Updated: Feb 29, 2020
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I want to go over why we often seem to emphasize weight and body condition score in our puppies and dogs and why it is so important.
In one of the better studies on the topic, they took some Labrador retrievers and fed them the “normal” amount recommended on bags of food.
The second group was fed about 25% less, to keep them at a body condition score (BCS) of 4-5.
The dogs in the study were all litter mates, so genetic variation was not an issue.
The group that was kept at a 4-5 BCS not only suffered less pain, they also lived longer.
Please look at the chart to see the difference (charts from Institute of Canine Biology analysis of the published data).
This has massive and serious implications for evaluating breeding dogs. It also complicates things. So if we have a dog with a fair rating but who has been overweight, is that dog now a more suitable breeding candidate than one with a good rating who has always been at an ideal weight? At this point, there's no way to know. And An overweight dog who fails radiographic screening is still not an acceptable breeding candidate because we just don't know if she or he would have had a better score given a better diet. Weight does NOT replace radiographic screening (PennHip, OFA, eVet), but we should include weight as a factor IN ADDITION TO these screenings.
It's easier to evaluate body condition on a short-haired dog, because you can do that visually. If your dog has a longer coat, be sure you can feel your dogs ribs and that there is at most only a VERY thin layer of fat over them. If you need help evaluating your dog’s body condition, please ask us or consult your vet.
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