The Kennel Club and dog breeding world still needs to take urgent action to improve the health and welfare of pedigree dogs, five years after a revealing BBC documentary highlighted the shocking levels of suffering many animals endure, according to the RSPCA.
Programme maker Jemima Harrison, who produced and directed Pedigree Dogs Exposed, has backed the RSPCA’s call for urgent action.
She said: “Five years on from Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the Kennel Club is still in denial about the extent of the problems.
“It is unethical to continue to breed dogs like Pugs and Bulldogs which have such flat faces that they cannot breathe – and yet the Kennel Club registers these breeds in their growing thousands and these dogs continue to be celebrated at Kennel Club shows.
“”The Kennel Club has done too little to tackle the suffering these and many other breeds endure, despite an increasing amount of science which both articulates the issues and offers solutions.
“The dogs continue to pay a huge price.”
The RSPCA have acknowledged the progress made by the Kennel Club and dog breeders, including the development of DNA and health screening tests for hereditary diseases and the introduction of veterinary checks on ‘high profile’ breeds.
However, the nation’s biggest animal welfare charity believes much more should have been done in the five years since Pedigree Dogs Exposed was first broadcast on BBC One in 2008.
RSPCA chief vet James Yeates said: “Although some progress has been made by the dog world to address the issues raised in Pedigree Dogs Exposed, it has not been nearly enough. Five years on the problems are still far from being solved.
“We are concerned that many pedigree dogs are still suffering because they’re bred and judged primarily for how they look rather than with health, welfare and temperament in mind.
“We believe that meaningful action is urgently needed in order to make a real improvement to the welfare of pedigree dogs.”
This is a view supported by the EFRA Committee’s Dog Control and Welfare report which said that too many dogs continue to suffer ill-health due to inbreeding and breeding for exaggerated characteristics.
Three major reports were published on dog breeding in the UK in the 18 months that followed Pedigree Dogs Exposed. All three reports concluded that the welfare issues associated with pedigree dog breeding are very serious, and included a series of recommendations for possible ways forward.
Many of the recommendations are solely within the Kennel Club’s control, and have not been acted upon.
Some of the changes the RSPCA is calling for include:
· An independent review of Kennel Club breed standards
· Dog shows, such as Crufts, should judge dogs on their health, welfare and behaviour, rather than their appearance
· Revision of registration rules to put a limit on the number of offspring that can be fathered by any one sire
· Revision of registration rules to prevent the registration of offspring from matings between second degree relatives (e.g. grandparent-grandchild or aunt/uncle-nephew/niece matings)
· Only registering puppies from parents that have been properly and fully health screened
· Ban on registration of dogs born from a dam’s second caesarean
· Veterinary checks at shows to be done by independent vets
· Open stud books to allow more frequent introduction of new genetic material into established breeds
The RSPCA’s Born To Suffer campaign and petition was launched more than 18 months ago, with a call to change breed standards so that they prioritise the health, welfare and temperament of a dog over its looks. It is hoped this will put an end to the avoidable suffering many dogs endure.