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Kennel Club revises dog breed standards

As part of its Fit for Function: Fit For Life campaign, the Kennel
Club has announced new breed standard rules affecting 78 different dog species, including six gun dog breeds, in a bid to stop inbreeding and genetic diseases.

“The changes that have been announced will leave breeders and judges in no doubt about their responsibilities to safeguard the health and welfare of dogs, first and foremost,” said Marc Abraham, the Kennel Club’s veterinary adviser.

The Kennel Club has made amendments to several breed standards in an attempt to encourage breeders to bring show dogs back in line with their working origins.

Owners of Clumber spaniels, for example, will be banned from “exaggerating substance” in the size of a dog’s body and muscle, so that they are fit for working in the field.

Labradors bred for the show ring should not carry “any excessive weight”.

The move was prompted after the BBC, last August, aired a controversial
documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which highlighted how dogs suffering from genetic illnesses were regularly competing in dog shows.

It found pedigree dogs bred specifically for showing are suffering health problems because certain physical characteristics, such as short faces, screw-tails and dwarfism, have been exaggerated.

The breeds worst affected included spaniels with syringomyelia, a condition that occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain, and boxers suffering from epilepsy.

The RSPCA has said the revised standards are not sufficient to improve animal welfare significantly.

RSPCA chief veterinary adviser, Mark Evans, said: “Our initial concerns are that the changes don’t appear to be radical enough to make a difference, really. We also question how the standards may be interpreted in the show ring.”

The rest of this article appears in 22 January issue of Shooting Times.

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