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Merle Color In Cocker Spaniels

Merle Color In Cocker Spaniels, ASCF Study
from Charles Born, President, American Spaniel Club

As our members know the validity of the merle pattern and associated health issues in the Cocker Spaniel have concerned breeders for some time now.   After some progress, in 2009 the ASC Board began a concerted effort to identify and understand the depth of the issue and what to do.  In addition to our request to the AKC for Z registration status on merle Cockers which has been approved, at the direction of the ASC Board of Directors I asked the ASC Foundation to conduct a three-part study that included:

  1. Researching the  evidence showing whether merle is or is not a Cocker Spaniel color.
  2. Researching the scientific evidence that the merle color can produce significant health issues.
  3. Developing an approach for educating breeders, owners and the general puppy buying population on the results of their investigations

The Scientific Research Committee assisted by the Grants Committee was tasked with conducting this study by ASCF President Dee Torgerson-Rismyhr.  This combined task force was led by Doug McFarlane, a long-time Cocker fancier and English Cocker breeder and judge and a former member of ASC Board and many other Spaniel Boards and joined by Karen Yager, a PhD geneticists and Clumber breeder. You can read about their approach and methodology in the full study report.
My layman’s summary of their report is as follows:

  • Is merle a Cocker Spaniel color? A peer-reviewed and validated scientific study of six different breeds with a merle mutation found the gene to be exactly the same in all the six breeds.  The study concluded that the merle mutation predates all dogs and is behind all breeds—quite possibly going back to their wolf ancestors.
  • Is the merle mutation a health risk? Yes.  While not every single merle Cocker has health issues, the preponderance of health issues directly and specifically associated with the merle genetic mutation has been identified in the peer-reviewed scientific studies highlighted in the study by the task force.
  • Lastly, education. We are starting this education with our members by providing the results of the study conducted by the task force and providing an open forum for questions and dialogue.  I wanted a study that was absent of opinion or bias and strong on scientific fact; my deepest gratitude goes to the committee and the ASCF for delivering on this.  American Spaniel Club members will have opportunities for Q&A with the task force through their Zone Representatives and other forums.  The details of this will be in the Bulletin coming out in March.

It is the opinion of the American Spaniel club Board of Directors that the breeding of this mutation should be stopped for the obvious health reasons identified in the study.  Our standard is already clear that this pattern is a confirmation disqualification.  We hope that through a combination of education and the tracking made possible with the Z registration we are providing information and knowledge to current breeders and to future generations of breeders to make informed choices.

Thank you,

Charles Born, President, American Spaniel Club, Feb. 2011


American Spaniel Club Foundation
Merle Color In Cocker Spaniels

December, 2010

Prepared by ASCF Scientific Research Committee

Douglas P. McFarlane, BS Mathematics, MS Computer Science
Karen L. Yager, BS Microbiology, Ph.D. Developmental Biology (Genetics)

Introduction

Background

  • The Board of the ASC asked the ASCF to take on the task of researching the hereditary aspects and related issues of Merle Cocker Spaniels. The specific hypothesis presented to the ASCF was that the Merle color was not a Cocker Spaniel color but was instead introduced into the gene pool by a specific breeding that occurred in the 1980s.
  • The ASCF tasked the Scientific Research Committee, assisted by the Grants Committee, with conducting this study with the goal of confirming this hypothesis
  • The Study objective was defined and approved by the ASCF Board and work began early in 2010

Approach

The study was separated into 3 specific goals

  • Goal #1: Determine if scientific evidence can be provided to prove Merle is not a Cocker Spaniel color. If yes, provide such scientific evidence.
  • Goal #2: Provide scientific evidence the Merle color can produce significant health issues
  • Goal #3: Develop recommended approach to educating breeders, owners and general puppy buying population the results of the investigations and facts determined from goals 1 and 2

The Committee reviewed:

  • Prior work done by ASC members
  • Numerous published scientific studies
  • Articles discussing Merle color issues

Findings and conclusions were based on scientific evidence presented in peer reviewed published reports

Report Structure

  • Each goal is presented and the findings are summarized in this report. Based on the findings, conclusions are drawn and provided in this report
  • Specific details of the findings and research reference material is provided as an appendix

 

  

All of the ballots regarding the proposed changes to the Cocker Spaniel Breed Standard have been counted. The only proposed change that passed was to add the disqualification for blue eyes or blue specks in the eye.  The results are as follows:

 

BALLOT 1: Proposed change to include disqualification for blue eyes:

Number of ballots returned 710

Invalid ballots 2

Total number of valid ballots 708

 

Number required to pass (2/3s) 472

 

Number of Yes votes 512 (72.32%)

 

Number of No votes 196 (27.68%)

 

This proposed change passed.

 

BALLOT 2: Proposed change to include undocked tails:

 

Number of ballots returned 708

 

Invalid ballots 2

 

Total number of valid ballots 706

 

Number required to pass (2/3s) 471

 

Number of Yes votes 324 (45. 89%)

 

Number of No votes 382 (54.11%)

 

This proposed change did not pass.

 

BALLOT 3: Proposed change to include solid sable:

 

Number of ballots returned 709

 

Invalid ballots 2

 

Total number of valid ballots 707

 

Number required to pass (2/3s) 471

 

Number of Yes votes 337 (47. 67%)

 

Number of No votes 370 (52.33%)

 

This proposed change did not pass.

 

BALLOT 4: Proposed change to include parti-color sable:

 

Number of ballots returned 706

 

Invalid ballots 2

 

Total number of valid ballots 704

 

Number required to pass (2/3s) 469

 

Number of Yes votes 336 (47. 73%)

 

Number of No votes 368 (52.27%)

 

This proposed change did not pass.

 

This has been a thoughtful, vigorously debated, and sometimes contentious process, but the membership has spoken. For the good of ASC and the love of our breed, I hope, and I think we will, all move forward together.

 

Linda Moore 

 


 

Earlier the National Nominating Committee presented the following nominees to serve 2-year terms (1-18 to 1-20) as officers of the club.:

 

President — Diane Kepley 

1st VP — Julie Virosteck 

2nd VP — Kathy Egeland-Brock

 

Now the Zone Nominating Committees have finished their work and are nominating the following individuals to serve as Directors and Alternates for 2-Year terms (1-18 until 1-20).

 

Zone 1 

Director — Stacy Dobmeier; Alternate — Vivian Hudson

 

Zone 2

Director — Dale Ward; Alternate — Karin Linde Klerholm

 

Zone 3

Director — Bonnie Buell; Alternate — Lisa Arnett

 

Zone 4

Director — Linda McLean; Alternate — Lane Tarantino 

 

Zone 5

Director — Alan Santos; Alternate — DeAnn Jepson

 

Any members who were not nominated by these committees may run by petition received by the Secretary on or before November 15th. Requirements for the petitions are contained in Article IV, Section 2 of the bylaws found on the ASC website under Documents.

 


Just a reminder that the ASC Board is soliciting member input prior to taking action on the proposed bylaw changes. The 30 day comment period ends on October 28, 2017.


Please post any comments or questions to the ASC Yahoo List or send your comments to me, Tony Stallard, privately if you so desire. a4r4s4@aol.com 


 

***** FLUSHING SPANIEL SHOW 2018 U P D A T E *****

Due to unforeseen delays with the building improvement construction, the Knoxville Exhibition Center will not be ready in time for our January show. Therefore, we will move the show to the Jacob Building at Chilhowee Park (2201 E. Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville).

The venue is a short 5 ½ miles (approximately 10 min.) drive from the Holiday Inn. The Knoxville Convention Center team has committed to making this unexpected transition as seamless as possible. We are working with Visit Knoxville (Convention & Visitors Bureau) to provide shuttle service for our members and guests to/from the Holiday Inn and the show venue.

More information will be available shortly as the Show Committee works on the logistics of the Show.  For now, we recommend that everyone who has reservations at the Holiday Inn, KEEP them. The few motels located by the facility are not recommended by the KCC or Chilhowee Park management. However, if you would like to cancel your reservation, please DO NOT call the Holiday Inn.  Please contact Jane Williams.  We have a waiting list for rooms and we need to facilitate the room change or the room will go back to general hotel inventory. 


ASC 2017 National Specialty DVD Clips

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Junior handlers July 2017 


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