LET’S BE REALISTIC ABOUT BSD…
It seems that there is always someone out there claiming that they have no Black Skin Disease in their line. These same people are highly critical of successful breeders who, over time, have produced affected dogs and on occasion used them in their breeding programs. Why is it also that these same individuals are usually relative newcomers to the breed and/or have made little or no contribution to it. None of these “critics” have spent hundreds of hours donating their time to the education of judges and novices. They have not made personal sacrifices to help Pomeranian clubs raise money and they have not pushed for genetic research. In most cases they have also never bred even one, outstanding dog. Basically they have not paid their dues. Is all this talk just a way to convince people that they have something that the most successful breeders don't? Or perhaps their reasons are more selfish than for the betterment of the breed.
In my 35 years of involvement in this breed I have never heard a top breeder say that their line was BSD-free nor have I heard them criticize their counterparts for their breeding methods. But rather they share information with one another. It is time for the self-righteous, idealistic individuals to get off their soapboxes and join the real world.
Before I go on let me introduce myself. My name is John Heartz. I have been successfully breeding showdogs since 1966 and by 1970 was establishing breed records that still stand today in Pembroke Welsh Corgis. I was one of the leading professional handlers in Canada for 30 years until my retirement a few years ago. Since 1970 I have been, until now, the silent partner, behind the Chriscendo Pomeranians.
Black Skin Disease is a heart breaking condition whether it affects an outstanding
showdog or a beloved pet. BSD has the strange ability to affect some puppies that may lose their coat and never regain it or wait until the dog has grown to maturity and then affect them. This is where the dilemma begins. You have a three-year-old, multiple Best in Show winner who starts to show signs of BSD. Before this happens he has produced, let’s say 25 offspring, 5 of which are now champions and have offspring of their own. So before this dog has become visually affected, his influence can be seen in two or more generations. Now consider that this has been going on in this breed for well over 50 years, what are the chances of finding a pedigree that is clear of this problem. Because of this it is unreasonable to think that this problem can be corrected in any way other than genetic testing.
If you are breeding top quality, show Pomeranians you are in the BSD “club” you just might not be an active member yet!
An experienced breeder can look at the pedigrees of most of the top Pomeranians in this breed and know the affected dogs behind them. The realization is that if these affected dogs were never used most of today’s great Pomeranians would not exist. This problem is so deep in this breed that there is only one way to eliminate it and that is through genetic testing. Get off your soapbox and stop criticizing the experienced breeders who have been dealing with this problem for years and yet have stayed loyal to the breed.
It is these individuals who are hardened, dedicated, and experienced enough to make the necessary sacrifices to eradicate this problem when genetic testing becomes a reality. So this is not the time to eliminate the affected dogs or carrier dogs from the gene pool in a non-scientific witch-hunt. When used wisely they have much to contribute. I have never seen a BSD dog with other health issues that can be identified as caused by the skin condition. Such a dog should be removed from a breeding program as should dogs with other genetic health threatening or debilitating issues. There is a good chance that the outstanding affected dogs, will play a major roll in the elimination of the problem and in doing so help maintain the high quality we see in the breed today. Anyone who knows the history of eradicating PRA in show poodles knows that eliminating all the dogs that were affected by, related to, or produced from dogs with the problem was not the answer.
Today’s breeders did not create this problem, but were handed it when they started in the breed. It is no more prevalent now than it was when we began in this breed. My advice would be, if you can not deal with the problem get out of the breed now and leave it to those who will fix it when it becomes possible to do so.
Affected dogs have been used at least since the great Ch. Aristic Wee Pepper Pod who is probably the most significant influence in the breed in North America. Many years ago I had a conversation with the late Dorothy Bonner, who, at that time said the problem was so deep in the breed that it would never be eradicated. With genetic testing it will be. But it won't be those self-righteous individuals on their soapboxes that do it!
If you are interested in breeding to a top quality dog, be it affected or a carrier, you will not get the problem unless your bitch is a carrier. At this stage in Pomeranians I would suggest that you assume the best dogs out there are carriers and plan your breedings accordingly. All the slanderous accusations,Finger pointing, and probing into other breeders lines actually accomplish nothing. The successful breeders have weathered these attacks for years watching many of the attackers fall by the wayside, while they continue to be dedicated to the breed. It is time to put your money where your mouth is and donate to genetic research and finally make a positive contribution to this breed.
more links to information on BSD can be found on the health pages
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