Comments roundup: including mange, CEA, Dandies, etc.

I’ve been working 20 hours a day for a couple of days so I haven’t been able to respond to comments–I figured it was about time to hit a bunch of them. Some of these are quite antique, but I thought they all deserved some attention.

From Samantha:

Does this pup have mange?

A friend of ours called yesterday,some kids in his youth group found a pup and couldn’t find an owner,so they were trying to find a home for it.Knowing the town they found it in,I took would have ended up who knows where.It has some scabs and patches of fur missing.He doesn’t seem uncomfortable or itchy,but he’s pretty skinny.Advice??

First of all, congrats on your new puppy. I hope it works out with him or you’re able to find a great home for him.

Any time a puppy has been neglected, fed substandard food, or stressed (and in this case all three), there’s a possibility of mange getting a foothold. Without seeing the puppy I couldn’t tell you whether that’s what you’re looking at, but it would certainly be a good first guess.

There are two types of mange that you have to worry about: demodex (which is caused by tiny tiny mites that live on every dog’s skin but go out of control when a dog has a depressed immune system) and sarcops (which is caused by a larger mite that burrows in the skin and causes intense itching).

Demodex is always the first thing you think of when a neglected puppy looks less than sleek. It causes hairless patches, crusting/scabbing, pink skin, and in severe cases can take over the whole body. If you’re looking at just a few patches, don’t treat it. Let the puppy’s own body fight it off as he recovers from his recent trauma. Feed him very well (raw diet is best, but if not that a very good kibble–let me know if you need recommendations), worm the heck out of him (a puppy with no history I’d personally use Panacur/SafeGuard on, but you can also use Strongid or one of the other pyrantel brands), and bathe him. As he gets healthy the patches will go away on their own.

If a puppy is not only scabby but intensely itchy, especially on the margins of the ears, you can suspect sarcops mange. It’s the same mite that causes scabies in humans, and it IS transmissable from dogs to people so watch for itchy patches on your own skin. Sarcops used to require a major treatment with super-poisonous insecticide, but now thankfully most dogs can be treated with a course of Revolution. I don’t recommend Revolution on a regular basis–I think it’s much too powerful to be used as a standard heartworm/worming/flea regimen–but for sarcops mange it’s perfect.

If you see fleas, by the way, the scabs can be flea bite dermatitis. I don’t know where you are in the world but fleas are a year-round problem in many areas. If you suspect them, add a course of Frontline or Advantage (no cheapo brands like Zodiac or Hartz) and apply between the shoulder blades two days after the bath.

Good luck and keep us updated!

From Carolyn:

So . . . does that mean that you’re going to nationals, or is that hypothetical for the future (as in Gettysburg 2010).

We were originally planning to go this year, but the fire pretty much killed our chances. I went to the 2005 Nationals in Sturbridge (long before I even had a Cardi) and my goal is to make it a yearly event once kids are big enough to be left for the week. 2010 is a very good possibility, especially if I have anything to show.

From John:

Hi Joanna….Purchased a great dane pup from you a couple years ago and I have to tell you…….AMAZING dog…simply stunning…he practically stops traffic when we are out for walks….He came from a litter that was welped @ june 2006….anyway….thanks again… John Gilman

I was SO thrilled to get this comment. John and his partner are wonderful owners and one of my favorite puppy applicants. And their boy was stunning in the whelping box–good to know he fulfilled his promise.

From Cait:

What happens though, when you end up with a disease gene that simply ends up super-widespread in a relatively diverse population? A low COI won’t help you then. Collies have a decent gene pool compared to many other breeds (The American fancy was well-established before the world wars). Eliminating affected dogs WOULD produce a bottleneck, and even simply breeding for non-affected carriers is going to bottleneck things to some degree.)

I don’t know the answers to these questions and I don’t know who to ask to find out. (Also, any books you can recommend on population genetics? I’m curious.)

You’re talking about CEA, I’m guessing. Collie Eye Anomaly is one of those diseases that there are not easy answers for. Because the gene for it is so incredibly widespread, there’s a real danger that in working to eradicate it you’d heavily weight the gene pool to just a few dogs. Add to that the fact that mildly affected dogs have no issues with quality of life and you might be tempted to say “Well, just ignore it” (as long as it’s mild, that is). What I am not sure of, and you may have better insight into this than I (since I am not a collie person) is whether two mildly affected dogs can produce puppies that are much more affected and have a decrease in quality of life. If that’s the case, there is  more ethical pressure to remove it from the breed.

From what I’ve seen, with the widespread testing that the collie fancy is doing, there’s a great effort to understand the true scope and effect of the disease. That’s exactly the right response; without knowing exactly how deleterious a genetic disease is you can’t make good choices about whether or not to work hard to erase it.

From Nancy:

I have a friend who has had Dandie Dinmonts for years. It is one of those breeds that seems to be heading for disaster. They are saying it is time to outbreed. Bring in some new genetic material, which will have to come outside the breed; perhaps dachsund. Do you feel that this is the only solution? When the genetic pool becomes so small and phenotype so important is it not a given that health and longevity begins to suffer? I am a firm believer in purebred dogs, but sometimes worry that too many breeders focus on looks rather than performance. There will always be those that just don’t want to know if their breeders are carriers. I am also a firm believer in working breeds being able to work, a herder being able to herd, etc.

When a breed is completely backed into a corner and there literally is nowhere for it to go (there are no pockets of healthy dogs anywhere) accessing new genetic material can be the only moral solution. We have to remember that these dogs didn’t ask to exist; we produced them. So if we’ve inadvertently or accidentally or as the result of a disaster (like a war or epidemic) ended up with a breed that experiences a significantly reduced lifespan or quality of life, I would argue that leaving the situation as-is is not acceptable.

I am not sure of which specific disorders in the Dandie are perceived as the worst (please come back and tell us about them, because information on the breed is understandably scarce) but I think if going into a different breed is ultimately decided to be the right thing, the choice of breed is going to be key.

I would never, personally, go to the Dachshund. That’s not because I don’t love them–but they have a concentration of health problems of their own and you want to access the healthiest possible group of dogs. This is not any kind of official recommendation, but just spitballing they may want to look at Border Terriers and Skyes, Sealyhams, Scotties and Bedlingtons maybe? If I were running the circus, I would definitely NOT stick to only one breed. I’d work on re-creating the breed the way the  breed founders did, by mixing the more primitive types and trying to come as close as possible to the original contributors to the breed, using the healthiest possible modern examples. It’s the kind of thing that could be done superbly or could be done disastrously, so a lot is at stake. I know the Sloughi people used DNA mapping and were able to determine with some fair accuracy some of the progenitor/early breeds that mixed with both the Sloughi and the Saluki, so that may be a possibility at least to rule in or out some contributor breeds.

From MCatLuvr:

I sent you a email a few weeks back but it got lost or you are so busy you missed it. :) How is Bramble and Elvis? Any new pics to share or time to share them?

Bramble is being boarded right now, so no pics of him that are recent. The kennel says he’s doing very well and behaving himself perfectly. Elvis/Bastoche/That Wicked Dog is thriving–I just saw him a couple of days ago and he is hilarious and perfect. He’s incredibly, astonishingly, smart and every time I see him he’s got some crazy new trick or behavior.

From Sarah K

Joanna, There is a Vallhund lost somewhere in your general area, and her last sighting is amazingly like Clue, swiped by a car, and the dog hasn’t been seen. Would you be so kind as to provide me any kind of contact info for the tracking dogs that helped when Clue was lost? The owner would like to contact them to see if she can hire them or others to help find this little lost Vallhund.

I am SO SORRY that I didn’t see this until yesterday. I feel like an idiot that I didn’t see it. The tracking club is based out of the kennel we have our dogs in: American K9 Country in Amherst NH. I am praying that this little dog has been found.

From Kim:

Another dog question. My DD is convinced she’s ready for her own dog. She’s four, nearly five. She wants her own protection dog. Ha! I told her that we all have to start with obedience and at least two other dog activities before we’re good enough to handle protection dogs. She’s most interested in the local therapy dogs group. I’m not sure what else to explore with her and I’m looking for breed suggestions as well as activity suggestions. We will always have at least one German Shepherd. We have at least a year to decide. What’s the best breed for us?

Well, you KNOW I’m going to recommend Cardis, especially for a person who likes Shepherds. There’s a lot of overlap in personality and trainability.

If you’re looking at a genuine small/toy breed, she’s a little young yet. She’s exactly the same age as Tabitha and we’re still supervising Tabi very carefully with Ginny. But the more time I’ve spent with Papillons the more I like them–they’re merry, happy dogs that are incredibly trainable and love everyone. I think Cavaliers are absolutely fabulous, and they’d be my very top recommendation if they didn’t have the horrible heart problems that they do. Cavaliers are perhaps the breed least likely to ever bite a child, at least from my conversations with breeders and trainers. Boston Terriers would round out my little-dogs-in-families top recommendations.

One size up I’d look at miniature poodles (well-bred ones are amazing), English Cockers, etc. My Dane mentor used to have Tibetan Terriers and loved them (and raised them with two kids); some temperaments in the breed are iffy but they’re a very beautiful and fun dog to own.

We’re running out the door, so I’m going to publish this now and come back and add more later.


4 thoughts on “Comments roundup: including mange, CEA, Dandies, etc.

  1. As to the collie thing, I am not a breeder but have had collies for 20 years now and am always trying learn new things about my favorite breed. Apparently CEA was rampant in the 60’s and instead of throwing out every dog with any problem they started breeding the least affected to each other and that has, over time reduced the incidence of it. In this case they did not throw the baby out with the bath water.

    PRA – the other eye disease in collies still crops up. A friend of mine just went through a couple of years test breeding her stock once she found out she had the gene. Now her task would be easier – they have found the gene for PRA and the test for it came out late last year.

    We have a new problem which is the MDR1 gene. A mutation in the breed apparently in the middle 1800’s it had no bad effects until paired with modern veterinary medicine. Luckily the gene was found and we can test for this one too. That enables us to avoid the medicines that interact badly with this gene. This is one where we will have to slowly breed away from it because it is suspected that over 60% of collies have at least one copy of this gene.

    In the words of Rosanne Rosannadanna It’s always something!

  2. Kathy’s MUCH more experienced than I am with the collies! I just feel somewhat like I’m working in a vacuum, since the local folks- who I really do respect, but do not totally agree with on health testing- consider milds to just not be a big deal. Mild to mild, you mostly get milds. But I want NORMAL- not just mild. And apparently breeding normal (carrier) x mild, you don’t know what the carrier side of that gene pair is going to produce, so you may get half non-affected carriers and half severely affecteds- you just don’t know. (A dog I talked to the owner of is normal eyed carrier and sounds like a good match; he produces normals but among his affected pups ARE coloboumas- not many at all, but a few. Do I breed to him, or the affected dog that I know who has not ever produced an eye check worse (or better) that mild CRC?

    In a lot of ways, I wish that you could apply for an outcross breeding license, do an outcross to a health-screened individual from a list of pre-selected related breeds (say, English and Welsh Shepherds, possibly BCs – for the collies), register the puppies as like, foundation or something, and bring them back into full registry status say, 3 generations down the road; not allow any ‘foundation’ registered dogs bred to each other to essentially maintain a majority of the breed’s genepool as original. Type would take a hit, but it sure would make health decisions easier.

  3. Check out this site

    This is around 10 years old by the looks of it and I don’t know what happened after but the pictures show how fast you can get boxer type back after a cross with a pembroke corgi. They were trying to get the bob tail gene in boxers in anticipation of a docking ban in the UK and Europe. Makes you wonder how many generations it would take to get type back with other outcrosses.

  4. I have a Tibetan Terrier – we got her when my sisters were 4 and 6. I am now 23 and she’s 12. She’s fantastic with kids (our family didn’t know jack about dogs, so she was in plenty of inappropriate situations with young children), has never bitten or snapped at anyone, is reasonably trainable though has a mind of her own, and is a hilarious, quirky dog to own. She’s also had nearly perfect health, barring some accidents. The only thing that isn’t great is the amount of grooming necessary, but I keep her clipped short so I don’t have to detangle and always be fishing twigs and ticks out of long hair. She’s a great size too, 15″ at the shoulder and 22 lbs, and sturdily built. I recommend these dogs to everyone (although I would vet temperament carefully because while the majority I have met have been sweethearts, if cautious, there are a few that are very fearful and will snap).

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