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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.”

Opinions, everyone?

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I am impressed.
This certainly sounds like a step into right direction. I think all the breeds will benefit from this.
This article has just come out today in Dog World (http://www.dogworld.co.uk/News/43-dog-health-plan)


23 Oct 2008 08:15
THE KENNEL Club wants to launch an international health initiative at Crufts next year, it is believed.
The KC was hoping to involve the American and Swedish Kennel Clubs, but it is believed that only the Swedish club is at this stage keen to come on board.
It is understood that Agria Pet Insurance will also be part of the move.
It is rumoured that, at Crufts, the kennel clubs involved may begin work on an international review of breed Standards with particular reference to ‘health and exaggeration.’
The KC, DOG WORLD has been told, is also hoping for co-ordination of all breed health tests worldwide.
It is understood that the KC wants to give all Crufts exhibitors a free health check and DNA-profiling swab kit and each dog-owning visitor may also receive a swab kit to take home.
In addition, an area of the show is likely to be dedicated to canine health with scientists available to answer questions on the subject and about new health tests.

In discussion

KC spokesman Caroline Kisko said: “We are in discussion with a number of organisations regarding health matters at the moment as readers will not be surprised to hear. However, there are no firm plans in place as yet and no certainty of who we will be working with or in what way.”
This week the KC was concentrating on its health push back home and its new, mandatory, code of ethics for breed clubs. The imposition of the KC’s code has prompted enquiries from clubs who are keen to include their own breed-specific clauses and the KC has agreed that they can submit them for consideration.
“These will be subject to KC approval,” a KC spokesman said. “Provided the proposed clauses are not detrimental to breed health and welfare there should be no reason for delay in processing the applications.
“If the content of the proposed additions is new formal membership approval should be sought. Otherwise, club committees can apply now to include clauses which existed previously in their codes.”
Vets are the best people to help the KC with its efforts to improve canine health, according to the presidents of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Small Animals Veterinary Association.
Writing in this week’s Veterinary Record, Nicky Paull and Ed Hall said that although Pedigree Dogs Exposed had laid the blame at the door of the KC the truth was that the KC had made efforts to ‘improve breeding’ over recent years.
However, they wrote, too little had been done so far. And they continued: “There is little doubt the (veterinary) profession as a whole has been aware of these issues but has largely chosen to deal with specific problems in individual animals rather than tackle the root cause.”
They said the BVA’s Animal Welfare Foundation had raised the issues at its discussion forum in May, ‘and it, as well as concerned individuals and this programme, have thrown down a challenge to the whole veterinary profession to act.’
“We strongly believe it is vets who are best placed to advise the KC on how to move forward,” the letter stated.
Representatives of the BVA and BSAVA have met those of the KC and are working with the club to try to improve ‘the health and welfare of pedigree dogs.’ The BVA is also speaking to the Companion Animal Welfare Council, the RSPCA and DEFRA on the subject.
“We believe progress on this issue will only be achieved through collaborative working,” the vets wrote.
Messrs Paull and Hall welcomed the KC’s breed Standards review and commended it on its new Pekingese Standard.
“We support (KC) moves to act further, particularly in the breeds currently affected by conformation problems which can result in welfare concerns,” the letter said. “We also applaud its efforts to improve genetic health screening, and support the Accredited Breeder Scheme.”
A knee-jerk reaction could alienate breed clubs, the vets wrote: “Therefore, we will continue to work with the KC and other stakeholders to find a successful and sustainable way of improving the health and welfare of pedigree dogs.”
They asked all vets to advise their clients – ‘including breeders’ – that future changes are needed for the good of their dogs ‘as client education will undoubtedly be one of the essential keys to success’.
The BVA’s Ethics and Welfare Group, with Mr Hall in attendance, will meet shortly to consider the issue ‘in depth.’
We are not all bad breeders over her in UK as you know Camilla, BUT I agree with the Swedish way of doing things, there aught to be more safeguards for breeders and puppy buyers, we as responsible breeders should be aware of ALL the KNOWN problems that our breeds have, BUT what about Mrs Jones with a 'pet' setter, she has a friend down the road with another 'pet' setter and he belongs to Mr Smith. They think it would be nice to breed from their dogs, they have heard that you can make a lot of money selling puppies and Setters have on an average of 10 puppies per litter £600 per puppy and there you go £6,000, no thought as to the pedigree's of the puppies (well it has a lot of red in it, so that makes it good eh) no concern as to, hips eyes or anything else. they have their litter of 10 and they don't know how to feed eather mum or pups, so mum goes down hill and the pups are riddled with worms etc, and being people who are only thinking of money they don't go to the vet either so who is going to 'police' this kind of person, they don't register the pups so they don't come under the KC blanket, and we as 'breeders' get the blame......It is all OUR fault that these things go wrong, we, as responsible breeders, should be doing these things off our own backs, not being 'forced' to do them by the KC.
We are lucky with our breed we don't have short muzzles or that dreadful banana shaped back, that comes with HD, (not all the time) but some of our dogs do have bad hips.
I still go back to the problem with some breeders 'we have never had that in our lines' again I say put your hand up if there is a problem, the sooner it is 'seen and admitted to' the sooner it will be eradicated. Its not as if it is being done deliberately. No dog is perfect, but it is to what degree the imperfections are dealt with that makes us 'responsible'.
I agree with you Susan
My first litter contained 10 very healthy puppies, when the vet came to look them over, I was told, ''too many for one bitch to raise by herself, you must cull at least 5 of them'' my reply was 'which one of them would you suggest I KILL,'' he couldn't pick one from another, all too healthy. So she, with my help, raised all 10 very sucsesfully. I supplimented their milk, and have done so will all my litters, the best supliments for milk was when I kept goats, goats milk raises lovely puppies. And a lovely Foal....but I digress
These things that are being suggested are great, but it is the people who can't be policed that will do the most damage what about the 'puppy farms' or as our American cousins call them 'puppy mills' how will they be checked or will they. Is it just us who breed for 'another puppy' ultimately improveing the breed that are to be checked????? and yes.....perhaps with a TV camera in the corner of the whelping room??? who knows
I think the problem addressed here is that some breed clubs had a clause in their code of ethics (?!) saying those puppies not fitting the standard (coat, colour, etc.) had to be culled, even if perfectly healthy. So what is forbidden is compulsory culling. I don't know where they stand when it concerns culling a large litter to help the others survive.

In Switzerland it is forbidden to cull healthy pups. If a litter is larger than 8 you are required to either bottle feed or find a surrogate mother for the surplus pups.

Personally I think stricter regulations are a good thing. Those breeders who do not conform with health checks should not be able to register their puppies with the KC. Non registered dogs would not be eligible for breeding.
The general public should be informed that the KC registration forms a kind of guarantee that the minimum requirements have been fulfilled (ie health checks, COI regulations etc, breeder education etc).
This works reasonably well in our country.
As for having to have certain requirements before you are able to register your litter, yes that is the same as in Sweden. And I think it is great!

But then as Camilla points out, there are ways around the system.
Not when it comes to the dog and bitch used, but perhaps their littermates or previous offspring. And close relatives of the parents are almost as important as the parents themselves, when it comes to a litter.
Difficult as to how far you can push all these rules and how many you can have (and enforce).

As to culling puppies if there are too many or they do not comfirm to the breedstandard, I still firmly believe that this is up to the breeder and their own moral jugement.
I won't go any further into the culling thing.......... But I agree with the number and enforcement part, how can anyone or any official body do these things, Its like the problem of the number of litters that one bitch can have in a period of time, and using a very young dog, or bitch........ ''oh dear they got together and I didn't realise'' and the kennel club can't prove otherwise, and that is one way to get around the rules, a lot of people think that 'rules are made to be broken'
But something needs to be done, there are so many problems that are manifesting themselves now, we just can't keep treating our pets like this they are the ones that suffer the most, but when you have an animal that lives in your house, and sell its off-spring then you have a responsibility to the owners of those animals, and yourself to do the rite thing.
Susan Morriss wrote

"This includes a clause that explicitly forbids the compulsory culling of healthy puppies.
How on earth will the KC be able to enforce this rule, Big Brother sitting in the corner of the whelping room?
Moves to improve the health etc., by the KC, of any breed has to be applauded."

But will still allow the culling of unhealthy puppies? A blanket ban on culling isnt good for the health of dogs, it enforces the survival of very small, weak , sick and defective puppies. What does a breeder do with them? I dont want to sell poor quality puppies, even to pet homes, where owners may face big vet's bills while raising them. I would rather cull. Even worse if these unhealthy puppies are bred from and perpetuate lines of unhealthy dogs.
And a few decades back, it was considered to be bad for the health of bitches to have to raise large litters. Good breeders used to pick the best 6 - 8 puppies, and cull the rest. That contributed to ensuring that only healthy dogs were bred from. And that bitches remained fit and healthy for raising more litters
"This includes a clause that explicitly forbids the compulsory culling of healthy puppies."

To me the sentance does not read the way that Margaret sees it. I understand the meaning to be: No compulsory culling dictated by (for instance) breedclubs. I dont know about the practice in England, but there are quite a few breedclubs everywhere that will tell you to cull puppies with unacceptable colours.

To me this is a different question to culling out weak puppies or reducing the size of the litter...and yes Margaret, keeping weak puppies at "any-cost" would certainly not improve a breed.

But perhaps it is me missunderstanding the text? :-)
IMHO you are quite right, Ursula.

The background to this rule of forbidding compulsory culling of healthy pups is that the 'famous film' Pedigree Dogs exposed brought to light that the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Great Britain had laid out rules that all pups born without a ridge must be culled... despite being perfectly healthy and - whats more - not prone to be affected by a specific skin disease that affects ridged ridgebacks more often than those without... but I digress from the setter theme here...




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