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Ryman Health?

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    • #103

        I just got the news the other day that my folks ryman setter has cancer, she is a beautiful 8 year old little girl. I personally know 4 rymans, all 4 now have health problems, 2 with allergies, 1 that had stomach problems that needed surgery, and now one with cancer. I also met online a girl that has a younger brother to my dog, who suffers from worse allergies than my boy. I really like this breed, so much so that I plan on breeding them, but I am really having second thoughts because of all the health problems. The one thing they all have in common, is they all came from the same breeder, who no longer is breeding. Now the lines the breeder had were from some of the best lines in the ryman breed. I don’t know what the answer is, I have talked to other breeders from Llewellins to field setters, out of all the ones I have talked to, none of them have had any dogs with allergies, a couple of them have had dogs with cancer, and there have been some with thyroid problems. None of them seem to have the rate of health problems I have seen with the rymans. I guess I am trying to search out and see how many people here have happy healthy puppies, and if you have had any health problems with the line and what that rate is.
        Thank you

      • #178

        Others may have different experiences or thoughts, but I think you are jumping to some conclusions about rymans based on an awfully small sample: not only just 4 dogs, but also that they are from the same breeder.   There are examples of breeds and lines that come to my mind as having serious health issues… Flat Coated Retrievers and Boxers for example are prolific with cancer and I have seen discussions of a particular line of field Pointers who succumb to cancer at ages 6-8 yrs.   But I don’t see or hear that about rymans.  May I suggest instead that pedigree research of the dogs identified with health problems may provide some information.  What you may find is that there are not “lines” with particular problems but instead individuals or pairings within lines.  Most breeders have had pairings that “clicked” or produced particularly well and sometimes become iconic for that breeder….the opposite may also be true.  

      • #179
        October Setters


          Your question brings several things to mind for me. First, I don’t think
          there is an
          extreme rate of health issues in English setters overall, or in
          Ryman-types. They have them, but in general not more than other breeds. The choices made by individual breeders determines the rates coming out of their kennels.

          I don’t buy the story you’ve been told that breeders of other types of
          English setters aren’t getting ANY allergies. Maybe some of them saying
          this just don’t have much experience yet, or they aren’t recognizing it
          for what it is (maybe they would call it “skin problems”, “intestinal
          problems”, or similar), but allergies are fairly common and known from
          all ES- bench, field trial
          and Llewellin lines as well as the Ryman-types, same as hip and elbow
          dysplasia, deafness, hypothyroid, etc. If you find breeders
          who won’t admit, or don’t know, these problems exist in their setters
          recommend finding another breeder. 

          In our experience cancer is common in old dogs, uncommon in dogs younger
          than about 12 years of age. Because of all the possible environmental
          influences on cancer, one 8 year old dog is not necessary a red flag to
          me. If multiple closely related dogs get cancer at a young age then I
          would be concerned.

          What kind of stomach problem needed surgery? Without knowing what that
          was it is impossible to judge whether this is a health problem related to
          breeding or to the lines.

          Most importantly, other breeders started with the same lines you’re
          talking about, made better choices, and are not producing lots of health
          problems. The answer is there- look back at where you got your dog,
          analyze the breeding program, consider the condition, care, and
          evaluation of the dogs. Figure out where the mistakes were made so you
          can avoid repeating them if you do decide to breed. 


        • #180

            I know this might have more to do with one breeder than the whole line. I just thought it odd that out of the 4 rymans I know, they all have health issues. I also know that the breeder makes all the difference in the world. No amount of testing is going to produce 100% healthy puppies, I’m aware of that, I just found it very surprising. I do believe that cancer is more a product of environment than genetics, though I do know of a couple lines that it was prominent in. I’m not looking to bash the breeder, I’m just trying to find out if health issues are more prone in the rymans, or maybe all English setters, than other pointing breeds that are out there. Nothing makes me feel worse than watching a dog suffer, I have went through enough of that with mine. I know the heartache of getting a puppy you have high hopes for, and not getting even close to the dog the breeder told you were getting. I always thought that breeders were in it for the betterment of the breed and maybe to create something special. I have found out that is not always the case. I think the good breeders have done a lot for this breed, especially with the hips. When ever I dive into something, I give everything I got, and when I see issues it throws up red flags to me. Like I said before I work at a kennel that raises gsp’s, we had one female that was 3 years old that I had to rush to the vet, the liver ended up shutting down, the vet could not find the cause. I know things happen I am just wondering if they happen more with all English setters.

          • #181
            October Setters


              I understand you are upset and can see why you are trying to understand how all the Rymans you are acquainted with have health issues.  However I think you are barking up the wrong tree when you suggest the possibility that Rymans and/or ES in general have a higher incidence of health problems than other breeds.  I will also reiterate that allergies are fairly common in ES so I think the breeders you spoke to were naive at best. 

              I want to point out that I didn’t get the impression you were bashing the breeder.  If you have four dogs from the same breeder and all have significant health issues that isn’t your fault and stating the facts isn’t necessarily bashing or attacking said breeder.  I think it’s important to share this type of info so dogs afflicted with these problems can be eliminated from further breeding consideration.  Ignoring the problems and breeding these individuals anyway will only result in spreading the problems through the rest of the gene pool.  For that I thank you for bringing this up here.

              The fact that other breeders who started with the same lines are not seeing as many health issues suggests that Ryman lines aren’t the problem.  While bad breeding choices can and do lead to a higher incidence of various problems within lines there is another possibility that should be taken into consideration – the care received by the dogs and their living conditions.  Poor nutrition, illness, chemical exposure, etc. can cause increased susceptibility to health problems like those you describe, both in the affected dogs and in their offspring.  These conditions can trigger epigenetic switches that change the way genes work and create very different results between individuals carrying the same genes.  This could explain why some breeders have better success using the same lines.  Even more scary, those effects can be passed on for many generations.  Nova produced a great documentary on epigenetics called Ghost in Your Genes.  It comes and goes on Youtube but you can watch it now at:
              This show is old and a bit outdated but it gives a basic overview of epigenetic inheritance.  Very sobering…


            • #182

                Thank you Cliff for all your help. I am trying to do as much homework as possible, it is really upsetting when one of your favorite puppies gets a bad diagnosis. Even though she is my parents dog, I am out there often with them, and when I got my pup, oakly treated him as one of her own, it is fun watching the two of them together. Another breeder told me about Carol Beuchat, from the institute of canine biology, a lot of great information on her site. I am going to go watch the video now, thanks for the time.

              • #183
                October Setters

                  You’re welcome Robert and I sympathize with your current situation.  It’s always tough to see them suffer.

                  If you’re trying to do your homework you’d be wise to run fast and far away from Carol Beauchat’s web site.  I haven’t read all of her articles but she owns and has written all the articles for the Institute of Canine Biology.  What’s worse is she doesn’t understand basic genetic principles and, if I recall correctly, she’s a proponent of the “inbreeding is the cause of all health problems, so therefore outcrossing will cure them” philosophy that is currently popular and which makes absolutely no sense.  For an in depth analysis of one article from Dr. Beauchat’s site see this post:


                  She misrepresents/misinterprets Heritability Estimates, a basic principle she would understand if she had expertise in genetic inheritance (a quick Google search turned up a definition from Indiana University which specifically states that Dr. Beauchat’s interpretation is wrong – this is basic polygenic inheritance and she doesn’t understand it, which leads her to the same erroneous conclusions made by many novice breeders), reinterprets and misrepresents data from a published study to support her erroneous belief that hip dysplasia is caused by environmental factors (and therefore can be prevented by controlling environment), doesn’t even understand the difference between abnormal hip joint conformation (HD) and the resulting arthritic changes (symptom of HD).  Her web site also offers classes so you too can learn how to
                  misinterpret basic scientific principles and make stupid breeding
                  choices.  I don’t know who told you about this site but I’d recommend that you refer them to this and the above linked post to make them aware that The Institute of Canine Biology is a terrible place to learn about genetic inheritance or proper breeding practices. 

                  Following the advice given by Dr. Beauchat will only lead to well meaning breeders producing more pups that will suffer from preventable conditions. 

                  If you’re serious about learning how to breed healthy dogs I recommend you pick up a copy of this book:


                • #184

                    Thank you for that information, I was thinking of signing up for one of her classes. I am very naive on breeding and it is very easy to persuade me, you put a phd after someones name and I believe they are legit. I was just reading her article about inbreeding, I do believe what she was saying about recessive genes and how you never know when they will show themselves, it made since when she said a lot of line breeding when the coi is over 20% stands a chance of bringing those genes out in future litters. Do you find merit in that?
                    If you know of any other good books on breeding and genetics please let me know, I’m trying to gain as much knowledge as possible, but I don’t want to go down the wrong road.
                    Thank you

                  • #185
                    October Setters


                      I don’t know if you can state a certain COI over which you run more risk- putting a precise cutoff level is probably impossible. For instance, 20% inbred to a single dog is quite different than 20% total from inbreeding to several different unrelated dogs. (Linebreeding is, by definition, inbreeding so I’m calling it what it is here.)

                      The models show clearly how inbreeding has been a factor in the widespread health problems in all breeds, but Beauchat, and a lot of other people, make a serious error in logic by leaping to the conclusion that outcrossing is the answer to preventing health problems. Has inbreeding caused a higher incidence of health problems? Yes. Does it follow that you can you prevent health problems or eliminate them simply by outcrossing? No!

                      A few examples:
                      If you breed two dogs together that both carry an undesirable recessive gene will it make any difference in the offspring if the litter is inbred or outcrossed? No.

                      If you inbreed to a dog that carries an undesirable recessive gene will you see more of that gene expressed? Yes. All inbred dogs are more homozygous at all gene locations (if the inbreeding worked as intended). So, more dogs out of the inbreeding will be homozygous for that particular recessive and therefore express it. At the same time, more will be homozygous for NOT carrying it.

                      If a breed or line has a prevalent health problem caused by a recessive gene outcrossing will do nothing to improve the situation unless outcrossed to something that doesn’t carry it. If the outcross was done to another breed that doesn’t carry the gene you will have reduced the rate of occurrence, but you have not eliminated the gene. That will still require selective breeding regardless of whether you are inbreeding or outcrossing.

                      The designer cross-breed fad has proved that outcrossing in and of itself does not reduce health problems. Those dogs are not healthier than the pure breeds they are derived from and as an added bonus they now show all the health problems from both breeds.

                      Every experienced breeder I know says the same thing: Outcrossing is where they have picked up problems.

                      The OFA sees this scenario a LOT: A breeder does an outcross with an OFA Excellent dog to another OFA Excellent dog. Both dogs are from lines that produce a low incidence of hip dysplasia. Unknown to the breeders of both lines, they each carry a small, but DIFFERENT, set of HD genes that aren’t enough to produce many problems… until they are matched up with each other. The combination results in a disastrous litter full of dysplasia.

                      There is compelling evidence that homozygosity in the MHC (major histocompatibility) genes is associated with more immune system related diseases like allergies and diabetes. Extreme inbreeding can also cause inbreeding suppression, with lowered fertility and fitness. So, I am all for avoiding close and especially endlessly repeated inbreeding. My biggest complaint about what people like Beauchat promote is that it suggests a simple solution for breeders to follow that won’t by itself really do anything. Simple answers are appealing so everyone jumps on them. Plus breeders either deceitfully or ignorantly claim their dogs are healthy because they don’t inbreed, and therefore don’t need health clearances. There is at least one current Ryman-type breeder doing this, and the lines being used are notoriously bad for HD.

                      Padgett’s book goes into great detail explaining why outcrossing is not the simple or logical answer to eliminating health problems, and how to actually DO get rid of them. “Genetics of the Dog” by Willis is old, but a good primer on genetics.


                      PS: Here is the British version of the above TV program. It’s basically the same information but slanted more toward what is relevant to breeding.

                    • #186

                      Just an FYI: Carol Beuchat, and her “Institute of Canine Biology,” does heavy promotion, postings and advertisements on Facebook.  So much so in fact, that FB actually locked her out from posting for a 2 week penalty period because she was “over posting.”  Anyway, many people are/have jumped on board with her, accepting what she writes as true and helpful.  Snake oil anyone?  

                    • #187

                        That is one of the hardest things of all is finding good help, when it comes to training, there are so many good trainers that are willing to share there knowledge, I have been to a lot of seminars and talked to a lot of great trainers, but when it comes to breeding it seems like the information is a crap shoot, and then you don’t know what you just heard is sound advice or a sales pitch. I’m looking to do my best to raise great pups, but finding consistent answers is very tough. You have breeders that do tight line breeding because they say the litters are more predictable, I would be worried about genetic depression doing this. You have others saying never use a popular stud, someone like shadow oak Bo,
                        because you don’t know what resessive genes are hiding. Others say outcross, outcross, outcross. Which I am thinking you shouldn’t have to do unless as a whole you see the line not where it is supposed to be and you need to help bring the line back to where you want it, then you don’t know what you get until you take the outcross pups and bring them back into your line. I certainly know why some breeders hold a whole litter back and evaluate them to truly see what they are getting. And the whole time your trying figure this all out, you have to worry about what new health issues you might of created, what is hiding in those resesive genes and is it going to come out. They say Mr. Llewellins kennel had 5000 dogs, I could not imagine such a massive undertaking, and not be able to health check the dogs like we can do today. Does anyone know the size of Mr. Rymans kennels when he was running it? Well so much for my ramblings tonight, thank you to everyone for all your help.

                      • #188
                        October Setters


                          Welcome to the wonderful world of dog breeding!  We’re between puppies
                          so I don’t have much time to write but I wanted to throw a few thoughts
                          at you.

                          Lots of breeders don’t really understand genetics so in general they’re
                          a bad source of information.  Even some long time breeders fall into
                          this category.  You’re getting confused because you don’t have a firm
                          grasp of basic genetic principles.  Don’t bite off more than you can
                          chew.  Start with the basics.  Pick up a copy of Willis and study it
                          until you understand the concepts you’re struggling with.  Spend a month
                          or more if you have to.  Gain a solid understanding of the basic
                          principles and build on that knowledge as necessary.  Once you have that
                          foundation in place it’ll be easier to recognize when someone doesn’t
                          know what they’re talking about so you can ignore them.  Even if they do
                          know what they’re talking about you aren’t going to understand what
                          they’re saying until you have a good grasp of these principles yourself.

                          All of us started out where you are now, confused and lacking the basic
                          knowledge necessary to understand what you hear and read. Unfortunately
                          most of us were already breeding dogs before we took the steps you are
                          taking now and had to learn on the fly so to speak.  You are taking the
                          right approach by trying to learn these things before you get started
                          which will help you avoid some of the pitfalls without having to stumble
                          into them first.


                        • #2457
                          October Setters

                            Dredging up an old thread here because we touched on epigenetics in it and I ran across a study that might be of interest, especially to breeders.

                            Nicotine exposure of male mice produces behavioral impairment in multiple generations of descendants

                            There has been a ton of research on epigenetics in the last few years so there a lot more youtube videos available on the subject now- search on youtube for epigenetics. Here is a link to a currently working “The Ghost In Your Genes” mentioned above. It’s getting even older, but still relevant.



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