In order for any dog to be recognised as a pedigree and be registered as such with The Kennel Club, they must be bred from two registered pedigree parents of the same breed (with the exception that proves the rule being the very first dogs of a newly-recognised breed to be registered).
This means that for pedigree dog breeders, registering a new litter of puppies generally involves simply filling out a few forms and providing proof of their bloodline in the form of their parent’s registration, which is all very straightforward.
However, there are certain circumstances in which The Kennel Club will refuse to register either a whole litter of puppies, or individual pups from within a litter – and these restrictions are in place to ensure the health and wellbeing of dogs of the breed as a whole.
In this article, we will look at the reasons that will cause The Kennel Club to refuse to register a litter or a puppy, and why they are in place. Read on to learn more.
If the dam (the mother of the litter) was mated before they reached their first birthday, The Kennel Club won’t recognise and register the pups. It is important to note that this restriction is based on the date of mating, not whelping – so even if the dam is one year old when she has her litter, if she was under a year old when she conceived, her litter cannot be registered.
Dams that are older than eight years old when they give birth cannot be registered either – however, there are some clauses to this restriction if an application to mate the dam is registered and approved by The Kennel Club beforehand. In order for the match to be approved in this situation, the dam must have already had at least one registered litter, and have been signed off by a vet as being suitable to breed from despite her age.
The age restriction is in place to protect the health of both the dam and her litter – dogs that are very old or young will often have their own health compromised by mating and having pups, and pups born from very young or old dams also have increased risk factors for genetic flaws and health issues themselves.
The Kennel Club also places a restriction on the number of litters any dam can have in her lifetime, to ensure the dam’s health and wellbeing. Four litters is the limit – and after this point, any further litters that she produces won’t be eligible for registration.
Most dogs give birth naturally and without issues nor need for human intervention. However, this is not always possible for every pregnancy – perhaps because the dam runs into difficulties when delivering, or because the conformation of the breed makes natural delivery difficult or impossible.
Delivery by caesarean section places stress on the dam herself, and comes with risks that are not present within a natural delivery. If a dam has had two previous litters delivered by caesarean section, further litters will be ineligible for registration (even if the next litter is delivered naturally) to protect the health of the dam.
This restriction also helps to ensure that dogs that don’t have the right conformation to deliver naturally and so, have higher risk factors for their health in pregnancy and delivery, don’t pass this trait onto their own young.
There are again some potential exceptions to this rule if an application is made to The Kennel Club in advance, and it can be demonstrated that it is scientifically proven to be in the best interests of the dam and the breed to permit another delivery that may be made by caesarean section.
Owners and breeders of dogs that commonly have to be delivered by caesarean section due to the size of the pups’ heads in relation to the hips of the dam – like the English bulldog and the French bulldog – should be particularly aware of this fact.
The gene pool within each pedigree dog breed is limited to only other dogs of the breed itself, and the fewer unique unrelated dogs of each breed that exist, the lower the genetic diversity present across the breed as a whole.
The smaller the gene pool, the higher the risk of hereditary health issues and genetic flaws arising and being spread across the breed as a whole – and so The Kennel Club restricts registration of litters produced from two closely related dogs.
This means that parents and their offspring cannot be mated, and neither can siblings be mated with each other and still be eligible for pedigree registration.
Within a very narrow remit of circumstances and where supporting evidence can be provided to demonstrate that crossing close relatives is in the best interests of the breed and the health of the respective dogs, this restriction may be lifted, although this is very uncommon other than in very rare and potentially at-risk dog breeds.
In order for a litter to be registered in the UK, the dam must be resident at an address in the UK at the time that she gives birth. Dams that have their litters abroad cannot have their pups registered in the UK, even if both parents were themselves registered here.
All pedigree dog breeds have a breed standard in place that dictates the breed’s norms and desirable traits, and dogs of said breeds must conform to these standards. Genetic anomalies, throwbacks and even pure chance can sometimes lead to pups being born to full pedigree parents but being ineligible for registration themselves in certain situations.
This generally occurs because the pup inherits a trait or genetic anomaly that is likely to pose a risk to their own health and wellbeing, and/or that of any subsequent litters that they might produce.
In particular, the merle gene and double merle gene, which produces a distinctive coat pattern when a pup inherits a certain combination genes from their parents may make pups of certain breeds ineligible for registration.
Whilst the merle gene is not a problem for all dog breeds, in certain breeds it can lead to problems such as deafness and vision loss as well as a distinctive colour, and these breeds have a caveat in place that pups that possess the merle coat cannot be registered.
Finally, the breeder of any given litter can also place their own endorsements on their litters that make them, and any subsequent offspring from members of the litter, ineligible for Kennel Club registration.
There are various reasons why a breeder might do this – perhaps if their litter isn’t of the level of quality that the breeder wishes to be associated with their breed line, or if they want to prevent the pups’ eventual owners from breeding eligible litters from them.
It may also occur if the breeder knows or suspects that the pups may be carriers of hereditary health conditions that could affect them or their own young.
If you are considering buying a pup from a breeder that hasn’t voluntarily registered their pups and that places an endorsement on them against their future registration, find out why this is and proceed with caution.