of all I would like to say that I am very excited
about chairing the Health Committee. We have a
lot of work ahead of us. Bobbie Kelley left a good
foundation and lots of material she had collected.
Working on this committee will be rewarding and
eye opening. In this report I hope to give you
an over view of some of the health topics that
I wish to delve into. I would also love to hear
from members who may have ideas. Some of the things
that I have in mind will require participation
from those outside the committee. We will be looking
for feedback on some things that I will go into
One of the topics of discussion has been an award for health clearances.
This isn't as easy as it sounds. If we reward a dog for achieving all
possible health clearances, it gives the impression that the dog is genetically
clear of all these potential problems. In fact, that is not true. A dog
that passes a test only meant that he/she is phenotypically clear of
that disease. It does not make a statement regarding the dog's genetic
health. To recognize a dog for it's health clearances sets that dog up
for John ! Public to think that dog should be the dog to breed to, get
puppies from, etc. In reality this may not be true. When seeking to give
an award of this type we have to look at what we are trying to accomplish.
We need more health clearances in the breed from all factions. Awarding
a dog for it's health clearances sets up a bit of a competition for more
dogs to get more clearances. But, it would probably only be club members
whose dogs are getting a number of clearances anyway. The problem is
that most club members are already doing the health clearances that they
feel comfortable with doing. This type of award does not affect all those
people showing up in the stud registry every year without clearances
of any type. Those are the people we have to find and educate. We could
award a dog for his/her clear offspring, but even that can be misleading.
A dog with a great track record for offsprinng clearances could be bred
to a different bitch with disastrous results simply because of a different
mix of genes. But, this at least, is a step in the right direction and
does give us at least some useful information.
We could award the owner of the dog, but still we are only getting mostly
club members who are already doing a certain amount of testing. We could
give an award to a breeder who gets testing done on all of the dogs in
a litter. That too, is a step in the right direction since it will likely
include non-club members. We need those with working dogs that are breeding,
the occasional breeder, the backyard breeder and the show breeders. We
need information from all of them. Health is not a club issue. Health
is a breed issue and transends all boundaries. How to reach and encourage
all these people to participate in genetic testing is the big question.
There seems to be the mentality that if you don't belong to a club and
are not showing, you should not be breeding. In Germany they have a breed
warden who helps determine who is going to be bred and when. While I
see the merits in this type of syste, that is not the way it works in
this country. It is probably most obvious in the sporting breeds. I will
use Golden Retrievers as an example. There are show/conformation breeders,
there are field working dog breeders, the obedience competition breeders,
and the back yard breeders. If you stand a show Golden next to a field
Golden next to a back yard bred Golden, you are going to see three vastly
different dogs, but they are all three Goldens. In an ideal situation
the show breeder is also breeding for field work and the sportsman is
also breeding for conformation. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal
society. In the Kuvasz we have the show breeders, to a lesser extent
the working breeder, and the occasional or back yard breeder. Is the
rancher wrong to have a litter of Kuvasz puppies? Of course not. Many
show breeders will not place their puppies in working homes and many
who seek working puppies only want them from working parents. Some ranchers
know more about genetics than most of us, some of them don't. Unfortunately
there are also show breeders that do not know as much about genetics
as they should. Are all the ranchers x-raying their dogs? No, unfortunately,
not. Most of these working dogs have to be fit to be able to do their
jobs, just as a hunting dog has to be able to hunt. The majority of these
dogs probably have clear hips, but most are not x-rayed to prove it.
Is the backyard breeder wrong for wanting to breed a litter of puppies?
They are not necessarily wrong for wantint to, but may perhaps be wrong
in the way they are going about it, probably unprepared for everything
involved, may not pick the best choice for a mate, amy not be doing the
necessary genetic testing, know how to socialize a litter or pick the
right people to have a Kuvasz puppy. What is needed in all these situations
- including the show breeder - is education. How do we go about it? That
is the BIG question. If we can reach them, we can educate them. How we
approach them is very important. We cannot educate them by alienating
them right from the get go. We cannot start out by pointing fingers and
telling them thay are doing things wrong. Most people want to do the
right thing and when it is explained to them tactfully, are more than
willing to try to work within guidelines. We all talk about our small
gene pool. We actually have several very small gene pools that rarely
overlap. We NEED information from all of them.
If we ever get around to do another survey, I would like to tackle this
problem. We could call veterinarians in our cities, ask if they have
any Kuvasz clients, send them fthe forms for the survey along with postage
and ask them to send out to their clients. We could post information
in large metropolitan newspapers (not cheap), post on bulletin boards,
training facilities, internet bulletin boards, etc.etc.etc. It would
require the participation of every resource we can uncover. In the meantime
we will still be looking at some type of an award program. If anyone
out there has any ideas, please don't hesitate to come forward.
One of the things that I am very interested in regarding the Kuvasz is
diet. I am not a nutritionist, just a dog person who is trying to see
the logic behind feeding or not feeding a packaged processed diet. I
have long been a firm believer that many of the problems we are seeing
are diet related - no proof, but a believer none the less! Last year
I had an opportunity to put my theory to the test regarding thyroid.
I had a bitch who had been on the thin side going into the winter of
96-97. I increased her food intake. Then spring arrived and I suddenly
realized that it all wasn't hair, she looked like the good year blimp.
I began dieting her - possibly too severely. Two months later her hair
was falling out in BIG clumps down to bare skin. Took her to the vet
where her thyroid T4 level was at .8. I reluctantly agreed to putting
her on a thyroid supplement. In the meantime I consulted with a homotoxocologist,
Marina Zacharias. I have consulted Marina over the years for many things
with successful results. After talking with Marina we decided to leave
my bitch on the supplement for 6 weeks to help her get back on track.
Marina also sent me some products to help boost her thyroid production
naturally. The problem with putting the dogs on the thyroid supplement
is that it puts their thyroid gland on vacation. It no longer has any
reason to function because you are giving them a pill to do it for them.
The plan was to tape her off the thyroid meds and the herbal meds after
the six weeks. I discussed this with my vet who surprised me with her
support. Also during this time we decided to try a different food. The
food we had been using contained soy, and I have since read two articles
on how soy inhibits the thyroid gland's ability to absorb necessary nutrients.
One article even mentions soy being associated with ovulation inhibitors.
The manufacturer of the food we chose swore to me that there was enough
nutrients in the food so that we did not need to supplement with kelp
or anything else. I am fortunately or unfortunately a doubting Thomas,
but decided to give it a try. We began tapering the meds off and checking
the thyroid levels all the way through. In the beginning they were in
the high normal range. At the end they were in the mid-normal range.
Four weeks after all the meds were ceased I held my breath for the thyroid
results - NORMAL! mid-range. It has been nearly a year since all this
started, but I am happy to report that her thyroid function is still
in the normal mid-range. This one instance is not enough to prove or
disprove how diet affects the thyroid gland. It is something about which
I would like to get more information.
We all need to look closely at what we are feeding the dogs. We could
live if we ate at a fast food restaurant 3 meals a day for life. But,
would we be healthy? We have been feeding fast food to the dogs. They
live, but are they healthy? Sure the dog food companies tout that their
bags contain 100% nutrition. They said the same thing 20 years ago, but
they found things were mmissing and changed the formula over the years.
Many cats died from 100% complete nutrition because their food did not
contain taurine. We really need to quit being robots and begin questioning
some of the things we are told and especially be guarded about who is
telling us. Your veterinarian may not be the best source for nutritional
information. He did not likely take a course on nutrition in vet school.
Most of what he knows about nutrition was learned from the dog food companies
of the foods to be sold in the clinic. The all natural diets that are
being touted right now could also be dangerous. Many of them may be just
as faulty as the packaged diets. A dog's diet does not have to have 100%
nutrition in every meal just as our diets do not. But, over the course
of a few days or a couple of weeks, the mix needs to be such that all
vital nutrients are included - just as our diets do. How diet affects
health is something else I would like to know
Another one of my soap boxes is over vaccination. I have been doing titer
testing for several years now and gathering data. Did you know there
is probably no reason to vaccinate your dog after his initial puppy shots?
Did you know that the American Veterinary Association announced last
year that they are no longer recommending an annual schedule of vaccinations,
but now recommend a 3 year schedule? Did you know that Dr Jean Dodd has
been campaiging against over vaccination for 25 years? How many of the
veterinarians of our readers are still pushing annual vaccinations? We
vaccinate our children when young, but do not continue to do it year
after year after year. It is an unnecessary attack on the immune system
to continue to inject virus into our dogs. There are two types of titers
that can be run, but I will only refer to one type here as it is the
one we first started to use. I have not been able to find a Kuvasz with
a higher titer than 1:250 including total unrelated dogs. That is a high
enough titer that the dog is protected against parvo or whatever. This
particular scale says that 1:64 is protective. But, if a bitch with a
titer of 1:250 has puppies, she can only pass to her puppies the titer
that she has. It is known that puppies lose half of the maternal titer
every 2 weeks. So at 4 weeks Kuvasz puppies no longer have a protective
titer. I can tell you that 4 week old puppies do not have an immune system
well developed enough to mount a response to vaccination. The immune
system of most 6 week old puppies is mature enough to mount a response.
And I can tell you that they maintain that response with only 2-3 shots
of the newer higher titer vaccines. And that's it. We continue to titer
test - not vaccinate. Some of our older guys no longer get titer testing.
I have a lot of information that I can share regarding titer testing
in future articles. I would like to know if anyone else is doing titer
testing and the results? Anyone else that has not done titer testing
that is interested in pursuing this, please report results.
Showisht Magazine December 98 has a short little survey regarding Thyroid.
One of the questions deals with our beliefs whether thyroid is genetic
or environmental. So I am not the only one thinking about this. In this
same issue is an article on page 150 titles "On the Soy and More" by
BJ Andrews. It also mentions the adversity of soy to thyroid gland activity.
Does anyone want to help dig into this a little further? Anyone who has
a dog with a thyroid problem who wants to discuss this, please feel free
to call me. You would need the support of your veterinarian to try a
The February 1999 issue of Dog Fancy Magazine has a good beginner article
on vaccinations and another one on Omega fatty acids (another one of
my soap boxes). We are going to see a big swing in canine care over the
next few years. Many people have already gone back to the more natural
approach for dog care. Dogs on the farm were never sick! Sometimes progress
just isn't what it seems.
The Health Committee, among other things, will be bringing you up to
date information on a variety of health topics in future newsletters.
There are so many things that I want to know. How many puppies have been
raised on vitamin C? How many were dysplattic and how many were not?
How many were raised on puppy food? How many were raised on one of the
new Large Breed Puppy Growth formulas? How many puppies have been raised
on a glucosamine/condroitin sulfate supplement? How many were dysplastic
and how many were not? How many of us are doing titer testing? How many
of us are using nosodes? How many of us are using a natural diet? How
many of us are having thyroid problems? Well, these are just some of
the things that I want to know. Do you want to know, too? I think we
have the answers, we just have to accumulate the information. Linda Arndt
worked with Great Danes on some studies regarding OCD, etc. with some
surprising results. We have a large body of people and dogs just within
this club. Working together we may be able to find some answers on our
own. If we wait for some university study to be funded and include the
Kuvasz, we could be waiting for a long time. If we share information
with one another, we could get a great headstart, and I hope I have you