CORRELATION BETWEEN HIP DYSPLASIA (HD) AND OTHER PROBLEMS AND SO MUCH MORE
By Patricia H. Gilbert
A person asked: “Does anyone think that hip dysplasia (or other orthopedic problems, e.g., cranial cruciate ligament rupture) correlates with a type of construction or movement in Afghan Hounds, be it degree of angulation or extension at the trot?”
The following response can be applied to many of the purebred breeds, not just Afghan Hounds.
I don't believe we have Afghan Hound breeders that deliberately select for health issues. I do believe that as in everything, we have people that are not as well informed as they could be. It is difficult to properly consider health issues in the Afghan Hound when the Afghan Club of America is not part of the AKC Health Data Base program. The Health Data base would provide the breeder with an essential tool in their breeding program.
It is unconscionable for someone to breed for joint laxity and HD to improve a gait. Clearly they are not living with the long term results. The poor pet owners and their dogs are.
Cranial cruciate ligament ruptures invariably happen when an animal is not in proper muscle tone and condition and then asked to do an intense physical exercise such as lure coursing.
I wrote an article for Performance Sighthound magazine on “Conditioning the Weekend Warrior”. I gave the basics on how to exercise and condition a Sighthound so that when we ask him to run full out and twist and turn, he will avoid many injuries. You can find that article on our website in the Abridged Newsletter Section.
Degree or extension at the trot? The trot is not really the Afghan Hound's working gait unless one considers the show ring trot its working gait. Don't laugh. Many people are selecting for construction that helps the dog excel at the show ring trot. When you select for a purpose, then a breed changes. Selecting for a stronger wide open, etc. trot has to do things to conformation. Two things off the top of my head are, create a longer body and flatten the pelvic angle. These two features are not desirable in the Afghan Hound since we call out for a square dog and a steep pelvis to aid in galloping and jumping ability in rough terrain.
We have taken natural selection from the process and choose for certain virtues. The virtues as outlined in the Breed Standard were based on a blend of function and esthetics. Since we really have no harsh environments to weed out the non-functional from our Afghan Hound breeding pools, we really need to be very careful what we breed.
The poorly built and stupid Afghan Hounds no longer fall off the mountain or die in the desert because they can not keep up or hunt.
We are mostly breeding esthetics. That does not mean we can forget basic original purpose and function. If we study the origins, and what it takes to function, then we are better equipped to breed.
I personally believe that above all we must look to wonderful phenotype (what the dog looks like) first and then to genotype (what the dog is genetically) next if we are to breed great dogs.
I also believe that since we do have testing available for some problems and diseases, that it is foolish not to require checks on our dogs before we breed them.
Imagine one woman wanted to use my stud dog without a brucellosis test! Brucellosis is a sexually or mucous membrane (nose, mouth, tongue, etc.) transmitted disease that has no cure. It renders dogs sterile and bitches will not conceive, may abort, absorb the puppies etc. Brucellosis has decimated many kennels and breeding programs. It is infectious and has no cure. Why then would I breed to an untested bitch or take my bitch to an untested stud dog? Risk everything because someone was too cheap to do a $45 blood test?
We have a large enough gene pool of Afghan Hounds with superb phenotype. We can have the luxury of breeding to those dogs that have good and compatible genotype and that are testing clear of those diseases than concern us.
After all isn't that what animal husbandry and breeding good dogs is about?