Chairman’s Review of 2016
At the beginning of the year, the Breed Council’s Health Committee published its annual report which summarises their work and plans. Shortly after that, the Kennel Club reported the results of their 2014 Health Survey which pretty much confirmed our own survey findings from 2015. Back disease (IVDD) is the main serious condition affecting the breed, with Smooth and Mini Smooth varieties most at risk. Skin conditions and allergies also featured among the KC’s most prevalent conditions.
Given that issue, the Health Committee confirmed its plan to implement an IVDD screening programme and it was formally launched in November 2016. It is based on a programme already well established in Scandinavia and which is also being adopted elsewhere in the world. The science behind it is well-proven and we hope breeders will support the programme as it offers the best hope currently available to reduce the risk of IVDD.
In February, the Animal Health Trust launched its “Give a dog a genome” project which aims to map the genetic code of 75 breeds. The Dachshund community rallied round to raise the £1000 needed for us to participate and, within a week, we had the money and had secured a place as one of the first ten breeds. More fundraising means we have been able to ask the AHT to do this research on more Dachshund varieties, eventually. The project will not have short-term benefits but is certainly an investment for the future.
The Lafora screening programme for Mini Wires goes from strength to strength, thanks to the focus and commitment of the Wire Club. By the end of 2016, KC registration data shows that well over 90% of litters are “safe”, with the vast majority of breeders now using the test to avoid breeding affected puppies.
The registration statistics for Dachshunds continue to show some worrying trends. Mini Smooths continue their rise in popularity, fuelled no doubt by the string of adverts featuring them. It is to be hoped that they don’t end up in unsuitable homes with owners who don’t realise how to look after them properly, with adequate exercise and appropriate socialisation. Mini Longs have seen a steady decline in popularity for the past 15 years, while registrations of Mini Wires remain at around their long-term average level.
In Standards, there has been a decline in popularity of Smooths and Longs for the past ten years. Wires had a spike in popularity in 2015 which took them to their highest level of registrations over the past 15 years.
Education of the buying public continues to be a priority for all Breed Clubs. Thanks to all our Discover Dogs helpers and their well-behaved hounds.
It’s pretty clear that breed clubs have an important role to play in educating owners so that their dogs can live as healthy and happy a life as possible. Breed clubs do so much more than running dog shows. Without them, there would be no breed-specific research, no fundraising for health and rescue, and no development of health schemes.
With that in mind, it was disappointing to be told that the KC thought there were too many clubs when we were all summoned to a meeting at Stoneleigh in August. Despite being told that the meeting was to discuss the allocation of CCs and how to increase show entries, many people came away feeling neither of those topics had been addressed. Clubs were asked to prepare submissions to the KC and it remains to be seen whether we will be listened to and what the outcomes will be.
One of the more shocking revelations on the reasons people have been put off dog showing came in a Canine Alliance Survey which showed nearly half the respondents had been on the receiving end of bullying. We all have a responsibility to be welcoming to newcomers and to behave in the sporting manner suggested in our Code of Ethics.
Education of judges and exhibitors is also high on the list of priorities of the Dachshund breed clubs. All the evidence suggests poor judging is one of the biggest factors in determining show entries. People are simply voting with their cheque books (or credit cards) and staying away from expensive shows where they don’t think the judge will give them a fair crack of the whip. Add to that expensive food and £10 to park in a field and it’s not surprising people prefer to enter at Breed Club shows. It’s not as simple as saying it’s Breed Specialist judges or All-rounder judges that are good or bad. There are good and bad of each type and our clubs have been among the most proactive in putting on seminars and assessment events that help people to understand the Breed Standard. The KC launched its Academy in 2015 and Dachshunds were among the first breeds to feature in the judging section. The Academy has lots of free resources as well, but you’ll have to take out a subscription to watch the breed-specific films. The KC’s Chairman Simon Luxmoore has described the current judges’ development and selection approach as “not fit for purpose”. Most exhibitors would agree and the changes proposed in the recent Judging Framework will be an interesting development which our clubs will be expected to support.
I was proud to be invited to speak about the work of the Dachshund Breed Council at the 3rd International Dog Health Workshop in Paris in April 2017. This really was a reflection on the amazing work done by so many of our committed clubs over many years. I hope we can continue to set an example for others.
Finally, I’d like to thank all the Breed Club officers and committee members who freely give up their time to organise and manage shows and other events. Without you all, we couldn’t have achieved all the successes we have had during 2016. I wish everyone all the best for 2017.
Ian J Seath
14th May 2017