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Spotting risky head shape can improve breed health - study
Cavalier King Charles spaniels have become increasingly popular in recent years owing to their ‘exaggerated head’ with large forward-facing eyes.
Judges assess head shape of 13 Cavalier King Charles spaniels 

New research suggests that dog health could be improved if breed show judges were to use their ability to identify differences in the shape of a dog’s head.

In the study, breed show judges used a checklist devised by researchers to identify different head shapes in King Charles spaniels. The spaniels had previously been identified as risk factors for Chiari malformation and syringomyelia.

Cavalier King Charles spaniels have become increasingly popular in recent years owing to their ‘exaggerated head’ with large forward-facing eyes. This recent change in head shape is markedly different to the traditional breed standard and research shows that it increases the risk of developing Chiari malformation and syringomyelia.

The dog show judges were asked to decide if the head shape of 13 Cavalier King Charles spaniels was “moderate” (traditional) or “exaggerated” (modern). This assessment was then compared to measurements of the dogs’ heads and MRI scan results identifying the presence of syringomyelia.

The findings show that judges varied in their ability (20 per cent to 80 per cent) to match the head shape with syringomyelia status, suggesting that visual assessment was possible.

Study leader Clare Rusbridge from the University of Surrey's School of Veterinary Science said: “Breed show judges are the considered experts in assessing the shape of a dog’s head. In selecting the champions of the breed they have great influence in determining what shape of head other breeders and the pet buying public will desire.”
 
“If we are able to show what facial and head characteristics are risky for dogs’ health then we can inform breed show judges who in turn can improve the health of the breed. To this end, we plan to continue our work in conjunction with facial recognition and medical imaging experts at the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing at the University of Surrey.”

The study, Pilot study of head conformation changes over time in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed, is published in Vet Record

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.