bu2000banner.gif (6323 bytes)


Genetic Health in Our Boxers

Food for the ABC Board

By Audrey G. Schnell, PAX BOXERS

Trico&pups.jpg (12862 bytes)

From its beginnings, the ShowBoxer-L Mailing List has been a prime forum for Boxer people. One of its recurring topics has been the genetic health of our Boxers and the means that we can or should take to ensure it. Members of the list have proposed varying safeguards.

It has not always been recognized that we have a tailor made dog that deviates in many ways (notably in its head) from the more successful (genetically) canids, and that while we have concentrated its genes to bring about our most perfect, true to Standard, Boxer, we've also doubled up on some undesirable factors. It could even be that were the healthiest possible dog our aim, we would be compelled to return to the wild canid and abandon any effort to produce what we know as purebred dogs. I don't think any of us would want to do this, but if good health were our only goal, that might be the most realistic way to achieve it. Trying to weed out bad genes by eliminating ancestors that might have contributed them might mean removing the most illustrious Boxers and their descendants from our gene pool...and I don’t think anyone would want to do that, either, even if it were possible.

SB-L members, going from the most Draconian to the do-nothing cure have proposed many solutions. In the past, the American Boxer Club has not provided much in the way of guidelines, but this may be changing.

Recently, I sent some material to Dr. Bob Oliver, President of the American Boxer Club, and he replied that, at the board meeting in November 1998, an ABC committee was formed to address this need. It is the ABC Membership Education Committee, chaired by James Eden of 11245 Ramrod Drive, Woodbridge, VA 22192, Tel. 703-680-2712. This new committee is charged with developing such information, getting it to members and involving member Clubs in this effort. Mr. Eden would probably welcome input from Boxer people. I think that establishing health standards for our breeding stock could be one of the most useful functions of the American Boxer Club.

The material that I sent to Dr. Oliver included a list of a number of specific defects, or problems, that have been affecting our Boxers. In an attempt to be inclusive, I may have verged on the trivial, but I believe that we may be obliged to consider these problems, since some of the more volatile members of our fancy have come close to recommendations that would send the baby out with its bath water (such as the recent statement that NO boxer that had ever had a case of localized demodectic mange should be used for breeding!). I also suggested that the Board establish two sets of criteria, one of minimal standards to be met by Boxers before they are bred, and one of desirable norms that should be met.

Here they are, including possible scales of ratings:

Bloat (Gastric dilatation and/or torsion):
Range from irrelevant, no history in either Boxer, to no history in grandparents.
Blood clotting disorders (Hemophilia, Von Willebrand's Disease): Range from no history, or manifestation, in either Boxer to none in its ancestors and blood clotting studies.
Brucellosis: Range from required serum screening to AGID test (Cornell based).
Cancer, all types: Range from none and no history in either Boxer, to requiring no disease in ancestors.
Cardiac and Vascular Problems:
Cardiomyopathies. (Diseases of the heart muscle).
Sub-aortic stenosis. (Narrowing of the main artery, the aorta.)
Valvular abnormalities & persistent fetal openings.
Range from no obvious disease, with terrific exercise tolerance, to auscultation by a veterinarian with further investigation if indicated, to auscultation by a veterinary cardiologist, to mandatory electrocardiography (EKG) by a veterinarian to same by a veterinary cardiologist, to Holter monitoring (24hr EKG). Additional requirements might be doppler studies, echocardiography, sonogram chest studies, etc., or requiring a certain longevity in three to four generations, no manifest vascular disease in ancestors, or siblings.
Demodectic mange: Range from no infection known, trivial puppy sites, generalized infection, trivial to generalized infection in siblings or ancestors, to discarding any that were ever affected.
Elbow dysplasia: Range from no obvious disease to veterinary examination to elbow x-rays.
Hip dysplasia: Range from no obvious disease, to required OFA or Penn-Hip certification to same requirements for ancestors, to 3rd or 4th generation.
Immunizations: Range from certificates of specific immunizations to titre assessments of current immune status.
Leptospirosis: Range from no recommendation other than certificate, to Weil test (to detect previous infection and carrier state) to liver and kidney function studies.
Ophthalmic disease: Range from no obvious disease to veterinarian clearance, to veterinary ophthalmologist clearance.
Parasites: Range from no fleas or ticks on examination, to fecal exams for hook, round, whip & tapeworms, to toxoplasmosis (public health hazard) studies.
Thyroid dysfunctions, including thyrotoxicosis (hyperactive gland), hypothyroid (under-active gland): Range from visual exam by veterinarian to hormone assays & basal metabolic studies.
Temperament: Range from happily slurping stranger, to approaching stranger, to warily approaching stranger, to fleeing from stranger, to snarling at or biting stranger.
Unpigmented haws: Range from none in either Boxer to none in their ancestors to the 3rd & 4th generation.

I believe that the ABC Board can greatly assist us Boxer breeders and exhibitors by incorporating recommendations on the need for health clearances for breeding animals into the ABC Code of Ethics. Just as importantly, I believe we can help them by offering our input. Although I am sure there will never be complete unanimity on the subject of recommended health clearances, I believe that modern medical research has given us enough information to set standards for many of the most important health problems that affect our beloved breed.


Genetic Health
Bobtail Boxers - 3
Delta Pet
Jerry & Bear
My Life With Boxers
In Black & White
Move ABC

Editor: Virginia Zurflieh
Webmaster: Pat Mullen

Contact Virginia
coolstar.gif (3585 bytes)

Return to Index of Issues | Reader's Comments | Sites of Interest | Health Checked Boxers
Search the BU | Copyright | My Life With Boxers | COMMENTS

Last Revised: 04/22/00

Subscribe to boxerunderground
Powered by www.ONElist.com