BVA Past President Harvey Locke has spoken out following the broadcast of the follow up to the award-winning Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary.
Commenting on the BBC programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed Three Years On broadcast on 27 February, Mr Locke said:
“The programme featured some good progress but highlighted the fact that there is much more to be done to tackle irresponsible dog breeding and breeding for extreme characteristics and fashion. A further review of the Kennel Club breed standards is needed to remove any ambiguity for breeders when selecting features that may impact adversely on dog health.
“The veterinary profession is working hard to help improve the health and welfare of pedigree dogs and several initiatives are already underway.
“The recently launched BVA/KC Chiari malformation/Syringomyelia (CM/SM) Scheme is a good example of a positive step to improve the health and welfare of those dogs affected by this distressing condition.
“Identifying problems in dogs before breeding is of paramount importance and we very much welcome the research, largely funded by the Kennel Club, being undertaken for DNA testing at the Animal Health Trust to identify those genes carrying inherited diseases. It is vital that the breed clubs make the most of this information when selecting dogs for breeding.
“The programme also highlighted mitral valve disease in Cavaliers and heart disease in Boxers. The BVA and Kennel Club are currently working towards the setting up of a heart screening scheme.
“A complete ban on the breeding of brachycephalics for breathing problems is not the answer even if it were possible, but the success of outbreeding to produce much healthier alternatives is a practical way forward. This was well illustrated by the example in the programme of the Dalmatian and it was encouraging that the Kennel Club recognised this dog which had been outcrossed with an English pointer to introduce a new gene to eliminate an inherited disease.”
Mr Locke concluded:
“Programmes like this highlight the importance of educating dog owners on the health implications of bad breeding and how to go about buying a puppy. There is a need to tackle irresponsible dog breeding from all breeds, not just pedigree breeds, and the BVA will continue to lobby government to improve legislation around dog breeding establishments. We are also looking forward to the launch of the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation and RSPCA puppy contract at the end of March. The veterinary profession has a key role to play not only in helping to gather scientific data on inherited diseases in dogs but also in reporting the surgical correction of poor conformation.”