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Slow boat to Oblivion?

Lisa-Marie Mackie of Tasmania writes:

While I have only one Stafford, my main breed, the American Cocker, is fraught with unfortunate man-made and man-accelerated diseases and "ailments."

In 40-odd short years since the breed was separated from the English Cocker, we have contributed slowly and surely to its downfall by overbreeding, overpopularising, and undertesting for hereditary problems.

The breed has become a veritable minefield of debilitating disorders which, if we had had only a handful of caring and knowledgeable people such as in the Stafford world today, could perhaps have been halted or at least brought under a reasonable control.

One Sunday, I mentioned to a couple of the Stafford people at a show here in Tasmania that I intended to have my Stafford X-rayed and eye-tested, and believe it or not they actually laughed at me and said that even if there were a problem I would never be able to do anything about it. But I could, indeed, do something about it. If he should have a problem, I simply would never breed from him. Even if nothing shows up, he might be a carrier although his breeding does not suggest it.

But one never knows.

I suspect that half of the Stafford people today have never seen a blind dog (of any breed) and the infernal pain it goes through every day. Nor have they ever seen a dog with distichiasis, eye discharge running down its face and the ultimate "dry eye" and corneal ulcers from being in contact with the eyelashes all the time.

They probably have not witnessed the sheer agony of a dog scratching itself to shreds from a thyroid disorder and the skin ailments associated with it.

Perhaps some of these things may never come to pass in the Stafford, but it only takes one isolated case, bred to another isolated case and suddenly it becomes a full-blown Breed problem.

Is type worth risking a dog's health for?

To my way of thinking, emphatically not.

One so-called breeder pushed my dog to the ground in a "frog-dog" position and said I need not X-ray my dog because he couldn't do that if there were a problem with his hips. Perhaps, but the new PennHip rating is on hip laxity -- not just the actual ball and socket of hip dysplasia. Hip laxity can stem from many factors such as diet, environment, and even maternal laxity.

I would hate to see the Stafford suffer the same problems that are driving other breeds to extinction due to neglect or lack of knowledge or "head in the sand" syndrome of the breeders and fanciers.

It only takes a bit of education to begin eradicating the problem, but of course not everyone wants to listen and pay heed.

Those that refuse have bought tickets on a slow boat to Oblivion.

Lisa-Marie


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