The value of the Karlton Index methodology is in the “snapshots” it takes of breed-health related activity over time, which gives a clear indication of what progress is or isn’t being made in safeguarding the health of the breeds we claim to love. It gives us insight into the conditions required for building momentum in breed health and the 2016 report will add to this. To put that into context it is worth reviewing key points raised in the two previous reports.
Of the 187 breeds scored, 184 were included in the 2011 index. Of those 184, 154 (84%) scored more in 2013 than in 2011. 109 breeds (59%) increased their scores by 5 or more and 52 breeds (28%) increased their score by 10 points or more.
Notable achievements included:
- The Dachs-Life 2012 survey conducted by the Dachshund Breed Council which was just one part of the breed’s comprehensive approach to its health agenda.
- The Cause of Death survey and group study being conducted by the Flatcoated Retriever Society, just two strands of their widening health agenda.
- The strong team work of the Irish Wolfhound Health Group and their promotion of health testing.
- The growing body of collaborative research work in Irish Setters as typified by the announcement of the project into bloat.
- The international collaboration of the Leonberger Club and their commitment to open registries, likewise the international dimensions to the work of the Otterhound Club.
- The breadth and depth of analysis of health data being done by the Staffordshire Bull Terrier health team.
- The collaboration between breed clubs in English Springer Spaniels (the English Springer Spaniel Club and the Southern English Springer Spaniel Society).
But one of the most heartening aspects of the 2013 findings, was the measurable progress made in some breeds which previously had scored little. Namely the Bloodhound, French Bulldog, Neapolitan Mastiff, and Chow.
Consequently, the second assessment gave us insight into the conditions required to a) maintain good levels of progress and b) conditions required to accelerate from a low starting point.
- All the work of the Dachshund Breed Council, but notably their strategic use of tools to help assess their health priorities.
- All the work done by the Wheaten Health Initiative but in particular their work on pANCA and their Health Handbook.
- The work being initiated by the Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla Association but in particular their stand-out health survey.
- The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Great Britain for putting health at the heart of their Ruby Anniversary celebrations.
- The Slovakian Roughaired Pointer health report, which was exemplary.
- The Labrador Breed Council for very clear information on testing protocols.
- The Leonberger Club for taking a lead on open health registries.
- The Hungarian Vizsla Association for the effective way they engaged the breed community with the devastating polymyositis and other health issues.
Breeds, such as, Toy and Miniature Poodle, Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier and West Highland White, together with many of the high profile breeds, such as, Pug, Bloodhound and Chow, scored low. Also, too many of the brachycephalic breeds at that time, offered prospective owners poor quality information on health and support for the welfare of their dogs was negligible.
However, it was seeing the several excellent approaches to health that convinced me, breed clubs had the transformative capabilities, given the right conditions, to secure much better health and welfare outcomes for dogs. That changed my whole outlook on breed health.