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It’s been seven years since I first wrote about the Newfoundland Dog Database copyrighted by S. Kietzmann of Germany, www.newfoundlanddog-database.net/en/. Since then it has continued to improve its invaluable service to the Newfoundland dog fancy around the world.

Back in 2007 I was impressed by the international nature of this database. Pedigree information from national kennel clubs is focused on the dogs born in their country with very limited info on ancestors from elsewhere. With the German database I could trace Newfs back to the 1850’s where they were first registered in Britain, no matter how many national states were involved.

Another special feature was the health clearances shown for hips, elbows, heart and cystinuria, the main ones recommended here in North America along with shoulders which is more commonly done in Europe. Now three more health results have been added: patellas, thyroid and eyes.

For breeders and other Newf fanciers who like to look at health clearances laterally, i.e. those of siblings and half siblings, this database yields what the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) also provides but in an easier viewing format and not just limited to North American results. But for folks like me who prefer to look at the health clearances of direct ancestors, this was frustrating as the data I needed was there but not in a single view for ease of comparison.

While I am not debating which approach, lateral or vertical, to breeding out genetic health problems is better in theory, the problem in practice with the lateral approach is that the data is very incomplete. This is due in part to the fact that databases like OFA are only semi-open; clearances are always shown but not the fails unless the dog’s owner gives written permission. This is further complicated by the fact that obvious failures are usually not submitted at all and even more so as dogs not intended for breeding are seldom tested unless seriously symptomatic.

What I needed for a vertical health check was a pedigree with the health clearances included. The pedigrees generated by the German database do not include such. After lamenting this with my good friend and fellow breeder, Shel Munro, she searched for a solution and found what I had heretofore missed.

One of the improvements to the database is the availability of a premium membership for a nominal fee. This enables access to extra features such as more search capabilities and statistics. However it was in the virtual pedigree aspect that Shel found the solution to my problem. The purpose of the virtual pedigree is to allow breeders to check out the pedigree of a proposed mating but in these types of pedigrees four key health checks are included; it gives hips, elbows and shoulders for four generations and heart for three. Also, as Shel pointed out to me, now a breeder can use such a pedigree chart when searching for a potential stud dog to ascertain the genetic depth of his health clearances. Not only that but a puppy adopter searching for a pup who has a special concern for a particular health problem such as hip dysplasia, can now check the clearance depth for that problem for both sire and dam. Here is a sample of such a pedigree with the multi generation hip clearances highlighted:

Peter Maniate has been writing columns for the Newf News, the magazine of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada, since 1979.  In 1996 he started writing a Newfoundland dog column in the Breedlines section of Dogs in Canada magazine on behalf of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada.  When Dogs in Canada ceased publication at the end of 2011 he continued the Breedlines column in the Newf Newfs.

Permission is granted for re-publication of the preceding article or excerpts from it as long as the author is credited and the name of the original publication and date of first publication is included.

Newf News

September/October 2016