10/03/2020 12:00 AM
Crufts showcases a wide range of adorable dogs and many viewers at home may end up falling in love with a particular breed and be inspired to get their own.
But after a wire-haired dachshund was named Best in Show at this year’s event, vets have urged prospective owners to be aware of the health and welfare issues that dogs bred to have a long and low body type often suffer from.
Their extreme body shape makes all six varieties of dachshund — standard long-, smooth- and wire-haired, and their miniature versions — at risk of serious spinal and neurological issues which usually require surgery to fix, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) warned.
These problems may not be immediately obvious, but often cause life-long discomfort and may need costly treatment.
This year’s Crufts winner, Maisie, featured alongside a Best in Show line-up that also included a miniature smooth-haired dachshund and a basset hound — another breed with a long, low body and short, stubby legs.
Top of the list of common health issues is intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), a condition which causes the dog to be unable to walk and can seriously compromise its quality of life. Research shows that the risk of IVDD in dachshunds is 10-12 times higher than other dog breeds, with at least one-fifth of all dachshunds showing clinical signs in their life.
The median age of onset of the disease is 5-7 years, with the highest prevalence seen in the standard and miniature smooth-haired and the miniature wire-haired varieties.
BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said: “We’re concerned that seeing a dachshund crowned top dog at Crufts could lead to a further rise in their popularity and related increase in the health issues that can unfortunately affect these and other long and low breeds.
Vets of course love and care for all dogs, but success in the show ring may lead to a further boom in demand outside of it from owners who may not be aware of these health issues and the extra care and treatment they may require as a result.
“The message from vets is loud and clear — always pick health over looks or Insta-appeal. Before adding a dog to their family, we encourage anyone thinking of getting one to seek information and advice from their local vet on the right breed for them. If you are buying a dog, using the free online Puppy Contract will ensure you get a happy, healthy and well-socialised puppy from a responsible breeder.”
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