Tag Archives: French Bulldog

No simple way of predicting breathing difficulties in pugs, French bulldogs and bulldogs from external features

As many as a half of all short-nosed dogs such as pugs, French bulldogs and bulldogs experience breathing difficulties related to their facial structure. However, research published by the University of Cambridge suggests that there is no way to accurately predict from visible features whether an apparently healthy pug or French bulldog will go on to develop breathing difficulties.

The findings have implications for attempts to ‘breed out’ this potentially life-threatening condition.

French bulldog.jpg

Pugs and bulldogs have become popular breeds in recent years – the French bulldog is set to become the UK’s most popular canine, according to the Kennel Club. However, a significant proportion are affected by a condition known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) related to their head structure.

Studies suggest that for over half of such dogs, BOAS may lead to health problems, causing not just snoring but also difficulty exercising and potentially overheating. It can even prove life-threating. But as symptoms often do not arise until after the dog has begun breeding, veterinary scientists have been searching for markers that can predict whether a dog is likely to develop breathing difficulties – and hence potentially help breed out the condition.

A study in 2015 led by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, working across many breeds suggested that dogs whose muzzles comprised less than half their cranial lengths and dogs with thicker neck girths were at increased risk of BOAS. However, this new study suggests that these measures applied to individual breeds are not dependable for this purpose.

The Cambridge researchers took external measurements of features of head and neck shape, and of the external appearance of nostrils, together with measurements of body size and body condition score (an approximation to the degree of fatness/obesity) in just over 600 pugs, bulldogs and French bulldogs, the most numerous breeds that show this problem. Each of the dogs had also been graded objectively for respiratory function.

The team found that while the external head measurements did have some predictive value for respiratory function, the relationship was not strong, and the measurements that showed the best predictive relationship to BOAS differed between breeds. They were unable to reproduce conclusively the findings from the previous study by the Royal Veterinary College in any breed.

“It can be incredibly difficult to take measurements such as distance between eyes or length of nose accurately, even for experienced vets, as the dogs don’t keep still,” says Dr Jane Ladlow, joint lead author. “This may explain why it is so difficult to replicate the findings of the previous study or find any conclusive markers in our own.”

Neck girth was a slightly more reproducible measurement, and larger neck girth in comparison to chest girth or neck length was associated with disease in the bulldogs and French bulldogs. In male bulldogs, neck girth showed a close enough association with disease to give moderately good predictive accuracy for the presence of clinically significant BOAS.

The best measure identified by the Cambridge team was the degree of nostril opening, which proved a moderately good predictor of the presence and severity of BOAS in pugs and French bulldogs, and was also a useful marker for disease in bulldogs.

Altogether the variables measured, when combined, gave an 80% accuracy in predicting whether or not dogs will have BOAS, the difficulty of taking some of the measurements accurately, and the need to make multiple measurements and combine them in order to produce a prediction means that the researchers would not recommend using them as a guide to breeding.

Dr Nai-Chieh Liu, first author of the study, says: “Breeding for open nostrils is probably the best simple way to improve these breeds. Dog breeders should also avoid using dogs with extremely short muzzles, wide faces, and thick necks. These traits are all associated with increased risk of having BOAS.”

Joint lead author Dr David Sargan adds “At this moment there is no conclusive way of predicting whether any individual pug or bulldog will develop breathing difficulties, so we are now looking for genetic tests that may help breeders get rid of BOAS more rapidly.

“The best advice we can give to owners of short-nosed dogs is to make sure you get your dog checked annually for any potential difficulties in breathing, even if you have not yourself observed any in your dog, and to keep your dog fit and not let it get fat.”

Source:  University of Cambridge media release

DNA influences face shape

A study of dog DNA has revealed a genetic mutation linked to flat face shapes such as those seen in pugs and bulldogs.

The research reveals new insights into the genes that underpin skull formation in people and animals.  Scientists say their findings also shed light on the causes of birth defects that affect babies’ head development in the womb.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute analysed DNA samples from 374 pet dogs of various pedigree and mixed breeds. The dogs were being treated at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

All of the animals underwent body scans as part of their care, producing detailed 3-dimensional images of the dogs’ heads.  These high-resolution images — called CT scans — enabled the researchers to take precise measurements of the shape of the dog’s skull.

By comparing the dogs’ genetic information with measurements of their skulls, the team were able to pinpoint DNA variations that are associated with different head shapes.

One variation — found to disrupt the activity of a gene called SMOC2 — was strongly linked to the length of the dog’s face. Animals with the mutation had significantly flatter faces, a condition called brachycephaly.

Babies are sometimes born with brachycephaly too, though little is known about its causes. Scientists say screening children for changes in the SMOC2 gene could help to diagnose the condition.

Lead researcher Dr Jeffrey Schoenebeck, of the University’s Roslin Institute, said: “Our results shed light on the molecular nature of this type of skull form that is so common and popular among dogs.”

Source:  University of Edinburgh news

Mr Quiggly outruns the greyhounds

This video is a few years old – but worth resurrecting.  Great advertising!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Best dogs for apartment living

Did you know that the American Kennel Club has published a list of the best dogs for apartment living?

With cities growing and land prices escalating, most metropolitan areas around the globe are looking to establish neighborhoods characterized by apartments rather than single-family homes.  This move can create challenges for people wanting to ensure that dogs remain part of their lives.

Years ago for example, in New  Zealand, the main telecommunications company here used a Jack Russell Terrier named Spot in its commercials.  The breeding and demand for these dogs soared.  People thought that the dog, being small, would be good for the suburbs (let alone, apartments).  But terriers need wide-open spaces and are bred for hunting down prey like rabbits and ferrets.  The result:  lots of ill-behaved dogs and owners who were out of their depth.

I would say that this list is a starting point, many mixed-breed dogs can acclimate to apartment living with the right routine and devotion.  And small dog breeds need to be managed carefully around stairs – because a lifetime of walking up and down stairs puts a lot of strain on the back and shoulders….

The best dog breeds for apartment living are:

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Pug

The Pug

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu

The Bulldog

The Bulldog

The Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise

The French Bulldog

The French Bulldog

IMG_0265

The Greyhound

The Chinese Crested

The Chinese Crested

The Havanese

The Havanese

The Maltese

The Maltese

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Amtrak required to accept small pets

 Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., gives some attention to Lily, his 15-pound French bulldog, Feb. 15 in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lily once was rejected by Amtrak, but the House passed a measure Wednesday that would let her ride with her owner.  Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., gives some attention to Lily, his 15-pound French bulldog, Feb. 15 in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lily once was rejected by Amtrak, but the House passed a measure Wednesday that would let her ride with her owner. Photo by
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act passed last week by a vote of 316-101 (132 Republicans joined 184 Democrats in voting for the bill; 101 Republicans voted against).  The Act holds funding for Amtrak, the USA’s national rail network, at current levels.

But, the big news for dog lovers is that the rail line  will designate at least one car per train, where feasible, for pets, so that passengers “may transport a domesticated cat or dog in the same manner as carry-on baggage.”

Representative Jeff Denham, a Republican from California, supported the bill because he likes to travel with Lily, his French Bulldog.  Lily can ride on airplanes with Denham but has been unable to do so on train trips.

In 2014, Amtrak initiated a trial project into pet-friendly travel.  That trial was only in the Chicago area – now Amtrak must accept pets on a much wider basis.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

The genetics behind cleft lip and palate in dogs

Scientists studying birth defects in humans and purebred dogs have identified an association between cleft lip and cleft palate – conditions that occur when the lip and mouth fail to form properly during pregnancy – and a mutation in the ADAMTS20 gene.

“These results have potential implications for both human and animal health, by improving our understanding of what causes these birth defects in both species,” said Zena Wolf, BS, a graduate student at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Lentil, a French Bulldog born with cleft lip and palate.  Photo by CNN.  Read more about Lentil's story here

Lentil, a French Bulldog born with cleft lip and palate. Photo by CNN. Read more about Lentil’s story here

In both humans and dogs, cleft lip and cleft palate occur naturally with varying degrees of severity, and can be caused by various genetic and environmental factors. Since purebred dogs breed only with each other, there is less genetic variation to consider, making cleft lip and cleft palate easier to understand in these populations, Ms. Wolf explained.

From previous studies, the researchers knew that a mutation in the dog genes DLX5 and DLX6, which are involved in face and skull development, explained 12 of 22 cases of cleft palate. However, a mutation in the corresponding human genes accounted for just one of 30 cases in the study sample.

To search for additional genes that may be involved, Ms. Wolf and colleagues performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS), a study that compares the genomes of dogs with cleft lip and cleft palate to those of dogs without it. They found that the conditions were associated with a mutation in the gene ADAMTS20 that caused the protein it encodes to be shortened by 75 percent. Previous studies had shown that ADAMTS20 is involved in the development and shaping of the palate, but no specific mutations that occur in nature had been identified. A similar GWAS in people with cleft lip and cleft palate suggested that mutations in the human version of the ADAMTS20 gene may also increase the risk of these conditions.

“Cleft lip and cleft palate are complex conditions in people, and the canine model offers a simpler approach to study them,” Ms. Wolf said. “Not only does this research help people, but it helps dogs, too,” she added.

Future directions include searching for additional genes that may be associated with cleft lip and cleft palate, and extending the research to other breeds of dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers and Whippets.

Source:  The American Society of Human Genetics press release

 

Bed, Bath & Beyond (Chelsea, New York)

If you’re traveling through New York with your pooch, you should stop at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Chelsea, New York.

This store welcomes dogs (on leash and under control) and provides them with special canine shopping carts that have foam mats at the bottom for comfort.

This is Enzo, a French Bulldog, shopping at the store:

Enzo at Bed Bath and Beyond

Well done to Bed, Bath and Beyond at this location.  No word yet on when other stores will follow suit.