Health Committee Recommendations

The following recommendations were submitted to a general meeting of the WSS Club and adopted in 2009.  However these recommendations will be continually reviewed and updated as the Committee receives up to date statistics and information from both Australia and Internationally.                                                                                    

1. Committee Recommendations for Health Issues Policy.                                                  
     1.1  “Code of Ethics”   
     1.2   General Recommendations for Breeders   

     1.3   Hereditary Diseases Associated with the Welsh Springer Spaniel   

            1.3.1  Hip and Elbow Dysplasia   

            1.3.2  Hereditary Cataracts  

            1.3.3  Glaucoma   

            1.3.4  Primary Epilepsy   

            1.3.5  Thyroid Disease      

2.  Summary.    

3.  Appendix:  Code of Ethics statements of ANKC.    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       1 1.  Committee Recommendations for Health Issues Policy.

 1.1 All breeders should abide by their respective state control body’s “Code of Ethics”, as well as the ANKC National Code of Ethics of Responsible Dog Ownership and ANKC National Code of Practice for Hereditary Diseases (see Appendix 1).

 1.2 All Australian breeders and stud dog owners should:

      1.2.1 be aware of all health issues relevant to the Welsh Springer Spaniel and the appropriate test(s) for each;

      1.2.2 ensure their breeding stock (and also sires intended for use from other kennels) are tested for the presence of each and every identified health issue;

      1.2.3 make considered and responsible decisions in determining future sires and dams for future litters;

      1.2.4 explain these health issues to all prospective puppy purchasers;

      1.2.5 explain the significance of the results of the tests for these issues (for both sire and dam);

      1.2.6 maintain breeder’s records including details and copies of the results of all health test for both sire and dam of each and every litter bred; these records to include all other details and information as required by the ANKC and relevant state control body;

      1.2.7 if using imported semen, should thoroughly research all health issues relevant to Welsh Springer Spaniels in that country and ensure appropriate testing has been conducted to satisfy Australian requirements and request certification of that testing, as well as of any other health issues specifically tested for in that country;

 1.3 Hereditary Diseases associated with the Welsh Springer Spaniel include:

      1.3.1 Hip and Elbow Dysplasia.

     All dogs and bitches used for breeding should be hip and elbow x-rayed and scored by a qualified veterinary specialist.
     This is a once-only test. Age of dog should be above 12 months, preferably 12 to 24 months. The PennHip method is an alternative which claims to be able to grade hips at 16 weeks, however some published evidence suggests it is unreliable.
     Older dogs and bitches who have been hip-scored with satisfactory results but not elbow-scored, will be accepted at present, since results for elbow scores in older animals may not be reliable.
      However, as elbow dysplasia has recently been reported in Australia, all dogs and bitches whelped after 1.1.2009 should be elbow-scored at the same time they are hip-scored.
     To ensure that the breed average hip score (Australia = 17) is at least maintained or preferably reduced, dogs and bitches should only be mated
(i)if their combined hip-score is no more than 1.5 X the breed average (ie. 25), OR
(ii) if both have hip-scores equal to or preferably less than the breed average.

      1.3.2 Hereditary Cataracts.                                                       

     All breeding stock should be tested for hereditary cataracts using the Australian Canine Eye Scheme (ACES). This test should be carried out just before 12 months of age and thereafter, annually.  Dogs and bitches should have current eye certificates carried out not more than 12 months previously, prior to mating.

      1.3.3 Glaucoma.

      Breeding stock should undergo a test for Goniodysgenesis, carried out by an approved canine ophthalmologist.  This is a once-off test.  AVA recommends test to be carried out 15 – 18 months.  At the moment, it is up to the individual breeder to decide whether or not to breed Goniodysgenesis-Affected animals.  If the decision is made to use an affected animal, then one of the proposed parents should have Goniodysgenesis - Unaffected certification.  At present, breeders should list their breeding stock as "Goniodysgenesis-Affected" or "Goniodysgenesis-Unaffected" to allow prospective purchasers of resultant stock to make informed decisions and to allow any prospective breeders to make the same informed decisions.  Any dog suffering from Primary Glaucoma should never be bred from.

      1.3.4 Primary Epilepsy.

     Australia has had occasional reports of the emergence of primary epilepsy.  Using information gained from the U.K experience, any breeder who has produced a litter in which puppies have been diagnosed with Primary Epilepsy, should not breed from that sire / dam again.

      1.3.5 Thyroid Disease.

     80% of Thyroid Disease is seen as Hypothyroidism.  Again, using the U.K experience, any lines known to have been affected with Thyroid Disease are not to be bred from.



The previously-mentioned list included the currently-known hereditary health issues for Welsh Springer Spaniels and lists the conditions that breeders (and stud dog owners) should ensure that investigations are carried out for.

At this stage, the committee is not dictating quantitative thresholds for any test, but strongly recommends that breeders consider carefully and responsibly the future of the Welsh Springer Spaniel.

It must be pointed out that, within 3 to 5 years, it is envisaged that quantitative thresholds may be recommended to the ANKC as a requirement for registration of any Welsh Springer Spaniel litter (such as many breed clubs have done; eg Labradors, Flat Coated Retrievers, etc.).

At present, the committee recommends that the club include a statement on membership applications / renewals for the WSSC of NSW, that breeders (or owners of stud dogs) will carry out the recommended tests for hereditary health issues and will disclose the results of such testing to any person wishing to purchase puppies from their stock, or make use of their breeding stock (eg. stud dog) in their own breeding program, or to utilise semen collected from their breeding stock (ie stud dog), prior to any decision or purchase and preferably in the initial response to any enquiry.  



ANKC National Code of Practice for Hereditary Diseases

Section 1 - Compliance 

This Code of Practice has been developed to conform to the ANKC Code of Ethics by which all members of each controlling body are bound, and represents the commitment of all members to breed only for the purpose of improving the quality of the breed. This Code of Practice for hereditary diseases shall apply in addition to any code of ethics which is in force in each state.

Section 2 - Practical Application 

(1) Members will take responsible action to reduce the incidence of hereditary diseases in their breeds.

(2) Where there is a control program, approved by the ANKC, covering a breed for disease(s) known or considered to be inherited, then breeders within the breed should participate in and comply with the requirements of the program.

(3) Where an hereditary disease is recognised by the ANKC in consultation with the official breed club(s) to be a designated problem in a breed, and where there is a screening procedure or test for that disease approved by the ANKC:-

(a) The owner of a stud dog should, before making the dog available for stud duty -

(i) have a current official evaluation or test result for the dog for such hereditary disease:
(ii) provide the official evaluation or test result to the owners of the bitch to be mated.

(b) The owner of a bitch should, before mating her to a dog -

(i) have a current official evaluation or test result for the bitch for such hereditary disease:
(ii) provide the official evaluation or test result to the owner of the stud dog

(4) The ANKC recognises that before approving a screening procedure or test for an hereditary disease that procedure should be:-

(a) scientifically validated
(b) reliable
(c) readily available
(d) cost effective

(5) Before any puppy or adult animal is sold, the prospective owners should be advised that the seller has taken all reasonable steps to comply with the Code of Practice.


LINK:  Australian Veterinary Association's Hip & Elbow Dysplasia Analysis