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An exploration of attitudes towards pedigree dogs and their disorders as expressed by a sample of companion animal veterinarians in New Zealand

Authors: Keown AJ, Farnworth MJ, Farrow T
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 62, Issue 5, pp 267-273, Sep 2014
Publisher: Taylor and Francis


AIMS: To explore veterinary perceptions of inherited disorders in pedigree dogs within New Zealand and how these affect animal health and welfare.

METHODS: An online questionnaire was distributed to the 647 members of the Companion Animal Society of the New Zealand Veterinary Association using an online survey system. The questionnaire collected details of practitioners, pedigree dog breeds and disorders most often encountered in practice, and responses to questions and statements regarding inherited disorders and pedigree dogs.

RESULTS: Of the 216 respondents, 194 (89.8%) believed inherited disorders in dogs were a significant issue. The most commonly identified breeds presenting with inherited disorders were Boxer, Bulldog and German Shepherd dog. The most commonly reported inherited disorders were hip dysplasia, brachycephalic syndromes and elbow dysplasia. Of 207 respondents, 100 (48.3%) had advised clients against purchasing a pedigree dog due to common inherited disorders and 183 (85.6%) considered the health and welfare of some breeds to be too compromised to continue breeding. Of 199 respondents, 132 (66.3%) reported seeing no change in prevalence of inherited conditions, 103/204 (50.5%) reported seeing a positive change in attitudes towards inherited disorders among dog owners, and 81/207 (39.1%) thought legislative support would help decrease inherited disorders in pedigree dogs. Attitudes were not associated with time since graduation or ownership of a New Zealand Kennel Club registered breed of dog. The most common suggestions to decrease prevalence of inherited disorders were to alter breed standards, educate public or buyers and compulsory genetic testing.

CONCLUSIONS: Among respondents, veterinarians considered inherited disorders as significant issues in a number of pedigree breeds. Veterinarians were concerned about inherited disorders in pedigree dogs, felt they had an obligation to treat such animals and were supportive of measures to make genetic testing for inheritable disorders a requirement for registration of pedigree breeds.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Prevalence and perceived importance of inherited disorders influences how clinicians advise their clients. Respondents to this survey provided a number of mechanisms by which inherited disorders may be managed and these could form the basis of future discussions within the profession.

KEY WORDS: Animal welfare, breed standards, congenital, dog, inherited disorder, pedigree, veterinary services
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