The Kennel Club is expanding the scope of the work undertaken by the group responsible for dog health and welfare, as part of its ongoing commitment in this area. It is appointing additional experts in dog health and genetics to ensure that scientific advances are harnessed for the benefit of pedigree health.
The Dog Health Group, which will replace the existing Kennel Club Breed Health and Welfare Strategy Group (BHWSG), will be responsible for ensuring that breeding rules and health testing requirements evolve to give dogs the best chance of leading healthy happy lives. The group will also play a crucial role in the continued development of the Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme, advising on new health tests that members of the scheme will be required to have carried out on their dogs. The new group will include an additional two veterinary surgeons, which will take the number of vets sitting on the group to four.
A range of external experts, including human and dog geneticists and further veterinary surgeons, will sit on the new subgroups which will feed their knowledge into and advise the Dog Health Group. The subgroups will be:
* Breed Standards and Conformation Sub-Group – to monitor, advise and work with breed clubs and councils on health issues related to dog conformation and breed standards.
* Genetics and Health Screening Sub-Group – to advise on the development of health screening tests and their effectiveness, assess new tests that may be incorporated into the Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme. It will also advise on breeding and registration issues that protect or enhance genetic diversity in individual breeds.
* Accredited Breeder Scheme Sub-Group – to put into operation health screening requirements and recommendations that have been agreed by the Dog Health Group and breed clubs and councils.
The Dog Health Group and its subgroups will replace the Breed Health and Welfare Strategy Group, which was formed in 2004 with the primary task of reviewing the breed standards to ensure that they contained no wording that encouraged exaggerations that would be detrimental to pedigree dog health.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We want 2010 and beyond to be positive years for pedigree dogs and, in the absence of effective government regulation to control dog breeding, this restructured group will play a critical role.
“Scientific advances in the last ten years have given us an exciting opportunity to improve pedigree dog health and has led to a significant expansion of the health and welfare work that the Kennel Club is able to undertake. This new group will coordinate and advise on all aspects of this work, using vital information about dog diseases and how they are inherited to direct the Kennel Club’s future decisions and actions.
“The Kennel Club, in conjunction with the British Veterinary Association, has already been able to develop health screening for eye diseases, hip and elbow dysplasia and a number of DNA tests but we want to be able to develop even more tests. That is why we will appoint a wide range of vets, breeders and human and dog geneticists, who are experts in their field, in order to help us achieve this.”
The creation of the Dog Health Group, and before this the Breed Health and Welfare Strategy Group, is one of many steps taken by the Kennel Club to ensure the future health and welfare of pedigree dogs specifically, and all dogs in general. Such steps include the review of all breed standards; the establishment of the Kennel Club and Animal Health Trust Canine Genetics Centre to accelerate research into inherited diseases; a ban on parent to child and sibling dog matings in 2009; co-funding of the world’s largest survey into pedigree health in 2004 and assistance with Imperial College’s research into genetic diversity of breeds.