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Old 02-13-2009, 01:07 PM   #1
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Default Bred for purpose medical service dogs?

This is a spin-off thread from the one that barbiespoodle had started on cross-breeds bred for a purpose as working dogs. In this one I would like to explore the need and ethics of breeding dogs specifically to help with medical conditions of humans.

I think many of us are familiar with Guide Dogs for the blind programs, where specially bred dogs (usually Labrador Retrievers) are fostered in families and later given rigorous training. If not here is an example.
http://www.guidedogs.com/site/PageSe...rams_dog_puppy
It is the notorious shedding problem of the Labby which led to the attempts to come up with a breed which would be able to handle the same tasks without putting the shedding burden on the owner.

Then there are dogs who can recognize a epileptic seizure in their human and who will cover them with their body to prevent injury. One of the most spectacular examples in the US was Faith, the Rottie who not only recognized that her owner's medication was not working, but who called emergency on the phone (it was on speed dial) and unlocked the door for the paramedics (!).
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,137066,00.html

There is interest in using dogs to screen for cancer, as they have been found to be able to sniff it out under certain conditions.
http://www.bioedonline.org/picks/news.cfm?art=1156

I'm not able to find any souces that I think are 100 % reliable, but from what I have seen, any dogs trained for this purpose should be "certified utility dogs," which would rule out a great number of dogs.
Quote:
"You can´t just use someone´s pet," Pickles said. "You have to have dogs that are certified utility dogs (the highest AKC obedience rating). You need a professional handler with several obedience trial wins. The dogs need to know 150 commands just to start and have to know 400 commands by the end of training."
http://www.scn.org/seniors/stories/tspinE48.html
There seems to be disagreement as to what constitutes acceptable training.
Quote:
"When we heard anecdotally that there was a device out there that might be able to detect cancer at its earliest stages, before it even shows up on an MRI [magnetic resonance imaging], it was something we wanted to pursue," said Nicholas Broffman, executive director of the Pine Street Foundation, a nonprofit group in California that conducted the study.
...
In this study, three Labrador retrievers and two Portuguese water dogs were trained in three weeks to either sit or lay down in front of breath samples from lung and breast cancer patients, while ignoring those of healthy individuals.

"These were not super dogs," said Broffman. "They were just ordinary household pets."

The trial comprised of breath samples from 55 patients with lung cancer, 31 with breast cancer, and 83 healthy people. The samples were captured in special tubes.

All cancer patients had recently been diagnosed through conventional methods, such as mammograms or CT scans, but had not yet begun chemotherapy. And the trial samples were different from the ones used to train the dogs.

The results show the dogs were 88 percent to 97 percent accurate in identifying both early- and late-stage breast and lung cancers.
...
Veterinarian Larry Myers, from Auburn University in Alabama, is currently working on four canine-cancer detection projects.

He said he has some doubts, though, about the Pine Street study.

"What makes me a little curious about this is they are talking about three weeks of training for these dogs and getting [a high] percent of accuracy," Myers said.
...
"Everybody needs to be careful and not overstate how wonderful these [studies] are," said Myers. "We need to approach [this type of research] slowly, cautiously and scientifically."
http://news.healingwell.com/index.php?p=news1&id=530386

The question I would like to pose is whether it is necessary and/or ethical to not only train dogs for such purposes, but to breed for specific traits that would enable them to perform these tasks better than they currently can.
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:27 PM   #2
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"
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You can´t just use someone´s pet," Pickles said. "You have to have dogs that are certified utility dogs (the highest AKC obedience rating). You need a professional handler with several obedience trial wins. The dogs need to know 150 commands just to start and have to know 400 commands by the end of training
This bit worries me, how does he explain all the assistance dogs that are taken from rescues , and trained up to aid their new owners.


What does he mean by "utility dogs"???

Where does that leave all the xbreeds gundogs, and so on who are doing a good job now.

As said in the earlier thread... I cant see there is anything we can enhance in any breed to achieve a better service dog.

There are thousands of them doing it now.. without having to create a new breed to do a better job.
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:34 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by boxerpups View Post
"

This bit worries me, how does he explain all the assistance dogs that are taken from rescues , and trained up to aid their new owners.


What does he mean by "utility dogs"???

Where does that leave all the xbreeds gundogs, and so on who are doing a good job now.

As said in the earlier thread... I cant see there is anything we can enhance in any breed to achieve a better service dog.

There are thousands of them doing it now.. without having to create a new breed to do a better job.
I believe Duane Pickles was referring specifically to cancer sniffing dogs when making this remark.
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:53 PM   #4
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I went to a multiple sclerosis support meeting last month that had rough collies bread for helping people with MS. Most of the service dogs were male (bigger). The woman breeder was there and talked about training and how she matched a dog to a person.
It was very interesting. None were rescues, cause she needs a large dog.
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Old 02-13-2009, 02:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by JGLI View Post
I believe Duane Pickles was referring specifically to cancer sniffing dogs when making this remark.
yes, I understood that , but what I dont understand is "utility" what persific reasons does he mean by this.

Not so long ago on our TV. was coverage of such a dog... sniffing out cancer... she was a cock er spaniel I think, she was taken from a rescue centre and was trained to do this..she manage it all be her self with a little help from her trainers LOL!!!

All dogs have noses ,all dogs have a much better sense of smell then we do, that is why we can utilize them to do the jobs we require... A dog will learn to do a trick,... and lets face it, sniffing out drugs .cancer/ explosives are just that... they are performing for a reward... usually a tennis ball...


In fact watching programmes on this sort of thing, that is one of the criteria `s the dog has to fit a criteria, he/she has to be interested in a reward based training regime... if you have a willing dog who wants to play..you are on the mark for having a service dog,

No need to recreate or improve breeds , when they are already there doing the job.
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Old 02-13-2009, 02:06 PM   #6
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yes, I understood that , but what I dont understand is "utility" what persific reasons does he mean by this.
The term "utility" is used by the AKC to refer to the highest level of obedience. See link:
http://www.akc.org/events/obedience/getting_started.cfm

I think if a dog is going to diagnose cancer cancer then I would like some assurance that the dog really is well trained for the job.
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Old 02-13-2009, 02:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techie View Post
I went to a multiple sclerosis support meeting last month that had rough collies bread for helping people with MS. Most of the service dogs were male (bigger). The woman breeder was there and talked about training and how she matched a dog to a person.
It was very interesting. None were rescues, cause she needs a large dog.
techie

you can get large dogs in rescue too.

I am not saying all service dogs are rescues , but here in the UK, we make use of the rescue centres to find some dogs..some are bred for purpose, i.e guide dogs, but many many come about by accident rather than design.
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Old 02-13-2009, 02:11 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by skunkstripe View Post
The term "utility" is used by the AKC to refer to the highest level of obedience. See link:
http://www.akc.org/events/obedience/getting_started.cfm

I think if a dog is going to diagnose cancer cancer then I would like some assurance that the dog really is well trained for the job.

Thanks for that.

Of Cause you would , and it would be unprofessional not to be so .

But training, is training... training for the job is what is needed..what ever the breed what ever the dog.

And you can train any dog to the highest level of obiedence... it does not have to be purpose bred.

Take a look at obiedence /agility competitions , you will see a variety of breeds and crosses all doing working to a hight standard.

You only have to go to Crufts to see this.
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Old 02-13-2009, 02:25 PM   #9
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"All dogs have noses ,all dogs have a much better sense of smell then we do, that is why we can utilize them to do the jobs we require... A dog will learn to do a trick,... and lets face it, sniffing out drugs .cancer/ explosives are just that... they are performing for a reward... usually a tennis ball...


In fact watching programmes on this sort of thing, that is one of the criteria `s the dog has to fit a criteria, he/she has to be interested in a reward based training regime... if you have a willing dog who wants to play..you are on the mark for having a service dog,

No need to recreate or improve breeds , when they are already there doing the job."

The spectrum of tasks required of service dogs extends far beyond sniffing ability and performing tricks. The wide range of disability areas served and the severity of the individual's need greatly impact the type of dog chosen for a client. In fact, some organizations are reluctant to use purebred dogs in their speciality area:

"Service dog requirements are actually more lax than requirements for medical response dogs, or dogs that are used by blind or hearing impaired people. That’s because service dogs don’t do the same sort of things as other assistance dogs or guide dogs. In fact, other assistance dogs require that the dogs are specific breeds and come from specific pedigrees. That is because the dogs need to be known quantities, and certain traits need to be encouraged from generation to generation. But that is not the case with service dogs. Service dogs can be any breed and from any background that you like. That’s because there are really only three serious service dog requirements. The first is that they have desirable character traits. The second is that they good conformation. The third is that they have good health.

The desirable character traits for a service dog are intelligence, mild manners, and they cannot be aggressive. They need to be obedient and you need to be able to train them without fear that they will one day lash out in fear or just because they’re the sort of dog to lash out. If you can find a dog that is intelligent, has mild manners, and is not aggressive, then you have a good start for a service dog. Another service dog requirement is good health. This means a history of good health and predictors for future good health. Some purebreds, for example, are more susceptible to certain illnesses and diseases that can strike out of nowhere and debilitate or kill a dog that has been trained for thousands of hours to perform certain tasks. "


http://www.topdog.org/servicedogrequirements.html
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Old 02-13-2009, 02:28 PM   #10
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Crufts is a long way away!
Here in the US mixes are not allowed to compete in any AKC events such as obedience or agility. The only thing the AKC allows for non purebreds is the "Canine Good Citizen."
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