BeaCon evolved in the late
1990's. At that time the parent club for the Bearded Collie, the BCCA, was transitioning the
emphasis of the health committee to become primarily educational. Some were interested in providing
a setting where details about Bearded Collies' the extent of health problems and wellness could be
recorded. This interest led to BeaCon's founding in 1999 and in 2000 the concept of an open health
registry progressed to development of a program.
Why Have An OHR?
- To establish the incidence of health
- To gather information that can be used
in research to study inherited problems.
- To provide breeders with objective
- To answer these
- What is the average life
expectancy of a Beardie?
- What are the most common causes
- Identify the most common health
- Is disease incidence the same
across the decades?
- Is health of the breed
improving with time?
These objectives can be accomplished only
when a representative and large population participate.
Role Model of Human
Study of human health statistics is a role
model which can be applied to the study of purebred dog health. Consider the yearly information
presented to the public by the Surgeon General in the Health of the Nation report. This information
is quoted on the television, in newspapers, journals, insurance brochures, health promotion
leaflets in physician's offices. This is BIG news!
How does the Surgeon General get the
information on the leading cause of death? Life expectancy? Top 10 leading causes of death? He
doesn't look around him and say, "Well, 7 people I know died this year, 3 of cancer, 2 of heart
disease, 1 from complications of surgery, and 1 from an automobile accident. I guess that cancer is
the leading cause of death this year." Fortunately, there is an objective data collection system
about health data along with statistical analysis of that data.
Programs such as the National Center for
Health Statistics (NCHS), a division of Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have
identified the leading diseases and conditions in human health. The NCHS collects, analyzes, and
disseminates health data that are timely, accurate, and relevant in protecting the health of
Americans from birth to death. It generates nationally representative estimates of disease
prevalence and incidence and general health status and trends.
The need to fund research, testing, and
prevention can be documented. With this system, heart disease and cancer have been identified as
the two leading causes of death among persons 65 years of age and older for the past 2 decades.
Over 1/3 of all deaths are due to heart disease. Cancer accounts for about 1/5 of all deaths. The
third most common cause of death is stroke, followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
diabetes and pneumonia and influenza. The fact that men and women are able to experience longer,
more healthy, enjoyable and productive lives depends, in part upon preventing and controlling these
chronic diseases and conditions.
Back to the Dog World
Information is a useful tool
for breeder in preventing some diseases that can be debilitating. Disease frequency and
what dogs experience diseases may help breeders to prioritize items that need attention in
their selection process. Objective information provides a far sounder basis for decisions
than gossip and conjecture.
Although the task is complex
and dependent on a large number of participants, it is expected that a long term open health
registry will improve health of Beardies.
BeaCon administers the only
completely open health registry for recording wellness and a broad range of health conditions and
reproductive outcome for Bearded Collies. The only requirement for participation is that the
dog be a purebred Bearded Collie with known parentage. The owner and dog can reside in any
country and the owner does not have to be a member of any Bearded Collie
One reviewer of the CD of
Beacon's Open Registry commented: "Excellent work ? I wish all breeds could follow your
example . . ." In answer to the question - What Needs Improvement, the reviewer wrote
Another reviewer of the Year 1
Open Registry Book (fall, 2001) wrote: "Your open registry represents several years of good
work. The many volunteers who contributed to this open registry must be recognized for the
service they provided to their breed. Individual records, reproductive history, male
reproduction, health problems & owner information are key ingredients to your database. . . .
The next step for your board would be to develop a strategic plan for your open database. It
must include cumulative data and reports that begin to tell the story. Then there must be
articles about how to use the system, how to interpret the data, and what each breeder needs to be
doing. This is a great start, now the Board needs to develop a short and long range
Let us note in late 2010 that
we have accomplished the latter reviewer's suggestions to report about cumulative data. We
provide a slide presentation about how to use and navigate the free on-line database. We
leave data interpretation to others for the present.