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Crufts Winners overweight shock! July 2015

Published: Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A report into prizewinning dogs at Crufts has confirmed what we have known for a very long time – many of the winning dogs are too fat! The research, reported in the Veterinary Record, examined 960 images of winning dogs of 28 breeds and found that 26% were overweight. The worst affected breeds were pugs (80% overweight!), Bassets and Labrador Retrievers. The report concluded that widespread media exposure of overweight dogs is likely to normalise the condition.

Unfortunately we are already there. Being overweight is now the new normal. A lean or normal weight dog is now seen to be underweight, not just by Crufts judges but by the public at large.

Here at Burns for years we have been fielding calls from show dog owners who are trying to get more weight on to their dogs in order for them to compete successfully in the ring.  When we look at the photographs we almost invariably find that the dog isn’t underweight. Frequently the owner complains that the dog just won’t eat enough to get the weight on. The fault of course lies yet again with the Kennel Club which has the clout to deal with this problem. A Kennel Club spokesperson said “Further effort is now required to educate owners, breeders and show judges (my emphasis) so they can all better recognise overweight condition...”. No, Guys, it’s all down to you.  Just as football referees are instructed in how to interpret the rules, show judges should be given clear guidance on how to recognise and not to reward an overweight dog.  

The Kennel Club response to the paper is that the research is flawed as it was based on photographs rather than a careful examination. A fair point perhaps but illustrative charts are used extensively to help dog owners determine if their dog is around the correct weight. If a dog looks over weight then it probably is.

Surprisingly, the British Veterinary Association (BVA), publisher of the Veterinary Record, seems to have no policy on the subject. Correction! The BVA is not in favour of overweight dogs but that’s like saying the Church of England is not in favour of sin. The BVA has nothing to say about the Kennel Club promoting excessive weight in dogs. 

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