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Kennel club addresses ills of selective breeding

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Critics of show dogs have long complained that pedigree breeding can create and perpetuate health  problems for some breeds. This month the Kennel Club in England has announced that it will review more than 200 dog breeding standards. The aim: to prevent the spread of genetic diseases caused by selective breeding.

In a statement released Oct. 7, Kennel Club said it was launching "a complete review of every pedigree dog breed in the U.K. in a move that will have far-reaching benefits for the health of many breeds."

The Associated Press, reporting from London, said:

The review by Britain’s main governing body for dogs follows a BBC documentary that claimed the breeding process for pedigree dogs has resulted in a high incidence of inherited genetic disease as breeders emphasized physical traits over the health of the animals

The Kennel Club also released the first of a new set of breeding standards, one that will be applied to Pekingese dogs. That breed has been bred to have a flat face, a feature which has led to breathing problems.

A breed health plan will be coordinated for some 200 pedigree breeds, and dog show judges will be briefed on the new breed standards so healthy dogs are rewarded in the ring, the Kennel Club said. The breed health plans are to be completed by early next year.

"We have been listening and agree with the general public’s view that more needs to be done," said Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko. She credited a groundswell of public attention for helping the club "drive through, with added urgency, new and extended initiatives that will help to safeguard the health of our pedigree dogs."

In a statement, the Kennel Club singled out how breeding has affected Pekingese dogs.

The Kennel Club is releasing the first of these new breed standards today, for the Pekingese, and has taken a tough line with the breed following extensive and abortive consultations. This is set to radically improve the health of the Pekingese, which for nearly a hundred years was bred to have a flat face; a feature which can lead to breathing problems; under the new health plan the breed will be required to have a defined muzzle.

-- Steve Padilla

Photo: Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York City. Credit: Getty Images

 
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Well it's about blimmin' time! Next thing to do is to include a breed standard for breeds that have traditionally docked tails so that docking for cosmetic purposes can finally be outlawed.


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