ABC Breed Health Survey

Sarah E. Price & Pam Boyer

Please use the following link to share the survey:

You may not be aware of this, but breed clubs have a hefty responsibility for the health of their breed. There are four areas within which the ABC has duties (Bass 2005:17) based on the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) guidelines:

  • Conduct accurate, periodic surveys of the breed to identify what problems that the breed is subject to, and the relative importance of the identified problems;
  • Provide funding for research projects that address problems in the breed, as well as more general canine health issues;
  • Organize and carry out sample acquisition, along with supporting pedigree information–as well as provide convincing assurance to membership of the security of the information;
  • Update their membership on supported work, progress, and outcomes.

This responsibility to breed health is in ABC’s constitution. (Section2[d]) states the fourth objective of the club is “To further understanding of the disease, defects, injuries and other ailments that afflict Beaucerons.”

The ABC has done a good job of funding, obtaining and submitting samples for the DCM study. What the club has not officially done since 2010 is conduct a formal survey of health issues within the breed. In 2017, there was an informal poll in a Facebook group, but it was not an official survey conducted by the Health Committee nor published in the Bulletin. Breed health surveys not only provide guidance and input on issues for research and funding, but they are the baseline for the CHIC standard for Beaucerons and determined by the ABC.

The AKC CHF provides grants to scientists, as well as breed clubs, to conduct problem or breed-specific research, and you can easily support these efforts by merely joining Purina Pro Club, which provides funding both to the CHF and directly to the ABC.

The most current OFA dataset, from December 2019, indicates very few issues in the breed. However, most dogs that are tested and submitted would not be those known or believed to have issues. The Health Committee encourages you to visit the OFA website and do some research of your own.

This survey is considered the first phase of questions, and the purpose is for the Health Committee (Pam Metts Boyer) to get a feel for Beauceron owner and breeder concerns regarding the health of the breed. The responses to this survey will help the Health Committee determine the direction(s) to move toward regarding future testing, funding, and research. It will also help guide what kinds of information the Health Committee can disseminate that you, the owners and breeders, might find useful and informative regarding health.

As large-breed owners, we know that DCM is a concern, and unfortunately, there is no solution for prevention or treatment yet. There is already a significant amount of research geared toward understanding this terrible disease, and the ABC has made contributions to this end. There may be conditions that are viewed as “large breed” or size-related versus breed-related. Examples that might not be so obvious would be HOD, a growth-related disorder that can be debilitating for puppies, or even panosteitis. These afflictions are most often attributed to large, fast-growing breeds, but is there a genetic component or breed-specific component to this disease?

The Health Committee would like to hear from owners AND breeders about the health issues and diseases they are concerned with, have observed or heard about, or have directly experienced. The survey is entirely anonymous, and we hope to have a full pool of participants. If you are a breeder, you have probably seen or experienced more than most owners, so do not be afraid to share! You do not have to search through records or try to remember specifics, simply check all boxes that apply. By keeping the survey oriented around this broad goal of concerns, we can begin the process of narrowing down where to spend time, energy, and money for the health of the Beauceron.

What will the survey cover? The list of health issues is derived from health issues and diseases based on the previous survey, the OFA Berger Picard health survey, the problems listed in several other herding breeds, and reviewed by a veterinarian. The options are grouped into general categories and you can select as many as are applicable. There are also options to add something that is not listed, and to add comments.

So please participate, and share with all fellow Beauceron owners. The survey will be open and available for two weeks, after which the Health Committee will report on the results. The survey will then be permanently available on the ABC website and updates provided as needed.

Please participate and please share and encourage fellow Beauce owners to complete the survey!