Is the Kennel Club doing anything proactive to improve the health of brachycephalic dog breeds?

Is the Kennel Club doing anything proactive to improve the health of brachycephalic dog breeds?

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Brachycephalic dog breeds like the French bulldog, English bulldog, pug and Pomeranian are some of the most popular dog breeds in the UK overall, but they are also the subject of a large amount of controversy too, because being brachycephalic has a range of limiting and often serious implications for the health of the dogs concerned.

Dogs with very exaggeratedly flat faces commonly suffer from acute breathing problems, exercise intolerance, an inability to cope with heat, and even limitations on being able to deliver their own young, which means that breeding or even buying brachycephalic dogs is a point of great debate among welfare organisations, dog breeders and dog lovers.

The Kennel Club in the UK recognises and offers pedigree registration to a large number of brachycephalic dog breeds, and sets and maintains their breed standards and the standards to which dogs of these breeds are judged by in the show ring too. Ergo, the Kennel Club holds a lot of authority in terms of its ability to dictate and impact upon the health and norms of brachycephalic dog breeds, as well as a responsibility to take into account the affect that the positions they take have upon such dogs’ health and wellness.

Many people ask what the Kennel Club is doing to improve brachycephalic health and educate dog owners about brachycephalic dog problems, and naturally, there’s a lot of disagreement over whether or not they’re doing enough; and in this article, we will share a simple outline of the different parts of the Kennel Club’s stated policy on what they’re doing to improve the health and welfare of brachycephalic dog breeds now and for the future. Read on to learn more.

Raising public awareness

The Kennel Club states that they’re taking steps to raise public awareness of the health issues that can accompany brachycephalic dog breeds, such as by means of producing educational videos about the symptoms of breathing problems in brachycephalic dogs, and factors that can exacerbate their health conditions.

Investing in health research

The Kennel Club has placed £170,000 into a charitable trust to fund research into the various breathing issues and complications that can face dogs of brachycephalic breeds, with a long-term goal of creating an information resource to assist future breeders to produce healthier litters.

They are also contributing towards the funding of research into the occurrence rates of different health and welfare issues in different dog breeds, including brachycephalic breeds.

Heading up the Brachycephalic Breeds Working Group

The Brachycephalic Breeds Working Group is a panel made up of members of a number of breed clubs, veterinary associations, and welfare organisations as well as Kennel Club representatives, which together, work to establish methods to raise public awareness and improve dog health, such as by discouraging the use of flat-faced dogs in advertising and the media.

The Breed Watch Illustrated Guide

The Kennel Club has also recently released an illustrated Breed Watch guide for dog show judges and breeders to help them to identify exaggerations and features that may be harmful to the dogs that possess them, to ensure they are not rewarded in the show ring or deliberately replicated by responsible breeders in their later stock.

Educating dog show judges

Dogs that win shows are always in demand for breeding and to use at stud, and so the Kennel Club is also working to educate the judges of brachycephalic breeds at shows to ensure that exaggerations and unhealthy dogs are not rewarded in the ring.

Veterinary checks have also been introduced at championship shows to ensure that unhealthy dogs are not placed in the ring.

Educating prospective puppy buyers

Sadly, all too many owners of brachycephalic dogs didn’t know what they were getting in to when they chose their puppies, and had little or even no awareness of the potential health issues that can accompany brachycephalic dogs.

The Kennel Club has produced a number of free resources for would-be puppy buyers to help to ensure that they can get the facts and find out what they need to know about brachycephalic breeds before they go ahead and make a purchase.

The Kennel Club Breed Health and Conservation Plans

The BHCP research is designed to produce an action plan to identify the specific health challenges faced by each dog breed and draw up a detailed approach to improve breed health, as well as to identify areas that warrant further research and potential problems in the making.

Access to the Mate Select tool

Finally, the Kennel Club also hosts a free to use online database called “Mate Select” that enables people who wish to find a mate for their dog to find others of the same breed with pedigree registration, and check their health test results to ensure that they can make a healthy mating match.

Is the Kennel Club doing enough to improve brachycephalic breed health?

Virtually everything to do with the health of brachycephalic breeds and the Kennel Club’s role in it is contentious on some level; some breeders feel that the Kennel Club interferes too much, whilst many veterinary organisations, other breeders, and animal welfare advocates feel that the Kennel Club doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.

Ultimately, where you stand on things is for you to determine; but if you are thinking of buying or adopting a brachycephalic dog, or particularly, if you are thinking of breeding from your own dog, please make sure you get the facts first, and understand all of the various implications of doing so.



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