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Impish Iggies

JULY 4TH - LOST DOG PREPARDNESS AND PREVENTION

Tatum Clinton Miller

My American readers are likely well-aware that tomorrow is the Fourth of July, more commonly known as “The Day Terror Rains from the Sky” for many of our dogs. Because so many dogs experience fear at the sound of nearby exploding fireworks, it’s unfortunately quite common for panic-stricken dogs to escape their house or yard in a rush to flee from the perceived threat, ultimately ending up lost and far from home. In fact, more pets get lost around the 4th of July than any other time of year, so it’s a serious issue all responsible dog owners should take time to address.

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IS CROSSING TWO BREEDS MORE OR LESS LIKELY TO PRODUCE HEALTH PROBLEMS THAN BREEDING TWO PUREBREDS?

Tatum Clinton Miller

The bottom line is that highly homozygous animals have a higher probability of suffering from the negative effects of inbreeding depression than animals with a greater degree of heterozygosity. Purebreds, crosses, and mixes alike are all affected equally by this principle. Ultimately, maintaining genetic diversity for maximum health should be one of every dog breeder’s most important goals. Even the best health screening ultimately cannot emulate the major benefits of genetic diversity on canine health, and any breed or population whose diversity is allowed to be continually lost is at risk for future extinction.

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IS YOUR ITALIAN GREYHOUND FAT?

Tatum Clinton Miller

Italian Greyhounds seem to be prone to obesity for this reason. As a naturally thin and delicately built breed, few people are aware of what a fit vs. fat IG looks like and many mistakenly assume that a healthy weight dog is underweight and overfeed them as a result. Therefore, I wanted to make this small guide to help educate pet owners on how to properly assess whether their Iggy is at a healthy weight.

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WHICH DOG BREEDS ARE HEALTHIEST? IT'S A TRICK QUESTION!

Tatum Clinton Miller

It's impossible to single out specific breeds as objectively being the “most unhealthy” due to the complexity of categorizing and measuring the impact of genetic diseases with the current lack of quality data. Furthermore, no breed should truly be considered “genetically healthy,” though they may perhaps be phenotypically healthy; this incorrectly suggests that some breeds have few or no disease-causing alleles, and that achieving genetic health is a simple matter of identifying every faulty gene and eliminating it from the gene pool. The reality is that every breed has health issues, and every breed is capable of becoming highly diseased when their genetic diversity is poorly managed.

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HOW HEALTH TESTING CAN BE MISLEADING

Tatum Clinton Miller

Knowledge is always preferable to ignorance, and health-testing is a good tool for obtaining a little extra knowledge on any particular dog. I merely think that health tests are overrated and overemphasized, and can be quite misleading about a dog’s health depending on how they’re used. When health tests are performed simply to tick all the right boxes on the “responsible breeder checklist” but the breeder in question does not utilize smart breeding practices, health testing is of little practical value

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HOW TO BE BIASED (IN A GOOD WAY)

Tatum Clinton Miller

Though few people consciously realize it, the way our brains are wired predisposes us to be biased. This is actually a pretty useful feature, as it allows us to respond instinctively to potentially dangerous stimuli and navigate the world with ease using only our relatively minimal, fleeting perceptions. However, it can cause problems too. Sometimes the way our brains process our perceptions is inaccurate and deceiving. So, since we are all naturally biased on a basic level, how can we distinguish unfairly biased writing and research as objectively as possible? 

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"DO WE REALLY KNOW IF DOG BREEDS USED TO BE HEALTHIER THAN THEY ARE TODAY?"

Tatum Clinton Miller

A question that’s often raised in the discussion of genetic health in dogs is whether we definitively know that dogs today are more sickly than they once were. 

This question is actually a red herring in the wider discussion of breeding and genetic health. 

Since there’s no good data on the disease prevalence of the dog breeds of the past or measuring disease prevalence in breeds over a significant amount of time, it’s an unanswerable question. In many situations where this question is raised, the fact that we can’t definitively answer this question is actually the point of raising it. 

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WHAT ISSUES DO DALMATIANS HAVE?

Tatum Clinton Miller

Dalmatians have a number of health problems. The two most prolific issues are congenital deafness and a genetic defect which damages the liver’s ability to process uric acid, leading to high levels of uric acid which can cause kidney and bladder stones, kidney and urinary tract disorders, and a few other conditions (like Dalmatian bronzing syndrome).

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