Pedigree Dogs Exposed Day 4 (or 1 in Scotland)

Okay - today needs to be an action day.

If you need a motivator to get busy, read the latest from the Kennel Club to remind you that they are still not waking up and admitting they have a massive problem to solve. Bill Lambert writes...

"... suggestions of incest should have been enough to suggest to most people that this was not a documentary that one could take entirely seriously."

Here's some petitions for a start...

Here's one to change breed standards
And one from TV vet Joe Inglis

Here is the address of some people to write to if you feel moved:

Dogs Trust are suggesting you write to:
Lord Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health at Defra,
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

However - I've just noticed that while Dogs Trust has posted quite a robust message on their website (click here to see their message) in support of the programme the following little tiny easily missed message has just appeared on the KC genetics website...

"the KC has received messages supporting the work the KC is undertaking, with breeders, to improve the health of pedigree dogs, from organizations including Dogs Trust...."

So a line to Dogs Trust might be worthwhile, too as they seem to be wanting to keep everyone happy with quiet low-key support of the KC's lack of action yet public condemnation of them at the same time!
(It must have disappointed a lot of the dog lovers who give Dogs Trust their £40 million pounds of donations each year not see them more proactive on this vital subject when the RSPCA by contrast were so brave and outspoken.)

Dogs Trust 17 Wakley Street London EC1V 7RQ

If you want to write to your MP, here's how... go to to find out their name and contact details - just type in a postcode.

On of our readers' tells us her Jack Russells will be boycotting Pedigree Gravy Bones until they take down their message of support on the KC genetics website. She's written to Pedigree to tell them.

Pedigree Pet Foods Mill Street Melton Mowbray Leicestershire LE13 1BB

Click here to see other supporters of the KC stance who may also like to hear from you!

And here is an idea I've been mulling on.
Would anyone be interested in taking part in a new project? To create the Cavalier Queen Elizabeth. A healthy Cavalier created in our current monarch's lifetime. The idea would be to find the healthiest unrelated Cavaliers we can, and with consultation with lots of experts - outcross with some new blood to retain all the positive features we know and love in this troubled breed.
So what could you cross with? Working Cocker? Jack Russell? Something not too in-bred and something with longevity.
We'd have to get some neurologists on board to look at which skull shape we should try for and really check out hearts and other problems and what level of inbreeding has occurred in any dogs introduced.
There is precedent. In Boxers Dr Bruce Cattenach (the heart expert) crossed Boxers with Corgis with slightly less noble objectives - he was trying to get the tail-less gene from the Corgi into Boxers to beat the docking ban! But in very few generations he did indeed get that gene into the breed which very soon returned to looking like a 100% Boxer. And the KC very happily have taken in these crosses into the Boxer registry.
Anyone involved with project would have to agree to keeping records of longevity and health for the whole of any pups life plus they must also agree to perform all recommended health tests.
What do you think? Perhaps we could get other little groups of caring people modifying other breeds in trouble using the same model?


Frosty said…
I understand that we dont want to fight the KC, but would there really be a problem with another organisation that allowed people to view breed lines, histories, and possible inherited problems? ( something I believe you can not do on KC website). After all we dont all us the same shop all the time. Surely giving people freedom of choice is not a bad thing?
I will certainly be writing to my MP and hope that with enough other people doing the same thing we can bring about a difference, to increase the welfare of these dogs.
Anonymous said…
Hi Beverley,

I hope you're well. I've only just seen the Panorama show from earlier in the week on iPlayer. All I can say is thank you - you are an amazing ambassador for healthy and happy dogs across the globe. Well done!

alfmcmalf said…
This is all FANTASTIC.

Well done Beverely, JH and CF and everyone.

Anonymous said…
I'd read on this blog about the programme; I'd heard about it on news programmes; I'd seen comments about it on various non-dog-related internet forums.Unable to see it on BBC Scotland last night, I recorded it and have now watched it. Even after all I had read and heard I was unprepared for the reality. That Eugenics is alive and well in the dog world is only too apparent - the breeders' callous disregard for the welfare of their dogs was chilling and their willingness to perpetuate known problems beggars belief. As for the Kennel Club's Laurel and Hardy spokespeople...? Can you imagine how they would fare shut in a room with those callous breeders - doesn't give cause for optimism does it?
I feel sorry for the genuine welfare-cognisant breeders out there - now is your time to act and distance yourself from such practices before the public view all dog breeders with the revulsion and distaste so deserved for those appearing on the programme.
Carol Fowler deserves the thanks and respect of every genuine dog lover - she certainly has mine.
I don't know the best way forward but I'll cetainly be lending my support where I can.
For the record, we purchased a pedigree dog six years ago because, with a young child, we didn't want to take the risk of homing a dog whose background we weren't sure of. We have a BRILLIANT family pet but our lives revolve round ensuring that someone is at home to give him the three-times-a-day medicines he needs to control the epilepsy he developed when he was two. I'd like to think that if some of those breeders faced the reality of watching their beloved dog fitting they might think twice about their breeding practices but I'm not that naive anymore.
Keep up the good work Beverley - there are loads of us behind you backing you up!
Anonymous said…
Beverley - do you have a direct email I could use, if I promise not to abuse it?

I have a paper given to the Whippet congress in Sweden by a genticist. She's an expert on canine population genetics with a particular interest in the whippet. It's one of the best, most lucid, entertaining, useful, intelligent papers I've ever read and it's already making big, big waves in the whippet world after the flame war earlier this year. She's Polish - and remembers 'Dogs Today' very fondly as being the only dog magazine available in Poland and that offered 'a window onto the outside world' and introduced her to clicker training and the like when there was nothing like it in Poland.

Her paper's too long to post here - and not appropriate, but as far as I can tell, this gets through to you directly?

if so, and you want to mail me back, I can send you the article. She might also be up for a Q/A or something similar.


Manda Scott (
Anonymous said…
The kennel club are having a live web chat tomorow for all those interested. I have posed a question although I am not anticipating a response - Regarding your statement on your website that most owners of dogs are pet owners therefore their animals don't need testing, can you reassure me that all puppies papers will be endorsed and the said endorsements not removed until all appropriate breed health tests have been completed? Thus reducing hereditary conditions, unwanted litters and indiscriminate breeding for the purposes of financial gain.

Mutthouse xx
Indiana Rowz said…
I am a member on another board and this has just been posted - the KC response to the documentary. I though you might be interested in what they say.

Questions about Pedigree dogs raised by the BBC Programme 'Pedigree
Dogs Exposed'

The Kennel Club has received calls from concerned members of the
public who watched the documentary on the BBC, `Pedigree Dogs

The Kennel Club worked with the documentary makers on the programme
but unfortunately its viewpoints were not accurately expressed and it
left viewers with the mistaken impression that all pedigree dogs are
riddled with a wide range of health problems. This is patently untrue
and anyone should be cautious of forming views about pedigree dogs as
a result of watching this documentary.

We would like to use this opportunity to address some of the issues
this documentary raised but, in our view, failed to answer fully.

The documentary stated the pedigree dogs are `falling apart' at an
alarming rate, is this true?

There are some dogs which suffer from some diseases - and the images
that the documentary makers chose to use were sad and distressing –
but the Kennel Club is working hard to help eliminate these

However, it has been found that 90 percent of pedigree dogs will not
suffer from health problems that will have a detrimental effect on
their quality of life, based on an analysis of the Breed Health
Survey, carried out in 2004 by the Kennel Club and the Animal Health
Trust. This is to date the largest dog health survey in the world,
with 60,000 dogs included.

One of the results from the health survey was that just two percent
of CKCS suffer from syringomyelia. This stands in contrast to the
figure of one third of all CKCS that was stated in the documentary.
As already expressed, we would be cautious of forming views about
pedigree dogs as a result of watching this documentary.

How can the Kennel Club continue to claim that it works for the
benefit of dogs after the BBC documentary `Pedigree Dogs Exposed'?

As a not-for-profit organisation the Kennel Club would like to
reassure everyone about the continued efforts and real progress that
has been made by both the Kennel Club and responsible breeders to
further improve the health and welfare of pedigree dogs, which
unfortunately was not represented within the programme.

So what is the KC doing to improve the health of pedigree dogs?

The Kennel Club is spending huge amounts of time, care and money to
improve the health of pedigree dogs and there are three main areas
that the Kennel Club is concentrating on to do this:

1. Science and research

• The programme drew upon a new study on dog genetics by
Imperial College to underline its criticisms of dog breeding, without
acknowledging the fact this study was entirely enabled by the Kennel
Club as part of its commitment to health research. This research will
now provide the Kennel Club with a valuable scientific platform to
enlist the support of breeders in tackling key health problems where
they occur.

• Kennel Club Charitable Trust - In the last 10 years the
Kennel Club Charitable Trust has given more than £1.7 million in
health related grants to UK universities and research bodies, such as
the Animal Health Trust. Much of this money has been used to help
develop new health tests for inherited diseases, directly benefiting
pedigree dogs.

• Promoting health testing – Some examples of health testing
schemes run by the Kennel Club, in conjunction with the British
Veterinary Association, are hip and elbow scoring, and the eye
testing schemes. The Kennel Club publishes the results of these tests
and during 2007 breeders spent £1.5 million on testing under these
schemes. Since the scheme began breeders have spent over £20 million
on hip scoring alone.

• Working with breed clubs to eliminate canine diseases and
improve the health of pedigree dogs. The Kennel Club has worked to
improve the health of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, a breed focused
on in the documentary, by providing grants to the Cavalier King
Charles Spaniel Club. The club has then distributed funds to the
Royal Veterinary College, Cambridge University and Vet School and
neurologist Claire Rusbridge to enable research into syringomyelia, a
disease which has only been discovered in dogs within the past five
years or so, and which no one is yet sure of its mode of inheritance.
All of this information was omitted from the documentary.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club has itself taken numerous
steps to help improve the health of the breed, from heart testing in
the 1980s to running seminars and supporting and funding research
into disease. For a full list and chronology of their work click here.

• Supporting DNA tests - There are a range of DNA tests and
health control schemes that now exist, thanks to advances in science
and the work and support of the Kennel Club. One example of this is
the elimination of canine leucocyte adhesion deficiency (CLAD) in
Irish Setters that caused early death in puppies, which was
eradicated through the concerted efforts of both the Kennel Club and
Irish Setter breeders.

2. Responsible breeding and the Accredited Breeder Scheme

• The Kennel Club works closely with breeders in order to
safeguard the future health of pedigree dogs and it is thanks to the
time, money and dedication from all involved that the health of
pedigree dogs is continually improving.

• The Kennel Club's Accredited Breeder Scheme was developed to
encourage the breeding of healthy, well adjusted puppies and over
2,500 breeders have signed up to the scheme – and the number
continues to grow.

• Accredited Breeders agree to use health screening schemes,
relevant to their breed, on all breeding stock. These schemes include
DNA testing, and testing for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and
inherited eye conditions.

• Additionally, Accredited Breeders will follow a number of
other guidelines to ensure that their puppies are in the best
possible health; for example ensuring that their breeding stock is
health tested and that potential buyers see the puppies with their

• The Accredited Breeder Scheme gives buyers the peace of mind
that the puppies have been bred with concern for welfare, rather than
profit. The Kennel Club's puppy finding website
enables buyers to identify Accredited Breeders in their area that
have a litter available. There are thousands of responsible breeders
that register puppies with the Kennel Club and that follow
recommended health checks and responsible breeding practices. The
Kennel Club does not have legal or statutory powers to make breeders
follow healthy and responsible breeding practices – but by having
breeders register puppies with us, we have the opportunity to
influence them and a better chance to educate and encourage them to
follow the most responsible breeding practices for the welfare of all

• Accredited Breeders agree to allow inspections of their
property by a scheme representative to check that dogs are kept in
suitable conditions, and also provide feedback forms for puppy buyers
to advise the Kennel Club of their individual experience of the
breeder and the quality of the service offered.

3. Breed standards and education

• Fit For Function – Fit For Life - The Kennel Club runs a
comprehensive education programme on health issues and its `Fit For
Function Fit For Life' campaign aims to end the process of
exaggeration – whereby the features of some breeds, whether it be
coat, weight, skin, eye formation of shortness of muzzle, have been
exaggerated to the detriment of the dog's health.

• Educating judges - The Kennel Club runs a comprehensive
training programme for judges to ensure that they award prizes only
to healthy dogs.

• Changing breed standards - Twenty years ago the Kennel Club
changed many of its breed standards to remove wording that might lead
to exaggeration. The breed standards are continually under review.

Does the Kennel Club support the culling of healthy puppies?

Absolutely not. The Kennel Club's primary objective is to promote in
every way the general improvement of dogs.

Legally, the Kennel Club is powerless to stop this practice, but has
made it quite clear to the breed clubs that the culling of healthy
puppies is completely unacceptable, and that any club promoting this
practice will be deregistered by the Kennel Club.

Why doesn't the Kennel Club refuse to register puppies from breeders
who fail to follow the necessary health checks for their breed?

It is important to remember that it is only necessary to screen dogs
that are being bred from, in order to ensure a healthy litter. Most
dogs are kept as pets and the onus is therefore on the breeder not
the owner.

However, what we do encourage all dog owners to do, is to find a
breeder from the Kennel Club's Accredited Breeder Scheme, so they can
be assured that the breeders have carried out all of the necessary
health checks.

The KC does not have any legislative powers but works with dog
breeders to encourage and educate them about their responsibilities
to screen their potential breeding stock with all available health
screening programmes for heritable conditions that affect their
breed, rather than to mandate such test should be undertaken.

By having breeders register their pups with the Kennel Club, rather
than alienating them through enforcing draconian measures, we can
easily reach them and inform them of their responsibilities. We are
cautious of becoming overly prescriptive in what we expect so we do
not drive people away from the KC registration system (money from
which goes directly into benefitting the health and welfare of dogs).

It would be naïve to expect that mandating certain requirements would
stop breeders from breeding, but it could significantly reduce the
impact of the KC's message, by drastically reducing the numbers of
breeders with which we have contact, which would be of little benefit
to breeds generally.

Furthermore, the Kennel Club has been advised by legal Counsel that
since its registration system registers dogs, not breeders, in order
to exclude a breeder from registering their litters the Kennel Club
would need to follow strict disciplinary measures or else run the
risk of legal challenge in refusing to register. This is why we
introduced the Accredited Breeder Scheme, to have more control over
breeders and provide a `kite mark' for responsible breeders, who
choose to follow the scheme's requirements.

Should unhealthy dogs be allowed to win at dog shows?

Breed standards are a blueprint for a healthy dog and that is what
dog shows are designed to reward.

The Kennel Club absolutely refutes that it would put `looks' above
the health of pedigree dogs, in fact we actively discourage the
exaggeration of features in any breed.

The standards have been, and will continue to be amended, when
necessary to ensure the breeding of healthy, well-conformed dogs.

Dog show judges are also educated to judge to those standards
ensuring that dogs with obvious problems that could affect their
quality of life do not win, and that the rewards go to fit, healthy
dogs. All of this of course is dependent on the responsibility of
breeders and owners.

It would be short sighted, and counterproductive, to penalise
individual dogs and their owners, where a condition which does not
affect the dog's quality of life was used to stop it participating in
a dog show. While responsible breeders are working hard to eradicate
known problems through careful breeding, this cannot be done
overnight. Our aim must always be to assist breeders through our
health schemes and initiatives such as the Accredited Breeder Scheme
to screen and breed for the eradication of known health problems.

Is the Kennel Club only concerned with pedigree dog shows?

The Kennel Club is involved in all aspects of dog ownership.

There are many other shows in addition to breed shows that the Kennel
Club licences, including Companion Dog Shows, agility competitions,
heelwork to music, flyball competitions and Scruffts, which is a
competition for crossbreeds only.

In addition, the Kennel Club works on numerous campaigns and
initiatives to improve the every day life of dog and dog owners,
including its Open for Dogs campaign, and our ongoing campaign
against the use of electric shock collars.

Do KC breed standards make for healthy dogs?

The breed standards are actually the blueprint for a healthy dog. All
breed standards were reviewed 20 years ago and remain under review to
ensure that dogs that are bred to resemble the characteristics in
their `blue print', will be healthy. It is when characteristics
become exaggerated that health problems can occur. However this is
something that the KC does not encourage and actively educates people
against doing as part of its `Fit For Function, Fit For Life'

Are there certain pedigree dog breeds that are unhealthy?

We don't say that the human race is `unhealthy' because some people
get certain diseases or illnesses – and it is the same with animals.
There are no `unhealthy' breeds but there are some breeds in which
certain conditions tend to surface more often. The KC's breed health
survey, the biggest health survey of pedigree dogs in the world
(60,000 dogs), uncovered a number of problems and as a result, the KC
has put schemes (see below) in place to assist breeders in breeding
healthy animals.

Why doesn't the Kennel Club ban inbreeding?

There is a difference between `in' breeding and `line' breeding.
Inbreeding was practiced in Victorian times to produce a particular
breed, however, it is now uncommon.

Line breeding is very different and is where animals are bred for
particular (healthy) characteristics. If a dog is line bred it may
appear more than once in a pedigree and so names within generations
will be repeated. That does not mean that the dogs are likely to be
unhealthy. That is far from the case.

Responsible breeders have an intimate knowledge of the dogs that
appear in pedigrees – they use that knowledge and their experience to
breed for positive traits of health, character and the breed standard.

Does inbreeding cause inherited disease?

The gene mutations that result in inherited disease occur at random
and are fairly rare events. We know from experimental data that
certain kinds of chemicals can cause DNA damage resulting in the
mutation of the gene involved. Some of the inherited diseases that we
recognise today will have resulted from such insults, but probably
most result from errors in copying DNA that have gone undetected. So,
inbreeding per se does not cause genetic mutations, as far as we
know. However, we have already seen that many of the inherited
diseases in the dog result from recessive mutations; an affected dog
will have two copies of the recessive mutation. However, the carrier
dog, that carrying one normal gene copy and one mutant gene copy,
will be clinically normal. Inbreeding to such carrier dogs will
result in a rapid build up in the frequency of the mutant gene such
that eventually affected dogs will be produced. Inbreeding therefore
does not cause a mutation that results in an inherited disease, but
once such a mutation has occurred, inbreeding will increase the
frequency of the mutant version of the gene in the breed far quicker
than other more random breeding programmes.
Beverley Cuddy said…
I am in tenerife in a villa with no WI fi! Would love to take part but its not to be! Please see terriermans excellent critique of this ridiculous 90 per cent healthy figure that regards blind and crippled dogs as healthy! Why not post points and questions to pose? I am typing on a blackberry or else I'd be blogging like mad. Do tune in tomorrow and help the kc realise that you can't spin this away, they need to admit the probs and start addressing them.
Anonymous said…
I hope its ok to post here but here is the link to the live webchat - the kennel clubs response to fears about credibility. The 90% figure is mentioned too.

My confidence has not been regained.

Mutthouse xx
Anonymous said…
Mutthouse - thanks for posting that link. Sadly, it doesn't inspire confidence....
bothepoodle said…
My understanding is that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was bred in the late 1920s/early 1930s as a determined and deliberate effort to recreate the dogs that were known to, and much-loved by, King Charles I and II. These breeders looked at 17th and 18th Century portraits for reference and saw a more long-legged, longer-nosed and wiry animal than the King Charles, a small breed that had been bred in Victorian times when lap-dogs and pugs were fashionable. It only takes a Google, or a visit to a stately home to see what the breeders were getting at. These dogs are small, compared to the mastiffs and hunting dogs of the day, but they're still feisty. They should be set apart from the King Charles, which is a different and far more modern breed. The hard work, research and ambition of the people who set out to restore the Cavalier to its true origin has been lost, somewhere along the line. It's very sad. I vote for a new breed based on the original - not Queen Elizabeth (who only has corgis), but, Van Dyck. He was the main man who caught the original Cavalier in paint. The Van Dyck Spaniel sounds good to me.

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