Update: Pedigree Dogs Exposed

by Mary Haight on December 12, 2009

Cavalier King Charles puppy

Cavalier King Charles puppy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The UK Kennel Club, after a lot of strife and public opprobrium, has made some positive changes since the bombshell documentary  “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” aired.  And it just begs for an equally hard look at what the AKC is up to, especially given their new discount registration papers program for puppy mill dogs.  Any journalists left in this country or should we be calling our representatives to demand H1B visas to import some?

• The Kennel Club (KC) will no longer register the progeny of father/daughter; mother/son or full-sib matings (unless convinced of a strong scientific reason for doing so).

• The KC is running a prominent “fit for function, fit for life” campaign

• The KC has made changes to 78 breed standards in order to discourage/reverse exaggerations and has added the following clause to every breed standard:

“A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function.

Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.”

• The KC has commissioned an independent enquiry into dog-breeding that will report in January. Headed by Professor Sir Patrick Bateson it is expected to make strong recommendations regarding the need to preserve/improve genetic diversity.

• Two other independent enquiries – one from the RSPCA and one an all-party parliamentary group – have come to the same broad conclusions as the film – that there are serious welfare problems that need to be addressed urgently. Both have favoured self-regulation rather than new legislation and also recognise that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The APGAW (Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare) report is downloadable from here:

The RSPCA report is downloadable from here: http://www.rspca.org.uk/in-action/issuesindepth/pedigreedogs

• The KC, as part of a ‘stakeholder’ group compromising veterinary and animal welfare organisations, has signed up to the following welfare principles:

1) every dog should be born with the best possible chance of living a healthy and happy life, well suited to its intended lifestyle

2) all those who breed dogs should prioritise health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed, in order to protect the welfare of both the parents and offspring

3) all those who benefit from dogs have a collective responsibility to work
together to protect dog welfare

More info: http://www.bva.co.uk/newsroom/1663.aspx

• The KC has announced that it is minded to allow the registration of Dalmatians crossed with a pointer (known as LUA or NUA Dalmatians) in order to alleviate the breed of a debilitating, sometimes fatal, condition caused by high uric acid levels. Objections from the UK breed clubs (requested by Dec 31 2009) can only be on the grounds of health and welfare (ie.not on the grounds of breed purity). Although the KC has allowed some limited outcrossing in the past, it is being more proactive in this area. See also:

• The KC has launched a new Canine Genetics Centre based at the Animal Health Trust (the main developer of DNA tests in the UK)

• The Animal Health Trust says it has had a “huge increase in breeders” wanting to help in the development of new DNA tests since the programme.

• The KC has improved judge’s training inc that judges of gundog breeds must attend field trials before being allowed to judge at Ch show level.

• Breed clubs’ Code of Ethics are no longer allowed to condone the culling of healthy puppies that don’t meet the breed standard.

• The KC has withdrawn the allocation of CCs from GSDs in 2012, demanding evidence that conformation problems in the breed are being tackled.
( http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/2791/23/5/3)

• Many more cavaliers are being MRI scanned for syringomyelia. (A three-fold increase in the number of MRI-scanned dogs listed on the UK Club’s website)

• The KC has promised breed health plans for every breed. Part of this will be an assessment of the genetic diversity of every breed.

• The RSPCA is funding the University of Sydney to develop a veterinary-based disease-surveillance scheme.

Progress has been made as Ryan O’Meara of K9 Magazine remarked at the conclusion of this list he published. So much of this seems like common sense.  It’s why I brought up the AKC.

I don’t hear enough noise being made regarding the recent change in AKC practices, but then I am not a breeder.  If anyone is apprised of what’s happening, if anything, regarding puppy mill dogs getting full AKC papers, or if there’s any major push-back, I’d be interested to hear it.

one more thing…

If you haven’t read it yet, check out an excellent article by our friend and Dog Star Daily writer Eric Goebelbecker(CPDT) “Do Confrontational Dog Training Methods Work? Is That Really The Point?” Eric also owns and runs Dog Spelled Forward, a training facility in Maywood, NJ.

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I am hearing more and more cries for doing away with dog shows and the notion of purebred dogs entirely. The AKC, by being obstinate, is fueling that fire. A reasonable and concerned stance by the AKC would alleviate much of the criticism, but knowing some of the personalities involved, I fear they will follow their current path to ruination. The AKC was presented with an impassioned plea concerning the Dalmatian issue mentioned here - supported by a large segment (but a minority) of the Dal Club. AKC, in their typical fashion, thumbed their nose at a very serious health problem.


It's good to see the KC making moves in the direction of opening up the stud books in order to address these problems. Genetic testing is great, but with each generation more dogs are eliminated. It's kind of like circling a drain. It's sad that for so long an abstract picture of a perfect specimen was more important than the welfare of the dogs. Hopefully the AKC will wake up too? This is me not holding my breath. Thanks for the shout out!


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