Virtually every breed of dog that is recognised within the UK, plus many that are trying to gain recognition too, have their own breed club, or in the case of some breeds, more than one breed club. These clubs are independent from (although often affiliated with) The Kennel Club, the UK’s umbrella organisation for all pedigree dog breeds. A breed club is usually headed up and organised by high level breeders, breed experts and owners of dogs of the breed in question, and they form both a registry of dogs of the breed itself, and a membership organisation for owners and enthusiasts of the breed.
Bringing breed enthusiasts together under one organisation can help to connect owners of the breed, provide a useful database of breeders, and help with collating information on breed health and health issues as well. Breed clubs have an important role to play in terms of advocating for their breed, and can also help to steer and instigate positive changes across the breed too, when it comes to welfare standards, responsible breeding, and canine health.
While every breed club is structured slightly differently and will have different general goals, breed clubs as a whole have a vital part to play when it comes to improving the standard of their breeds as a whole, and we will look at this in more detail within this article.
When referring to “improvement” in terms of pedigree dogs, breed clubs have a lot of influence in terms of setting and maintaining the breed’s standards. However, what exactly is meant by the term improvement is something that is not widely understood among dog owners as a whole.
For pedigree breeds, improvement is the term used to refer to the breed as a whole, and all of the dogs within it rather than one particular dog or breed line. Improvement is tasked with raising the standard of dogs of the breed as a whole, in terms of their conformation to the set breed standards, and their general health and wellness too. Improvement may involve the change or updating of the breed standards on occasion, in order to minimise hereditary health defects that can accompany certain breed traits, and to raise the wellness and lower the incidence rate of hereditary defects and genetic problems.
If you are interested in joining a breed club for a specific breed, you may find yourself with two or more to choose from. Even if there is only one breed club active in the UK for your own dog breed, you should assess their goals and working practices carefully before you add your name to their membership list, which forms as a type of endorsement of their work and what they do for the breed of dog that you own.
Every breed club runs differently and has different aims, but across the board, all good breed clubs have a few things in common: