VERY RECENT Bloat Study Report, in AAHA Journal

as   reported to Swissy-L
>From: Sharyl Mayhew <>
>Subject: Was, Bloat and dog size/now VERY RECENT Bloat study report
>Jamie asked:
>>All the recent (and interesting) bloat talk has got me wondering -- since
>>bloat is generally a Big Dog Phenomenon, anyone know if likelihood of bloat
>>has anything to do with dog size within a bloating breed? In other words,
>>does anyone's personal experience or actual research suggest that one of the
>>more massive Swissies would be more likely to bloat than, say, <WISHFUL
>>THINKING...> my Nico, who is a tiny girl (55 lbs at 11 mo.)? (Maybe this
>>weight discrepancy would partly explain the "males are more likely to bloat
>>than females" tendancy"?)

Good question Jamie-- and well timed:), You must be Psychic:) The "JOURNAL of the American Animal Hospital Association" September/October 1997 Vol 33 No.5 JUST came in the mail today (last week) and I will quote here the synopsis with telephonic permission and for educational purposes only. To  read the entire Study Report please see your veterinarian (All AAHA Certified Animal Hospitals will have a copy) or larger libraries in your area may carry this publication. I don't know if there is a website for
this, but I will try to look later -- Faster just to type in the short synopsis.

Predisposition to Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in Relation to Genetics of Thoracic Conformation in Irish Setters Robert H. Schaible, PhD; Jan Ziech, BS; Nita W. Glickman, MS; Diana Schellenberg, MS; Quilong Yi, MD, PhD; Lawreence T. Glickman, VMD, DrPh
A genetic influence on the risk of gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) (i.e. bloat) in dogs has been suspected by some veterinary practitioners and breeders but has not been studied scientifically. A previous epidemiological study of breed risk patterns suggested that conformation as well as breed size influence the risk of GDV. A family of Irish setters
with an unusually high frequency of GDV was identified from a sample of 155 dogs in the Irish Setter Club of America (ISCA) 1994 National Specialty show. The breeder of this family of Irish Setters helped obtain thoracic measurements with the goal of identifying a possible genetic basis for familial GDV.

Thoracic depth/width ratios (TDWRs) were calculated from measurements of the parents (i.e., common dam and two sires) and puppies in two litters. The TDWRs of the parents, distribution of TDWRs in the litters, and comparisons with earlier population studies suggest that an incompletely dominant major gene and a background of minor genes and
environmental factors are responsible for the TDWR. A history of GDV was correlated with high TDWRs in this family as it was reported previously for Irish Setters and certain other breeds. The findings of this study support earlier evidence that 1) breeds with higher TDWRs are at greater risk of developing GDV than comparably sized breeds with lower average TDWRs, and 2) individual dogs within a breed that have higher TDWRs are at greater risk of GDV compared to dogs of the same breed that have lower TDWRs. It may be possible to reduce the incidence of GDV by genetic manipulation (i.e., the selective breeding of dogs with lower TDWRs). 

End Synopsis

Jamie what I get out of this study is that it is not the overall weight so much as how wide and deep the chest cavity is and of course the "ratio" between the two measurements. I really wish our breed could have been involved in this study from the beginning like so many others but thanks to the generous breeders in the other breeds we all will benefit from the
studies as well. Unlike Irish Setters and Great Danes for example, our breed does not have the deep deep chest that is relatively narrow, instead our dogs have a pretty deep chest FCI standard calls for "Depth of chest to height at withers = 1 : 2" and that it is also "Chest: strong, broad, reaching to the elbows. Chest shaped like a roundish oval (seen incross
section); ribs neither flat nor barrel-shaped. Forechest well developed, noticeably broad Belly: belly and flanks barely tucked up". The AKC standard says: "The chest is deep and broad with slight protruding breast bone. Withers are high and long. Body is full with a slight tuck-up. Ribs are well sprung." More or less the same description (grin).

We are lucky in the fact that our breed standard doesn't really describe a dog that is "built to bloat" so we don't have to rethink the "looks" of our breed as they may be faced with that decision in some other breeds -- instead we need to continue to look to the standard(s) (we SHOULD use both the FCI and AKC, and historical descriptions of the dogs as they should be) as our ideal in the breed as well as follow the individual dog's pedigrees
and make an effort to consider bloat and family histories of bloat into our breeding decisions. 

AND OF COURSE TO FILL OUT OUR HEALTH QUESTIONAIRES and UPDATE them as our dogs mature and problems may develop. It is never a shame to have a dog
that has a problem but it is certainly shameful to not disclose and share that information with other breeders and with buyers. 


Life is not the destination -- it is the journey

Sharyl Mayhew - Precious Dog Training
Precious Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs -- Haymarket, VA