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BBC News – Inquiry calls for better care in keeping purebred dogs

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Sir Patrick Bateson on the main recommendations of his report

The author of a pedigree dog report has called for radical changes in breeders to improve animal health.

The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust has funded an independent investigation after concerns highlighted in a BBC documentary.

The proposals by Cambridge University professor Sir Patrick Bateson cover the management of puppy farms, inbreeding and breeding for extreme characteristics.

The report also called for changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In 2008, the RSPCA pulled out of Crufts saying exaggerated features like bulldog jowls led to painful deformities.

Well-being standards

The Kennel Club introduced new standards for 209 breeds last year.

Sir Patrick, who is president of the Zoological Society of London, has called for a non-statutory dog ​​breeding advisory council, changes to the law including requiring all puppies to be microchipped before sale and an improved accredited breeding system.


Jeremy Cooke

BBC correspondent Jeremy Cooke

The Bateson investigation may leave some Kennel Club members feeling like they scored an own goal. Officially, they welcome the report – which the Kennel Club itself commissioned in light of a damning allegation in a BBC documentary.

But Professor Bateson’s report hardly gives purebred dog breeding an impeccable bill of health. He concludes that inbreeding and breeding dogs for specific characteristics such as wrinkled skin are serious welfare issues.

The problem may be that breeders who produce puppies with the most exaggerated “desirable” characteristics have often won prizes at top dog shows. And that means the puppies they produce can fetch higher prices.

Professor Bateson called it a classic example of ‘private gain versus public good’.

He said: “Many breeders exercise high standards of welfare, but careless management of puppy breeding is a major welfare problem, as is inbreeding in purebred dogs. Modes for conformations extremes are also a cause of welfare problems.”

He also told the BBC: “The public plays a big part here. A dog will be with a family for at least 10 years so they should go to great lengths to find a good breeder, make sure the proper health checks have been done and make sure the dog has been microchipped.

“When all of these things are done, I think the public can exert powerful pressure on breeders.”

The main recommendations of the report include:

• the creation of an independent non-statutory board to develop breeding strategies addressing issues of hereditary diseases, extreme conformation and inbreeding

• changes in the law, including requirements for all puppies to be microchipped and a duty of care for all breeders to consider the health and well-being of parents and offspring of a breeding

• a strong accredited breeding system to set requirements, including pre-breeding health testing, allowing buyers to see a pup with its mother and microchipping all puppies before sale

• the creation of a computerized system for collecting anonymous breed diagnoses from veterinary practices

• an advertising and education campaign to encourage a major improvement in the way the public buys dogs

• The Dangerous Dogs Act should be amended to apply to all dogs found to be dangerous, rather than to specific breeds, and should address the problem of dogs bred specifically as weapons of combat.

Sir Patrick previously told the BBC that the condition of some puppy farms was ‘not good’ and ‘probably in breach of animal welfare law’.

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Excerpts from the BBC documentary on purebred dog breeding

Sir Patrick also expressed concern about breeding dogs with extreme characteristics.

Changes to guidelines

The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust said they “widely welcomed” the report.

In a joint statement, they said they “particularly welcomed the report’s recommendation that the Dangerous Dogs Act should be overhauled to tackle those who keep and raise dogs as weapons, and that the legislation should apply to all dogs that have been shown to be dangerous rather than to specific breeds”.

The Kennel Club, which operates Crufts, changed its guidelines defining the characteristics dogs must have to be classified as pedigree in January 2009.

He previously said the standards had been revised to exclude “anything that could be construed in any way as encouraging characteristics that could prevent a dog from breathing, walking and seeing freely”.

In August 2008, the Kennel Club was featured in a BBC documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which looked at the health and welfare issues of purebred dogs.

He said physical traits required by Kennel Club breed standards, such as short faces and dwarfism, lead to inherent health issues and said many dogs suffer because owners breed them for their looks.

Dogs at Crufts

The BBC televised Crufts for many years before pulling out in 2009

After it aired, the BBC pulled out of broadcasting Crufts in 2009.

The Kennel Club filed a complaint about the program with Ofcom, accusing the documentary of bias.

He said the program was unfairly edited and did not properly reflect his “deep commitment to the health and welfare of dogs”.

The media regulator ruled the program had not been unfairly edited, but criticized some elements of the show and said the club had not been given a “proper opportunity” to respond to the allegations.

‘Urgent action’

Changes introduced by the Kennel Club early last year said bulldogs would no longer be encouraged to have heavy jowls and deep, overhanging wrinkles, German Shepherds’ front legs should not be too long and the chow chows that “must not have so much coat as to interfere with activity or cause distress in hot weather”.

Judges at licensed dog shows have been instructed to select only the healthiest dogs as champions. At Crufts, it was decided that animals that showed signs of poor health should be expelled.

In November, a report by an all-party parliamentary group found that many purebred dogs were suffering from serious health and welfare issues and recommended good husbandry practices such as health screenings and restrictions on dog breeding. breeding of closely related dogs.

He recommended that no dog be given champion status at a show unless he had been cleared for all potential diseases associated with that breed.

In February 2009, the RSPCA called for urgent action to safeguard the welfare and future of purebred dogs following an independent report into their welfare.

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