Vet checks for high profile breeds at Crufts 2012 and Championship Shows thereafter

The Kennel Club has announced that all dogs of the fifteen high profile breeds which win Best of Breed at Crufts 2012 and at General and Group Championship Shows after that, will need to be given a clean bill of health by the show veterinary surgeon before their Best of Breed awards are confirmed and before they are allowed to continue to compete at the show. This requirement is designed to improve canine health and protect the sport of dog showing.

The move, which will become effective from March 2012, was taken by the General Committee on the advice of the Kennel Club Dog Health Group, in order to ensure that the fifteen high profile breeds, some of which suffer from health issues and which attract the greatest criticism, do not bring the whole hobby of dog showing into disrepute.

In addition, before the Champion title of any dog or bitch within these breeds can be confirmed, that dog will have to undergo a successful veterinary examination at a Group or General Championship Show.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “There are 195 breeds whose participation in the hobby of dog showing is overshadowed by the small minority of people within some high profile breeds who seem to continue to breed, and occasionally reward, unhealthy dogs and who by so doing are bringing down the reputation of the hobby and the rest of the dog showing fraternity.

“The Kennel Club must ensure, for the future prospects of dog showing and for the good of dogs, that only healthy dogs go home from dog shows with prizes.

“This action will not only protect the reputation of the majority of dog showing people who put the health and welfare of their dogs first and foremost, but it will also continue to encourage improvement within the high profile breeds themselves, ensuring that the healthiest are justly held up as an example for others to follow.”

The changes, which will become active from 2012, come after measures were put in place in 2009 to try to ensure that only healthy dogs are rewarded in the show ring. Judges now have the power to remove dogs that look unhealthy from competition and show monitors can also ask show veterinary surgeons to determine whether a dog is healthy enough to continue competing. These existing requirements will continue to be in place at dfs Crufts 2011.

Ronnie Irving, Kennel Club Chairman, said: “The majority of people involved in showing dogs, including the 15 high profile breeds, are doing a good job in moving their breed forward and many judges are ensuring that health is paramount when they judge. This work should be applauded and recognised.

“Sadly though, a few judges in some breeds simply can’t or won’t accept the need to eliminate from top awards, dogs which are visibly unhealthy. Neither we who show dogs, nor the Kennel Club which must protect our hobby, can reasonably allow that state of affairs to continue. I hope also that monitoring the results of this exercise may even, in time, enable us to drop from the ‘high profile’ list some of those breeds which prove to have a clean bill of health.

“This move, along with the other health measures that we have put in place will help the Kennel Club to ensure that the show ring is, as Professor Patrick Bateson said it can be: a positive lever for change in the world of dogs.”

Professor Steve Dean, Crufts Committee member and Senior Veterinary Surgeon, and a member of the Kennel Club General Committee, said of the new requirements: “The guidance which we will issue to Show Vets will focus on clinical signs associated with pain or discomfort which will come under the main headings of external eye disease, lameness, skin disorders and breathing difficulty. The show veterinary surgeons will be looking for signs such as ectropion, entropion, corneal damage, dermatitis, breathing difficulty on moderate exercise, and lameness. The fifteenth breed is the Chinese Crested where the principal issue will be the presence of skin damage arising from hair removal and thus signs of clipper rash or chemical insults to the skin will be looked for.

"It is not intended for the vet to act in any way as a show judge of conformation. Veterinary opinion will only lead to disqualification of a dog from further competition where there is clinical evidence of disease. Perhaps the only arguable exceptions are ectropion and entropion as both are conformatory defects of the eyelid, but both conditions are closely associated with chronic conjunctival inflammation or corneal damage and thus they will be disqualifying signs in their own right.

"By giving dog exhibitors and judges 12 months notice of the intent to have a veterinary surgeon examine the Best of Breed from each of the high profile breeds, we hope that judges will ensure that only healthy exhibits will come forward. Therefore the number of times dogs are excluded from the Group following veterinary examination should be minimal. For some of the breeds this will still be a huge challenge but the intent is to improve the overall health and welfare of dogs and if this measure helps achieve this then it has to be a step in the right direction." 

The Kennel Club confirmed that the detailed regulations to give effect to these new moves are currently being developed and will be published in due course.

From the Chairman

6th January 2011
For further press information or images please contact:
The Kennel Club Press Office
020 7518 1008

Notes to editors
1.         The fifteen high profile breeds are as follows: Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Chow Chow, Clumber Spaniel, Dogue De Bordeaux, German Shepherd Dog, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Pekingese, Shar Pei, St Bernard, French Bulldog, Pug and Chinese Crested.
2.         Show vets will be given clear guidelines on the issues that need to be considered in deciding whether or not to allow a dog to proceed further into the Group competition. The vets will be directed only to prevent dogs from going forward if they are suffering from some clinical problem which obviously adversely affects the dog’s wellbeing. They will not be permitted to exclude dogs merely for aesthetic reasons or because of exaggerations alone, unless these are causing the dog some adverse clinical effect on its health or welfare.
3.         An exploratory meeting to establish the practicalities of these issues has already been held with a number of established show vets. This has been extremely helpful to the Kennel Club in planning for the detailed regulations which will have to be introduced to give effect to this new requirement.