first dog, B in Sept. 2014:


I bought B in February 2014 and was told that she could show in the ring although she was not a show prospect. I decided to try the sport when I was fortunate enough to meet a great Junior Handler. I had no expectations for B but in her first show as a Class dog in September 2014, the Junior showed her to a 3-point major where she won Best of Opposite Sex. It was very exciting! B even beat the reigning Canuckdog Top Dog in that show. I was told how unusual that was!


Another Havanese puppy, a boy, won Best of Breed in that same show and you would have thought the whole Universe had collapsed. One lady sitting near me yelled at the judge that he didn’t know what a real Havanese looked like! Another lady whose dog was being shown by a handler turned to me and told me that the judge must have made a mistake! There was no way that B or the other puppy should have won! That lady was furious. I was confused. I was happy and the boy puppy’s mom was happy; the Junior handler and her mom, who was also in the ring with her own dog, were happy but everyone else was not happy! I remember turning to the Havanese Top Dog’s mom and apologizing to her because I felt badly about what had occurred.


The breeder was also happy. B had gone from a dog that could show, to a dog that did show, to a dog that could win, to a dog that did win – a dog the breeder now said she had always believed in! All this happened over night! How did that happen? B got two more points and then attended one other show that year with her Junior Handler. She did not point there and that was fine.


Shortly after this, I went with a friend to a show in the US and B got no points, likely because this was my first time in the ring. I had no idea what I was doing! At that show, I was again told by another breeder that B did not have the right ‘genes’ to champion and she should not be bred because her puppies would not improve the breed. (Little did that breeder know that he was foreshadowing something far more sinister than the pigment colour of her nose!)


The following year, I hired a handler to show B in two back to back shows. In early July 2015, B got Best of Breed in the first show and finished her CKC Championship in the second. Contrary to general belief, B had become a CKC Champion and was even put forward as the Breeder’s Choice to become one of two Havanese dogs from her kennel to star in a feature film about dogs.


It was at this point that B was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disorder.  I knew that she would have to be spay, but I showed B at two more shows as a Special and she got 6 pts towards her Grand Champion. I then spay B when she was a year and a half old - her dog show career was over.


After B got Autoimmune Thyroid Disorder, things changed. The Breeder reverted to her previous position that B had never been bred for the ring so there was no real loss in her having to leave it. In reality, what I now understand is that all the puppies in all her litters are bred for the show ring; some pups just don’t work out. B was one of those puppies.


Maybe B’s dog show career was never meant to be. Nobody believed in her but me, her Junior Handler and the professional handler. It makes me wonder what makes a show dog?


What I find so interesting in this part of Sara’s Story, is that B, a Havanese dog never intended for the show ring, a dog who only wandered into it serendipitously, Championed, got a Best of Breed and even got points towards a Grand Champion. I wonder what this says about a borderline show pick versus pet quality Havanese puppy?


The Dog Show Game – Telling It Like It Is

I dare ask the question, what is the true value of the title Champion? Does it seem that any dog can be finished if enough money is thrown at it? Do you honestly believe that all champions are truly good or great dogs? How many times have you watched ringside while watching breed judging and shaken your head at the quality of breed specials? Have you ever wondered how on earth a dog like that even finished their championship title, let alone now is being specialed? Even more a revealing topic you’ll find discussed in many breeds is the Top Ten list. Ask yourself if you consider the Top Ten ranked dogs in your breed as being great dogs or the best throughout your breed in today’s competition? How many of you have perused your breed’s Top Ten List and wondered how that mediocre dog could be rated and ranked as one of the top ten of your breed?


Dubé Forman, L. Feb, 2010. The Dog Show Game – Telling It Like It Is. Retrieved on July 28/2016 @


I also wonder what it says about the health of dogs that win in the ring? B, a dog who had been diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disorder, still won points towards her Grand Champion even after her diagnosed disease. How does that happen?


The following excerpt from Is the quest for the "perfect" dog driving a genetic health crisis? focuses on the question of whether type breeding of dogs with the ‘right attributes’ that judges in the Conformation Ring are looking for has the potential to exacerbate health issues in the Havanese breed:


The Purebred Paradox

Though the dogs who compete at Westminster are beautiful and most are likely healthy, the rise of such spectacles—and judging measures that in some cases emphasize appearance over welfare—has been blamed for a host of genetic health problems facing scores of breeds today.


Once upon a time, people believed that purebred dogs were naturally healthier than mixed breeds. How have we arrived at a point where it may be safer to presume the opposite?


…To protect particular characteristics, though, breed enthusiasts have long guarded a highly controlled process, regulating genetic lines and creating registries that stipulate which animals can be bred to produce more of the same type. But therein lies the problem: The more limited the number of mates, the greater the chance a dog will be bred with a relative who shares similar genes. Genetic diseases (very often) are caused by recessive genes, (although NOT ALWAYS as some diseases are dominant in nature, so there’s only one faulty gene necessary, from one single parent, to have the disease expressed), so a good gene from one parent will trump a bad gene from the other. But if both parents have a bad gene—such as one that predisposes them to hip dysplasia or blindness—the likelihood of a sick puppy increases.


All Animals Magazine, (May/June 2010), The Purebred Paradox: Is the quest for the "perfect" dog driving a genetic health crisis? Retrieved on June 29, 2016 @


Sara’s Story Continues with S in the Havanese Show Ring


We now know from Sara’s Story, that Sara also has a Havanese puppy named S, and this girl expresses a disease called Legg Calve Perthes (LCP). (Sara’s Story at This part of the article will focus on Sara’s experiences with S in the show ring and how Legg Calve Perthes affected S’s performance.


The results of the second set of x-rays, taken just before S’s LCP operation, and explored through discussion with S’s surgeon following S’s LCP operation, are also brought to bear upon the questions under study in this paper:  1.) What makes a championship Havanese dog? 2.) How is it that a ‘type’ dog seems to dominate the ring? and 3.) Should breeding healthy dogs rather than ‘type dog winners’ for the ring be the primary criterion when selecting how a pairing is made?  


Sara’s story continues…


S was first shown at a show by the Havanese Breeder in early November, 2015, when she was a Baby Puppy. S lay down in the ring and cried during that showing. We were so sad so I worked very hard with S to get her ‘ring ready’, taking her to handling classes where she excelled. We decided to have our favourite handler show S at her first show as a Junior Puppy in early February, 2016, but this did not work out. S cried and cried for us, so we made the decision that either I or a friend would show her; she would always be with us. Our second girl, C, just a month older than S, won Best of Winners at that show when I showed her.


At the next show in late February 2016, I showed S and she twice beat C, other class dogs and a female that was already a Special for Best of Opposite. She got 5 points at that show and she was on her way.


Also at that show. I showed S and her brother, P, in brace all three days. S hated brace but the pair took Best in Group on the first day and Best in Show on the second day. It was only later that I understood what a toll bracing must have cost S.


At the next show, at the end of March, 2016, there were multiple shows running together. A person I trusted showed S and I showed C and C’s brother (owned by someone else). In the first show, S beat 23 other dogs, including her father, her brother, P, and her sister, E, for Best in Breed. She went on to win a Group 3 and Best Puppy in Group. She was only an 8-month old puppy but she was already a Canadian Champion and had become the number 5 dog on Canuckdogs. I moved S up to Special the next day where I showed S and C myself. C’s brother was shown by a Junior. During that day and the next two, S got Select Bitch 2/4 times as well as Best Puppy in Breed once more. (She lost BPIB to C in one of the shows.)  She also won Brace with her brother, P, in all of the Specialty Shows.)


By the end of Day 2, however, my husband and I were fed up with our girls being put into everything – shows, brace, puppy sweeps, stud and dam competitions…you name it! I was naïve enough to agree to all of this! We could see that poor little S was flagging. I recognized the toll it was taking on our dogs so we refused to allow S or C to be shown by Juniors in the Junior shows or to participate in Puppy Sweeps from Day 2 forward. Enough was enough.


By the end of that 4-day weekend, our girls were exhausted and so were we. The Breeder had more big ribbons than you could shake a stick at but my husband and I agreed that we would never do that again! So many shows and never-ending photo shoots. My husband was totally disgusted and I could only imagine the stress on our two puppies, 8 and 10 months old. We went home after that show and shortly after, S started to limp. I took her to the vet who initially thought she had pulled a muscle in her hind end. We rested S as per instructions and the limp went away within a week.


Two weeks later in mid-April, we were back in the show ring at a show I can only describe as a gong show as a new alpha dog from our kennel took breed after breed and another member of our kennel became more and more upset. Throughout this, I continued to worry about S. She did not seem herself even though she took Select Bitch in three out of four shows that weekend as well as Best Puppy in Breed twice. When we went home, I took S back to the vet and that is when our world fell apart again; S was diagnosed with Legg Calve Perthes Disease.


Sara’s Story documents what happened between Sara and her Breeder leading up to this point very well. In this second part of Sara’s Story, Sara shares what happened during the therapy phase of S’s LCP, a period during which there was little or no communication between herself and the Breeder:


After S’s diagnosis, we tried for 2 ½ months to do aggressive therapy including a regime of acupuncture and massage therapy; however although things appeared to be stable for S, we decided to ask for a second set of x-rays to see clearly what was happening with her little leg. This second set of x-rays showed us that although S’s musculature was intact, her left leg was now shorter than the right and the pitting and mottled look of the head of the femur seemed to be worse. There was now no question. It was time for S to have surgery and four days later, she did.


After the surgery – New understandings


Sara tells me that she talked with the surgeon on the phone soon after S’s surgery was completed. She later sat down with him in the evening when she went to pick up S. S’s Vet and her Vet Acupuncturist also dropped in and out of the office where that conversation occurred. It was clear to Sara that this was a very close knit team that had open communication about joint patients like S.


Sara first recollects for me the parts of the telephone conversation she had with the surgeon after S’s surgery regarding the nature of S’s LCP:


I asked the surgeon if S’s disease was trauma driven. He asked me what the vet had discovered and I explained that two VIN pathologist/surgeons had assured us that this disease was hereditary/genetic. The surgeon replied: “Your vet has done her due diligence. Believe what those consultants have told you.” He went on to explain that Breeders often try to blame the owner of an animal for their own breeding issues, as in S’s case.


Sara continued by describing the conversation that occurred with the surgeon that evening when she went to pick up S:


In the office, the surgeon pulled up S’s new x-rays so I could see them side by side with her old ones. He began to explain many things to me, including the changes to her left leg as a result of the Legg Calve Perthes Disease. Using a skeleton, he showed me exactly what he had done to rectify the problem by removing the ball of the femur. He also explained to me that S would be given Cartrophen injections for four weeks, and had, in fact, already been given one, to help prevent further break down of the cartilage and enhance rebuilding of the cartilage to prevent arthritis. He then went through the rest of what was necessary for rehabilitation for S including medication and physio regimes, all information that had been included in the handout I’d been given, and already reviewed with me by the surgical assistant.


It was at this point that, Sara explains how shocked and dismayed she was by what the surgeon next shared with her. The following conversation, pieced together from Sara’s recollections, open up new understandings about how S was bred and how her breeding affected her overall health and welfare past the Legg Calve Perthes Disease which had initially brought her to the surgeon:


The surgeon then pointed to the shape of S’s two little back legs and asked me if I noticed how bowed they were. I hadn’t until he pointed it out. He told me that this was not how a normal dog’s legs were shaped - an original dog. These legs had been bred like this over time. I asked if this had been done for the show ring and he replied that this was possible as certain characteristics seemed to be desirable in the show ring for these small breeds.  However, these characteristics did not make for a healthy animal because the rear end of the dog would not be sound – and S’s rear end was not sound. For example, even past the LCP, her left stifle was compromised – she would likely have trouble with it, and the x-rays indicated that she may also have luxating patella issues.


The following quote from Purebred Dogs Inbreeding Conformation Show American Kennel Club Exaggeration Dog – No highlights how the problem the surgeon was referring to was created…and why:


Purebred Dogs Inbreeding Conformation Show American Kennel Club Exaggeration Dog – No

The standards alone did not create exaggeration. Showing all the breeds together was the culprit. Dogs begin a conformation show within a subgroup for their breed and after beating the dogs in that subgroup work their way up to best of breed. Only those who are experts at that particular breed’s standard judge the dogs. After a dog wins best of breed, then it goes onto the group, where a judge who is an expert on a variety of breeds chooses a winner based upon each breed’s standard. Most judges who are judging many different breeds have a rough blueprint of what each breed is supposed to look like. It is because of this that certain breeds begin to look a like, which is already exacerbated with the already narrow closed stud book and most-used stud phenomenon. Breeders only win prizes for dogs that have that blueprint look, and many of these breeders pride themselves on how similar their dogs look.


Purebred Dogs Inbreeding Conformation Show American Kennel Club Exaggeration Dog – No. Retrieved on July 27/2016 @


This, then, is the focal point for this article. What is more important for a breeder to consider – A.) breeding a sound, healthy Havanese dog that does not necessarily show all of the desirable characteristics prized by judges in the show ring, or B.) breeding a type-bred Havanese dog like S – one that will champion quickly, rise high in Canuckdogs and be a flagship for the kennel until her little body can no longer function, not only in that environment, but also in a normal one.  The following article speaks directly to this situation:


Pedigree Dogs Exposed is a BBC One investigative documentary, produced by Jemima Harrison, which looks into health and welfare issues facing pedigree dogs in the United Kingdom. It was originally broadcast on 19 August 2008. The Kennel Club (KC), the governing body of pedigree dogs in the UK which runs the prestigious dog breed show Crufts, was criticised for allowing breed standards, judging standards and breeding practices to compromise the health of pedigree dogs.[1] The programme generated much criticism of the Kennel Club. It also caused various sponsors and trade exhibitors to withdraw their participation from Crufts and other Kennel Club events. The BBC—which has broadcast Crufts for 42 years—withdrew its coverage of Crufts for 2009, and chose not to renew it for 2010. The Kennel Club initially denied the filmmakers' assertion that many dogs suffer from diseases and stated that the vast majority of dog breeds are healthy. It also lodged a complaint with broadcasting regulator Ofcom, claiming unfair treatment and editing. Due to strong public opinion, it later rolled out new health plans and reviewed breed standards for every breed.


Pedigree Dogs Exposed. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Retrieved on July 6, 2016 from


Sara finishes this part of her story by telling me about the regrets she now has about participating in the Conformation Show Ring with S:


I’m thinking back to that conversation with the surgeon now and feeling terrible. My poor little S was put through so much in such a very short time in the ring as a young puppy. As a Junior Puppy, she was in 4 shows. Two of those shows also had specialty shows attached to them and in both of those shows, she had to Brace with her brother. Bracing occurred in 5 shows overall within a 3-week span, and the pair went from Breed to Group to Best in Show in most of those shows. This was above and beyond the regular shows S had participated in. She also was registered in Puppy Sweeps in one of those shows but we said, “No” to that category. S also was in Sire and Get with her father, brother and sister in two Specialty shows. We even let young Juniors show her in two of the shows…until my husband finally said, “Enough!”


Even the grooming of S would have been difficult for her because you have to lift her legs to groom under them. Thinking about this caused me to reflect upon what kind of a person I had been? How could I put my little girl through that, particularly knowing what I know now about her LCP, weak left stifle, and potential Luxating Patella problems? S is my baby. She trusted me to look after her and I did not do a good job of it. I believed in the myth of ribbons and promulgating the reputation of her kennel. I am so ashamed of myself!


The Dog Show Game – Telling It Like It Is

What is happening at the all-breed level is distressing. People are leaving the sport and they are doing so vocally- – some are cynical and disgusted.


Dubé Forman, L. (Feb, 2010). The Dog Show Game – Telling It Like It Is. Retreived on July 28/2016 @


So are Show Havanese in Canada Healthy or Not?


At this point, I make the decision to leave Sara and her story about her dogs to research dogs in the Conformation Ring itself. This part of the article will not sit well for lovers of the Havanese show ring because I intend to put eleven of the top 50 Havanese dogs listed on from S’s kennel (July, 2016) under a microscope to explore a.) the extent of line breeding that occurs and b.) the COI level of each dog. Further, I intend to explore the possibility of finding a common ancestral dog who may be at the root of Legge Calve Perthes in S’s kennel. Some information is already known to me from Sara’s Story regarding the known LCP expressed and potential carriers on that list. These four dogs will be explored first in the charts below. Then, by cross-referencing the pedigree charts of the other top seven dogs from S’s kennel, we will be able to see how many ancestral dogs are the same. From there, we can narrow the field by finding any common denominators within the lines and hypothesizing which dog/line might be the potential LCP carrier/s. Another ‘known’ LCP case from the same kennel, not on the championship list of the 11, will be used as a base against which to measure this exploration.


What I now understand from my research is that the common Havanese dog in the pedigrees of all 12 dogs is likely to be a ‘popular sire’. The following article speaks directly to the problem of the ‘popular sire’ extending disease into the gene pool of specific breeds:


The Pox of the Popular Sire

This is about the time breeders begin to notice that there is a "problem" in the breed. It won't take a pedigree sleuth to trace the growing population of affected dogs back to Hank, our popular sire who will now be blamed for introducing this new disease into the breed. Geneticists will be called in to hunt for the defective bit of Hank's DNA and to develop a reliable test. Then breeders will begin the mission of trying to eliminate Hank's formerly valuable genes from the gene pool, with proportional collateral damage to the genetic legacy of all of the bitches he was bred to. The genetic carnage resulting from attempts to purify the breed of the unfortunate mutation will continue for generations. The ultimate damage to the gene pool can be catastrophic.


This happens over and over again in breed after breed. Of course, the problem isn't poor Hank. Wind back the clock, and if the judge had pointed to a different dog at that fateful show - let's say it was Rosco who got the nod - the trajectory of the breed would have been completely different but the consequences pretty much the same. Rosco will leave his genetic legacy behind in dozens of lovely puppies, half of which will have that one nasty mutation that will emerge a few generations down the road to bite the breed. Breeders will eventually catch on, sound the alarm, and the effort to identify and eradicate the offending mutation will begin. The gene pool will be purged, and the next time a big winner appears that happens to be male, the cycle will begin anew.


Beuchat, C. PhD. (12/5/2013). The pox of the popular sire. Retrieved on July 26/2016 @


It is very likely that I will be searching for a ‘popular sire’ as the ancestral Havanese dog who is at the hypothetical root of LCP in this research – the ‘Hank’ in this ‘research sleuthing' who has “left his genetic legacy behind in dozens of lovely puppies, half of which will have that one nasty mutation that will emerge (in this case Legg Calve Perthes) a few generations down the road to bite the breed”.


LCP Line Gene Carriers


We know from Sara’s Story that S was a top dog in Canada when she was diagnosed with Legg Calve Perthes.  On June 29, 2016, I looked at Canuckdogs to see if there were other dogs from S’s kennel that were also on the list of the top 50 show dogs in Canada that came from lines with expressed LCP. Sure enough, besides S, S’s father W, and her sister E were on that list. (It is highly likely that S’s brother P, would also have been on that list had he not moved out of Canada.) As well, J, another dog from S’s kennel that Sara talked about in Sara’s Story, was on that list. From Sara’s Story, we know that all four of these dogs, S, her father, W, her sister, E, and J all came from lines that had dogs in them with expressed LCP.


Selective Breeding Problems

The genes responsible for many genetic diseases are “recessive,” which means that two copies of a damaged gene, one from the mother and one from the father, must be present in an individual for the disease to occur. Individuals that carry only one copy of the disease gene don’t have the condition, and are carriers of the disease. Normally, because disease genes are relatively rare, it is unlikely that both the mother and the father will be carriers, and even less likely that they’ll both give the disease gene to their offspring. But that’s not the case for purebred dog breeds, where genetically similar individuals are intentionally mated, increasing the concentration of disease genes. It’s like stacking a deck of cards with ten extra aces and ten extra face cards; the loaded deck increases your chance of hitting blackjack in a game of 21-but what you “win” might be allergies or a predisposition to cancer.


Selective Breeding Problems. (September 16, 2010). Retrieved on July 17/2016 @


S will be spay because she has expressed LCP. However, with the wrong matings in the case of W, E and J, it is possible that these dogs can also produce an expressed LCP puppy if paired with another dog/bitch that carries the genes needed to produce LCP. The following chart illustrates the problem:












AUTOSOMAL RECESSIVE INHERITANCE retrieved on July 24/2016 @   


If you look at the chart above, you can see in the second set of breedings, where both parents are carriers, one of the four puppies is red. That puppy is S – she is the lucky puppy that has expressed LCP. Her brother P and her sister E, in this chart, may be either yellow (carriers) or green (clear). In reality, however, this chart could show all of the puppies as expressing the disease or all of the puppies ending up being carriers or all of the puppies being clear. The problem is that without being able to test for the exact known recessive gene, it is like rolling the dice in Las Vegas to determine which scenario is correct. The safest way to deal with this problem is to ensure that any matings of parents/siblings breed away from other potential carriers of the disease.


Koharik discusses what is necessary for kennel clubs to begin to manage and track the control of genetic diseases like LCP:


A new direction for kennel club regulations and breed standards

The health of purebred dogs is such that the level of occurrence of genetically inherited defects is unacceptably high (31). Many changes within breed associations must be initiated to improve this welfare situation: this must be made a priority. Changes should include the following: 1) revision of Breed Standards so that equal emphasis is placed on function, utility, and type, 2) discouragement of selection for physical traits that are overtly detrimental to breed health, 3) obtaining of breed registries to introduce new genetics in all breeds, 4) institution of regulations on Founder population numbers of new breeds and upper COI limits allowable in registered dogs, and 5) the use of modern technology to monitor breeder compliance with new regulations. As stated by the late Dr. George Padgett, “if we want to make any impact in controlling genetic disease in dogs, we must agree that an ethical approach is based on fairness, openness, and honesty. While traditions are important to us and should remain important, they should be changed if they conflict with the exercise of our ethics as dog breeders” (32).


Koharik, A. (2007 Sep). A new direction for kennel club regulations and breed standards. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 48(9): 953–965. Retrieved on July 28, 2016@


The Ancestral Common Dogs in S’s Havanese Kennel


In the three charts below are the pedigrees of the 11 dogs from S’s kennel in the top 50 Havanese in Canada in July, 2016 according to Canuckdogs. S is included in this list. These dogs have been cross referenced to find common ancestors. As well, there is one outside known expressed case of LCP from the same kennel. This dog, Bitch U, is used as a base against which to check the ‘popular sire’ and Hypothetical LCP Carrying Line notions offered in this article.


Since LCP is believed to be an auto-recessive genetic/hereditary disease, I will be looking for carriers of the disease on both sides of the pedigree:


"What it means, when a gene is an autosomal recessive"

When a gene is referred to as an "autosomal recessive," it means:   

(a) That the gene is NOT on the X or Y chromosome, but one of the "normal" ones. This is important in that "X-linked" diseases inherit in a different pattern than autosomal ones.

(b) That the gene must be present in TWO COPIES for disease to appear. This is important for several reasons. First off it means that if you have one copy of the disease gene, then you have one copy of the normal gene, and so you will be safe, you will not get the disease. But it also means that you will then be a "silent carrier" in that you *can* pass on the gene, sight unseen, to your offspring.

It also means that for any animal to have any trait that is inherited as an autosomal recessive, that individual has to have TWO parents who were BOTH (at least) "silent carriers" of the disease. (Geneticists call them "obligate carriers" as they are "obligated" to have the gene being a producer of a diseased offspring.) It's a case of where "it takes two to tango" when it comes to autosomal recessives. The gene ALWAYS comes from BOTH sides of the pedigree.


Yousha, J.P., Chair, Health & Welfare Great Dane Club of America. "What it means, when a gene is an autosomal recessive". Retrieved on August 3, 2016 @


Keep your eye on the dogs highlighted in yellow in the three charts below. The bolded dog is the original ‘popular sire’ that may have started the chain reaction of LCP running through this kennel. The second dog is his son, who, in his turn, also became a popular sire. In some cases, there is a third dog in the potential ancestral LCP line; in this line breeding, the third dog is the grand-daughter of the original sire. Dog W is the next generation of popular sires; it was his get that brought the LCP problem in this kennel to light through Sara’s S, and sent me on a ‘pedigree sleuthing’ mission.  Please remember that these charts are a hypothetical sleuth to find the ancestral ‘popular sire’ who may be at the root of LCP being expressed and carried in this kennel. No geneticist has been ‘called in to hunt for the defective bit’ in the popular sire’s DNA.


  • Note that when a dog has the same dog/line bred in his/her pedigree twice either on the dam or the sire’s, side, this will be noted as, for example: 5.6. This indicates which generations the popular sire (or son) can be found - Generations 5 and 6.

  • Also, where a second dog is bred in the same pedigree on both the dam and the sire’s side, this will be noted a DLB – Double Line Breeding.

  • As well, a third line breeding on both the dam and the sire’s sides will be noted as TLB – Triple Line Breeding.  


Also included are the COI for each dog/bitch back to the Founder. (Founders are the first dogs of any given breed entered into the studbook.) Dr. Beuchat explains how COI is best determined:


COI FAQS: Understanding the Coefficient of Inbreeding

If you want to know the risk of inheriting two copies of an allele (good or bad) from an ancestor, that ancestor must be included in your database. If you have a database with just parents and grandparents, the inbreeding coefficient can't tell you anything at all about how likely you are to inherit two copies of an allele from your great great grandfather. A coefficient of inbreeding from a five generation pedigree will be an estimate of the probability of inheriting two copies of the same allele from only the animals in those 5 generations that appear on both sides of the pedigree.


But the whole point of the coefficient of inbreeding was to give breeders a way to weigh the potential benefits and risks that would result from genes that are homozygous. So you need ALL of the ancestors of a dog to be in the pedigree database you use, and for purebred dogs this means a pedigree database that goes back to the first registered dogs in the breed - the founders. The fewer generations used in calculating the inbreeding coefficient, the "better" (i.e. lower) it will appear to be. But this isn't an accurate assessment of the true degree of homozygosity in a dog, so it does not reflect the true level inbreeding depression and risk of genetic disease.


Beuchat, C. PhD. (6/4/2015). COI FAQS: Understanding the Coefficient of Inbreeding.


So what do you do when is a COI too high? Dr. Beuchat suggests the following, also from the article above:


Effects of inbreeding begin to become evident at a COI of about 5%. At a

The deleterious effects of inbreeding begin to become evident at a COI of about 5%. At a COI of 10%, there is significant loss of vitality in the offspring as well as an increase in the expression of deleterious recessive mutations. The combined effects of these make 10% the threshold of the "extinction vortex" - the level of inbreeding at which smaller litters, higher mortality, and expression of genetic defects have a negative effect on the size of the population, and as the population gets smaller the rate of inbreeding goes up, resulting in a negative feedback loop that eventually drives a population to extinction.


So, in terms of health, a COI less than 5% is definitely best. Above that, there are detrimental effects and risks, and the breeder needs to weigh these against whatever benefit is expected to gained. Inbreeding levels of 5-10% will have modest detrimental effects on the offspring. Inbreeding levels above 10% will have significant effects not just on the quality of the offspring, but there will also be detrimental effects on the breed. For comparison, mating of first cousins produces a COI of 6.25%; in many societies this is considered incest and is forbidden by law). Mating of half-siblings produces a COI of 12.5%; mating of full siblings produces a COI of 25% (IBID)


The following article supports Dr. Beuchat’s position and explains clearly why COI should be taken into consideration in breeding even without the presence of genetic testing:


The Coefficient of Inbreeding in Pedigree Dogs and Why It Matters

A COI of higher than 6.25% is generally considered to be undesirable as a norm within established pedigree dog breeds, as above this level, subtle problems begin to enter the gene pool. While inbreeding is not always avoidable when establishing or developing a breed, dogs with a COI of 25% tend to live markedly shorter lives and in poorer health than more genetically robust dogs.


It is of course always important to note that COI is a statistical analysis, and not a direct assessment on a genetic level of each individual dog. Having a very low figure of COI by no means guarantees good health, and a high COI does not guarantee that the dog will be sickly; however, all potential breeders and dog owners should consider the odds, and the welfare of their dogs carefully before making the decision to breed dogs with a high COI.


The Coefficient of Inbreeding in Pedigree Dogs and Why It Matters. Retrieved on August 8/2016 @


And finally, the AKC offers the following information for your consideration regarding the level of COI in a dog:


A Clean Bill of Health:  What Causes Hereditary Health Problems?

Some online pedigree programs will compute a Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI) for a pedigree; geneticists advise staying under a 10 percent COI for a 10-generation pedigree for best health. However, this is a rough generalization; inbred dogs have lived long healthy lives, just as non-inbred dogs can have hereditary health problems.


American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (07/13/2010). A Clean Bill of Health:  What Causes Hereditary Health Problems? Retreived on August  8.2016 @


The average for the dogs used in the charts below is 16.73 back to the Founder.


A critical point to remember is that some of the dogs in these charts may be much more inbred or less inbred than the COI suggests – there is no way to know without Genetic Testing on these animals. Also, several dogs in the charts below are litter mates from the actual breeding or a repeat breeding of the dam/sire so the COI for those dogs are repeated. For these dogs, there can be a huge variation in homozygosity within a single litter, ranging from not inbred at all to very inbreed. Again, the only way to know this for sure is with genetic diversity testing.










































































































































































































































































































































The same dog on the dam and sire’s sides do not have to be the LCP carriers. However, in the first chart, above, clearly the bolded dog in yellow and members of his line, in all cases, can be seen in both the dam and the sire’s lineage in each of the pedigrees. Also note, that Bitch J’s COI is so high that the probability she will pass on a disease found within a mating with another dog is relatively higher than the other dogs, not only in this chart, but in all three charts (excluding Bitch U in Chart 3 who is not a show animal). Note too that in two of the dogs in Chart 1, Bitch S and Bitch E, Littermates, the potential ancestral LCP sire bolded and highlighted in yellow is doubled up in line breedings as noted by the 5.6 which indicates this dog in the fifth and sixth generations.
























Let’s look at Chart 2. Three dogs are littermates - two from the same breeding and one from a repeat breeding (Bitches C, B and Dog S). All three of these dogs have a line breeding on the Sire’s side and doubled up line breeding on the Dam’s side of the hypothetical LCP carrying line (5.6 – in the fifth and sixth generations). The fourth dog, Bitch T, also has line breedings on both the dam and sire’s sides of the hypothetical LCP carrying line (6.7) – in the sixth and seventh generations. So what does this mean for the four dogs in this chart? I leave that to your imagination with “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…”


None of the dogs in Chart 2 have been bred yet. My question to you would be: “Would you breed any of these dogs with another dog carrying the yellow line, or would you breed away from the yellow line just to be safe? Another question for you to consider is: “Which of the dogs is the most dangerous in extending the disease through the Havanese population of this kennel if this truly is the line carrying LCP and selective breeding is not utilized?” Yes, of course! It is Dog S because, as we have learned, this dog can sire many, many, many more litters than any of the three bitches.











Now we come to Chart 3. As you can see, the yellow line potentially carrying LCP is found in Dog C and Bitch P, but not on both sides of the pedigree. This leaves these dog owners as ‘winners’ in this hypothetical sleuthing…unless there is another dog on the other side of the pedigree that is an unknown carrier, or they are bred to a dog within the kennel that has the yellow line on the opposite side - either dam or sire. Only Bitch R appears to be fully clear of the potential LCP line on both the dam and sire’s sides, so this owner appears to be the jackpot winner in this game of LCP Russian Roulette…except for the high COI!


The fourth dog, Bitch U, is External to the 11 dogs from Canuckdogs, but is from the same kennel; this dog is a Base Case of expressed LCP against which the tracking of the potential hereditary carrier dog/line may be measured. Her pedigree is of note in that it supports the contention made in Chart 1 that the bolded dog in yellow may be the ancestral carrier, and the highlighted dogs are part of the carrier LCP line. Her COI is also the highest of the 12 dogs under examination.



Sara’s Final Comments about S’s Success – Something Else to Think About


Let’s rejoin Sara now as she shares her closing reflections about S’s success in the Conformation Ring, following the information she now has about her puppy from the many x-rays, tests, specialist reports, veterinarian and surgeon conversations she has had:


When I first started in the sport of dog showing, I just thought that if I learned how to show my girls really well, and I was able to communicate with them down their leads, they would have fun and enjoy the sport. I now understand that I was terribly naïve about the whole dog show scene and I have to wonder how it is that dogs who have serious diseases are still able to be so successful in the ring. B, I can understand because you cannot see autoimmune hyperthyroidism but S? Good Grief!


S has so many issues with her whole backend even past the LCP! These issues started to express themselves as far back as the show when she beat 23 other dogs including her father to get a Breed and went on to get Best Puppy in Group and a Group 3! I recall now that my friend who was showing S wondered why she was doing little hops in the ring on Day 3. We ended up pulling S from all puppy sweeps at that show and refusing to allow Juniors to take her in. The kennel owner was really upset about the Junior thing, but my husband just had this feeling that S was not herself.


And yet, S championed in that show and it did not stop there! Almost every time S went into the ring, both in that show and the one following, even as a Junior Puppy being shown as a Special, she won Select Bitch and/or Best Puppy in Breed. When we finally pulled S from the ring permanently, she was 9 months old; she was a CDN CH and she had 6 points on her GCH. She had won a Breed, multiple Best Puppy in Breed, Best Puppy in Group, Best Brace in Breed multiple times and Best Brace in Group and Show with her brother. S was the lighthouse dog for her kennel – she was “The Next Generation.” How does all of this happen with a puppy who has orthopaedic problems, that had begun to express themselves in the ring? What does this say about the Conformation Ring when a puppy like S can win time and time again, even when she had started to hop-skip a little – not enough for anyone to realize it was the beginning of LCP, but enough that I knew she was not herself?


What is really interesting is that I have since talked to several people who were at those shows watching and THEY noticed something was wrong with S but were afraid to tell me because of the potential backlash from her kennel/owner. At least one person recognized that S had orthopaedic problems and took photos of S expressing the problems at the show where she championed. I have those photos. Why didn’t the judges notice? Why didn’t anyone from S’s kennel notice? I am sitting here shaking my head about this. I was new to the sport, obviously in way over my head and not being given any help from people in my own village who had so much experience, while outsiders clearly could see the problem. Even S’s breeder was there and she noticed nothing, or if she did, she never said anything to me! I am just sick about all of this.


It is clear to me that Sara feels terrible about not recognizing that S was having problems in the ring. It is also clear that Sara is upset that someone, anyone who had more experience than she had, did not step forward to help her see that S was having difficulty. What is also obvious to me is that Sara has now lost her rosy coloured glasses for the show ring.


A new direction for kennel club regulations and breed standards

It is obvious that breeding methods resulting in genetic diseases affect the welfare of dog owners both emotionally and monetarily. It is devastating for the owner who brings home an 8-week-old shih tzu puppy only to discover 4 wk later that his or her beloved puppy has a large ventricular septal defect that has a grave prognosis. Many owners have no concept of the potential health obstacles that their newly purchased purebred dog may have to face, and they may have made very different decisions in their pet search had they anticipated the financial and emotional grief that could ensue. For dogs that require surgical intervention, continuing pharmacological management, or behavioral therapy, the stresses that are experienced by owners are numerous. Organizing and conducting multiple visits to the veterinary office for the treatment of genetic diseases imposes on the owner’s valuable time, perhaps their work, and certainly on their finances. Seeing their dog suffer physical or mental pain is emotionally taxing, even if the condition is medically manageable. Diseases that are manageable are the best-case scenario, but even then there are owners who simply cannot afford the necessary treatment(s), and end up surrendering their dog to a shelter, euthanizing it, or, alternatively, keeping it without providing treatment. Such situations are far too common, and are clearly difficult for owners to experience. These instances also depict the consequences of genetic disease on the welfare of dogs: living without treatment, undergoing the disruption of leaving home to enter an animal shelter, or being euthanized.


Koharik, A. (2007 Sep). A new direction for kennel club regulations and breed standards. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 48(9): 953–965. Retrieved on July 28, 2016@ 


Back to the Ring


This research leaves me with some serious questions about the health of the dogs, in general, in the Canadian Conformation Ring, if these results are representative of the whole. It also appears that I am not the only person concerned about this situation worldwide. The following article, discussing a documentary produced by Jemima Harrison from the BBC, focuses upon the health and welfare issues of pedigreed dogs in the ring in the UK, and the assertion that many show dogs suffer from diseases:


How Dog Shows Work

At first glance, conformation competitions seem like innocent fun generated by people with a genuine love and enthusiasm for dogs. However, some critics have lodged impassioned complaints or even disapprove of the whole system. What is it about dog shows that have these critics up in arms?

Particularly, the shows' insistence on exclusively purebred dogs and dogs' aesthetic qualities has brought up issues about the ethics of breeding. To produce winning show dogs, breeders try to breed dogs with these specific physical attributes, which means narrowing the gene pool for those kinds of dogs. In this way, breeding for physical attributes can lead to inbreeding and consequently, dogs with weaker immune systems and birth defects [source: Pitcairn].


McGrath, J. How Dog Shows Work.  Animals/Animal Facts. Retrieved on July 6 /2016 @                                          




I close this article with the following possibilities and wonders:


"Only possibilities?" you ask. There's no one answer that is right, but many answers that might work. Life explores all sorts of combinations content to find anything that works" (Wheatley&Kellner-Rogers1996, sideone, taped version). Stories are only about possibilities and from differing perspectives these possibilities may change. There are no definitive answers in this inquiry, only possibilities to consider.

Spilchuk, B. (2000). When Principals Engage in Public Acts of Resistance: Stories of Relationships. P. 201. Unpublished Dissertation. University of Alberta: Edmonton, AB.

  • First, I wonder if there isn’t a way for the Canadian Kennel Club to better monitor the health of the animals in their registry.


A new direction for kennel club regulations and breed standards

The CKC states that breeders should “select breeding stock that conforms to the approved CKC Breed Standard to the highest possible degree,” but these standards consist of exhaustive guidelines that detail the esthetic requirements of each breed (). The American Kennel Club (AKC) advocates the “advance[ment] of canine health and well-being,” but AKC Breed Standards also overemphasize typology, which is not conducive to advancing canine health (). These ongoing attempts to create the ultimate canine conformation, with continually elevated ideals, are precisely what result in detrimentally exaggerated physiques and diseased animals.


So, are kennel clubs, breeders, and veterinarians morally responsible for the current state of health of the canine purebred population? Yes, as this investigation has established, kennel clubs are strongly implicated in having created and sustained an unhealthy purebred situation. Kennel clubs such as the CKC control the actions of registered breeders and, thus, have direct responsibilities toward the animals and the breeders.


Koharik, A. (2007 Sep). A new direction for kennel club regulations and breed standards. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 48(9): 953–965. Retrieved on July 28, 2016@  


  • Second, I wonder if the CKC and/or dog show organizers, the clubs that hold dog shows, shouldn’t be responsible to have veterinary observers at the shows, observers who can tell when a dog is expressing orthopaedic problems. Below is the outline of a policy from The Kennel Club. I wonder if the CKC and Canadian Dog clubs couldn’t go even further to extend this Best of Breed Winners Veterinary Health Check to all breeds in the Conformation Ring to ensure that orthopaedic problems are exposed before dogs champion.


Best of Breed Winners

Best of Breed Winners of Category Three Breeds at General and Group Championship Shows must pass a Veterinary Health Check with the Show Society Veterinary Surgeon before they can enter the group competition. This regulation applies to the following breeds; Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Chow Chow, Dogue De Bordeaux, German Shepherd Dog, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Pekingese, Pug, Shar-Pei, St. Bernard.


Veterinary health checks: The Kennel Club. Retrieved on July27.2016 @


  • Third, a real wonder I also have is, if I can sleuth out the potential LCP line in S’s kennel, even hypothetically, why hasn’t S’s Breeder already figured this out? And if she has, why is she continuing to breed line to line and double line to line breedings that include the potential foundation LCP dog/line? But then again, S’s Breeder continues to espouse that puppies get LCP from falling off beds or playing hard with other puppies or bumping into coffee tables even though Mendelian Inheritance explains that this is highly unlikely.


Genetic Management of Dog Breed Populations

Of course, the first to pay the price are the dogs. When the breeder runs into problems there is no solution for his line (for his dogs) to keep health and well-being problems in hand. Over-use of breeding animals and lines produces dogs that possess the same genetic predisposition, deriving from the same shared ancestors. As we saw above, the effects of this on the genetic composition of the population can no longer be controlled through selection. And so it is that genetic problems become breed-specific traits.


Gubbels, E.J. (2/21/2104). Genetic Management of Dog Breed Populations. Retrieved on August 2/2016 @


  • Fourth, I also wonder why people outside of Sara’s village could see S’s problems while the people in her village could not. It has been suggested to me that maybe the winning got in the way of clear vision. The old adage, “People only see what they want to see” comes to mind.


Evaluating a Pet Dog Breeder

Is the breeder "kennel blind" (believing that their dogs are perfect) or can they tell you the strengths and weaknesses of their particular dogs? What is their goal in breeding? Is their goal consistent with your vision of an ideal pet? If they are breeding for "health and temperament," have them explain exactly what they mean. Their idea of ideal temperament and yours may differ dramatically. If their goal is to produce their next show dog, have them explain how that will translate into a good pet for you. Ear-set and tail carriage mean nothing if the dog they produces bites your children or dies of cancer before his fifth birthday.


Connick, K (2001). Evaluating a Pet Dog Breeder. Retrieved on July 6/2016 @


  • Fifth, it seems reasonable to me that young dogs should only be able to enter a limited number of categories at a show. Instead, the young ones, the puppies, have far more categories they can enter than the older dogs, the dogs who are less likely to have orthopaedic problems expressed after two years of age. I wonder why this is.


Understanding Puppy Bodies

The first consideration with puppy exercise is something called “growth plates.”  Growth plates are soft areas that sit at the ends of the long bones in puppies and young dogs.  They contain rapidly dividing cells that allow bones to become longer until the end of puberty. Growth plates gradually thin as hormonal changes approaching puberty signal the growth plates to close.  In puppies, this closure is normally completed by approximately 18 months old. Until the growth plates close, they’re soft and vulnerable to injury.  After sexual maturity, the growth plates calcify and the rapid cell division ends.  The growth plate becomes a stable, inactive, part of the bone, now known as an epiphyseal line.


Understanding Puppy Bodies. Retrieved on August 8, 2016 @


  • And Sixth, I wonder what this article and the enclosed research says, in general, about the health of dogs in the conformation ring.


The Secrecy of Defects in Dogs

So remember no matter how perfect a dog’s conformation is or how beautiful he looks or how many shows or titles he has won, beware of what may be hidden deep in the lines in the way of recessives. You will NEVER know that the recessive is there until you happen on another dog which carries that same recessive and voila, you have a big problem.


Padgett, G. DVM. The Secrecy of Defects in Dogs. Retrieved on July 26/2016 @


The Future of Show Dogs and Breeding in Canada – The Dutch Example


The following Dutch Kennel Club rules have been translated by S. Hodzic, specifically for the purpose of sharing them within this article. As you read through the bullets, think about the 12 dogs in the 3 charts found in this article. How might each bullet affect the eligibility of those dogs or the ability of their potential puppies to be registered were these articles in effect in Canada with the CKC?



Translated by S. Hodzic from:


'Article VIII.2


It is not allowed to bred a bitch to her grandfather, her father, her brother, her son and her grandson.'

In case such breeding happens resulting pups will NOT be eligible for registration, meaning they will not get a pedigree.


Inbreeding Restrictions:

According to the regulations a bitch should not be covered by her grandfather, her father, her brother, her son and her grandson. This applies to all breeds. There are also additional inbreeding restrictive rules governed by many of the breed clubs. Think of a ban to cross a bitch with a half-brother, cousin or uncle. The breedings of this type between close family members lead to high inbreeding, which may increase the risk of genetic defects. This is very undesirable. The long-term ambition is to keep a sufficient number of less related animals within any breed population and therefore advice to breeders and breed clubs to reduce inbreeding.



Translated by S. Hodzic from:


THE DHBC has an extended set of rules in its effort to restrict inbreeding:


The following combination is also not allowed: half-brother to half-sister mating.

  • This would eliminate U from registration in Holland as she comes from a half-brother/half-sister matings. Her three siblings, all CKC Ch or GCH would also be eliminated from registration in Holland. The male has never been bred in Canada but both females have been/are being bred. These dogs also come from a line where LCP has been expressed.

  • It would also have eliminated Boy A from Sara’s Story from registration there.

  • Finally, it would have eliminated all puppies from the potential breeding talked about in Sara’s Story between J and W from being registered in Holland as these puppies would come from a half-sister/half-brother mating. The puppies would also come from doubled up LCP lines on both the dam and the sire’s sides.


When making a combination it is not allowed to have double names within 3 generations visible on the future pup pedigree. It is advisable to have no double names even beyond these 3 generations.

  • Take a look at the charts above. 6 dogs have double names within the 3.5 or 4.5 generations.

  • Two dogs have triple names within the 4.5 generations and another has triple names within the 5.5 generations.


Same combination of parents is allowed to be done for a maximum of 3 times.

  • 3 of the dogs come from same parent breedings. This breeding would only be allowed one more time.


To restrict overuse of studs: A male dog is allowed to sire a maximum of 5 litters a year within the Netherlands. A litter is being defined as one living puppy.

  • It is highly likely that the dog W has already bred more than 5 litters this year. The CKC stud books for 2015 and 2016 would tell us conclusively how many litters this boy has sired over the past two years.


What is also interesting to remember is that the dogs referred to both in Sara’s Story and this article are show dogs. They are supposed to be the cream of the crop, so to speak, the lighthouse dogs for this kennel. I have to wonder what this says about the health of the other dogs from this kennel, the ones that are pet quality or the ones who were meant for the show ring but never made it into the top 50 this year.


There has to be a better way to preserve the health of the Havanese and other countries are already searching for that better way to ensure the longevity, health and preservation of the Breed as noted in these excerpts from the Dutch Kennel Club and the Dutch Havanese Breed Club Extended Rules. It’s time for the CKC to look, listen and learn from other Kennel Clubs in order to preserve breeds for future generations.


Conflicts, Tensions and Resistance


I close this research by returning to the methodology of narrative inquiry where the search for new ways of seeing and knowing are fraught with conflict, tensions and resistance for Sara, for me and for my/our audience. Clandinin clarifies the notion of resistance with the following:


We see resistance as akin to a moment Arendt (1978) might call a moment to stop and think; a moment where it might be possible to interrupt, to allow us to imagine otherwise, a moment to create something new. Resistance is not, then, an acknowledgement of vulnerability, but an acknowledgement that there is the possibility of interrupting what is ongoing. It is from these moments of resistance that we can, perhaps, more clearly see the complex contours of knowledge landscapes, not as shaped by either/or dichotomous plotlines, but as knowledge landscapes where, if we remain thoughtful, we can see ways to shift the knowledge landscapes to allow the possibility of something new. As Arendt (1978) noted, “but if the wind of thinking ... has shaken you from sleep and made you fully awake and alive, then you will see that you have nothing in your grasp but perplexities, and the best we can do with them is share them with each other” (p. 175).


Clandinin, J et al. (2015). Places of Practice – Learning to think Narratively. Narrative Works – Issues Investigations and Interventions. Retrieved on July 28/2016 at


Sara has certainly been ‘shaken’ and is now fully awakened to the problems explored within her story. As a narrative researcher, fully engaged in reliving her story with her, I too have been shaken and awakened to the problems inherent in the Conformation Ring.  Together, we have explored those problems and have presented them here for you to also consider, and, perhaps, be awakened to new ways of thinking about breeding practices in the Havanese, their impact upon the health of the breed in general, and specifically, upon the health of the dogs in the Conformation Ring.





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 both Sara’s Story and Sara’s Story Continues – The Conformation Ring. is a website organized and operated by Dr. Spilchuk dedicated to the preservation of the Havanese Breed.  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 genetic referencing as well as information about line and double line breeding within this article.  Senija has also reviewed this paper for genetic logicality. Further she has offered in translation the new regulations from the Dutch Kennel Club and the Dutch Havanese Kennel Club for consideration as possibilities regarding the enhanced protection of the Havanese Breed. 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.





All Animals Magazine (May/June 2010). The Purebred Paradox: Is the quest for the "perfect" dog driving a genetic health crisis? Retrieved on June 29, 2016 @


American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (07/13/2010). A Clean Bill of Health:  What Causes Hereditary Health Problems? Retrieved on August  8.2016 @


Autosomal Recessive Inheritance retrieved on July 24/2016 @  


Beuchat, C. PhD. (12/5/2013). The pox of the popular sire. Retrieved on July 26/2016 @


Beuchat, C. PhD. (6/4/2015). COI FAQS: Understanding the Coefficient of Inbreeding


Clandinin, J et al. (2015). Places of Practice – Learning to think Narratively. Narrative Works – Issues Investigations and Interventions. Retrieved on July 28/2016 at


Connelly and Clandinin (2006). Narrative inquiry. In J. L. Green, G. Camilli, & P. Elsmore (Eds). Handbook of complimentary methods in education research (3rd ed.). (pp. 477-487), Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Connick, K (2001). Evaluating a Pet Dog Breeder. Retrieved on July 6/2016 @


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