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Dissecting the Flat Faced Dog Breeds Argument

Published: Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Guardian reports that the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is advising prospective dog owners to avoid flat faced dog breeds such as the pug, bulldog and Shih Tzu. These brachycephalic breeds are prone to suffer respiratory and eye problems which cause animal suffering and can be expensive for pet owners.  The breeds have become enormously popular in recent years, thanks to celebrity owners.

Caroline Kisco, secretary of the Kennel Club places the blame on "unscrupulous breeders who churn out puppies for profit, outside of any regulation or umbrella of influence, with no regard for animal health or welfare."

But the secretary of a brachicephalic breed club claimed that the KC registered puppies despite divergence from breed standards.  This exacerbated the problem and the number of registrations had "skyrocketed" in the last decade.

It seems to me that despite its efforts to shift the blame, a heavy responsibility rests on The Kennel Club.  As we saw at Crufts earlier this year, having obvious defects is no bar to success in the ring.  Likewise overweight dogs.  Healthy, lean dogs are rejected. Are puppies checked for conformation and wellbeing before being registered? You can be sure that unregistered puppies would be difficult to sell which would curtail the problem.  But only if the KC took a stand.

The secretary of the KC says that puppies are being bred "outside of regulation or umbrella of influence."  As far as I am aware, there is no statutory regulation and the main umbrella of influence is the Kennel Club itself.  Unfortunately, when it comes to animal welfare, as usual the Kennel Club is found wanting.

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