Every breeder has to make hard decisions, and this far I have been blessed that I have not had to do that. When I got into this breed, I made a promise to myself, my dog and the community that I would be honest at every turn, and disclose everything. I owe it to the breed to do that.

I received Akiko’s hips and elbow results back from the OFA and I was ecstatic so see her hips came back GOOD and her elbows as NORMAL.

Akiko’s X-ray

Unfortunately there was a foot note on her certificate.

“Spine: Transitional Vertebrae.”

This is a condition that has been seen in Kai Ken, Hokkaido Ken, Akita Inu and Shiba Inu before, it is a spinal deformity which causes an asymmetrical vertebrae in the spine at the fusion to the pelvis. In some breeds it is very common and seems not to cause issues (corgis, French bulldogs), and in others it does (German shepherds). In some breeds such as Rhodesian Ridgebacks, 35% of the breed has it. It is not a condition that is well known, well understood, or well screened in any breed. There are very few studies on the condition.

The current information from the Finnish Kennel Club and the Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals suggests that affected/symptomatic dogs should not be bred, but dogs who are not symptomatic may be bred to unaffected/clear dogs.

From what I can tell, Akiko is not currently symptomatic for any issues relating to this condition, nor does she have any orthopaedic changes caused by the condition. She does not have hip dysplasia, which is a common affect of the condition, she does not have any clear spinal degeneration, she does not have spondylosis, and she does not have any pain. Due to this, along with her other excellent health results, I’ve made what is a difficult decision to go ahead with my planned breeding. I have had the blessing of other breeders in the community and I believe that due to the already small gene pool and the unknown inheritability of the condition, I believe that it is within responsible ethics to still breed Akiko.

I have researched the pedigrees of the known affected dogs, and there are two common ancestors: Kai Kokushin Go Jounan Kensha and Sai No Takahime Go Funato Kamiyama Sou. Unfortunately, these dogs are also very prevalent in the majority of our current breeding population of Kai Ken. With so many offspring, yet only a handful of affected dogs, we do not know clearly enough how this gene is passed on. I also approached Akiko’s breeder, who I am honoured to have the support of, and neither of Akiko’s parents are affected. The planned sire of my litter, as well as his parents have also all been double checked and are not affected by the condition either.

Common Ancestors of the known Kai Ken with TV.

Sometimes in preservation breeding, risks have to be taken and I have done everything I can to reduce those risks to a little as possible. I believe in this case that it is a risk that is worth taking for the potential future of the breed. I believe that in this case, breeding Akiko may helps us learn more about the inheritability of this condition, and allow us to prepare future generations.

I have spoken to those who are in line for a puppy from me, those who are also going to be involved with preservation and I am humbled to have their support.

Every puppy I produce will be screened for this condition before I send them home at my cost. I will do everything in my power to work with my puppy owners and to offer as much support both emotionally and financially in the circumstance that a puppy I produce is affected by this condition. If anyone has any questions or advice, I would be more than happy to speak about this further. I hope I am making the correct decision.


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