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Kennel Club announces mandatory vet checks


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We can hope this will move things in the right direction. I'm sure this won't have any impact on the practice of breeding for show ring (as opposed to purpose-breeding), but it would be nice for even the show-bred dogs to be as healthy as possible.

 

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.

 

Kennel Club vet check announcement

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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.

 

Yeah ... right. Sounds like a whole lot of lip service to me. Seriously ... how "healthy" does a dog have to be to stand around looking stupid and prance up and down an arena?

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I thought the whole problem at Crufts and similar was that judges were placing dogs with obvious issues, and that there were open "rumors" about dogs that had corrective surgery? I didn't read what you posted, but if removal is at the judge's discretion (i.e., not mandatory), then I don't see how it will change much. I can't imagine a judge deliberately crossing some bigwig in the breeder's world, but it would be lovely if I'm wrong.

 

J.

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Quote from the KC announcement:

 

***********************************

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.

****************************************

 

I read the announcement in the link provided. At some level, I guess someone(s) is trying to "do the right thing", but to me, my take on this is that they are just paying lip service to the general public to try to appear PC (politically correct). The entire announcement was couched in extremely general terms. Personally, I think it is going to have zero effect. GSDs will continue to have horrible hips and brachiocephalic dogs will continue to have breathing problems, etc. This will change ONLY when the judges no longer reward negative attributes in the ring.

 

Joi

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I don't know about the KC, but I'm assuming it hasn't been that much different than the AKC, but I thought all along judges were supposed to excuse dogs who were apparently unhealthy --- I've seen it done for lame dogs, and sometimes not even then, but other than that, the process is pretty arbitrary and subject to ring politics. I don't see where that's going to change no matter how many times they rewrite something. So this was done to repair the bad image they've gotten over the past few years?

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Julie, it says that a vet check is required before the "Best of Breed" award is confirmed, so it has nothing to do with judges potentially crossing bigwigs by excusing dogs. But, point taken from all your posts; no doubt this is just to appease the masses after Pedigree Dogs Exposed, etc. Still, isn't at least 1/2% of a try better than no try at all? I (naively, no doubt) will hope that as show world over time gets used to this newest requirement, perhaps it will be easier in the future to accept more more stringent requirements, and that they will be applied across the board (not just the top 15 "high profile" breeds).

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A vet with no ties to the show dog world would have to be used, I would think. And the show dog world is the bread and butter of a lot of vets out there. I'm skeptical of this process as well. It's a start --- but more of a move to throw some crumbs to appease the skeptics. But being a start, is a vet going to say that a Cav King Charles spaniel should not be eligible for BOB because his skull is too small for it's brain --- going up against the breed standard, or say that a bulldog, just by way of the breed standard itself, is having a hard time breathing. This is a matter of healthy dogs vs. breed standards and which one will prevail.

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For me, this is the important part:

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 [emphasis added]. 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. [emphasis added]

 

It sounds to me that unless a dog is so obviously in pain or crippled, the vet won't be able to do anything about it. It would be very easy to argue that a particular issue doesn't adversely affect a dog's wellbeing. And I can see competitors providing "certificates" from their own vets stating that the dog's welfare is not adversely affected. It'll be interesting to see if there is an overall beneficial effect, but I think it's also telling that the rule applies to 15 breeds and not to all breeds, so breeders of the other 175+ breeds involved in showing can still breed toward problematic health with impunity, IMO.

 

J.

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My mom showed her own, USA bred English Cocker Spaniel (who could hunt as well as he looked) at Crufts in the 1970's. I find the negative comment about people showing their dogs in conformation, as stated previously in this topic, to be rude, inaccurate and petty. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who think we are idiots for going into a freezing cold field in the middle of nowhere to "chase sheep" around.

 

I'm sure there are, but it wouldn't occur to me to call them rude, inaccurate and petty for expressing that opinion. If they have no better reason for holding that opinion than the fact that they don't want to go into a freezing cold field in the middle of nowhere to interact with sheep, then I think their opinion is of little interest, but it's their opinion and they're entitled to express it.

 

However, there are a lot of good reasons to hold a low opinion of conformation showing of dogs, quite apart from whether you would want to engage in it yourself or not, and there is nothing rude or petty in expressing that opinion, and nothing inaccurate either (unless a specific inaccurate statement were made, which I did not notice to be the case here). The fact that one's mom showed a dog in conformation in the 1970's is not really a very strong argument in favor of conformation showing, in and of itself. Evidence that the English Cockers currently being shown in conformation are good hunting dogs might have some mitigating value, I suppose.

 

As for the new Kennel Club policy: If the dogs currently being chosen BOB in these 15 breeds are clinically unhealthy in a way which adversely affects their well-being and is obvious to an examining vet, then this policy change could be modestly beneficial, if it is applied without fear or favor. If the dogs currently being chosen BOB in these 15 breeds are NOT clinically unhealthy in a way which adversely affects their well-being and is obvious to an examining vet, then the new policy will change nothing and is merely window-dressing. I would have liked to think that dogs showing "clinical evidence of disease" are not being chosen BOB at Crufts and other British dog shows, but those who set the policy are in a much better position to know if this is true than I am.

 

My objections to conformation showing are much more fundamental.

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Rude? That's a matter of opinion, I guess. Petty? Maybe. Naive? How so? Please ... explain.

 

With respect to English Cockers - they are taking a divergence now in how they look like the Border Collie is. You can still find some good, solid ECS working dogs who also "pass" for AKC Conformation, but there is a Field variety now that is dominating the sports and hunting world. The field variety is elongated,with a blocky head, less hair, and bigger. In the world of spaniels, there seems to be a movement to a "sporting spaniel type" and a "conformation type."

 

Is this okay with you?

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Smithydog,

While you may take exception to the comment you quoted as being rude and petty (and whatever else you called it) I think there is some truth behind that statement.

 

Take the brachycephalic breeds. It seems to me that it would be important for an animal to be able to breathe well enough to undertake the normal activities of the species. And yet, dogs who have difficulty breathing (as a general class of dogs--the breed--as well as individuals--those who have had surgery to at least in part correct breathing problems) are winning at shows. We could always trot out the tried and true German Shepherd example. These are examples that would imply that there are indeed dogs that most people would consider basically unhealthy who are trotted around a ring and titled at dog shows. Stating that a dog doesn't have to be healthy to compete at shows would seem to be a statement of truth, not something rude and petty. (And making such a statement isn't making a statement about dog shows, anyway, but about the types/condition of dogs being shown, so it really doesn't compare to taking dogs out into an icy field to "chase sheep.").

 

Showing dogs or any other animal isn't of itself a bad thing--it's what happens with the breeding that results from the showing that has most people upset. I'm sure most people are capable of separating their disdain for breeding unhealthy animals (and those who do the breeding) from the people who happen to love that breed and want to do things with their dogs. That said, because of what conformation showing does for breeding trends, I have to admit that I wouldn't celebrate the choice of any of my friends to show their dogs in conformation, especially if doing so would lead to later breeding decisions that reflect that conformation showing mindset.

 

J.

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You can still find some good, solid ECS working dogs who also "pass" for AKC Conformation, but there is a Field variety now that is dominating the sports and hunting world. The field variety is elongated,with a blocky head, less hair, and bigger.

 

Not sure if there is a transatlantic linguistic misunderstanding here.

 

In the UK the Field Spaniel is a distinct breed - not a variety of cocker.

 

Working Cockers are pretty common here and can be all sorts of shapes and sizes, although still registered as pedigree by the KC. As you say, they do tend to have a lighter coat than the show lines and need little grooming in comparison.

 

I don't know anyone who seriously works a show cocker.

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Smithydog:

I know it can seem as though it can seem that you are being chased up a windmill by an angry throng of torch, hoe, and rake-bearing villagers when you first get here. But don't take it personally. It's not about you, (or your mom) it's about dogs.

If you haven't already, read the "Read This First" entry at the top of the "General Border Collie Discussion" section of the Boards. Like many other breeds, the Border Collie has been "stolen" by the AKC. This rarely works out for the health and well-being of any breed of dog

Many of us take the attitude that "You're either part of the solution, or part of the problem." There are no innocent bystanders at the other end of the leash of a Border Collie. Read, listen and think about what is said here. Though it can feel prickly, it isn't personal. War is hell. The AKC got their hooks into the Border Collie, but the fight to keep this breed useful, healthy and sane will not be over as long as there are people who truly understand the real worth of these dogs - the ability to do what they were created to do.

 

Eileen: I had to look carefully to find where the "Read This First" post is. (I always forget) Can the title be changed to red letters? I almost missed it. (again)

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Julie, it says that a vet check is required before the "Best of Breed" award is confirmed, so it has nothing to do with judges potentially crossing bigwigs by excusing dogs. But, point taken from all your posts; no doubt this is just to appease the masses after Pedigree Dogs Exposed, etc. Still, isn't at least 1/2% of a try better than no try at all? I (naively, no doubt) will hope that as show world over time gets used to this newest requirement, perhaps it will be easier in the future to accept more more stringent requirements, and that they will be applied across the board (not just the top 15 "high profile" breeds).

 

Whilst PDE gave a kick up the bum to the KC, it would be wrong to say that it was doing nothing on the health front before that - it just wasn't doing enough.

As you say, it's a start and I think that it's rather unfair for some to judge the move before it has even started.

From what I hear the KC in the UK is nowhere near as bad as the AKC.

I hold no brief whatsoever for the show world but I do try to give credit where it is due, even if it is for a small potentially positive move.

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With respect to English Cockers - they are taking a divergence now in how they look like the Border Collie is. You can still find some good, solid ECS working dogs who also "pass" for AKC Conformation, but there is a Field variety now that is dominating the sports and hunting world.

 

Just thinking more about this - that seems the wrong way round to me.

We started with the cocker spaniel which was (and still is) a working dog. Yes, we had a divergence but that was when the show world got hold of them many, many years ago.

But, as you say, like the BC.

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Try being a veterinarian and seeing the damage done to dogs by breeding for the show ring. There are breeds that can't breath, chew their food, run, mate, whelp or raise their own puppies unless assisted by modern medicine and husbandry. Is this acceptable?

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In reply to one of the comments: FCI KCs are not the same as AKC. They are not wonderful by any stretch, but they are not the same.

 

FCI KCs differ in their regulations from country to country. But e.g. in Poland for a Bernese bitch to get a breeding license she must be shown at three shows. Shows evaluate looks mostly but not only. E.g. any aggression towards the judge disqualifies the dog -that means the dog can't get a breeding license.

Then she must pass temperaments test.

 

Then she must pass hip X-ray.

 

The bitch must be at least 18 months old to have her first litter.

 

She must not be bred more than once in a calendar year.

 

When the puppies are born the litter is registered and before the puppies goe to new homes there is a littler check. the puppies will not get a pedigree without it. A judge specializing in the breed checks the conditions of the puppies, their temperament, being socialized, possible hernia, any genetic defects, testicles, which is then entered in the litter check report.

 

This system still allows crookedness, because people are people, and some people are crooked, but I think it is a few steps in the right direction and quite aways ahead of the AKC.

 

Liz P: I think there are breeds in the KC that should not be bred at all - they are wrong.

 

Maja

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In reply to one of the comments: FCI KCs are not the same as AKC. They are not wonderful by any stretch, but they are not the same.

Maja

 

And neither is the UK KC, which isn't a member of the FCI. Since our KC is heavily involved in matters affecting all dogs, not just pedigrees, I can see why it would want to maintain its independence, but that doesn't mean that it has nothing to learn on the breeding regulation front.

 

Another welfare matter that our KC has addressed is the number of registerable litters in a bitch's lifetime - now down from 6 to 4. Still a lot and the cheats will always get round it until there is mandatory DNA testing, but an improvement.

 

They've got into this mess because they have been cowardly and allowed the breed clubs to regulate themselves. Some are very good, some appalling in what they have done to their breed that they claim to love. At least the KC is manning up (a bit) now.

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