Medical history

Medical (veterinary) history

The goal of the Poodle History Project is to illuminate--by means of an annotated bibliography--the tasks which the Poodle (and his cousins) were bred to do. This section illuminates the history of their diseases which prevent performance, and of their friends who work to control these afflictions.

The Canine Genome

Dr. J. Craig Venter and his wife, Dr. Claire M. Fraser, who were in the forefront of those sequencing the human genome at the turn of the 20th century, in 2001 owned three Standard Poodles, Shadow, Cricket, and Marley. Dr. Venter and Dr. Fraser contributed Shadow's DNA for preliminary work sequencing the canine genome, at their own expense.

The Poodle History Project's editor estimates that if pet-Poodle owners proactively tested their own pets for genetically-transmitted disease as if we owned breeding stock, and made this information public, we would have a substantial good effect. The enormously-generous donation of Shadow's DNA and funding for preliminary sequencing by these two pet-Poodle owners took this idea as far as it can go!

See Edward R. Winstead, "Mapping the Dog: What the human genome sequence can do for dogs. And vice versa." ( Genome News Network, November 21, 2001)

The Standard Poodle database

The "other shoe dropping" in relation to a practical application of sequencing the dog genome, is genealogical research. Vigilant attention to the limitation of and reliability of sources and their scrupulous individual citation are essential, especially since database analysis reveals error in even the most evidently impeccable sources. The Standard Poodle [pedigree] database is a copyrighted publication in electronic form. The 2006 database contained 66,000 dogs; in December, 2006 the database contains 73,500 dogs, and it is estimated that the 2007 version will contain about 75,000. The entirety of the SPD is made available on an annual basis to persons donating $50 or more to the Poodle Club of America Foundation. For information RE purchase year by year, e-mail Mike Wahlig.

The Standard Poodle database was initiated and executed by pet-Poodles owner Lynn Brucker with the support of her husband, Roger. A widely-travelled electronics engineer, Lynn used flight-hours to input Standard Poodle pedigrees onto a laptop computer. In her words (December, 2002): "The Standard Poodle Database...began about 1991 or 1992. I was finding it frustrating to look up dogs in the PIA [Poodles in America ] volumes [published by the Poodle Club of America, see Poodle Club of America publications] and since the volumes only included champions, I was sometimes unable to locate the dogs I was looking for. Martin Packard from GDC [ Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals] had started a Bernese Mountain Dog database using dBase IV. When my office decided to standardize on Paradox as their database program I decided to do my own database. I started with the file structure Martin had used. I owe a lot to [the late] Frank Fretwell [Monfret, reg.] who educated me to the nuances of stud books, plus he let me copy all his English stud books and Breed Record Supplements. In addition, Eileen Fox, who is the researcher behind the PIA volumes, has been a tremendous help to me.

"I entered the PIA volumes, but it quickly became obvious that I needed a set of AKC [American Kennel Club] stud books. I finally found and purchased a set. And since that time I have been collecting German, UK, CKC, Swiss, East German, Netherlands, ...etc. books. You would not believe the book shelf space dedicated to stud books in this house! And I have been fortunate to make contact with other pedigree nuts who have been very helpful in providing data (see the list of names [below]).

"In addition to pedigrees, lists of offspring, and descendant lists the database will do coefficients of inbreeding, relationship coefficients, and other computations of interest to breeders."

In December, 2006, Lynn added: "The last eight or so years, copies of the Standard Poodle Database have been available on CD-ROM at PCA [The Poodle Club of America's National Specialty, held in 2007 in the second week of June; in 2007 in April] for a $50 donation to the PCA Foundation to support health research / education for Standard Poodles. Copies of the June 2006 version are available from Mike Wahlig at the PCA Foundation."

Among the members of Lynn's international team of volunteers (who made contributions large and small and each invaluable), in Canada: Susan Fraser, Emily Cain, John Armstrong, Mike Holmes, and Diane Zeifman; in England: Molly Windebank, Connie Crews, Angela Luty, Neville Kersey, and Evan Hughes; in Switzerland: Rosa Engler; in Sweden: Barbro Teglöf; in Finland: Jaana Rinkinen, and Pirkko Ranta-aho; in Norway: Bjorg Bruhjell Meland; in Australia: Jenni Staniforth and Christine Barsby; in the Netherlands: Janneke Scholten; and in the USA: Eileen Fox, Frank Fretwell, Susan Fleisher, Helen Sokopp, and particularly Kathy Foran (who beta-tested many versions and performed wizardry in coaching computer neophytes in its use) and Martin Packard (see above).

For more information see:
Standard Poodle Database, CD-ROM copyright 2002 Lynn W. Brucker.

Also useful (wrote Kathryn Foran in December, 2002): "An online database of Australian Poodles; and the newly-available online pedigree database of the Swedish Kennel Club (which, of course, includes Poodles)....Hard-copy pedigree databases include Poodles in America in 9 vols [volume ten: 2004; eds. Betsey A. Leedy and Lisa a. Crofft-Elliott] and Poodles in Australia in (at least) 3 vols. ....Open disease registries include the Finnish Poodle Club's, which is now online, and the Standard Poodle Club's (UK) annual hard-copy SA registry available from Molly Windebank."

In December, 2006, Kathryn Foran added:

  • "The Finnish Kennel Club now has their registration database online. This database includes health testing information.
  • "The link to the Swedish Kennel Club's online pedigree database, which also includes health testing information, is
  • "The ... link for GDC is and GDC records for hips, eyes, and SA have been migrated to the OFA online database. See:
  • "CERF registrations are now included in the OFA database. See: CERF is moving from Purdue. See the CERF website for current mailing information:
  • "The Poodle Club of America participates in CHIC (Canine Health Information Center), a joint project of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)."

    The Toy Poodle database

    Eva Marie Mitchell (DreamPoodles) is the initiator of the Toy Poodle database. In December, 2002, she wrote: "I am also a chief-cook-and-bottlewasher who has received great assistance: Jill Bunnell entered pedigrees for a year; Irene Hull 'gave' pedigrees of about 1,000 dogs to get me started; she also found the English Councils and loaned them long-term. If I'm chief-cook-and-bottlewasher, Lynn Brucker [see Standard Poodle database, above] is the maitre d': she makes all copies for sale; she holds the copyright on the Paradox program. Kathryn Foran has provided encouragement and invaluable assistance particularly with dead ends. Also, Bjorg Bruhjell Meland (aka Lilleba) and I have corresponded through the years--I would say we've traded information, except what I've sent her has been minimum compared to what she has sent me. I'm grateful to other people who have assisted--many have given just a single tidbit, and it was the one that I needed.

    "I was inspired to initiate the Toy Poodle database by Barbara Licht [see the Poodle Epilepsy Project, below]; she may not know of her role in this! I had asked her if it would be helpful if I bought the Standard Poodle database and donated it to her project, and was told that Lynn had already given this and the Licht team was using it to trace inherited epilepsy health problems in families of dogs. This cast in doubt the statements of many who said (this was 1996 or 1997) that four-generation pedigrees were perfectly adequate in determining health/heredity and that going further back than that would be too diluted.

    "I (and my immediate mentors) did not agree, and our point was proven when one of those friends had a cream bitch who produced a brown puppy. We had to go back eight and nine generations to find a brown on each side of that pedigree. Brown is, of course, a recessive gene. Those little recessive genes had been passed down through many generations on each side until one puppy managed to get a brown recessive from the sire and a brown recessive from the dam.

    "By that time, I had begun the Toy Poodle database, and was madly entering dogs; we sold the first version in 1998. During the next year, Jill Bunnell and I both entered dogs; a second version was presented at the Poodle Club of America's National Specialty in 1999. By 2000 I was entering on my own again. We did not sell any copies of the Toy Poodle database in 2002, but have plans to sell in 2003 at PCA National. Sales of this database are for the benefit of PCA's Foundation, with specific donation to PRA [Progressive Retinal Atrophy; see Dolly Trauner... below] research.

    "One of our Toy Poodles database's problems has to do with duplicates--different spellings of names. De Lorch can also be DeLorch or De lorch or Delorch. A computer sees all of these as different dogs. Perhaps for this reason, AKC's major focus is on the registration number of the dog; by contrast, because I do not have all of the AKC numbers in the database, I cannot identify the dog with certainty.

    "At the time of writing, I have 23,218 Toys in the database; 9,674 Miniatures (most of which appear in Toy pedigrees but some are for my own use); and 3,799 Standards. These Standards were picked up when I picked up all ancestors of Toys when I was in my combined database (I have one all-variety database on my computer). I also have 2,187 dogs which are not identified as to size, for a total in the database of 38,878 Poodles. The first Standards that I 'found' were 925 which turned up when I ran all ancestors of my own AKC/CKC/Int Ch Grayco Dreams Do Come True CGC. I was trying to see how many unique dogs I could identify behind her. 925 Standards was such a surprise that I ran the program several times: I didn't think I was using the software correctly!

    "Result: one of my preliminary conclusions is, those who believe they have found the solution to inbreeding problems by combining different varieties have not done sufficient pedigree-research. It was Kathy Foran who told us that the Toy Poodle Ch Happy Chappy was behind many Standards. Well, I have 925 Standards behind my Toy!" --Eva Marie Mitchell, December 2002

    The Miniature Poodle database

    A Miniature Poodle database is in the preliminary stages of construction.

    The Poodle Health Registry (PHR)

    The Poodle Health Registry is an ambitious and logical development of the Juvenile Renal Disease in Standard Poodles research project (see below). Standard Poodles are available in a searchable on-line pedigree database. The Toy Poodles and Miniature Poodles database is under development, but the health information (including pedigrees) is similarly available on the Poodle Health Registry website. The Standard Poodle Database (see above) is the basis for the Poodle Health Registry's Standards database; Eva Mitchell's database (see above) is the basis for PHR's Minis and Toys.

    The following press release was distributed in December, 2006:

    "The Poodle Health Registry (PHR) information for Standard Poodles is now available in a pedigree format. The Miniature and Toy pedigree databases are still in development.

    "The PHR is an important tool for puppy buyers, breeders looking for a stud dog or bitch possibly not carrying the same deleterious genes as the prospective dam or sire of the litter, current dog owners wanting to know what has been produced in the pedigree of their dogs, and fanciers concerned for the health of our beloved breed. Please register your Poodle(s) who have, or who have had, health problems, whether genetic in origin or origin unknown, to make the PHR pedigree database a useful tool for all. Those who register their dogs with PHR certainly have the well-being of the breed in mind.

    "In order for a dog to be registered, the diagnosis has to be verified by a veterinarian, and at least one owner needs to submit the registration. Registration is free.

    "In addition to dogs registered with the PHR, dogs registered with the UK Standard Poodle Club SA and Addison's Registries are included as well as the old GDC SA registry and the OFA SA registry.

    "The pedigrees that come up identify affected dogs, the parents and siblings of affected dogs, and dogs that have been tested clear or tested carriers of various diseases by DNA or other definitive tests.** The PHR pedigree database does not include titles because of the difficulty of keeping them up-to-date.

    "The pedigree database is easy to use. You can search on dog name (or partial name), call name, registration number, date of birth, and color, as well as various diseases/disorders. You can display pedigrees from 3 to 9 generations, breedings (bred to and offspring), and siblings.

    "The login page and database may be accessed through the link on the PHR website navigation bar. Registration is free and easy. Please choose a password unique to the PHR only as it is not encrypted.

    "Those who wish to be notified when a new dog is added to the registry can register at to do so.

    "PHR is run entirely by a small group of volunteers. Kindly show your appreciation for the work and upkeep of the pedigree database and registry with a tax-free donation. You may donate through Amazon on the PHR Homepage, or send a check to PHR Treasurer, 1635 Grange Hall Rd., Dayton, OH 45432-2050. Amazon takes a 2.9% of all donations made through them.

    "**For example, Vetgen offers a conclusive DNA test for Type I von Willebrand's Disease. See: Researchers at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine found the gene for neonatal encephalopathy in Standard Poodles and can test for it. See:

    "Dogs can be cleared of ASD (atrial septal defect) by an echocardiogram/Doppler read by a board-certified cardiologist. The examiner must be able to perform two-dimensional, pulsed-wave Doppler, and continuous wave Doppler examinations of the heart."

    The Poodle Epilepsy Project

    The Poodle Epilepsy Project, headed by Poodle-owner Barbara Licht, Ph.D. from Florida State University, was first launched at the 1996 Poodle Club of America National Specialty Show. With the help of a great many other Poodle owners and breeders, the Project is working to improve understanding of the causes of seizures in Poodles. The long-term goal of the Poodle Epilepsy Project is to identify the gene (or genes) that contribute to seizures in Poodles so that breeders will be able to test their Poodles before they are bred to determine if they are carrying the defective genes. This should enable breeders to maintain the desirable characteristics of their bloodlines while eliminating idiopathic epilepsy.

    For more information, please see:

    Barbara G. Licht, Ph.D., Kathleen Harper, DVM, Ph.D., Linda Hyson, B.A., Mark Licht, Ph.D., Shili Lin, Ph.D., "Mode of Inheritance for Epilepsy: What We Have Learned and Where We are Going" ( Poodle Papers, June 2001).

    Barbara G. Licht, Ph.D., Mark H. Licht, Ph.D., Kathy Harper, DVM, Ph.D., and Linda Hyson, B.A. , "Partial Versus Generalized Seizures: What Types of Seizures do Poodles Have?" (Poodle Papers, March 2002).

    Barbara G. Licht, Ph.D., Mark H. Licht, Ph.D., Kathleen Harper, DVM, Ph.D., Linda Hyson, B. A., and Shili Lin, Ph.D., "Poodle Epilepsy Project: What's New in 2002?" (Poodle Variety, February-March 2002).

    Juvenile Renal Disease in Standard Poodles research project

    The Juvenile Renal Disease in Standard Poodles research project's objective is to determine the mode of inheritance of juvenile renal disease in Standard Poodles. This can be done by collecting a great many pedigrees, statistics, and DNA from affected litters; using this material, a test will eventually be developed to determine those dogs that are carriers of the gene(s) for JRD, clear of the gene(s) for JRD, and those puppies that are affected by the disease. This project was initiated in 1990 by Standard Poodle owner Susan Fleisher (who had lost a puppy to JRD), with the help of Lynn Brucker. Many owners and breeder/owners have contributed pedigrees and DNA samples to the project. Everyone who contributes to the project is part of the solution to the problem of JRD in Standard Poodles; all those who are involved with this project are grateful for support from the Poodle Club of America and the Elizabeth Campbell Memorial fund.

    For more information on JRD in Standard Poodles, see the following articles on line:

  • Juvenile Renal Disease (JRD) in Standard Poodles
  • Clinical article on Juvenile Renal Disease (JRD) in Standard Poodles.

    Dolly Trauner and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF)

    "CERF was founded in 1974 by Mrs. Dolly Trauner [a Poodle fancier] of San Francisco, California. Mrs. Trauner realized that many purbred canines were having genetically linked eye problems. She established CERF to maintain a registry of those animals who have been found to be free of these heritable problems, thus giving breeders extra assurance that they are not continuing to breed animals that might pass eye diseases to their offspring. Because of the complexities involved, Mrs. Trauner insisted that CERF would only accept eye examinations performed by ACVO [American College of Veterinary Opthalmologists] members. Mrs. Trauner's high standards were ultimately upheld by a landmark decision of the Federal and United States Supreme Court systems. This insured that breeders would have only the most thorough and professional examinations for their animals and that CERF would get accurate and complete data from which to certify that a dog is free from heritable diseases.

    "In 1987, Mrs. Trauner asked the Veterinary Medical Data Base Program (VMDB) at Purdue University to take over the CERF program. Because of the ever-increasing work load of CERF, Mrs. Trauner felt that it needed the expertise and data management facilities of a national organization like VMDB. VMDB is the national veterinary medical data base. They act as a repository and research facility for data from over 28 veterinary universities across the United States and Canada. Housing nearly five million records, VMDB is the largest source of veterinary medical data in the world." Media information sheet received 16 January 1998, from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, a Veterinary Medical Data Base, 1248 Lynn Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 47907-1248 USA.

    What CERF does: "Since its founding in 1974, the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) had made a two-pronged attack on genetically linked blindness in dogs. CERF maintains a registry of dogs who have been certified free of heritable eye diseases by members of the American College of Veterinary Opthalmologists (ACVO). CERF registration has become a standard requirement for the sale and breeding of many purebred dogs. It helps to insure that heritable eye diseases will not be passed on to the next generation. CERF also collects data from all eye examinations performed by ACVO members. This data is compiled and organized into reports which are distributed to participating members, veterinarians, and researchers. These reports aid researchers in identifying links between specific canine breeds and the eye diseases to which they are prone. The reports may also point toward areas which require more focused research and data generation. Thus, CERF is aiding in the fight to prevent heritable eye diseases through both registration and research." Ibid.

    As of December 2006, CERF is moving from Purdue. See the CERF website for current mailing information:

    See also:

    Dolly B. Trauner, "Documenting PRA in the Poodle" Poodle Variety, December '91/January '92, pp. 52-64. Introduction: "Mrs. Trauner...with her late husband was the founder of CERF." Parts of this article previously appeared in Diann Ellis's breed column in AKC Gazette.

    --"The Search for a PRA Carrier", PV, December '89/January '90, pp. 44-6. Soliciting donations for the CERF-PRA Research Fund.

    --"The CERF Computer", PV, June/July '87, pp. 43-4. Regarding paranoia and rumors about CERF's computer.

    --"Official Word from CERF", PV, June/July '85, pp. 19-20. Urging readers to understand and accept CERF reports as reliable and bearing serious implications.

    --"Some Background on PRA", PV, February/March '84, pp. 18-22. Technical.

    Toe cancer

    "The Ostrander Laboratory at the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH is conducting research on the genetic susceptibility to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the digit in the Standard Poodle. This is a disease with genetic underpinnings and our ultimate goal is to identify the genetic variants responsible for susceptibility to this disease. Digital SCC is seen more often in dogs with black coats. Black Standard Poodles are as much as 12 times more likely than the general dog population to suffer from digital SCC1. In addition, this cancer also affects black dogs of several other breeds, such as the Giant Schnauzer, Scottish Terrier and Labrador Retriever...." Press release June 2006, from the Cancer Genetics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. For more information and links to recent publications, see Canine Genome Project.


    The first time narcolepsy was diagnosed in a dog was in 1974 in a Poodle. See: Mitler, Dement et al., "Narcolepsy-Cataplexy in a Female Dog", Experimental Neurology 45 (1974), pp. 332-240. At the present time (11/'97) a family of Dobermans is being studied at Stanford.

    The headpiece for this section is a 19th century Staffordshire spill-vase. "Spills" were slivers of wood or lengths of tightly-screwed paper which were used for transporting fire (for example, from a stove to a candle or lamp).

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