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Home » Pumi health

A comparative study of canine hip dysplasia in the Hungarian and Finnish pumi population

Submitted by on Apr 14, 2010 – 3:17 PMNo Comment
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In this part of our series, we will consider the significance of hip dysplasia in breeding programs in Finland and Hungary.

Landmarks of hip dysplasia screening in Finland and Hungary

The positives: The first pumis ever to be tested for hip dysplasia were members of the Rakenlov and Pihatuvan kennels in Finland, and received their certificates in 1986. The first pumi litter of a HD-tested sire and dam was born in 1989. In Hungary, hip testing started in 1993 and dogs from Cseresznyéskerti-Csalfa, Puszta-Királya and Ebugatta kennels were involved. In the same year, the first Hungarian pumi litter of HD-tested parents was born in Puszta-Királya kennel.

The negatives: The first pumi was diagnosed with moderate hip dysplasia (HD-D) in 1987 in Finland, just one year after the first promising results came out, to be followed by another pumi in 1994 with the first HD-E classification. The irony of the latter case, and of hip dysplasia in general, is that both parents were found free of the disease (sire: HD-B, dam: HD-A).

The practise of hip dysplasia screening in Finland and Hungary

When interpreting the data, we have to keep in mind that there are huge differences in the current practise of hip dysplasia screening of pumis between Finland and Hungary. The main driving force behind the screening programme in Finland is the Finnish Kennel Club, which also keeps the registry of the results. In Hungary, hip testing is in the hands of individual breeders. While in Finland all results are based on official evaluation and are reported, published and freely accessible in the Kennel Club’s database, Hungarian breeders are free to decide whether they want to get an official evaluation of the x-ray and whether they want to report the results to the breed club or any other databases, like the Pumi Database. In Hungary, only good results are automatically published and accessible in the databases; it is necessary to obtain the permission of the owner to include bad results. In my experience, this practically means that

a. the x-rays of dogs with bad hips usually never make it to an official evaluation,
b. even if they do, bad results often remain undisclosed than published.

With the new (though not yet official) breeding regulations of the Hungarian Pumi Club, this to some extent is expected to change. All pumis born after 1st January 2006 will need to have an official hip grade of A, B or C to classify for breeding in Hungary. In a decade or so, this should mean that all the breeding stock will be hip tested. However, the system still does not solve the problem of withheld results which means that potential carriers of the disease (e.g. the littermate of a pumi with undisclosed bad results) will still be hard to identify and breeders will need to rely on informal sources.

Due to the inherent defects in the Hungarian system, we felt it is more credible to rely on data from Finland as a starting point for comparison, and include Hungarian statistics only as secondary information.

The number of HD screenings and the distribution of results

By the end of 2005 altogether 393 pumis have been screened in Finland, while we only know about 137 official results in Hungary. Since our study is based on the population of these two countries, we included all the imported, HD-tested pumis and excluded all the pumis exported to other countries. So, for example, the Hungarian pumis exported to Sweden or the USA are not included in our statistics about Hungary since they are not contributing to the gene pool within the Hungarian pumi population any more.

Perhaps not surprisingly, we found that in both countries more females were screened than males, and the ratio was in both cases roughly 6 to 4 (about 1.5 times as many females were screen as males).

Diagram 1

From 1986, a growing percentage of Finnish pumis born in the same year was screened for hip dysplasia. Due to the higher awareness of the disease, Finnish breeders reached 20% as early as the beginning of the 90′s and have only failed to exceed this limit in two years ever since. Years 1997 and 2000 show an especially high percentage of screenings, since, respectively, more than 30% and 40% of the pumis born in these two years have later been screened for HD. All this means that out of 100 pumis 28 are hip-tested in Finland’s current potential breeding stock (pumis born between 1996 and 2003; pumis born in or later than 2004 can only have their tests in 2006, which is beyond the scope of this study). Compared to that, Hungarian breedersso far haven’t managed to exceed a yearly 8%, due to which only 4% of the current potential breeding stock in Hungary has a hip grade.

Diagram 2

The differences cannot be explained only by the fact that there are simply more litters and puppies born in Hungary a year since not even in the strongest five years of Hungarian pumi breeding history (1998-2002, when there were five times as many pumis born in Hungary as in Finland) could the number – and not the rate – of HD screenings in Hungary exceed that in Finland.

Diagram 3

92.3% of the Finnish pumis tested were found to be fit for breeding (received an FCI grade of A, B or C) in the following percentage distribution:
(NOTE: It is common practice in Finland to grade the two hip joints separately, and not combine the results. For practical reasons, in case there were two different grades allocated to the hips we automatically put the dog into the category of the lower grade, e.g. an A/C dog would appear in category HD-C in our statistics.)

Diagram 4

This practically means that in the case of pumis bought for breeding and sports purposes (assuming that these would be mainly tested for CHD) out of 100 Finnish pumis 43 would have perfect hips, while only 8 dogs would be diagnosed with moderate or severe forms of the disease.

Now, how good or bad is this? Based on the statistics of the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals, which includes nearly 150 breeds at present, the Finnish pumi population would certainly have a place at the high table of the 50 least affected breeds. On top of the list we find the greyhounds, but there are also many sheepdogs that did better than the pumi (Collie 10., Belgian sheepdog 11., Australian shepherd 30.). Several popular terrier-and spaniel breeds as well as companion dogs can also be found in the first 50 breeds. At the bottom of the list can be found the small- and large molossoid type breeds (Pug 141., English bulldog 142., Dogue de Bordeoux 140., Neapolitan mastiff 138., Fila Brasileiro 126)), the giant breeds (St. Bernard 137., Newfoundland 123.) and the most popular working breeds (Rottweiller 113., German shepherd 104., Golden retriever 114.).

Rank of breeds by how little they are affected by HD

Diagnosed as ill
Italian greyhound
German pinscher
Wirehaired pointing
Boston terrier
Tibetan spaniel
Mild, Moderate or Severe, in case of pumis FCI D and E grades.
Source: OFA

Due to the non-disclosure policy in Hungary, unfortunately the results of the two populations cannot be cumulated since obviously no such statistics can be set up for Hungarian pumis. The best we can do is to compare the hip grades of those pumis who were found fit for breeding and try to make some observations.

Diagram 5

Even at first look there seems to be a striking difference in the distribution of the three grades between the two populations, but there are also interesting differences between the male and female populations
within the same country.

Diagram 6

Observation 1. The distribution of the three HD grades seems to be the reverse in Hungary and Finland. While in Finland the majority of pumis receive HD-A, in Hungary most of them have a HD-C result.

Observation 2. The distribution of the three HD grades between the male and female pumi population also is the reverse in Hungary and Finland. While in Finland female pumis have slightly healthier hips, Hungarian females fall behind the results of males. The difference (about 6% in Grade A and C, and basically no difference at all in Grade B) does not seem to be so significant in Finland given the fact that generally more females are screened.

However, in Hungary it would be very difficult to explain the 13% difference in Grade C just by a higher number of females taking the test, especially since in the other two grades the difference is similar to the Finnish distribution, only around 6%.We believe that further research is necessary to explain these statistics, most probably into the ancestry and relationship of the HD-C females in Hungary.

The presence of HD-tested dogs in breeding in Finland and Hungary

Considering the pumi litters born in Finland in the past 20 years it can be said that from a relatively early date, and at a very fast growing rate, matings of HD-free pumis have prevailed in Finnish pumi breeding. Hip dysplasia testing started in 1993 in Hungary, and here too we can witness a gradual increase in screened matings. However, the percentage of litters born of HD-tested parents in Hungary in 2003 didn’t exceed that in Finland in 1993!

To get a clearer picture on the uptake of screened matings, we have prepared the yearly breakdown of both Finnish and Hungarian litters based on whether the parents are hip-tested or not. To be fair in the comparison, we decided to give the breeders of both countries a three-year grace period after the first screenings were started (1986 and 1993, respectively). We found that the initial uptake was much more promising in Hungary than in Finland. However, the good practise failed to continue In Hungary after Year 5, while Finnish breeders developed a higher HD-awareness. In fact, it reached its peak between 1999-2004, when not a single pumi litter was born without both of the parents being found HD-free. For such a result, we will probably have to wait for another 10 years before the new breeding regulation has its full effect.

Diagram 7

To analyse the effect of screened matings on a whole population as well as make observations of the inheritance of hip dysplasia, we now move on to work exclusively with the Finnish pumi population since only
here do we have enough data to make credible statistics.

Sources and further reading

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