You might think of a high profile dog breed being one of the most common or popular dogs owned within the UK, or those dogs that are particularly distinctive, well known or famous. But in breed circles and within the dog-loving world, the meaning of the phrase “high profile dog breed” is actually rather different.
The Kennel Club has identified a selection of pedigree dog breeds that it considers to be “high profile” due to a particular range of breed-specific or inherited health conditions that can adversely affect the health, wellness and quality of life of the dogs in question. Often, the reason for a dog’s high profile status will be due to specific issues with the conformation of dogs of the breed that can lead to problems for the dogs’ wellness and general heath. The high profile breeds list is concerned with identifying these issues and taking steps to encourage breeding for health, and the ultimate correction of issues associated with the breed.
The list itself is constantly reviewed and monitored, and progress and improvements in the development of the affected breeds is tracked. For instance, the Chinese Crested dog breed was initially one of the number to be found on the list, but due to positive steps and successful selective breeding of the Chinese Crested dog, the conformation problems that were previously associated with the breed have now been reduced to the level where the breed is no longer classed as high profile.
Fourteen dogs are currently included on The Kennel Club’s high profile breed list, and these breeds plus the reasons for their inclusion are:
The Basset Hound is considered to be particularly at risk of dermatitis or scarring of the skin caused by dermatitis, and issues with the bite and structure of the jaw. Problems with the eyes due to the excessive amount of loose skin of the face, which can obstruct the eyes, are also common. The Basset Hound can also be prone to obesity.
The Bloodhound is commonly afflicted with many of the same issues as the Basset Hound, again, due to the significant amount of loose skin that these dogs have on their bodies. Associated issues include defects of the eyelids, too much skin obscuring the eyes, and dermatitis or dermal scarring. The Bloodhound may also be afflicted by weak hind legs, and a nervous temperament.
The Bulldog is one of the most high profile breeds of all, being commonly prone to a wide range of health problems and conformation defects that can affect the dog’s quality of life. These include being significantly overweight, having pinched, narrowed nostrils, having a pronounced roll of skin over the nose, and various conditions of the eye. The Bulldog may also suffer from lameness and problems with the legs due to the weight of the dog.
The Chow Chow may suffer from a range of respiratory defects that can lead to noisy breathing, and narrow eyelids or other issues with the eyelids, such as inversions or other abnormalities. They may also have particularly excessive coats, and unstable hocks that can lead to a wobbling gait.
The Clumber Spaniel is prone to having excessive amounts of loose facial skin, which can lead to obstructions of the eyes and defects of the eyelids. They are also prone to ear irritations, weakness of the hind legs, and carrying too much excess weight.
The Dogue de Bordeaux may suffer from dermatitis, nervousness and weight issues, as well as again, excessive amounts of facial skin folds that can obstruct the vision and lead to problems with the eyelids. Weakness of the hind legs and an unstable gait may also be present.
The French Bulldog may exhibit signs of dermatitis, and deformities of the tail. Their brachycephalic faces can lead to breathing difficulties, over-prominent eyes, shortened necks and pinched nostrils, as well as issues with the jaw leading to a pronounced under or overbite.
The German Shepherd dog may be seen with conformation defects of the hind legs, including cow or sickle hocks, or excessively rotated stifles. The German Shepherd should demonstrate a calm, laid back demeanour, and excessive nerviness or anxiety is considered to be an issue.
The Mastiff may suffer from a range of conformational defects including an excessively hefty build, and weak hindquarters or unsoundness in the back legs. They may also have excessive amounts of loose skin, which can in turn lead to issues with vision and problems with the eyelids.
The Neapolitan Mastiff may also be excessively wrinkled, which can lead to dermatitis. Excess skin that obstructs the eyes can lead to abnormalities of the eyelids, which may require surgical correction. Carrying too much weight is another common problem for the Neapolitan Mastiff, as is unsound movement and weak hindquarters.
The Pekingese commonly suffers from a range of conformational defects including an overly short muzzle, pinched nostrils, respiratory difficulties, prominent nasal folds, and excessive coat. A range of eye problems may also accompany problems with the muzzle and skin folds. The Pekingese may also suffer from weak hindquarters and overall, poor muscle tone.
The Pug is commonly overweight, and suffers from a range of other potential conformation defects. These include excessive nasal folds and breathing difficulties, overly prominent eyes and problems blinking, sore or painful eyes, and dermatitis. They may also suffer from conformational defects of the legs or spine, leading to an unsound gait.
The St. Bernard dog commonly suffers from issues with the development of the teeth and the bite, and may possess excessive amounts of facial skin, which can lead to problems with the eyelids. They are also prone to being overweight, and in some cases, prone to weak hindquarters.
The Shar Pei may present with an excessively wrinkled coat, which can lead to dermatitis and problems with the eyes and clear vision. The conformation of the jaw can also cause the lower lip to fold over the incisor teeth, leading to issues with the bite.
If you are considering buying a dog of one of the breeds mentioned above, it is important that you shop around with your eyes open, and make a responsible choice. Talk to the breeder in-depth about the health, conformation and wellness of the parent dogs, and ask to see evidence of their claims. Learn to recognise the conformation flaws specific to the breed you are considering, and be on the lookout for them in the parent dogs.
Take your time over your decision, and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from a vet of your choice if you want to play it extra safe.