Leonmoor Leonbergers              Telephone: 01706 220292                info@leonmoor.co.uk

Articles of Interest

The above graph clearly shows the decline of our wonderful breed. Each major dip in puppy births is caused by an introduction of a new ‘health’ test. The usual, but largely irrelevant hip/elbow scores and the hereditary cataract eye test have been around for a couple of decades. The introduction of the LPN1 in 2009/2010 sees the first major dip, followed by a good recovery, followed by the 2nd major dip in 2012 as glaucoma hits the headlines, followed by LPN2 in 2013/2014 and finally LEMP in 2015/16.

You will notice that the number of puppy births never fully recovers from each test introduction. Why? More breeders ‘lose’ a dog to breed with as it fails one of the tests and that breeder either waits another 1 to 2 years to bring another bitch to age only to wait for the results of her tests….and if she fails one of them then you can guarantee that they will inevitably stop breeding. As another test is introduced then the likelihood of failing one of them increases quite dramatically.

All in the name of ‘health’? Well, not really. Simply because we kill off one disease only for it to highlight another disease that ‘suddenly’ seems to appear out of nowhere. To put it simply by getting rid of LPN1 and LPN2 and glaucoma failing dogs we have probably made LEMP 3 or 4 times more likely to appear in our Leonbergers!

When we remove LEMP then we shall probably find that say for example bone cancer has increased by 25% and so on and so on with each new test.

Those who got the test introduced naively pats themselves on the back and says ‘I have got rid of LPN2!, aren’t I marvellous!!?’ Well, no. You may have got rid of LPN2 but at the same time lowered the average age of death of the Leonberger because LPN2 carrier dogs are PROVEN to live long lives well over the average age of the Leonberger breed. Asan example; our Lightning is a LPN2 carrier, and guess what…. she is now over 12 years old and still going strong and can still jump up onto your shoulders!!

Within a restricted gene pool like pedigree dogs you cannot remove one thing without influencing another...its just mathematically impossible.

Eg basket full of apples, pears, oranges and bananas.

If you take out the apples what have you left in the basket to breed with? The pears, oranges and bananas of course. So when you breed now you will end up with more pears, oranges and bananas, and combinations thereof...but no more apples.

Now change the pears to bone cancer, the oranges to heart disease and the bananas to spleen cancer…..and the apples were LPN1, LPN2, glaucoma and LEMP.

Food for thought…. under the current “health” test regime for Leonbergers Finland and all of his 11 year old siblings would not be here. Both their mum and dad would have failed the health tests! How ridiculous is that? One of the longest lived litters with least amount of health problems would not have existed!

“Health” tests should be revisited because all they are doing is reducing our gene pool to dangerous low levels, forcing many breeders to give up breeding as it is too difficult and far too much hassle and worry (approx 1 in 5 dogs will fail the tests!!), making new diseases “appear” such as LEMP that were not a problem before but of course are now as we have had to breed with dogs that had it but we did not know. These tests do not make our breed overall healthier….  they just concentrate on eradicating the diseases that are known about.

The problem with this approach is that we have removed almost 30% of the gene pool of our Leonbergers in the past 10 years to eradicate diseases that afflicted just under 3 % of Leonbergers! Sounds crazy doesn’t it….. Lose 1/3 third of our potential dogs to breed with to ‘save’ just 3% of Leonbergers per year from getting diseases that in the majority do not kill the dog. Crazy management of our breed, and it can only get worse as each new test is introduced. There are currently 7 tests to be conducted, yes 7! No wonder more and more breeders are leaving the Leonberger to breed, both in the UK and in the EU in general. We shall soon hit crisis point. Very sad demise of a once flourishing breed. We have graphically detailed the number of KC registations above to show the impact of testing on the Leonberger puppy births.

If we were considered a native species we would now be considered a “vulnerable” breed as the number of puppies born each year has now dropped below the 300 per year mark in 2017 and in 2018 just 213 puppies were born!! Compare this with 2008 when 450 were born! Very worrying decline.

The only people who benefit from these disease tests (should not be called health tests) are the vets and BVA who do the testing. Once these tests are introduced you can NEVER get them changed or removed even though no longer necessary. An example is the hereditary cataract eye test; we have to test every 12 months at a cost of £50. Even though less than 5% of Leonbergers show hereditary cataract issues after they have passed the 1st test! But vets/BVA livelyhoods and profits depend on these tests so they won’t be changed. What a marvellous conflict of interest that everybody ignores.

The hip/elbow average scores have not changed in 20 years, and yet we still have to test them….even though mounting evidence points to 1st year development the primary cause of hip/elbow dysplasia and NOT hereditary….but it won’t be changed as the BVA makes literally millions of pounds every year on these tests for all breeds.

After the LPN1 was discovered, did these research people all go home and change jobs? Of course not, they had to remain employed and therefore they had to find them something else to do….. find LPN2 or a LEMP but as you see the research HAS to continue and in the meantime each new test destroys our breed further. When does it stop? When there are so few Leonberger breeders remaining that they forget the tests just to keep the breed alive because you can guarantee that every Leonberger would fail one test….. Some of these tests have just not yet been discovered.

A final note to all those people who like to spout on about “responsible” breeding….ie. doing all these tests and calling on even more to be implemented to apparently improve the health of the breed…...at which point will there be any Leonbergers left to test? Or any Leonberger remaining that will pass all the tests?

...and there will be more tests needed because “new” diseases will sadly becoming more prevalent as the gene pool shrinks…..

Sadly and inevitability the people who naively think they are doing this for the good of the breed will eventually lead to this wonderful breeds virtual extinction.

Grab one while you still can!

Anyway, off the soap box for now, and just extremely glad that we did breed from our beautiful Alaska and the gorgeous Caspar to produce these amazing long lived dogs :-) Happy Birthday Finland and siblings!

Are we testing our Leonberger breed to extinction?