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History of Health Improvement

UK Dachshund Clubs have a long history of co-operating on health matters; firstly within the UK Dachshund Clubs’ Forum – an annual meeting of Dachshund Club Secretaries – where, in 2002, the Wirehaired Dachshund Club (WHDC) raised the Lafora Disease issue and the member Clubs agreed that health matters should appear as an item on all future meeting agendas.  Around that time (2000-2003) the proposed European Convention was quite topical and featured in the meetings as Dachshunds were “threatened” by potential EU legislation because of their “extreme” conformation.  We have made a number of amendments to our Breed Standard to emphasise the need to avoid exaggeration and this is a key message in our educational events.

In 2008 the UK Forum evolved into the Dachshund Breed Council as we know it today, incorporating a Health & Welfare Sub-committee which also includes pet advisors.

The first real health breakthrough that Dachshunds had was with the Animal Health Trust and Cord 1 PRA in MLHD.  Annual clinical eye testing for PRA had been available and widely used by breeders for many years, but with the Clubs’ help the AHT wanted to do further research testing and took mouth swab samples from 70 MLHDs at the Miniature Club Show in 1998.  Dr. Cathryn Mellersh and her team at the AHT worked very closely with us and kept us informed every step of the way.  The Cord 1 PRA test was eventually made available to MLHD in early 2005, MSHD in 2007 and for MWHD in 2010.  

The breakthrough development of a DNA test for Lafora Disease was also made in 2005, but the work that led to this was initiated in 2002 when Dr. Berge Minassian visited the UK to meet owners of MWHDs and, of course, Berge has offered us the full test for Lafora’s since 2013.

We held our first Breed Conference in 2009 with speakers covering our main health topics and we used that event to carry out a quick informal Health Survey which provided the basis for our online survey on this site, and that was launched at the end of 2009.

In April 2011 the Karlton Index presented its initial scoring of the health improvement progress being made by UK Breeds and Dachshunds were highlighted as top of the "Pack Leaders".  We were described as "setting a benchmark with regard to tackling health problems." but we're not complacent and know there is still so much more to do.

[Thanks to Judy Squires for compiling the key dates in our Health History]