The Importance of the Health Survey

(reprinted from the 2000 SSDCA Newsletter)

Dear Shiloh Shepherd™ Owners and Breeders,

                 Some of us who are online are aware that George A. Padgett, DVM, has agreed to work with the Shiloh Shepherds™ in the upcoming breed survey.  For those who may not be familiar with Dr. Padgett, the synopsis below gives an indication of his qualifications.  (Information taken from the Control of Canine Genetic Diseases).

                Dr. Padgett has been on the faculty in the Veterinary Pathology department of Michigan State University since 1977.  Before that, he was on the faculty at Washington State University for 12 years.  Dr. Padgett is a well-published author with over 200 papers to his credit.  He has been the principle investigator or co-investigator on $15 million worth of research, training and construction grants funded by many well-known national organizations.  Dr. Padgett has presented seminars for 93 national breed clubs and has spoken at over 100 regional all breed dog clubs on canine genetic diseases.  He has written papers that have identified the way 32 canine genetics diseases are inherited.  Dr. Padgett received the Eukanuba Canine Health Award in 1977 for the best article on canine health as determined by the Dog Writers Association of America.  That a man of such recognized expertise and experience as Dr. Padgett has agreed to compile and evaluate the information from the Shiloh Shepherd™ breed survey is an indication of the benefits that will result.

Some of us will not understand the purpose of the survey or how much invaluable information will be given to the breed by answering ALL of the questions. By talking with each other we may hear that So and So’s Shiloh may have this problem or that someone else’s Shiloh was thought to have died from that problem.  As long as it is not my Shiloh and I am not a breeder, why should I care and take the time to fill out and return the survey?  Very simply because we have a love affair with THIS breed.  These magnificent dogs with their intelligence, love and loyalty have captured our hearts.  Our best buddies prove to us each day that no other breed will do.  Initially, we may have chosen the Shiloh Shepherd™, but subsequently, this breed will not turn us loose.  As owners of pet quality Shilohs we may recommend this breed to our friends because of the great gift these dogs have given to us.  As breeders we strive to continue to improve and advance this breed so that others may participate in conformation, obedience, agility, herding, Schutzhund and SAR activities, as well as experience the enjoyment of owning these sound, loving companions.  We want the best for our Shilohs; we want them to be the best that they can be both individually and as a breed overall.  By completing and returning the survey, we can help in the continuation of developing the Shilohs as a breed known for sound genetic health.

                A breed survey is an information-gathering tool.  In Chapter 10 of Control of Canine Genetic Diseases Dr. Padgett states, “They need to determine what is happening in their own breeds.  For the most part they have not done that and it is an essential step if they want to change the current situation.”  In writing about the results of the information gathered from a breed survey Dr. Padgett further states, “From this data, we could calculate the frequency of the various genetic diseases in each breed based on the Hardy-Weinberg law, and from this, we could derive the average genetic burden for each dog in the breed.”  The breed survey for Shiloh Shepherds™ will identify exactly what genetic diseases/defects have occurred, how many times it has or is occurring, what lines are affected or clear and help to give an indication for future direction.  To preserve and advance the Shiloh Shepherds™ we need to know what or where the problems exist. Information is necessary to understand where problems are coming from. Then it needs to be determined how often in the past the breed has experienced this problem and finally, does it still continue to plague our dogs.  We need to build and improve this, our chosen breed, with facts and hard data so that future generations can enjoy this unique, special breed.

                However, suppose that your Shiloh does not have a genetic defect/disease?  Should you fill out and return the survey?  ABSOLUTELY YES!!!  It is terrific that your Shiloh is clear of the entire over 500 genetic disease/defects that affect purebred dogs.  THAT information on a clear dog maybe be JUST the key that is needed to say, “Ah ha!  NOW we’ve got the answer we have needed.”  The breed survey, in order to provide accurate results needs data from ALL Shiloh Shepherds™; those that are clear, the dogs affected, show or breeding quality or pets.  There are more owners of individual Shilohs than there are breeders so WE can play a crucial role in this breed survey.  The numbers of clear or affected Shilohs for any given defect/disease will indicate for this breed how prevalent a particular problem is.  We will have data that will provide a way to prioritise problems so that they will be eliminated, if possible.

                As breeders the information we provide on the litters we whelp can be found no where else.  Only we who were there at birth can watched our babies during those early weeks and provide that crucial information. 

                We decided to become breeders because we wanted to be able to share the Shilohs with others.  We aim to satisfy our customers.  Yet we do know that sometimes the unexpected appears in even the most carefully planned litters.  By honestly reporting the diseases/defects that we know have appeared in various Shilohs from our breeding stock, future litters will benefit.  The information gathered will help to determine how these diseases/defects are inherited for this breed.  The complied data will give an indication of the overall progress that has been made; it will also point to areas that need concentration to eliminate.  A careful reading of Dr. Padgett’s book, Control of Canine Diseases will show that he favors a balanced approach toward the goal of breeding sound, healthy dogs.  He does not advocate throwing the baby out with the bath water. Rather, rank the traits both desirable and defective.  KNOW that ALL breeds of dogs have genetic defects and diseases and avoid kennel blindness.  We know our dogs’ good points and will proudly tell of our wins, but as responsible breeders we also need to avoid saying, “THAT doesn’t happen to MY dogs.”  If it has not yet, it may in the future.  The point is not to give up or cover up, but answer the questions asked with honesty and to the best of your knowledge. If all of us strive for this goal, the breed as a whole will continue to improve and grow.  We will ALL benefit from the reputation of a sound, healthy breed.

                How is the information gathered from the breed survey going be used?  First, IT IS NOT going to be accumulated to point fingers at certain kennels or breeders.  If my Shiloh’s name is Rover, and I complete the survey by stating that Rover is diagnosed with EPI and has missing dentition, the results will NOT name Rover.  What will be publicly available will be a listing of the defects/diseases reported and the frequency and incident rates.  Numbers, not names. Each Sire and Dam actively used since the inception of our Registry will be assigned a number. All diseases/defects reported by their progeny will be listed only by the appropriate code. We can then check our database to determine the total number of puppies sired/whelped by this particular (number) in order to properly evaluate the percentage of occurrence. If signs point toward the possibility of a serious problem brewing, we can then cross-reference against the Sire/Dam combinations that indicate that a deeper genetic investigation may be in order.

                The results from this survey will certainly help breeders now and in the future to produce litters with the lowest possible amount of risk for the many genetic diseases/defects that have been plaguing the world of pure breed dogs for such a long time.

                If you are not sure if your Shiloh had/has a genetic defect/disease, please ask your breeder and vet.  There is also a section of the breed survey for a longer explanation.  Please use it if none of the questions seem to fit your circumstance.  Some of the questions may seem not to apply to this breed.  They are purposefully present so that erroneous assumptions are not made. If a listed disease does not apply to your dog, be thankful that you don’t have to “check” that particular one! Dr. Padgett has asked us to include all diseases known to the German Shepherd Dog, whether they appear to apply to the Shiloh or not.  It will be great if the list of defects/diseases that are NOT being seen in Shilohs is much longer than the list of those that HAVE appeared.  Only WE, united, can provide the information to do that.  If you have ANY questions on how to complete the breed survey - PLEASE, PLEASE - ASK.  The following people may be contacted regarding any questions about how to complete the survey:

    1. Pat Urso CDT   715-362-4134
    2. Pam DymondWeed PDT 206-542-3555
    3. Mynde Bunker PDT   (deceased 10/2002)
    4. Karen Ursel EDT 716-346-6741 (between 7 – 9 PM EDT only, please)
    5. Lyn Segee EDT 716-658-3240 (between 7 – 9 PM EDT)

Please be considerate of the time zone and available hours  (if so stated) when calling.  For questions about your particular Shiloh, please contact your breeder and vet.  The breed survey is not something that only one or two people can do - WE ALL are needed.  We ALL can help by taking the time to honestly complete and return the Shiloh Shepherd™ breed survey.  Thank-you for your co-operation and I am sure that all owners of Shilohs will be anxious to hear the news of the survey.


The SSDCA Genetic Task Force

Anyone wishing to discuss this survey with other owners & breeders is welcome to join our public e-mail group

Very preliminary data is being tabulated.  Some of the results are now available.


 Survey InstructionsHealth Survey Update Pt. I | Part II | Part III | Genetic Task Force Disease Database |

Other Breed Clubs That Have Participated in Health Surveys in Conjunction with Dr. Padgett

Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America Health Survey 2000 Health Survey

American White Shepherd Association Health and Genetics Report

Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever 2002 Health Survey

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America Breed Health Survey 2000 and 2002

Scottish Terrier Club of America

American Spaniel Club Ongoing Confidential Health Survey

Petite Bassett Griffon Vendeen Club of America

National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association

Chinook Owners Association Health Survey

Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute

Soft Coated Wheaton Terrior Club of America

Newfoundland Club of America

Control of Canine Genetic Diseases -- Dr. George A. Padgett



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