Joy Venturi Rose is a respected figure in the gundog world with plenty to say about its current state of health. Amy Bates set her some questions.
Joy Venturi Rose is one of the best known names in the gundog world, occupying a number of positions including a top handler and breeder. We sent our arch inquisitor Amy Bates out to meet Joy and to seek out answers to pressing questions ranging from the state of field trial judging to gundog DNA.
Joy and her husband have a small kennel of labradors and the occasional working springer spaniel. They have owned 10 field trial winning labradors, all whom have also won in the show ring. Their stud dogs have sired both field trial and show ring champions. Joy is a qualified veterinary nurse and teacher, as well as holding a Masters degree in animal science and behaviour. Joy currently works in veterinary nursing education and is also writing a book on modern dog breeding. She is a Kennel Club (KC) B panel field trial judge and also a championship show judge. how much importance do you think field triallers put into health results? I think the majority of serious breeders take health issues seriously. Sadly, as in any human endeavour, there will always be a few that are either irresponsible or corrupt but with the transparency created through the availability of tools on the KC’S website such as Mate Select, where the majority of health test results for each labrador (and all dogs registered with them for every breed for that matter) are now recorded, this and peer pressure are having the impact and there is less room for irresponsible or corrupt breeders to “hide”. This has also enabled puppy buyers to be more informed and be able to do much more research before purchasing a puppy. The main thing is they must avoid back yard breeders or puppy farmers who do not register their dogs with the KC because there will be no, or insufficient, information available on the potential health status of these puppies. If you can’t see the sire or dam on the KC website it is not registered. how do you think judges interpret the following, which taken from the 2017 field Trial regulations? J(a) 3. Judging (a) “a judge must also have a very good working knowledge of the breed or breeds under Trial and have the interest and future of the breed or breeds at heart, since final placings may influence breeding plans and so determine the course of breed development”… I expect interpretations vary. Some judges will just concentrate on the working ability and natural instinct of the dog in question e.g. not hard mouthed. Given how long this regulation has been in place I suspect it was its original intention. Other judges might think at a deeper level and consider temperament etc. I am not sure whether anyone would have a mental map of the health status of the individual dogs running under them and to be honest as long as a dog is fit to run and is of a suitable standard for the competition entered I see no reason to prevent any dog and its handler enjoying a competition for its own sake. At least the dog is getting some mental stimulation and I do worry some pet dogs have precious little of this. how important is dna testing? DNA testing is a wonderful tool if used correctly. It now enables us to detect carrier status dogs and instead of having to remove these dogs from the gene pool and shrink it still further we are, if we want to, able to mate to a DNA tested clear mate and none of the puppies will be affected for the condition in question. On average around 50 per cent of the resulting puppies will be carriers but we can DNA test them before they are sold and if necessary, as breeders, we can put KC endorsements on them to prevent them having puppies that the KC will register, and as breeders we can further stipulate under what conditions we would lift these endorsements, if any, in the future on the contract of sale and both should sign. For example, we can ensure the new owner is absolutely aware of what they are doing and if deciding at a later date to mate their dog this will be to a DNA tested clear dog so that there are no
affected puppies in that litter.
Of course, sometimes problems can still arise because the science of DNA testing is moving so quickly it is sometimes hard for breeders to have a reasonably accurate view of what the future may hold and it can be tricky writing the sales contract to encompass correctly all possible eventualities. However, I don’t think that should stop us trying to do this because on most occasions it will work well especially if you’re vetting of new owners and their motives is thorough.
On the other hand, I am aware of some loopholes in the system. If the original owner sells the dog later and does not explain the endorsement to the new owner the endorsement becomes invalidated. We are hoping to work with the KC to alter that if possible. Also, prior to the ability to DNA test for various conditions, if a breeder unwittingly produced a puppy affected by an inherited disease there was sometimes a terrible witch hunt carried out because sadly some overly competitive people loved a reason to “do down” otherwise good dogs. There could be a lot of emotional upset and it was impossible, of course, for either the sire or dam to be used again and that could extend to any other progeny of these dogs because we just had no way of knowing which of the grandchildren or half brothers and sisters were carriers. DNA testing can still give rise to a few problems e.g. human error or dishonesty, but in the main we have been able to move forward in a positive way and any dishonesty will eventually come out through subsequent testing so it encourages a reduction in dishonest behaviour.
Sadly, some breeders do not fully understand the genetic and statistical tools available to them and don’t have the underpinning genetic knowledge to get the best out of them. how do you think MYKC is influencing breeding in the world of field trials? MYKC is another excellent tool and I am sure quietly it is having an influence on the breeding of field trial labradors because everything in a pedigree and the health status of all the dogs in it is so much more transparent. Additionally, breeders and buyers from abroad are helping to raise the game of UK breeders because often their own KCS have stringent rules and regulations on health so UK breeders have to respond to this. Anything that helps reduce genetic disease it to be welcomed. On the other hand, you also have to weigh up the importance of every condition to the welfare of the dog. For example, with Hereditary Cataract (HC), sadly we do not have a DNA test available, there is still no clear evidence on its mode of transmission, if often affects animals in mid age after they have produced puppies and sometimes they have been subsequently been bred as well. The condition appears to have little effect, in the vast majority of cases, on either the eyesight or the welfare of the dog as it is not painful. Therefore, whilst it is not desirable its significance has to be weighed up against more serious debilitating conditions e.g. Central Nuclear Myopathy (CNM), which is a muscle wasting disease leading to huge welfare issues and for which we do have a DNA test. The irradiation of CMN therefore needs to take higher priority than HC. What do you think of the stud dog and litter advertisements that appear on facebook; especially if the dam or sire used has, say, a ‘one’ for an elbow score? It is up to the puppy buyer to get themselves informed about all the health tests available and those that have been carried out (or should have been) and then ask the breeder appropriate questions. If they’re not happy the buyer should walk away. What do you consider important when looking for a stud dog? I am a KC assured breeder so I must automatically comply with the scheme requirements I have underlined below. Then I consider temperament is first. He must be good with other dogs and people and he must work well. Then health test status - how does his health tests compare with my bitch? If my bitch has DNA tested as a carrier for any condition then I must use a DNA tested clear dog. Otherwise if I like the dog and my bitch is DNA tested clear then I am not worried if he is a carrier as I will DNA test the puppies and carry on from there. He must have a Hip and Elbow score for me to consider and have passed either a BVA/KC scheme eye test of AHT eye test in the last 12 months.
On conformation and coat type, I personally believe if a dog is well constructed he will suffer less joint and soft tissue problems when working so will remain healthy.
If my bitch has a thin single coat I want a dog to have a proper double labrador coat so her puppies are kept warmer in cold and wet weather and suffer less potential arthritic joint problems as a result.
Regarding pedigree, he must have the type of pedigree I personally like and I think will go with my line and has the attributes I would like to improve upon on the bitch I am breeding. The more dogs in the pedigree I personally know or have seen the better because I have more information to go on. If the paragon of virtue is also good looking then that is a bonus. I would not use something looking like a whippet!
Joy Venturi rose, with her dogs, pictured in 2014.
Joy working Ch Carpenny anchorman.