Kennel Club to Clamp Down on Breeders to Safeguard Health of Pedigree Dogs
The Kennel Club is launching a complete review of every pedigree dog breed in the UK in a move that will have far-reaching benefits for the health of many breeds. It has also called on the government to give it the statutory powers to clamp down on breeders who fail to make a dog’s health their top priority.
A breed health plan will be coordinated for each of the UK’s 209 pedigree breeds and will benefit from the extensive research that has been funded by the Kennel Club in conjunction with renowned veterinary research centres over the past 40 years. This will include updated breed standards to ensure that no dog is bred for features that might prevent it from seeing, walking and breathing freely. Judges will be fully briefed on the new breed standards so that only the healthiest dogs are rewarded in the show ring.
The Kennel Club is releasing the first of these new breed standards today, for the Pekingese, and has taken a tough line with the breed following extensive and abortive consultations. This is set to radically improve the health of the Pekingese which for nearly a hundred years was bred to have a flat face; a feature which can lead to breathing problems; under the new health plan the breed will be required to have a defined muzzle.
The breed health plans, which are scheduled to be completed by early next year, will also incorporate the results of a thorough, ongoing analysis of the health status and genetic diversity of each breed, drawing on results from the world’s largest dog health survey, conducted by the Animal Health Trust and funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust in 2004. This will ensure that breeders and buyers are aware of the health tests that should be carried out for each breed. The final part of the plans will look at ways breeders can expand the gene pool of the breed.
In order to ensure that the plans are effective and reach all dogs, the Kennel Club has called on the government to give it statutory powers to make its established Accredited Breeder Scheme compulsory throughout the country. If successful, this would mean that all breeders who are not part of the scheme and who have not officially confirmed their willingness to follow the health standards set by the Kennel Club would be unable to produce or sell puppies within the law.
Additionally, breed clubs are now required to adopt the Kennel Club’s Code of Ethics, to ensure that their practices fall in line with Kennel Club policy for putting the health and welfare of puppies first. This includes a clause that explicitly forbids the compulsory culling of healthy puppies.
To complement these steps the Kennel Club is developing plans for a new Canine Genetics Centre. This will be run in conjunction with the Animal Health Trust, confirming the Kennel Club’s commitment to research into inherited diseases and the provision of DNA testing programmes which identify the genes underlying inherited health problems.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The groundswell of public attention on the very important matters surrounding dog breeding is a welcomed momentum that will enable us to drive through, with added urgency, new and extended initiatives that will help to safeguard the health of our pedigree dogs. We have been listening and agree with the general public’s view that more needs to be done.
“Steps such as our breed health plans will enable us to ensure that the health of every dog is the number one priority and we are taking a tougher line with breed clubs by adjusting those breed standards that fail to promote good health. By asking the government for statutory powers we will be able to take a tougher line with all breeders and breed clubs that fail to abide by our high standards. This in turn will enable us to extend the reach of our Accredited Breeder Scheme, which is the quality control mechanism within our registration process, so that all dogs will be bred by people who abide by our stringent rules and regulations for the breeding of healthy, happy dogs.
“We have been working hard in recent years to identify and address health problems that exist in dogs, and we are taking advantage of the opportunities that advances in science have given us to improve dog health. We look forward to continuing our work with various institutions and organisations that share the same objective: to protect the health and welfare of all dogs.”