As 2018 draws to a close, we also come to the start of our second decade as a Breed Council. Our inaugural meeting was in 2008 so it’s perhaps a good time to reflect on some of our achievements over the past 10 years.
The Breed Council was set up to continue and advance the work of the UK Dachshund Forum which was set up initially to allow the 19 Dachshund Breed Clubs to coordinate Show Dates and Judging Lists. The work of the Forum developed to look at Health and Welfare issues, Judges’ Education and other matters relevant to the breed. Today, we have 16 Clubs in England, Scotland and Wales who make up the constituent members of the Council.
The strapline on our website says “Working for the benefit of Dachshunds and their owners”.
So, what’s been achieved in our first 10 years?
- Under the leadership of the Wirehaired Dachshund Club, the risks of Lafora Disease in Mini Wires has been dramatically reduced thanks to the development of a DNA screening programme. In 2012, around 55% of litters were at risk of including Lafora-affected puppies. By 2018, that figure was down to 6%.
- Under the leadership of the Miniature Dachshund Club, the risk of miniatures going blind as a result of PRA has been reduced, with prevalence down to just 0.3% in our 2018 DachsLife Survey.
- Twice, we came Number One in the KarltonIndex review of UK breed clubs as a result of our focus on using data and effective planning to address breed health matters.
- Our website was voted third equal in the Hound Group in the Midland Counties/Dog World website competition.
- We have a single Judging List that all clubs use and people get onto the appropriate list solely on the basis of meeting the relevant criteria.
- More than 1000 people have attended judging seminars and assessment days run every year by the breed clubs.
- We were the first breed to appoint Pet Advisors, a group of non-show owners who devote their time to helping other less experienced owners via social media.
- In 2018, our charity Dachshund Health UK was formally registered with the aim of supporting our research and health improvement activities, including education of owners and buyers. Over the decade, before the charity was set up, over £60,000 was raised to support breed improvement activities.
- We now have more data and evidence than ever before of the priority issues facing our breed. Our surveys have collected health, temperament and lifestyle reports on around 7000 Dachshunds.
- We have provided data for and contributed to the publication of 4 peer-reviewed papers on Lafora Disease and IVDD.
- Our monthly newsletter reaches nearly 2000 people and our website has had over 800,000 visitors since it was launched in 2010.
- We ended 2018 with the agreement on our Breed Health and Conservation Plan which was developed with the Kennel Club and will published in 2019.
If you want to track our history of work on breed health, visit our Interactive Timeline.
Over the decade, we’ve seen some significant changes in the registrations of Dachshunds. Mini Smooths have jumped in popularity from 2500 registered in 2008 to over 5700 in 2017. (We only have 3 quarters’ data for 2018 – 5200) This popularity has its downsides; unsuitable breeders (and re-sellers) jumping on the commercial bandwagon and unsuitable buyers who don’t understand the breed’s characteristics and then struggle to cope. This is resulting in increasing workloads for Rescue. Wires have also grown significantly in popularity; 450 registered in 2008 and 700 in 2017. Despite having easy-going temperaments and few health issues, Standard Longs remain the least popular variety (10 year average – 174 registrations). If they were a UK native breed, they would be on the vulnerable breeds list, as would the Smooths.
What about the next 10 years?
Our major health challenge is reducing the risk of back disease (IVDD). The data suggests as many as 1 in 4 Dachshunds may suffer some degree of IVDD during their lives. We have a multi-pronged approach:
- Breeders – e.g. avoiding exaggerated conformation; use of the X-ray screening programme; breeding from known lower risk dogs and bitches
- Buyers – e.g. education on lifestyle factors – neutering doubles the risk of IVDD, exercise, body condition; buying the lower-risk varieties; the importance of insurance
- Research – still more to be done to explore the genetics of IVDD and the CDDY mutation in particular
As with all pedigree breeds, genetic diversity is a continuing challenge. There are tools available to help breeders make wise choices in their breeding programmes and the development of new genomic tools is bound to accelerate.
Our new Breed Health and Conservation Plan provides the evidence base for our work on health and genetic diversity, and will guide our activities over the next few years.
The market will decide how many Breed Clubs we need. Running events that are fun, welcoming and value for money will ensure clubs continue to succeed. Some clubs will, no doubt, continue to benefit from having decided to run Partnership Shows. Others will continue to run their own “solo” shows. There is no “right” model; exhibitors will choose based on their personal preferences. Attracting and retaining new members is important for all clubs, together with succession planning to encourage the next generation of Secretaries, Treasurers and Show Managers to take on these and other committee roles.
Our Breed Clubs are well-placed to implement whatever changes in training and education the Kennel Club decides. They have been committed to running seminars and assessments for many years now and will, no doubt, continue with that.
Our achievements over our first decade have been thanks to the efforts of so many Breed Club officers and members, owners and research partners, all of whom have given their time freely as volunteers and continue to do so. They truly are “working for the benefit of Dachshunds and their owners”.
Happy New Year.