Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Five years on - is the Kennel Club no longer the enemy?

Prof Steve Dean used his "state of the nation" speech at last week's Welsh Kennel Club annual dinner as an opportunity to say that the Kennel Club is no longer seen as "the enemy" but as part of the solution.

This is half-true. Putting right the mess that Kennel Club breeding has made of purebred dogs does, indeed, lie at least partly in the Kennel Club's gift. And there's no doubt that most of the establishment stakeholders - the vets, welfare groups, Dog Advisory Council etc - have made the decision to work with the Kennel Club to improve dog health.

That's simply what the Establishment does. So having decided not to drive the Kennel Club out of town (one option that was considered, and at a very high level, post-Pedigree Dogs Exposed), the only other option was to agree to get round a table and talk.

You can't do that by treating people as the enemy - actually one of the reasons the RSPCA's Mark ("a parade of mutants") Evans was so unwelcome at stakeholder meetings after PDE. Mark continued to speak his mind.

So, five years on from Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which premiered in the UK five years ago this week, where are we now?

Significant reform introduced by the UK Kennel Club since Pedigree Dogs Exposed - and the three major reports into dog breeding that followed - includes:


• a review of breed standards, leading to (mostly minor) changes being made to around a third.
• the banning of first-degree-relative matings
• better training for - and monitoring of - judges
Mate Select
• the expansion of the high-profile breed list
• funding of the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust
• vet checks at Crufts for the high-profile breeds
• a limit of two C-sections per bitch
• a considerably-improved Assured Breeder Scheme
• independent experts added to the KC's Dog Health Group

Other key non-KC progress includes:

•  the establishment of VetCompass, which is gathering vital epidemiological data (and which has just secured funding for a further three years' work thanks to Dogs Trust)

• the Dog Advisory Council (funding of which is on rather shakier ground)

• a new Puppy Contract setting out a minimum standard for breeders and buyers. This was launched last year without much publicity and without Kennel Club endorsement. The KC is now, however, collaborating with the other stakeholders and the hope that it will result in a revised, universal puppy contract with buy-in from all stakeholders. The simple message -  do not buy or sell a dog without one - has considerable potential.

The KC is also now collaborating with stakeholders (via a working party chaired by Professor Patrick Bateson) on an initiative from the Dog Advisory Council to produce a universal breeding standard  with all-party buy-in. (The DAC's current draft can be downloaded here).

All this is  helpful.

But the core problem remains a much more fundamental one - and that is that the Kennel Club system stinks. Kennel Club shows continue to reward the appearance of health/and the show world is, in the main, driven by distorted sense of what is correct.

The Kennel Club also continues to peddle the lie that DNA tests are the answer to purebred dog health (when they can only ever be a small part of any solution) and despite more general awareness about the perils of inbreeding, the KC is still not addressing genetic diversity in any meaningful way.

There is still no sign of the effective population size figures for individual breeds promised by the KC months ago - and I fear that if I (and others) don't continue to nag, that they will never see the light of day. This will be for the obvious reason that they are concrete proof of the dire straits many breeds are in genetically. I understand the reluctance to let people like me shout "I told you so!", but believe me it would give me no pleasure other than that it would be, I hope, a call to arms to address the fact that many breeds are heading for the genetic scrap heap.

This week, to mark the 5th anniversary of PDE, the RSPCA has called for the Kennel Club to do more - including an independent review of breed standards, further limits on inbreeding, a limit on popular sires and the opening of the stud books (see here).

Being seen to agree with anything that the RSPCA says or does is an invitation to be pissed on from a great height by many dog breeders for whom the RSPCA has become Public Enemy No One. But the RSPCA is right on this issue and I am glad it is still rattling the KC's cage.

I gave them the following quote - an abridged version of which appears in a press release supporting this week's statement:


Five years on from Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the Kennel Club is still in denial about the extent of the problems   
The Kennel Club continues to embrace scientifically and morally bankrupt breeding practices which condemn some dogs to enormous suffering.  By any measure, it is unethical to continue to breed dogs like Pugs and Bulldogs which have such flat faces that they cannot breathe - and yet the Kennel Club registers these breeds in their growing thousands and these dogs continue to be celebrated at Kennel Club shows.   

The same goes for Dachshunds who have such long backs and such short legs that their spines crumble; for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels who are blighted by a skull/brain-size mismatch that predisposes them to horrific pain. Then there are German Shepherds who are quite simply crippled by the warped ideal imposed on them by breeders and Shar-pei bred to a Kennel Club breed standard that demands wrinkles that we now know are linked to a horrific condition that destroys their livers.  The KC has done too little to tackle the suffering these dogs endure, despite an increasing amount of science which both articulates the issues and offers solutions.   

It is also unethical that the Kennel Club continues to endorse inbreeding. You can still, for instance, mate grandfathers to grand-daughters and then mate the offspring back to their great-grandfather. It's a mess genetically and if it isn't addressed many breeds will go to the wall, bred to oblivion. I find it a particular tragedy that breeders who do see the problems and want change are often dismissed as cranks and trouble-makers by those clinging to the status quo. 

If the Kennel Club was the welfare organisation that its glossy PR would have you believe, it would be doing so much more to put this right. The problem is that, at its heart it is a trade organisation that represents those who don't want change.  The dogs continue to pay a huge price."


The Chairman's speech at the WKC dinner last week contained a classic piece of Kennel Club PR. As reported in this week's Dog World, Professor Dean talked of "the increasing acceptance that the source of much of the poor health and welfare of recognised breeds lay outside the KC registration system."

Pure misdirection.

Dean added that "......microchips will help us demonstrate how the vast majority of those who register dogs with the KC are the people to be cherished and encouraged."

There is nothing more than anecdote and wishful thinking to support the implication that KC registered dogs are - overall - in some way healthier, and many reasons to believe that it may not be true.

That there are major problems outside of the KC registrations system is of course evident - and, conversely, many KC breeders go the extra mile for their dogs. But there are likely to be shining examples of robust health outside of the KC system, particularly in our working terriers, collies, lurchers and hounds. I suspect there is less inbreeding in the pet market, too  - while puppy farmers (for all their ills) are probably less likely to tolerate dogs than can't mate or birth without assistance because it's too expensive.

Meanwhile, only 13 per cent of dogs registered with the KC are bred under the Accredited Breeder Scheme and they are the only dogs subject to any husbandry/welfare/health requirements (and even then many breeds - even some of the sickest - are not subject to any health-testing requirements whatsoever). The rest? We simply don't know how well or badly bred they are.

VetCompass is looking at this, as it happens - funded by the Kennel Club, I am sure in its conviction that KC registered dogs truly are healthier.

But we don't know yet, and Prof Dean has no basis for claiming it.

Meanwhile, to the question in the title... is the Kennel Club still the enemy?

Tell me what you think.


39 comments:

  1. They are the root cause of the problems that some breeds continue to suffer. Morally repugnant in fact and the reason I won't ever buy a pedigree dog. I will not support such utter incompetence.

    I don't trust the KC to do the right thing to improve the health of dogs in this country.

    Perhaps they should have been kicked out after all. The only reason Mark Evans is persona non grata is because he speaks the inconvenient truth.

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  2. After 5 years of presenting the issues with in-bred dogs; why are pet dog buyers still purchasing breeds with well documented high rates of known genetic defects?

    Yes, show breeders and the Kennel Club are still promoting genetically defected dogs; but they are not forcing pet owners to buy dogs from them.

    If consumers can learn to avoid manufacturers of defective products why can't/won't they do the same for puppies?

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    Replies
    1. As a person who want to buy a puppy of a particular breed (let's say, a Labrador), where will you go?

      Puppy mills? No. Pet shops - No, and these are typically puppy mill dogs. Newspaper ads? These are often puppy mill dogs... there is no way to know. Unless your neighbour's great Labrador happen to have a litter and you happen to know both the parents are great dog (that still give you insight into their genes). But these days where (at least here in Australia) responsible pet owners are all supposed to have their dog neutered, and "backyard breeding" of any sort is considered immoral, the good old "neighbour's litter" source of puppies from parents that have proved great, healthy family dogs is small - and dwindling.

      Or a registered Kennel Klub breeder where you know they are passionate about dog breeding (maybe for the wrong reasons, but still), the puppy's ancestry is known, there are some health tests, and you know what you get - so e.g. a Labrador, not a rottweiler/lab cross that looks like a lab but is really a rottweiler in disguise. I can see why that may seem like the "proper" option for a family who wants to purchase a family dog.

      Another option: a rescue dog from a pound? Maybe... but they may have come from any of the above sources with all their built-in problems plus maybe even more if they have a problematic history.

      What is really needed is an alternative Kennel Club with totally different (healthy, non-extreme) breed standards and different sports arenas than conformity shows.

      I actually think there is a market for that. I don't think most regular people who wants a family dog will chose one with extreme features if they have a choice.

      The problem is that currently, national kennel clubs seem like "the breed authorities", "the safe choice" (even though it isn't at all), the choice where you know where you get. All the options outside of kennel klubs seem much more insecure, less safe, you don't know what you get... KC exists because those parameters (predictability, authority, central registration, organisations) are essential for puppy purchasers.

      An alternative, better (and in time, bigger) registry and organisation for ethical breeders, and power to define ethical breed standards and genetic policies, is the only thing that can potentially remove the peer pressure towards unhealthy breed standards and provide a reliable, safe supply of healthy pure breed dogs.


      Ps. This comment is from Mados too although I may appear as "anonymous". The commenting system here sucks... it is very cumbersome with word verification and going through multiple step just to post a comment, some of which tends to go wrong and have to be redone etc. That is the reason I rarely comment here.












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    2. As a person who want to buy a puppy of a particular breed (let's say, a Labrador), where will you go?

      Puppy mills? No. Pet shops - No, and these are typically puppy mill dogs. Newspaper ads? These are often puppy mill dogs... there is no way to know. Unless your neighbour's great Labrador happen to have a litter and you happen to know both the parents are great dog (that still give you insight into their genes). But these days where (at least here in Australia) responsible pet owners are all supposed to have their dog neutered, and "backyard breeding" of any sort is considered immoral, the good old "neighbour's litter" source of puppies from parents that have proved great, healthy family dogs is small - and dwindling.

      Or a registered Kennel Klub breeder where you know they are passionate about dog breeding (maybe for the wrong reasons, but still), the puppy's ancestry is known, there are some health tests, and you know what you get - so e.g. a Labrador, not a rottweiler/lab cross that looks like a lab but is really a rottweiler in disguise. I can see why that may seem like the "proper" option for a family who wants to purchase a family dog.

      Another option: a rescue dog from a pound? Maybe... but they may have come from any of the above sources with all their built-in problems plus maybe even more if they have a problematic history.

      What is really needed is an alternative Kennel Club with totally different (healthy, non-extreme) breed standards and different sports arenas than conformity shows.

      I actually think there is a market for that. I don't think most regular people who wants a family dog will chose one with extreme features if they have a choice.

      The problem is that currently, national kennel clubs seem like "the breed authorities", "the safe choice" (even though it isn't at all), the choice where you know where you get. All the options outside of kennel klubs seem much more insecure, less safe, you don't know what you get... KC exists because those parameters (predictability, authority, central registration, organisations) are essential for puppy purchasers.

      An alternative, better (and in time, bigger) registry and organisation for ethical breeders, and power to define ethical breed standards and genetic policies, is the only thing that can potentially remove the peer pressure towards unhealthy breed standards and provide a reliable, safe supply of healthy pure breed dogs.


      Ps. This comment is from Mados too although I may appear as "anonymous". The commenting system here sucks... it is very cumbersome with word verification and going through multiple step just to post a comment, some of which tends to go wrong and have to be redone etc. That is the reason I rarely comment here.












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    3. PipeDream Farm
      A fair comment but you’re implying that the pet buying public are therefore educated on the current health and welfare issues when it comes to buying a pet dog. They generally are not.

      The KC and their registered breeders hold false prestige to all things progressive and are not currently working in the best interests of the welfare of pedigree dogs. But these are the people that the pet buying public currently ‘trust’ to do the right thing.

      With manufactured goods (generally speaking), a clear regulatory structure is in place for people should things go wrong. The CPA; EU Directives and Regulations; the legal system etc. This enforces accountability on the manufacturer. If they fail to comply with vigilance and any regulatory requirements they can get sued and can lose their market share. There is sufficient motivation for them to try to get things right and work in the interests of their customer base. Also, people expect a certain standard from the and manufacturers do indeed manufacture things to ISO and will have in place a Quality Management System that holds them accountable to continually improve their processes and their products to ensure that they are safe and fit for purpose.

      Do any of those processes exist in the dog breeding world?
      Who is accountable for supporting the breeding of sick dogs?

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    4. Does the buying public research brands and models before purchasing any long lasting item? If so, they have no excuse when purchasing a puppy. Does the buying public research where their meat comes from and then chooses how they want their meat raised? Do they research how their food is raised and then choose not to buy from some producers and choose to buy from others (i.e. organic).

      Why is it with companion animals the buying public gets a pass for not doing their homework? They want a dog that has a set of physical features (they have bought into the KC ideology of a dog that meets a KC breed standard) instead of wanting a healthy dog with the right temperament and size to fit their lifestyle. They choose to financially support those who are producing defective dogs making it easier for more defective pups to be produced. The public gets a pass for their part in supporting the production of defective breeds.

      “I just love that smashed face, it’s so cute.”
      “Look how cute that wrinkly puppy is. Don’t you just love it.”


      The buying public bears as much blame as the KC for the current situation. They continue to fund the production of poorly bred pups by choosing to purchase from the wrong breeders or defected breeds. If the buying public chose not to buy defective dogs there would be much less motivation for breeders to produce defective dogs.

      It's not hard to find out which breeds are prone to genetic defects. The internet is full of this information. Finding a breeder that works hard to minimize producing pups with genetic defects takes a bit more research; but the information is available to those who choose to make the effort.

      Isn't avoiding years of watching you future family member suffering in pain worth the effort?

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    5. Your idealism blinds you to pragmatism Pipe Dream Farm. As you say, IF people wanted to do the research then there is no information shortage is there? It's all out there in the public domain. The fact is, people are still buying these deformed breeds despite the evidence that they suffer ill health. What does that tell me? It tells me that most people can't be arsed to read around the issues before they buy a pet dog, OR they are being misinformed or they don't know where to look for it. It's not like there is a Which guide for dogs and it's not as if the average person actually probably gives a stuff about all this anyway. Look at the numbers of dogs in rescue. Not a lot of empathy out there for dogs really....
      The people who are responsible for breeding and regulating are not doing what they should be to educate the public to raise awareness, prevent deformed and unhealthy dogs from being bred, shown and sold as pets. You have to appeal to the lowest common denominator and make things idiot proof. That means prevention is better than a cure. Quit breeding them in the first place.

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    6. So we're going to allow the general public to stay uneducated to the issues with inbred dogs and only focus upon the breeders.

      This is the same faulty logic used to address the drug problem; pay no attention to the consumer and focus only upon the producers and sellers. The problem with this approach is there will always be producers/sellers (working outside the system) to fulfill the demand from the uneducated buyer.

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    7. Personal responsibility seems to have left society. Breeders should be responsible for the quality (health, temperament, etc) of dogs they produce just as much as buyers should be responsible for their choice in breed and breeder. Neither side of this transaction should be absolved of their actions.

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    8. You want the KC to change:

      don't buy their dogs
      don't register dogs with them
      don't participate in their events

      Don't give them any of your money until they change or they go broke


      Look at the AKC's declining revenue due to declining registrations to see how much impact an educated puppy buying public can have on a broken system

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    9. I'd suggest it takes effort on all sides, but it pays to be realistic about the human condition and the sociological issue at hand.

      If the KC made the decision not to register their 'high risk' breeds and better still, forbid people from showing them, then as the 'statutory body' they are setting a precedent about what is acceptable and what isn't. If they took this attitude, imagine the press they would get? It may start to seep into the public consciousness a little more. The KC has a remit - what is it?

      Don't forget that some people don't like reading, researching or even have an interest in the nature of a dog, yet they still want to own one. These people will always exist no matter how educated you think people should be before they make a decision on such an important purchase as a dog.

      As for the drug analogy - people addicted to drugs aren't cognitive in their decision making, because they are addicts whose brain chemistry is wired to fuel their addiction. You can certainly educate kids and you can scare them with advertising campaigns - preventative measures - but it's even better if it's much more difficult for them to get hold of it in the first place.

      You can compare this to people whose pathology for brachycephalic dogs and cognitive dissonance about the health issues involved makes them blind to education, logic and reasoning. But when you have THE organisation who is supposed to stand up for the health and welfare of dogs accepting registration of sick breeds, well it's like the NHS giving drug addicts prescriptions for their tipple of choice! Address the root cause, not the symptom.

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    10. So because some people don't like to do research before buying pets they are absolved of any responsibility and no effort should be made to educate the public on researching for their pet purchases.


      So let's address the root causes:

      People view pets as disposable accessories not long term commitments
      People like dogs with extreme or unique features ("I have something most people don't")
      Breeders like to see how extreme they can push their breed (very large, very small, more wrinkles, flatter faces, more and unique colors, etc)
      Some breeders like to breed for mutations (i.e. fainting goats, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, albinos, etc)

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    11. 'So because some people don't like to do research before buying pets they are absolved of any responsibility and no effort should be made to educate the public on researching for their pet purchases'

      My point was to stress the reality of the situation, without making a judgement call. Your points are all absolutely valid - but we don't live in an ideal world. I happen to accept the fact that there will always be people who will absolve responsibility for their actions in society. Particularly when there is no enforced, legal or regulatory requirement for them to do so, as currently is the case with dog breeding and ownership.

      That doesn't mean I like or agree with any of this. But empathy is the key to affect change. Empathy is crucial when tackling a social issue such as this, otherwise how are you going to understand why people do what they do?

      In life, people tend to repeat what gets rewarded. Breeders of extreme conformation dogs are registered and 'accredited' by the KC and people buy these dogs because they want them and here is an approved breeder who is willing to give them the dog they want. To those people who probably do little research, if any, that validates an important part of the process as the work has already been done for them by THE competent dog organisation. These dogs must be healthy and fit for purpose if the KC says so. Right? Rinse and repeat.

      When I look at the Swedish model and the Scandinavian approach to dog breeding and ownership in general, it seems far more progressive and empirically based than ours. It's a good benchmark for the KC to measure up to. Why do they not collaborate more with more progressive organisations I wonder? Arrogance?

      I also believe that we need to educate at a grass root level. In schools. So many households have companion animals so lets teach kids about what it takes to breed and raise healthy dogs adn other companion animals in their biology lessons.

      Your 'root causes' addresses some important points but misses out the crucial fact that the KC continues to register these extreme conformation unhealthy breeds, deeming them socially acceptable in the process. The brachycephalia trend must become socially unacceptable IMO. Perhaps they will become less desireable as an accessory to those type of people if the KC becomes less myopic and more progressive and actually starts to empathise itself.


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    12. What I'm saying is, change in the KC will occur faster by reducing the demand for these dogs. Loss of revenue will force the KC to reevaluate their practices if they want to avoid bankruptcy.

      When you want to change the practices/culture a large organization/corporation, you try to regulate a change (current focus of this group), you hope the head of the organization has a change in attitude (a top down change), or you change the attitude of those purchasing the products or services sold by the organization.

      Ignoring the latter avenue for change slows the progress towards the end goal: healthy breeds. Doesn't the health of breeds and dogs demand we work all avenues towards change?

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  3. The problem over here is that the KC still has some kudos with pet people who want a pedigree dog. Consequently until it is known by the public what their true rights are and the health condition of their chosen breed they are buying blind. It is the KC's responsibility to enlighten and inform everyone who wants to buy a pedigree dog. They have a website they could easily display information. My viewpoint is that the KC has burned itself out and it's relevance is non existent unless they change their stance and meet today's demands and responsibilities. It can no longer be an old boys club for people who consider themselves to be the "great and the good". Because of their failings we see before us the appalling health conditions of pedigree dogs. Their lack of action and reluctance to do the right and proper thing for a species that has given them a good life style and why they are sitting prestigious offices in London is not even in their conscience, it can't be otherwise they would do everything in their power to put right the wrongs NOW.

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  4. Finally, some summarization of the state of the "industry" right now. It will definitely help me and others make their case when forming opinions about breeding and buying dogs.

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  5. I am no apologist for the KC, but they never were the real enemy Jemima,
    As was, I believe, said on PDE the KC should be cherished as they are part of the solution. What is the point in calling for the KC to stop registering breeds? Everyone knows that the brachycephalic breeds are challenge yet their popularity continues to grow. If the KC stopped registering them they would continue to be bred without any restriction. At least inside the KC they have half a chance with all the encouragement that there is to breed healthy dogs.
    I suggest you speak to the Vets Jemima and see where the growth of new diseases is happening. It’s not in the world of Pedigree KC dogs! As for the Cavaliers, Did you not know that the KC worked with the BVA to set up a testing scheme for Syringomyelia? It is not a great success, but that’s not the fault of the KC, the breeders simply aren’t using it!
    It is clear that you hatred of all things KC continues to obscure you vision; you list 10 improvements by the KC and then just 3 from outside. And of the other 3; Vet Compass is funded by the KC, and the KC have been running with a puppy contract for more than 10 years yet you give them no credit! You seem to forget that the KC doesn’t breed dogs, that is down to the breeders. AS for the Advisory Council, can you tell us what they have actually achieved?
    Oh and the stud books are already open btw with a number of schemes to encourage new blood! All the time you continue to be selective with the truth Jemima you will continue to get (in your words) pissed on from a great height.

    Carol

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    1. That the KC continues to register the brachycephalics while doing so very little to tackle the problems is, frankly, disgusting.

      Here's the KC's page on pug health for people looking for breed info.

      https://www.the-kennel-club.org.uk/services/public/breed/health.aspx?id=6164

      Here's the one for the Bulldog:

      https://www.the-kennel-club.org.uk/services/public/breed/health.aspx?id=4084

      It's pitiful. But of course it can't do anything else because at heart the KC is not a welfare organisation. It's a trade body.

      A strong message from the KC regarding the welfare costs of being bracychephalic would go a long way to help. Instead, it continues to pull its punches while expressing no qualms about the growing registrations of these breeds. We all know why the KC doesn't do this. It would be akin to the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association condemning smoking.

      "I suggest you speak to the Vets Jemima and see where the growth of new diseases is happening. It’s not in the world of Pedigree KC dogs!"

      You have absolutely no basis for saying this, Carol - not a scrap of evidence.

      "As for the Cavaliers, Did you not know that the KC worked with the BVA to set up a testing scheme for Syringomyelia?"

      The KC had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into setting up the SM/CM scheme and if it hadn't have been for enormous pressure from the BVA (and campaigners) it simply wouldn't have happened.

      "Vet Compass is funded by the KC".

      Actually no it isn't. The KC turned down an opportunity to fund VetCompass claiming it would never work (I have the emails...). It was originally funded by the RSPCA and its Dog Trust which has just committed to funding it for a further three years. The KC has funded a particular piece of research it has commissioned VC to do.

      "Oh and the stud books are already open btw with a number of schemes to encourage new blood!"

      These are nothing more than a drop in the ocean - and with the exception of one or two forward thinking breeds, almost always blocked by the breed clubs. How many outcrossed or unregistered "type" dogs dogs have been accepted into the fold? A handful.

      Any claim to be truly tackling genetic diversity is pure smoke and mirrors.

      Jemima

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    2. Carol, don't every be complacent about the KC. They have the power, the data and the most important thing they should have is the interest of pedigree dogs above all other issues. That is why they exist. Yet can that be the case? Can you honestly look at pedigree dogs today and say the KC have done their utmost to protect the health issues occurring. If they had done their utmost then we wouldn't be relying on people like JH and Dr Hail to speak out and expose these despicable health conditions. Breeding doesn't have to stop, but it needs to slow down and it needs to be monitored for the wellbeing of dogs. I have made a suggestion in a previous blog as to how this could be achieved but I am sure other more intelligent, more experienced dog people would come up with a better solution than mine.

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    3. Annie Macfarlane22 August 2013 14:48

      I cannot believe what you have written Carol! If the breeders that are not taking up the relevant safeguards now available to them to ensure they produce healthy puppies, then it is down to the KC to make sure that they do. After all, they are the ones that register the puppies and they say they want to improve pedigree dogs!

      I personally feel that to continue breeding from dogs whose offspring are likely to endure a terrible life by simply not being able to breathe is tantamount to animal abuse. And I mean that! The KC's continual avoidance of taking drastic action to protect our dogs makes them complicit in that misery. They continue to register puppies knowing the possible outcomes....and don't have the backbone to make the changes needed to give these poor souls a decent quality of life. As a private members club the KC have every right to impose whatever conditions they want on registration. If they think people will walk away...then let them. At least the ones left will be the genuine, caring breeders who want to make change...and not just talk about it.

      I don't think many would leave the KC umbrella anyway because they have too much to lose. It seems that some just can't see the horrendous suffering being endured by their actions... Shame on them all

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  6. What do you mean by below sentence:

    "Kennel Club shows continue to reward the appearance of health/and the show world is, in the main, driven by distorted sense of what is correct."

    - What do you mean by "reward the appearance of health"?

    That the dogs appear to be healthy but are not? That doesn't make much sense to me... The appearance of e.g. Bull Dogs doesn't seem like "an appearance of health".



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  7. The KC reminds me a bit of these huge organisations that have failed due to self interest and an unwillingness to progress and be held accountable...Enron, RBS etc. Cognitive dissonance at work? Lack of organisational 'self awareness'? Organisational culture reflects the people inside it. It needs a good clear out of the people. If it was a public company, I think that would have happened after PDE.

    A lack of public trust may eventually instigate their own downfall.

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  8. Institutions exist to perpetuate themselves. The KC may not be doing much, but it's moving a lot faster than the AKC.

    They are not 'the enemy' ...simply a body with high inertia. They require continued pushing, with more force if and where possible.

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  9. Hi Mados, I've had friends with pugs and bulldogs and boxers. I have owned cavaliers. All of these breeds are fantastic. But they were all smelly. My cavaliers were allowed bones and chewed and their teeth were apparently healthy. But now I realise that "the appearance of health" was misguided. Possibly my dogs and my friends' dogs had issues that should have been addressed, they were not "just smelly dogs" they had health issues that made them smelly. Because a dog gets up and runs doesn't mean that this movement is pain free, as I said previously dogs live in the moment and like humans if they are disabled they learn to live and cope with it, it doesn't mean that it is acceptable to any species. Especially when the deformities are caused by dog breeders who actively, knowingly, breed dogs to suffer, because the standard set down by Kennel Clubs allow them to do thus. It is why the KCs should stop registering the puppies, work actively with the breeders and when puppies are born and proven after a period of say 12 months that their mouths are ok, they can breath, they can walk, their eyes are not bulging then the KC will register these dogs and they can then go into the breeding programme. Not only would the type of breed remain but it would be a healthy breed. It will take a lot of time and patience but it will be so rewarding for everyone. No one wants to lose the appeal of these "B" breeds, and it can be achieved with an intelligent approach and exaggeration of feature becomes the new expletive!! Anon 23:50, the "B" breeds continue to grow in popularity a) because they are cute b)because they are fashionable but mainly c), c) because the people who buy them want an accessory, they want a status symbol but most importantly the dogs make no demands because in the main they can't. That is shocking because despite their shape they want to run and jump and just be a dog. Not all dogs of all of the breeds are so debilitated, I know that, but the high proportion that are is unacceptable for any compassionate, dog loving human being. I assume that all contributors on this site are dog lovers, this is our common interest, thus to be rude and accusatory to one another is pointless, no one is trying to score points but everyone should be pulling together and try and get a satisfactory healthy outcome for all of these dogs - No?

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  10. Like Carol, I don't see the KC as "the enemy". It does provide a registry , a framework and regulation in which it is perfectly possible to breed sound, healthy, functional and beautiful dogs. Its not the KC which stops or hinders me as a breeder from trying to produce sound , healthy, genetically diverse , functional and beautiful dogs . And I prefer to go on breeding registered pedigree dogs within the KC and competing with some of them in KC regulated events like field trials and shows. The problem is the breeders who go on producing unhealthy, unsound, inbred , and exaggerated or deformed dogs , and the breed clubs who collude with them. Yes, I have a problem when the KC does too little to prevent the breeding of unhealthy and exaggerated dogs who cant breathe, move or whelp normally, and turns a blind eye to political and misguided show judges who continue to put up unhealthy exaggerated dogs over sounder and healthier ones of moderate type. But if anybody expected sudden dramatic overnight changes at the KC after PDE, they were unrealistic . There have been changes and improvements at the KC in the last five years, as they cautiously seek their way forward inch by slow inch. Yes, it still remains a completely unrepresentative body with only around 1300 members currently, but I wouldn't want to see a KC swamped and controlled by show exhibitors and breeders either. I would far rather work with the KC than abandon it and look for another registry. Its not all about show dogs, the KC probably gets relatively few complaints from those who breed and own working and field trial gundogs

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  11. Hi Margaret, you are correct but it just seems to me that their ideal to be about dogs for dogs has been lost in the pursuit of money and show business. Consequently they are now a shallow organisation. You know inch by inch is very slow because during that time of 5 years it appears that the standard of health and quality of life for the "B" breeds has diminished because of lack of initiative from the people who are paid to be innovative and forward thinking. Over the past 5 years why couldn't it have been the other way around there equally could have been an improvement couldn't there? Over the past 5 years, medical advancement, technology and communication have improved enormously, and this could have aided a fast forward approach from the KC if they had had the desire to embrace it. They cannot justifiably pull the lack of finances card, they could and can liquidate a lot of their assets, remove themselves from London and invest that money in the future of our dogs, pedigree dogs and also in the general dog population. You are correct, there has to be a controlling body to whom we can look for regulated events, from breeding, showing, field trials, etc etc. and the KC did and can do it again but they will have to regain trust and respect from all of us by understanding and "doing".

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  12. A couple of people I know have emailed the KC about life-threatening health problems in dogs bred by an ABS breeder; they didn't even receive a reply.

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    1. Who do you then complain to?

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    2. Send a solicitor's letter because that is the only way they will feel the complaint of the dog loving population because until purchasers of sick puppies start sueing for recompense nobody will do anything. The breeder in Holland who denied responsibility came to realise that it was otherwise. The purchaser of the sick puppy won the case and has now set a precedent that breeders are accountable if they refuse to help. Needless to say the good breeders will be ok because they love their dogs and will want to do whatever they can to help the purchasers and more importantly their puppy.

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  13. For those who hail PDE as a turning point as to raising health issues in Pedigree dogs, well 5 years is drop in the ocean to those who have worked for the improved health of Pedigree (indeed all dogs) just look back to 1938 (that would be 70 years prior to PDE!) and the work of Bill Rasbridge, his work on PRA, he and many others work on that and many other problems long before TV vets and journalists decide to sell a view, but that was missed off their agenda. His ophthalmoscope he did so much of that early work is now where you ask, why its at the KC, after all it was there he got the support and encouragement to do such work.

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    1. Mmm, Bill did do a lot for the Irish Setter and possibly spearheaded that acceptance of a health condition can be overcome when people work together. I know the work done towards solving and potential elimination of PRA was done by dedicated, genuine, intelligent dog lovers. It was heartbreaking and it was expensive. I'm not sure why you are using BR and PRA as a "what are you beating your drum about" because we were there first comment. Life and history unfolds itself and yes it was back in the 1930s, that doesn't devalue it anymore than Dr Hale and JH bringing health issues to the fore today does it? Each in their own time and effort are equally admirable and important to the breeds concerned aren't they? I think so. Your point about the KC and BR's equipment is a bit lost, in the 1930's dog showing was an elite pastime, gamekeepers comparing their dogs with dogs from other estates, owned by extremely wealthy people. People who had the time and resources to own large kennels of mainly gundogs, some hounds and toy breeds. People who travelled the World and saw different breeds and brought them back with them. These same people were philanthropic, idle and dogs and dog showing filled a hole and gave them purpose for their lives. So of course they patronised Bill Rasbridge and his efforts, they formed the early Kennel Club personnel and he too came from a privileged background and he spread the word amongst his like who had disposable income. It is this elitist population in the early days that has given the KC "the old boys club" because in essence that is exactly what it was. Without them and their efforts, we probably wouldn't be able to enjoy our dogs today, their time in history was important and so Is ours isn't it?

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  14. I never completely blamed the KC sense their has always been two sides of the coin. With the KC you see sloped and even sometimes hunched over,and un healthy GSD's. With the Pet/non KC GSD's I see plenty of giant,lumbering,un healthy,and neurotic GSD's. Obviously people want these kind of dogs.

    Yes many people are un-educated on the subject,but when you really love a breed its hard to give it up.



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    1. 'Yes many people are un-educated on the subject,but when you really love a breed its hard to give it up'.

      That just about sums up the pathology.....

      How can you purport to 'love' an animal or breed when you are instrumental in it's suffering?

      Do people understand that love is an action and not just a feeling for something? It requires understanding what is in the best interests of the animal and implementing it.

      I'd say THAT definition of love is more like an unhealthy attachment to an idea of something as opposed to the reality of the situation in hand. Seems we are back to cognitive dissonance again. Sarah has made such an important point (previous post) here I feel. It requires human psychologists and sociologists to comment.

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    2. "The English word "love" can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from interpersonal affection ("I love my lover") to pleasure ("I loved that meal"). It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment."

      I do believe you should do best by the dog. I love Rottweilers and do not want to give them up. I do look for the ones with the healthiest,and most functional conformations. Yet they still may not be as healthy as some other breeds. I also support thoughtful out crossing.

      The main trouble is that many people don't think their dogs have issues at all.

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    3. Actually, Demiandogs, Anon 10:56 is right.

      Love is the only feeling that is also a verb. You can *be* happy, sad, mad, confused, but love is *shown*, in other words *acted upon*, hence it is a verb. You cannot *be* love. Being *in* love isn't the same thing. What is yet more interesting is that this is the case in every language I have studied. I should seek out a linguist's opinion - fascinating stuff.

      If you profess to love something, you do right by it. If you knowingly cause, allow or encourage harm, directly or indirectly, that is not love - not within a species, and definitely not in an interspecies interaction, especially where the harm is visited upon the more vulnerable of the species. Love demands action.

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    4. Perhaps not whats considered true love but it is a type of love.
      It's considered okay to inflict harm on a animal if it is for the over all good of the animal.
      What about the people that castrate/neuter dogs just over convenience or social acceptance. Do they not love their dogs. Is love so black or white that you have to fit to the perfect archetype of it or you do not love that animal at all? Does a Mother who hits a disobedient child every once in awhile, not love their child?
      I have sacrificed so much for my dog,but do I not love him because I used a prong collar on him before?
      Perhaps their are different types of love,perhaps people cannot always control their emotions to the best of their abilities,people make mistakes.

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  15. Question: how much money would the KC lose annually if they no longer registered the thousands of puppies churned out every year by the puppy farmers or high-volume commercial breeders? Would they even stay in business?

    They would have to raise the cost of registration for the remaining breeders (we're looking at breeders who probably breed one or fewer litters per year, many only breed every 3-6+ years). The current cost is £13 per puppy. Now, if being KC registered was a better guarantee of health, then many puppy buyers would be willing to pay extra, it just depends on how much extra.

    However, if the breed is fundamentally sick, then being KC registered is going to make little difference to the risk of buying a defective dog.

    From what I've read, Swedish breeders have to guarantee the health of their puppies for 3-years. It is also against the law to neuter dogs except for health reasons, so 90% of dogs are entire, yet they do not have the shelter problem that we have in the UK.

    If the KC made it mandatory for breeders to guarantee the health of any puppies for 3-years, then this would automatically eliminate puppy farmers and any other breeder who isn't doing their utmost to breed healthy dogs. I also think the volume of brachy breeds would go down, because it's so difficult to breed healthy ones.

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    1. Collaboration is what mature, healthy organisations do when they are acting in the best interests of the process, or in this case, the animal.

      Why the UK KC does not benchmark it's processes and policies with the Swedish KC when it is arguably the most progressive in the world is beyond me.

      In other parts of Scandinavia, Norway for example, it is illegal to spay or neuter your dog too without a valid medical reason. Most dogs are entire, yet they do not have the problem with unwanted dogs and shelter dogs that we do in the UK. People have to be much more dog savvy with regard to understanding behaviour and the importance of safe and sensible socialisation of intact animals. Their attitude is that if you can't handle or understand an animal in it's natural form, then you shoudn't be allowed to have one.

      The Swiss make you take an exam before you can even own a dog. We could do a lot worse than follow these countries examples. What are they doing that we aren't? Regulating and making people accountable for their actions.

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    2. The person/organisation that register the most at the Kc each year, Guide Dogs for the Blind. The majority of puppy farmer don't register with anything (even that other daft money making register) but they can still sell them as pedigree, Joe Public don't realise the difference.

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