Friday, 5 December 2008

Arts and Crufts (spinning module)

The Kennel Club have announced today on their website that they have posted out their proposed Breed Health Plans to all the breed clubs.
This could be a tremendous opportunity for meaningful change.
Until we see what's in these plans we won't know for sure if this a PR exercise to soothe the BBC into sticking with their Crufts coverage or a serious attempt to sort out the endemic problems in the pedigree dog world.

If you have seen one of these Breed Health Plans up close, please do enlighten me!

According to the KC website here are the three areas they seek to cover with the plans:

  • The conformation of the breed
  • The prevalence of certain conditions and diseases within the breed (once priorities have been agreed, the steps to tackle these will be formulated)
  • The diversity of the breed’s gene pool.

Most breed standards are staying the same, say the KC. Some minor tweaks, some major... probably those breeds they had on their worry list. But how effective can a wording change be? Did the last lot of changes change the Bulldog for example? I can't tell the difference. How will the changes be policed?

All breed standards will now include a paragraph that in essence passes the buck to the judges and makes them responsible for not rewarding exaggerations and only putting up sound, healthy dogs. In future the KC may also ask for feedback from judges on exaggerations.

So self-policing rather than leadership, much easier to administer and better for the bottom covering objective of saying any future mess isn't the KC's fault because they've written this wonderful get-out clause!

Information about existing health problems is also included in these breed plans. And the KC are referencing their data as being from:
  • The KC/AHT/BSAVA Scientific Committee’s Pure Bred Dog Health Survey, completed in 2004.
  • An analysis which has been compiled using data provided by Agria Pet Insurance and covers all purebred dogs covered under the Kennel Club Healthcare Plan for the past 5 years.
  • A list of conditions included in published material in peer-reviewed scientific literature.
So I'm gathering they're sending the breed clubs a list of conditions that they think are very definitely hereditary in their breed. A bit like the list they already produce for the ABS. After the club has seen the list they will be asked to come up with a way of tackling these problems.

Wouldn't it be more productive to cut out that consultation stage and instead ask the club to debate the introduction of mandatory testing where appropriate? Rather than just agree the list of conditions in an expensive proof reading exercise?

After all the feedback from the breed clubs - on what will be a relatively untweaked breed standard and a list of probably undisputed conditions - only then will genetic diversity be discussed.

I'm sorry, I was hoping to feel more excited at this point - but to me that just sounds like a lot of paper and not much action.

I'd have started with point three - genetic diversity - and worked backwards.
It would be so much easier and so much more effective to quickly limit the use of popular sires. To set targets for improved coefficients of inbreeding for all breeds and to start making the calculation of COI easier for all with a searchable KC database that works these complex formulas out for everyone.

It sounds like an attempt at looking very busy.
An attempt to show the BBC that they are doing everything possible - honest.
I'm afraid I'm not impressed so far, will the BBC be? I'm sure that's who this is aimed at.

4 comments:

Ben Mcfuzzylugs said...

I totaly agree with you
But i suppose at least they have finally been shamed into doing SOMETHING
I dont know how much it will help, but then again its taken a fairly short time to ruin these breeds, hopefully some of the worst ones are savable

There also has to be a change in the mindset of some of the breeders, this eletist-ness thinking that there way is the ONLY way and its totaly OK to breed grandaughters to grandfathers to 'fix' traits

cambstreasurer said...

I hesitate to use the "C" word on this site. However the Old Style Siamese Cat club has a code of ethics which is a really outstanding effort to sort out the potential health and welfare problems associated with show breeding. Among other excellent stuff, it requires the owners of breeding males to take responsibility for checking the pedigree of visiting females to ensure that they are not unacceptably closely related.

"Stud owners may only accept GCCF registered queens on the Active Register, with correct transfer certificates and up-to-date vaccination certificates. Paperwork must ALWAYS be checked. The pedigree of a prospective queen should be examined to ensure the mating is an adequate outcross, and that the queen does not carry any known genetic problems."

Julia L said...

I can't see why these breed health plans can't be put on the KC's website, perhaps sometime after the clubs have received them. They shouldn't be kept secret.
Beverley, just thought, why doesn't Dogs Today, with the help a geneticist, publish what it thinks should be done to improve each breed then if anyone can get hold of the KC versions, you can compare them!
Maybe that would take too long. It would be interesting to see, though, an outsider's (ie non Kennel Club person's) view of one of two of the worst-affected breeds.

Em said...

Hi beverley... I know you think the Swedish Kennel club have got it sussed, but I've been assured by a friend involved in the dog world over there that they haven't, and that there is general unrest and dissent there too. There is a Swedish D
dog forum, http://www.aktivhund.se, where it is discussed regularly - I'm sure they would be interested to hear your point of view and to fill you in (Swedes generally have good English so if you post you should get some replies you can understand - if not, shout and I'll translate :) ). I guess it's a case of the grass being greener..