Report On The State Of Health Of The Scottish Terrier
Prepared By The Education And Health Committee October 1995
Based On A Health Survey For The Period January 1, 1993 To December 31, 1994 by Susan Martin, Survey Coordinator
Thanks are due in so many areas and we will start with the Education and Health Committee and the Health Trust Fund for their support, vision and funding of this project. Next come the regional club liaisons for their local push to reach many non-members. Russ and Mary Lou Somma volunteered the paper, copier and time to run off 1500 sets of the survey (7,500 sheets of paper!) that saved the Health Trust Fund hundreds of dollars. We believe that having the responses sent to an outside source, Jennie Willis of the Cairn Terrier Club of America, gave people the confidence to be open in their responses. Thanks, Jennie. Dr. George Padgett of Michigan State University worked with us on preparing the survey and collated the data for his lecture at Montgomery County. He will write an article for the next Bagpiper on these findings. But most of all, we thank all of you who took the time to sit down and fill out the survey. Without your confidence in us, this venture would not have been possible. And thank you for your kind notes. They let me know how much you love this breed in general and your dogs in particular and kept me going during some long, tedious days at the computer.
Last but not least, I must thank my husband, Bill. He folded and licked, set up the data base, sorted the results and generally gave encouragement and hand-holding throughout.
When the Health Trust Fund was established in October 1994, one of its stated purposes was to investigate health problems. Since you must start with a foundation to build anything, it was decided that a survey would be the beginning for building better health in our Scotties. We must know precisely what our problems are and the intensity of those problems.
To this end, we constructed the health survey. The litter survey was added to give data on litter size, survival and disease prevalence in newborns. And to make this an all-encompassing effort, we added the owner/breeder survey for general information on breeding practices, longevity and diet.
Every member of the Scottish Terrier Club of America (STCA), U.S., Canadian and Foreign, would receive a survey, 694 in all. Also included were the 94 Bagpiper subscribers. Much to our delight, the Canadian Scottish Terrier Club indicated that they would like to participate and made a donation that would cover the extra postage to their members. That was another 68 surveys. The total for individual mailings was 856. Additionally, each regional club received 20 sets for distribution to non-members. Local clubs were also encouraged to have members give copies to puppy customers, grooming customers, anyone they knew who owned a Scottie.
Tracking the responses was limited because of our effort to maintain privacy. We could not trace certain problems, say skin disorders, by geographical distribution. We could not tell if some problems were more prevalent in the central states than on either coast. Maybe next time.
What we do know is the response from our membership and this was beyond our expectations -41.35%! This also shows an excellent return from non-members, which means that the regional clubs did an excellent job in getting the surveys out. Everyone seemed willing to share their experiences with us in order to establish a healthier breed.
Using a data base program, the statistics were entered for each Scottie reported. If there sometimes seems to be a discrepancy between the numbers, that is because not everyone answered every question on each dog. At times, especially on the health forms, it was impossible to fit the problem into one of the established categories and those became listed as unclassified.
The reporting period for dogs owned and litters born was set for a two-year time frame, January 1, 1993 to December 31, 1994. Any longer time frame would likely be too daunting an undertaking and we feared that we would lose responses. The last two years could be recalled without too much difficulty and we also felt that this would offer greater accuracy . We believed that this would give us a good picture of the current status of the breed. The owner/breeder portion of the survey, being of a more general nature, was for all Scotties ever owned by the respondent.
A total of 467 surveys were returned in this area. The following statistics are grouped into categories of ownership and membership, breeding practices and complications, longevity, and medication.
Years owned Scotties
Scotties currently owned
Member Regional Club
The following information deals with litters and breeding practices. Of the 278 people that said they have had at least one litter, the average breeder has had 7.5 litters and an average total of 33.9 puppies. This produced an average litter size of 4.52. When asked the average size of their litters, the figures worked out to 4.01 puppies per litter. Compare this to the average litter size from the litter survey of 4.22, you can see that all these figures are very similar. This indicates the reliability of this information. The largest litter size was 10 (reported 5 times, one of which was a litter of ours) and the smallest was the single "only child."
The average age for breeding a bitch for the first time was 2.03 years and the last time at 5.43 years. Of the 162 people reporting Caesarian sections, they estimated they had C-sections 40% of the time. Uterine inertia occurred 217 times for 93 breeders. These may be the same people who experienced a higher number of C-sections. Eclampsia, Mastitis, Pyometra or Metritis and Ruptured uterus occurred 16, 43, 92 and 13 times respectively.
One hundred fifty-three people reported missed breeding for an estimated 25.4% of misses to pregnancies. The average bitch came into season for the first time at 8 months and 3 weeks, with the earliest being 7 months and the latest at 10 months and two weeks. The average frequency of seasons was six months and two weeks.
The majority of owners assisted their bitches in whelping (220 yes to 17 no) and routinely spayed bitches when no longer being bred (212 yes to 30 no). The numbers were a little closer regarding neutering males when no longer being used at stud (126 yes to 67 no). The average at which they would neuter a male was 7.4 years.
Of the 278 owners who have had a litter, over half (146) have experienced stillborn pups. One hundred eight reported fading pups and 60 speculated they have had reabsorbed pups. Interestingly, this was not guesswork on the part of two breeders; it was confirmed by ultra sound. Technology pulls us into the future every day.
The typical lifetime of our dogs is 11.2 years, pretty much where we have always thought the lifespan to be at 10 to 12 years. And the average oldest is 13.2 years. The oldest dog noted was 19 years of age.
Heartworm medication was not as controversial as I thought it might be. Owners use one form or another 358 yes to 82 no, with the majority using the monthly medication 304 to 56 for the daily. Seven people used both the monthly and daily for their animals, daily for breeding stock and monthly for the others. While the use in stud dogs was high (128 yes to 16 no), the use in bitches in whelp was much closer at 86 yes to 75 no.
Heartgard Plus 32
Filaribits Plus 9
All others <5
When it comes to dog food, you use them all! There were 63 different brands of food listed for adult and puppy dry diets. The top brands for adults, listed in the order of their usage, are Science Diet, Nutro Max, Iams, Pedigree, Pro Plan, Natures Recipe, Purina, Eukanuba and Ken L Biskit. The top brands for puppies are Purina, Science Diet, Iams, Nutro Max, Pedigree, Pro Plan, Eukanuba and Natures Recipe. The list for canned diets was overwhelmingly led by Pedigree for both adults and puppies. This was distantly followed by Mighty Dog, Science Diet and lams. Many people added extras to these diets. Most popular were vegetables, chicken, home cooking (rice, pasta, meat, etc.), and yogurt.
The list of supplements is almost as long as the list of dog food. Toping the list is Pet Tabs, vitamins (no brand listed), specific vitamins (E, C, D), brewers yeast, In and Derm Caps. For bitches in whelp we add Pet Tabs and vitamins, plus calcium, cottage cheese, raspberry leaves, eggs and liver most frequently. All other brands of dry and canned food and supplements were listed 10 or fewer times.
There were 19 brands of food listed as causing problems. Needless to say, for everyone that successfully feeds a major brand of food, it has caused a problem for someone else. This just indicates how individual each dog's digestive system is. Science Diet was almost exclusively used as a prescription food for health problems. Few people add anything to their dog's drinking water but those that do, use: bottled water, filtered water, cider vinegar, Oxy Fresh and lemon juice.
Hypersensitivity and intolerances ranged from grains (wheat, soy, com) to meat, fish and vegetables. Lactose, copper and fat were also indicated as causing problems.
The health survey is the biggest part of the survey and it includes the most data. There were 471 health forms returned from 287 members and 184 non-members. This included information on 1540 dogs, 772 of which reported at least one health problem and 768 who reported no health problem.
Males – 602
Females – 927
Black – 317
Black – 512
Brindle – 257
Brindle - 364
Wheaten – 27
Wheaten – 51
Health problems were reported in 140 categories, plus 51 problems which we were unable to diagnosis or classify. Our goal in this portion of the survey was to confirm what we have theoretically believed to be problems with our Scotties. The following areas of concern were randomly named at an Education and Health meeting, June 1994, at the Chicago specialty:
OWNER/BREEDER SURVEY RESULTS
How many years have you owned Scotties? 17.6 yrs avg. (8,196 yrs total)
How many Scotties do you currently own? 3.2 avg. (1,492 total)
Are you a member of the STCA? 269 yes 198 no
Are you a member of a Regional STC? 230 yes 237 no
How many litters have you bred? 7.5 avg. (2,103 total) Total number of puppies? 33.9 avg. (8,303 total) Average size litter? 4.01 Largest Litter? 10 Smallest litter? 1
How many stud dogs to you own? 1.4 Brood bitches? 2.1
At what age do you normally breed a bitch for the first time? 2.03 yrs. Last time? 5.43 yrs.
How many Caesarian sections (%) do you have? 40% (162 responses)
How many bitches have you had experience uterine inertia? 217 Eclampsia? 16 Mastitis? 43 Pyometra or Metritis? 93 Ruptured uterus? 13
Have you had bitches with erratic seasons? 93 Silent seasons? 50
Have you experienced missed breedings? 153 yes. Percent of misses to pregnancies 25.4
At what age in months do your bitches normally first come in season? 8 mo. 3 wks Earliest? 7 mo Latest? 10 mo 2 wks Average frequency of seasons? 6 mo 2 wks
Do you assist your bitches during whelping? 220 yes 17 no
Do you routinely spay bitches when they will no longer by bred? 212 yes 30 no
Do you neuter your males when they will no longer be at stud? 126 yes 67 no At what age? 7.4 yrs
Have you experienced stillborn pups? 146 yes 86 no Fading pups? 108 yes 120 no Reabsorbed pups? 60 yes 168 no (two of the yeses report confirmed with ultra sound)
What is the average lifetime of your dogs? 11.2 yrs Oldest? 13.2 yrs (19 yrs oldest reported)
Do you use heartworm preventative? 358 yes 82 no Monthly or daily? 304 mon 56 dai Brand name? 135 Heartgard 88 Interceptor 32 Heartgard Plus 20 Filerabits 9 Filerabits Plus <5 all others
Do you use this preventative in breeding stock? 157 yes 20 no Bitches in whelp? 86 yes 75 no Stud dogs? 128 yes 16 no
HEALTH SURVEY STATISTICAL REPORT
Number of Surveys
Number w/o disease
Number w/ disease
LITTER SURVEY STATISTICAL REPORT
Number of Surveys
Number of Litters
Number of Pups
Number of Stillborn
Disease Prior to 12 wks
Died prior to 12 wks
2005 Survey Owner/Breeder
The number of responses to the 2005 Health Survey was roughly equivalent to the response to the 1995 survey. Table 1 below provides a high level summary of the records that are included in the database delivered to the Health Trust. Specifically, surveys were received from 487 different individuals, but 7 of them involved either Litter or Health and Disease surveys that did not have an associated General Information form, so there are 7 blank entries in this portion of the database. Although there were a total of 203 Reproductive Information forms recorded in the database, there are 20 of these forms that have a litter count of zero, meaning that these individuals are not really Scottie breeders with experience pertinent to the other areas of the form. And finally, there were Litter survey forms received from 73 different sources, but 5 of these sources had all of the litters they submitted eliminated from the survey because the whelp date that they provided was outside on the two year window specified in the survey instructions.
The Owner/Breeder Survey actually spans two survey forms; the General Information form and the Reproductive Information form. The following tables are grouped into categories of similar questions.
General Information Survey Data:
Table 2 shows a comparison between the 1995 and the 2005 survey in terms of the numbers of responses and some of the demographic type information. There were roughly the same number of responses to both the 1995 and the 2005 survey. Responses to the 2005 survey included 272 that indicated they were a member of the STCA and 243 that were a member of a Regional Scottish Terrier Club. Although it is not shown in the table, 171 of the responses were from individuals that are a member of both the STCA and a Regional Club. It should also be noted that 135 responses (27.7%) indicated that they were not a member of either the STCA or a regional club
Table 2 also compares years of experience and numbers of Scotties owner by each respondant. With roughly the same number of surveys being submitted, the 2005 data shows owner experience (e.g. an average of 21.1 years that they have owned Scotties) was up by 23% over the numbers reported in 1995. At the same time, the number of Scotties (e.g. an average of 2.8 Scotties per response) was down 9% overall and 12% in the average survey household. Future analysis of the survey data may choose to investigate some of these changing demographics and the impact that they may have on breed health and education objectives.
Table 3 shows the types of activities that individuals are participating in along with their Scotties. Similar data was not presented in the 1995 survey, so it is not possible to offer a comparison. In this instance, the data suggests that the vast majority of respondents consider their Scotties to be companions. Many of the “Other” activities also include non-AKC event activities such as Therapy Dog, walking and running companion, rescue and just plain “pet.” This may be an area where further analysis of the data using statistical techniques may be able to shed some additional light. Even knowing the spread and variation in STCA membership across the various activities could be interesting.
Table 4 provides some insight into the age statistics of our breed. While the number of dogs and the average number of dogs in each household are down slightly from 1995, there does not appear to be any information to suggest a change (either positively or negatively) in terms of the average lifespan of Scotties. I need to point out a significant problem, both with the design of this question and the analysis of the data. First, more than one respondent obviously had a problem with the question because they included the ages of living dogs in their response – it is my understanding that only deceased Scotties should be included in a lifespan analysis. Secondly, from a purely mathematical (or statistical) standpoint it is not proper to average a number that is already an average – the results of this calculation do not produce an answer with clear meaning.
[Ed. In those cases, (where it was clearly obvious) the author did not record an answer that pertained to living dogs in the household. A low number (like 3 years) was included if it was related to the age at death of a Scottie. This is an example of where this low number (for one dog) was recorded as an equal to another household that responded with an answer of 10 years that represented many dogs.]
As an alternative to the General Survey question, a look at the Health and Disease data for deceased dogs provides a much more specific answer to the average lifespan question. The data shows a total of 266 deceased dogs, with an average lifespan of 10.7 years with maximum and minimum values of 17 and 0.8 years respectively.
Table 5 reports on the responses to two related questions on the survey. Both questions asked for information on whether individuals had either bred or owned Scotties in the past two years that exhibited six specific traits and genetic diseases. A comparison with data from the 1995 survey was not possible because that survey did not include a similar question. Furthermore, the numbers from the 2005 survey do not in all cases agree with the data obtained from the Health and Disease survey. Specifically, there were only 30 dogs with Scottie Cramp and 22 dogs with CA included in the more detailed Health survey. It is difficult to tell whether those individuals who answered this question included only dogs they owned in the last two years of if they may have included all dogs that they have ever owned.
Table 6 addresses the use of heartworm preventatives among Scottie owners. While the numbers of owners that reported using a monthly heartworm preventative appears to have increased, the usage among breeders with active breeding stock appears to have dropped.
Table 7 provides data on those diseases that respondents reported as their foremost concern; either among their own dogs or within the general Scottie population as a whole. The answers to these two survey questions were obviously based on opinion and not fact. The two answers often had some similarities, but overall they included some significant differences. In the first case, many of the issues listed in the first response were also listed by these owners in their responses to the Health and Disease Survey questions, so there was definitely some correlation between “My major health concerns” and the diseases that were reported for individual dogs in the health survey. I would also point out that an answer of “Cancer, cancer, cancer” was counted only once in this section, while each dog with cancer in the health & disease section was counted individually.
Another difference between these two lists is the appearance of several non disease issues in the list of major Scottie health issues. Specifically, there were references to the STCA standard and various breeding practices as being a major health issue.
2005 Survey Conclusion
The 1995 Health Survey results were documented by Susan Martin, who worked in collaboration with Dr. Padgett, in a series of Bagpiper articles that formed the bases for several other studies. Because many of the 2005 survey questions were so similar, it was only appropriate that this report should follow the same format. The following links to the 1995 Health Survey reports are offered as additional background for anyone that may be interested.
The nature of many surveys and the reports on their results is that they tend to be biased, either in terms of the questions used or the interpretation of the answers. The author hopes that this report on the 2005 Health Survey offers "Just The Facts" and that any interpretations have been left to the reader or future authors.
2005 Survey Appendixes
Appendix 1 : Listing of Illness Codes
The following list of Illness Codes were used in preparation of this survey report. The list is pages long, and was prepared with the assistance of the Health Trust and Dr. Marcia Dawson.
Figure 1 shows a scatter plot of the Guesstimate of Carrier Frequency values versus the Frequency of Occurrence data as documented in the report on the 1995 survey. This plot is essentially the Hardy-Weinberg Law in graphical form. Figure 2 shows a similar scatter plot of the numbers documented in this report on the 2005 survey.
This figure confirms that the values used in both reports are consistent with each other.
2005 Survey Health and Disease Summary
Table 20 offers some summary information about the dogs included in the Health and Disease survey database. The first section shows the spread of coat colors across dogs and bitches. Noteworthy is that black is the most prevalent coat color and there are more bitches than dogs in the survey.
Table 20 also provides a summary of the number of healthy and diseased dogs by sex and their current living or deceased status. As can be seen, over 80% of the dogs in the database are still living. Over half of these living dogs were reported to have no health issues.
One of the major accomplishments of the 1995 Health Survey was to produce a listing of genetic traits and diseases and then use the survey data to help make a prediction of the frequency and carrier rates for each of these diseases. Table 21 offers a review of the 1995 data along with new numbers from the 2005 survey data. The 2005 survey data includes much more information, because this table lists only those diseases and genetic traits that showed up on both surveys.
Dr. George A. Padgett, DVM was the one that helped compile and calculate the original statistics. The data and his methods were based on the Hardy-Weinberg Law was also published in his book titled; Control of Canine Genetic Diseases. The data in table 21 is based on this same approach and provides very similar data.
The right hand column in Table 21 indicates how some of the carrier frequencies may have fluctuated up or down between the two surveys. Before anyone tries to put too much importance on these fluctuations in the numbers let me paraphrase a couple of comments from Dr. Padgett’s book.
Surveys are not accurate. Data is not always correct. Modes of inheritance are not always known. Hardy-Weinberg does not really apply. Guesstimates are not absolute numbers, They are just the best numbers we have today!
[Ed. The 1995 Survey report did not include an analysis of the formula used by Dr. Padgett to calculate his Guesstimate of Carrier Frequency values. However a plot of the data reveals the basis for his values and permits us to make new guesstimates based on the new data from the 2005 survey. Appendix 2 shows plots of the data from both surveys and confirms that they are both based on the same analysis.]
Table 22 offers some insight into the most frequently reported illnesses. The table lists any illness that had 20 or more occurrences in the database. You should ask, exactly how did all of the diseases that were reported get sorted? Many of the common diseases like TCC, Cushings and hypothyroid problems were pretty easy to identify and sort into these lists. But the data contained hundreds of alternative names, similar names and unrecognized names for reported illnesses.
To sort out all of these reported illnesses, the Disease and Illness index that was distributed along with the survey was used as a starting point. Each item on the list was assigned a unique three digit code that can be easily sorted by the computer. Each reported illness was then assigned to one of these illness codes. After attempting to assign codes to as many reported illnesses as possible, the complete list of illnesses and the coded index was reviewed by Dr. Marcia Dawson, DVM. Working with Dr. Dawson a few new illness codes were identified that needed to be added to the index. Dr. Dawson also provided invaluable assistance because she verified that all of the reported illnesses had been assigned to an appropriate illness code. The database file contains a complete list of the illness codes that were used as well as the original illness data from each survey form. Table 22 is therefore a report on the most frequently assigned illness codes.
In the 1995 survey analysis, Sue Martin noted that several of the related illness categories might be combined together, and that this would change the order of the most frequent illnesses. Using the 2005 data, similar results can be noted.
Allergies: Combining the 5 related Allergy codes and the general “Skin” code would result in a total of 95 occurrences and raise this to the number 2 health issue.
Periodontal: There were separate codes for periodontal disease and gingivitis, which if combined would result in 38 occurrences and raise this issue from number 12 to number 6 on the list.
Temperament: There were three codes dealing with temperament; Aggression(g), Fearfulness, and Instability that when combined would total 31 and put this in the list of top ten items.
Table 23 addresses the variety of cancers that were noted in the 2005 survey. There were over 30 different codes dealing with very specific cancers, general cancers, and abnormal tumors or growths. If all of these codes are combined together the count would be over 250, so instead, table 23 offers a listing of the top 10 cancers reported in descending order that were noted in the survey data.
The 2005 STCA Health Survey is a census of the Scottiesh Terrier breed. As such it serves as a snapshot of the breed health. The results have been divided in a set of smaller documents for easier reading.