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    September 19th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    A study by researchers at the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation and registry body for pedigree dogs, the Kennel Club, has shed light on the prevalence of health conditions in pedigree dog breeds, which could help improve the health of the UK’s estimated 8.5 million dogs.

    The study, published in the Canine Genetics and Epidemiology journal (19th September 2017), is one of the largest of its kind ever carried out and used owner-reported morbidity data on 43,005 living dogs registered with the Kennel Club, across 192 breeds, regardless of whether disorders received veterinary care.

    The research aimed to determine the prevalence of health disorders of varying severity, influenced by both genetics and environment, among pedigree dogs overall and, where possible, determine any variation among breeds.  This will help dog owners, breeders and vets to be aware of any relevant health concerns and identify which breeds are most at risk of suffering from which disorders.

    The study found that the most commonly reported health condition in dogs was fatty skin masses (lipoma), with around one in twenty-five dogs (4.3 per cent) affected these, meaning that over 365,000 dogs in the UK could currently be affected.  The second most commonly reported condition was skin cysts, which affected 3.1 per cent of the population. The third most common condition was allergic skin conditions, which the study found affected 2.7 per cent of dogs.  As in humans, conditions such as these in dogs vary in severity, from more trivial conditions that will have no impact on a dog’s quality of life to those more severe conditions that do.

    Depending on their location and size, lipomata and skin cysts are often incidental findings of little significance to affected dogs or their owners.  Allergic skin conditions can be more troublesome, and almost certainly have inherited components.  However, there are a number of environmental factors that can cause skin irritations and allergies that can be avoided, such as human skincare products and toiletries, and cleaning and other household products, and it is important for dog owners to remember that products that are suitable for humans to use on or near their skin may not be appropriate for dogs.  The recent trend for dog clothing has also been implicated as a potential factor in the apparent increase in allergic skin conditions in dogs.

    The study found that Boxers had the highest number of reported diseases or conditions at a higher prevalence than overall, with skin cancer or tumours being the most commonly reported condition in the breed.  The breed with a higher prevalence of the second highest number of reported conditions was the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, with heart murmurs being the most commonly reported condition in this breed.  The breed with greater prevalence of the third highest number of reported conditions was the Pug, with corneal ulcers being reported as the top condition.  The study found that just under two thirds of living dogs had no reported health conditions.

    Conversely, the study found that the Labrador has the highest number of reported conditions occurring at a lower prevalence than overall across all breeds, with the Cocker Spaniel having the second highest, and the Border Terrier with the third.

    For the most common disorders in the most represented breeds, there were ninety with a significantly higher prevalence in at least one breed compared to the overall prevalence across all breeds.  The most striking of these differences were umbilical hernias in the Shih Tzu (12 per cent compared to 1.2 per cent overall) and lipoma in the Weimaraner (17.5 per cent compared to 4.3 per cent overall).  Conversely, for the most common disorders in the most represented breeds, two examples with a  significantly lower breed prevalence compared to the overall prevalence across all breeds were hypersensitivity in the Bearded Collie (0.4 per cent compared to 2.7 per cent overall) and skin cysts in the Rough Collie (0.5 per cent compared to 3.1 per cent overall).  Comparing the within breed prevalence to the prevalence over all breeds gives insight into which breeds could be at a higher or lower risk of being affected with certain heath conditions, which will be useful to owners, breeders, puppy buyers and vets.

    Dr Katy Evans, Kennel Club Health Research Manager, one of the authors of the study, said:  “Dogs of any breed or crossbreed can suffer from conditions that affect their health, both those for which inheritance plays a part and those caused by external factors. The results of this study will substantially contribute to the current understanding of disorder occurrence in dogs in the UK and will be a massive help to dog owners as it gives them an idea of what to look out for, particularly if their breed has a higher than average incidence of a certain condition.

    “The majority of the larger studies into disease prevalence rely on primary care veterinary data, which does not take into account dogs which may be affected by fairly harmless conditions that can be safely managed at home without veterinary treatment.  By gathering and analysing large amounts of owner reported data, we can get a clearer picture of the health of the whole dog population.

    “Much of what the study found confirms what the Kennel Club and responsible dog breeders already know, which is reflected in the range of health schemes and other tools already in place to tackle various conditions, and it will certainly help us to prioritise health concerns in dogs and further develop plans to protect their health.”

    The Kennel Club is using the findings as part of its Breed Health and Conservation Plans, which will ensure that all health concerns in dogs are identified through evidence-based criteria and that breeders are provided with appropriate information and resources to ensure they are supported in tackling health problems and achieving positive health goals for dogs, now and in the future.  The Breed Health and Conservation Plans take a holistic view of breed health with consideration given to known hereditary conditions, complex hereditary conditions, conformational concerns and population genetics.

    The full study has been published in the Canine Genetics and Epidemiology journal (link above).


    • Top three disorders in UK dogs are all skin conditions – lipoma, cysts and allergic skin problems
    • Boxers were found to have the highest number of reported conditions occurring at a higher prevalence than overall across all breeds, followed by the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Pug
    • Labrador was found to have the highest number of reported conditions occurring at a lower prevalence than overall across all breeds, followed by the Cocker Spaniel and Border Terrier
    • 90 disorders show a significantly different prevalence in at least one breed compared to overall prevalence across all breeds
    • Study is one of the largest of its kind ever carried out and used morbidity data on 43,005 living dogs registered with the Kennel Club, across 192 breeds
    • Findings substantially contribute to the current understanding of disorder occurrence in dogs in the UK and will help dog owners, breeders and vets to identify which breeds are most likely to suffer from which disorders
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    September 11th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Brian Davies, founder of international charity Network for Animals, has written an impassioned plea for funds to help animals affected by Hurricane Irma.

    Irma made landfall in Florida yesterday, and is expected to travel as far north as Indiana by Wednesday afternoon. The devastation which she is leaving in her wake is likely to take months to repair; indeed, the full extent of the damage is not yet known. As terrible as this is for the people living in the areas affected, local animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife will also need resources, infrastructure, and support to get through this difficult time.

    Network for Animals raised a historic amount of more than $50,000 to help animals affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Now they are hoping to do the same for those impacted by Irma, and by Hurricanes Katia and Jose which are hot on her heels.

    Please give generously.

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    September 6th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Damning research shows how our ‘careless, clueless’ puppy buying habits are causing suffering

    • One in five (20 per cent) people admit that they spent no time researching where to buy their puppy at all, compared to less than one in ten (8 per cent) who are prepared to spontaneously decide what shoes to buy.
    • Choosing a puppy hastily leaves people more vulnerable to the scams of puppy farmers, with almost a quarter (22 percent) thinking they bought from a puppy farm, if they chose their pup in 20 minutes or less.
    • For pups purchased in twenty minutes or less by their owners, almost one in six (15 per cent) of these experience illness, ongoing veterinary treatment or death in the first six months – three times higher than those chosen in an hour or more
    • More than one fifth (21 per cent) suffer financially and the same proportion (21 per cent) suffer emotionally if they spent 20 minutes or less researching where to buy a puppy, compared to less than one tenth (7 per cent) financially and 8 per cent emotionally for those who spent longer than an hour.
    • More than one third of respondents (34 per cent) admit they are clueless about how to find a reputable breeder for their puppy and are therefore vulnerable to the scams that should ring alarm bells

    A dog may be for life, but many people spend more time choosing a pair of shoes or their weekly supermarket shop than they do a puppy and with devastating consequences, as pups are more likely to get ill and their owners suffer financial and emotional hardship if chosen hastily, as people fall victim to puppy scams.

    Almost a quarter (23 percent) of people will spend 5 minutes or less researching where to buy a puppy, but a similar percentage (22 per cent) will invest half an hour or more when choosing a new pair of shoes. Choosing a puppy will take 36 percent of people 20 minutes or less, compared to just 16 percent who are prepared to be so reckless with the time spent on their weekly supermarket shop.

    And one in five (20 per cent) of people admit that they spent no time researching where to buy their puppy at all, compared to just 8 per cent who decide which shoes to buy on impulse, or 13 per cent who spontaneously decide what to watch on Netflix.

    Our hasty and impulsive puppy buying habits are having dramatic consequences. Almost a sixth (15%) of pups got sick in the first six months, with some needing ongoing veterinary treatment or dying, if their owner had chosen them than 20 minutes or less. This is three times higher than those pups who experienced ill health, ongoing health problems or death if their owners had spent an hour or more researching where to buy.

    Similarly, more than one fifth (21 per cent) of people claim to have suffered emotional hardship, and the same (21 per cent) claim financial hardship after buying a puppy if they spent between 20 minutes or less researching where to buy their puppy, compared to 7 per cent suffering emotional hardship and 8 per cent suffering financial hardship for those who spent an hour or more finding out where they should buy their puppy.

    In total almost a quarter (22 per cent) who bought their puppy in 20 minutes or less think that they bought from a puppy farm, compared to just 7 percent who spent more than an hour researching where to buy.

    Despite being prepared to buy their puppy with minimal research, one third (33 per cent) agree that they do not feel confident about how to spot the signs of a responsible breeder, with slightly more (34 per cent) agreeing they would not know how to find one.

    The shocking portrait about the lack of consumer awareness when buying a puppy, and its implications, has been released by the Kennel Club for its Puppy Awareness Week, which aims to make people aware of the importance of buying a puppy from a responsible source.

    Caroline Kisko, Secretary of the Kennel Club, which runs Puppy Awareness Week, said: “This research is a wake-up call for anybody who cares about dog welfare as a rather terrifying picture is emerging of a nation of people who are careless when it comes to choosing where and how to buy a dog, and who feel clueless about where they would begin, if they were to attempt to do this responsibly.

    “The result is puppies with all manner of health and behavioural problems being sold via the internet, pet shops or social media to people who don’t know the true background of the pups and who pay the price in veterinary bills and heartache, as they watch their beloved pet suffer.

    “There is a massive gap in consumer knowledge and we need to help people understand what a good dog breeder looks like. The research shows that just under three quarters (73 per cent) of people would like a scheme where breeders are already checked and approved for them by a UKAS approved body, which is why the Kennel Club developed its Assured Breeder Scheme. At the very least we urge people to make themselves aware of the scams and tricks of the trade, so that they can spot the people who are putting puppy welfare at risk.”

    One of the most obvious signs of a puppy farmer is that they will not show the pup in its home environment or with its real mum. More than 2 in 5 (41 per cent) of those who suspect that they did not see the puppy with its real mum say that their pup suffered from serious health problems in the first six months, including problems that resulted in ongoing veterinary treatment or death, compared to 9 per cent overall. Similarly, 43 per cent experience financial or emotional hardship if they don’t see the mum, compared to 16 per cent overall.

    Another signal of a bad breeder is to use words in adverts that are well known to be marketing scams, to increase interest in a puppy, when it is hiding something more sinister. Examples include the use of the word ‘guard dog’ or ‘security dog’ – which 12 per cent said would make them more likely to be interested in the dog – but which may be a disguise for a dog bred to be aggressive, or the use of the word ‘rare colour’ – which are often avoided by responsible breeders for health and welfare reasons – but which would make almost one in five (18 per cent) more likely to buy. 

    The Kennel Club has compiled the dos and don’ts of buying a puppy for its Puppy Awareness Week, which can be downloaded from the website www.thekennelclub.org.uk/paw.

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    September 6th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    As children across the UK go back to school, Dogs Trust has identified an alarming trend which sees some families hand their dogs into rescue centres as soon as their children go back to school.  Last year, on September 5th, the start of the new school year, we recorded one of the highest number of calls on any one day of the year. We were asked to take in 220 dogs; double the number of calls we usually receive from struggling dog owners on an average day. 

    With some owners giving up their dogs due to the return to the working routine and juggling the school run after the summer holidays, Dogs Trust is encouraging owners to bring their dogs to training classes, such as Dogs Trust Dog School to help overcome any issues. Sadly, the welfare charity is also seeing instances of dogs being  given up because they have been bought to entertain the children over the summer and are no longer needed when the new school year begins .  

    Maria Wickes, Head of Dogs Trust Dog School, explains:

    “Sadly it does seem to be a recurring trend that we see more dogs handed into us as soon as  children go back to school. In many cases dogs are not equipped to deal with this change in routine and may start displaying undesirable behaviour. We hope that anyone struggling to control their dog’s behaviour after the summer holidays will consider giving them up a last resort and instead send them “ Bark to School” and sign up for training classes.”

    Maria adds: “In extreme cases we are finding people even buy dogs simply to keep their children occupied during the holidays . Gus, a nine-month-old Cockapoo, was handed into us because his owners bought him to entertain the children during the summer holidays and then passed him to us for rehoming when the kids weren’t around during the day anymore.  Whilst the majority of dog owners regard their dogs as valued family members, it appears some may be using dogs as four-legged nannies over the holidays and disregarding them come September. We hope people will remember that a dog is for life and carefully consider this lifetime commitment before purchasing a dog.”

    Dogs Trust Dog School classes operate nationwide and are available throughout the year.

    Dogs Trust hope this will not become a long term trend and educating children about responsible dog ownership and safety is an important part of what we do at Dogs Trust.

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    July 11th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    A few weeks ago, we wrote about Battersea’s #NotFunny campaign, which calls for stronger animal cruelty sentencing. Our Editor Laura Patricia duly emailed her local MP about the issue, making only one addition to the standard letter template provided.

    The Rt Hon Maria Miller, Conservative MP for Basingstoke, replied on 30 June. Here is her response verbatim:

    Thank you for contacting me about sentencing for offences of animal cruelty.
    I am pleased that we have a robust legal framework to tackle this vicious behaviour in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal.
    The law, and the penalties for breaking it, were reviewed by the Parliamentary Select Committee for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2012. At that time the Committee did not recommend increasing the maximum sentencing available to the courts. However, I am pleased to say that the previous cap in the fine charges of animal abuse can attract has been removed, and I can also tell you that the Ministry of Justice is now looking at whether there is a case for increasing the penalties further.
    The courts must decide what the penalty should be for each individual case, taking into account its circumstances and the guidelines laid down by the Sentencing Council. There has recently been a public consultation into sentencing guidelines for these crimes, which resulted in the Council confirming the removal of the cap on the financial element of the penalty, and clarifying a range of relevant factors that would indicate a more serious offence.
    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this important issue.

    So basically, Ms Miller feels that existing legislation is sufficient; that England’s current maximum prison sentence of six months is enough. Despite the fact that this is the lowest sentence for animal cruelty across the whole of Europe, the United States and Australia. Despite the substantial body of evidence that animal cruelty offenders also commit other serious crimes. Despite 65% public support for an increase in sentencing for animal cruelty.

    It’s laughable. Or at least it would be if innocent animals, like those featured on the #NotFunny homepage, weren’t suffering as a result of the government’s indifference.

    Our editor’s MP doesn’t care, but yours might. Please take the time to send them a letter asking for their support today. 73 MPs have publicly stated their support for the campaign thus far; the remaining 576 can still be persuaded.

    Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats pledged to increase animal cruelty sentences in their 2017 manifestos
    Read the full Battersea Cruelty Report here

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    June 26th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Did you hear the one about the animal abuser who tortured and killed a dog, only to receive less than six months in prison?

    It sounds like a bad joke – and it is. Some of the UK’s most beloved comedians are joining forces with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to tell the world that the six-month maximum sentence for animal cruelty in England and Wales is so bad, it’s laughable.

    Paul O’Grady, Ricky Gervais, Sue Perkins, Harry Hill and Tracey Ullman are all standing up for the animals as they back Battersea’s campaign for the maximum sentence for the most severe animal cruelty offences to be increased to five years. They’re urging their fans to pass on the message and join the 33,978 people who have so far pledged their support and emailed their MP to call for tougher punishments by visiting www.battersea.org.uk/NotFunny.

    Battersea’s Ambassador and the face of its award-winning TV show For the Love of Dogs, Paul O’Grady, said: “There’s nothing like looking into an animal’s eyes to see how innocent and trusting they are, and it makes me angry to see the way some people mistreat and abuse them. I can’t stand by and watch while those responsible for the most terrible suffering are unlikely to get more than a few weeks in prison. What’s to stop them doing it again?”

    Ricky Gervais added: “It’s sickening to hear about innocent dogs and cats enduring terrible suffering at the hands of humans and knowing the law does nothing to protect them, or deter people from committing these acts of cruelty. Six months in prison is nowhere near long enough for people who choose to abuse, torture and kill animals. You could get more for fly-tipping.”

    Battersea launched its campaign at Westminster in February, publishing research that revealed England and Wales’ current six-month maximum prison sentence is the lowest sentence for animal cruelty across the whole of Europe, the United States and Australia.

    In comparison, the maximum sentence for commercial fly-tipping is five years in prison. In March this year, a Devon fly-tipper was sentenced to 20 months, while just weeks later a Wirral man who admitted stabbing and burning a dog alive was jailed for just 24 weeks.

    Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats pledged to increase animal cruelty sentences in their 2017 manifestos.

    Battersea’s Chief Executive Claire Horton said: “No one knows how to tell a joke better than comedians like Paul, Ricky, Sue, Tracey and Harry, and we’re so pleased they’re standing up and declaring to the world that animal cruelty sentencing is not funny, and deserves proper sentences that reflect the dreadful crimes they are. Battersea’s campaign has already begun to make its mark and we won’t stop using our voice for animals who have nobody else to speak out for them.

    We look forward to working with the new Government to make this happen. Join us and show your support by emailing your MP to call for change.”

    Paul, Ricky, Sue, Harry and Tracey are the faces of the campaign and fans will see posters featuring their images on billboards, posters and digital screens at more than 170 locations across the UK and London’s transport network as well as social media.

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    June 25th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Dog World, one of the two weekly canine newspapers in the UK, announced this week that they have ceased trading. Details are currently sketchy, as they had been producing articles right up to a few hours before the announcement, and their social media pages have been active since. It is also not clear how this affects their subsidiary publications – ProGroomer and Companion – or their Dog World TV YouTube channel.  Subscribers say they have not been contacted regarding transfer of subscription and/or refunds, and the Canine Alliance is discussing a possible group action against the administrators for return of fees.

    Dog World’s full statement is below. We’ll bring you more news as we have it.

    Most people are aware that trading conditions in recent years in business generally have been difficult to say the least. In many areas advertising revenues and sponsorship income are not what they used to be pre recession.

    The printing and publishing industry is no exception and the added effect of digital media and social network has contributed to a loss of revenue on a number of fronts.

    Most dog showing countries worldwide are lucky if they have one monthly magazine or newspaper covering shows, breeding and exhibiting. In the UK we have had the luxury of not one, but two weekly canine newspapers serving the needs of the dog showing community. OUR DOGS was launched in 1895 and DOG WORLD followed in its own right in the 1930’s. For some time it has become clear that there is only space in the market for one canine weekly to survive and therefore be around to continue to best serve the needs of dog people primarily in the UK, for the foreseeable future. It is therefore with regret that DOG WORLD recently went into administration and has now ceased trading.

    To ensure the future of an independent canine press in the UK, OUR DOGS will continue to cover the world of pedigree dogs and will also look to enhance its coverage in all ways possible for the benefit of its existing readers and for previous followers of DOG WORLD. It will not be an easy task as both papers have developed their own followings based on great traditions in the world of dogs.

    To that end we thank all existing readers, advertisers and staff from both papers. We extend a warm welcome to new readers of OUR DOGS and with everyone’s support we will strive to ensure shows and exhibitors will enjoy future editions of what must be one of the world’s oldest canine newspapers.

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    March 24th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Comic Relief has apologised over the use of a brachycephalic breed in its campaign merchandise this year, following a letter sent by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) on 20 February highlighting that demand for these breeds, which struggle with serious and often life-limiting health problems, is being fuelled by their visibility in the media and through celebrity endorsement.

    Last month Comic Relief launched their annual t-shirt fundraising campaign with high street retailer TK Maxx, however one of the t-shirts caused concern amongst the veterinary profession as it featured French bulldog ‘Albert’.

    Acknowledging the charity’s good work, BVA President Gudrun Ravetz wrote to both Comic Relief and TK Maxx to raise the health issues faced by brachycephalic breeds, including French bulldogs, and explain the message members of the public receive when they see these images used by well-known national brands and celebrity models.

    Flat-faced breeds have seen a boom in popularity recently, with the Kennel Club recently reporting that the French bulldog could soon be the most prevalent breed in the UK.

    In the letter, the BVA President explained:

    “Whilst many people perceive the squashed wrinkly faces of these breeds as appealing, in reality dogs with short muzzles can struggle to breathe. Albert is a particularly poor example of this as his nose is so short he may have difficulty breathing even when doing day-to-day activities such as walking or eating.”

    The letter asked that the t-shirts and other merchandise containing Albert’s image be removed from this year’s campaign, and recommended the charity seeks veterinary advice on any future campaigns they may plan to run using animal imagery to ensure it promotes good health and welfare.

    Last week Comic Relief responded, acknowledging BVA’s concerns. In their response letter, Michele Settle, Director of UK Campaigns and Brands at Comic Relief, emphasised:

    “We take animal welfare very seriously and when using animals in our campaigns we make all efforts to ensure that the animals are treated well. We are not aware of the specific issues you raise regarding brachycephalic breeds.”

    Comic Relief admitted the t-shirts would be incredibly difficult to withdraw from sale at this late stage in their campaign (culminating on 24 March), from a logistics point of view. However, Comic Relief said they would like to consult with BVA during the development process of further projects should they use animal imagery.

    BVA President Gudrun Ravetz said:

    “Comic Relief’s response is encouraging and suggests they take animal welfare seriously. Comic Relief t-shirts help raise so much money for good causes at home and overseas, however we wanted to highlight the poor animal health and welfare being perpetuated by the use of ‘Albert’ on their merchandise.

    “Whilst we were very pleased to get a positive response, it highlights how many companies do not understand the significant health and welfare problems brachycephalic breeds can suffer, emphasising how important it is that vets continue to speak out on this issue.”

    At this time TK Maxx has not yet responded.

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    February 14th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Kennel Club issues welfare warning as people buying French Bulldogs on a whim cause numbers to soar

    • French Bulldog set to overtake the Labrador Retriever as the UK’s most popular dog breed by the end of 2018 – the first time the Labrador will have been knocked off the top spot in 27 years
    • Kennel Club registration figures show that the French Bulldog, owned by celebrities such as the Beckhams, Lady Gaga and Leonardo DiCaprio, will overtake current second most popular breed, the Cocker Spaniel, within months and the Labrador within two years if its popularity keeps increasing
    • French Bulldog saw a 47 per cent increase in the last year alone, a 368 per cent rise in the past five years and has increased by more than a staggering 3,000 per cent in the past ten years
    • Kennel Club warns that people buying the breed on a whim could lead to a welfare crisis and urges puppy buyers to consider other breeds that might be more suited to their lifestyle

    The French Bulldog, a breed favoured by celebrities such as the Beckhams, Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman, is set to overtake the Labrador as the UK’s most popular breed of dog, according to statistics released by the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, ahead of its annual Crufts event.

    The popularity of the breed has seen an unprecedented rise in recent years, with a 47 per cent increase from 2015 to 2016 alone, a 368 per cent increase in the past five years (2012 to 2016) and a staggering 3,104 per cent increase over the last ten years (2007 to 2016).

    If this trend continues, the Kennel Club forecasts that the breed could be the most popular dog breed in the UK by the end of 2018, a title long held by the Labrador.  The Labrador has been the most popular dog breed in the UK since 1990 – the year it overtook the Yorkshire Terrier. The French Bulldog is set to overtake the current second most popular breed, the Cocker Spaniel, which is ahead by only 384 puppy registrations, within a couple of months.

    The Kennel Club is concerned that the dramatic increase in numbers of French Bulldogs is due to people choosing the breed because of how it looks and because it is considered to be a fashionable choice, rather than because it is the most suitable breed for their lifestyle.

    Furthermore, Kennel Club registrations only account for around 30 per cent of the total population of dogs in the UK so there are concerns that the number of French Bulldogs in the country is likely to be far higher in reality, including undocumented and unregistered dogs and dogs that have been brought into the country illegally from Eastern Europe.

    Sudden boosts in popularity of certain breeds can result in a huge market opening up for unscrupulous breeders to sell to.  They often churn out puppies with little or no regard for their health and welfare, solely for profit, because they know they can sell them easily. There is also growing concern amongst animal charities about the number of puppies being smuggled in illegally from Eastern Europe. This highlights the importance of anyone intent on owning a French Bulldog going to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, or considering a rescue dog.

    Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “While the French Bulldog is a lovely breed, it is very unwise for anyone to buy one simply because they think it looks cute or is a fashionable choice.  Anyone doing so could inadvertently be contributing to an impending welfare crisis.

    “The breed is a favourite with celebrities, who often flaunt them on their Instagram and Twitter accounts for people to coo over.  While it’s normal to want to show off your dog, when celebrities do it, it usually results in a surge in the popularity of certain breeds, which is not a good thing as it opens the doors to unscrupulous breeders who see it as an opportunity to breed lots of them without due care to health and welfare.

    “French Bulldogs can be bred with exaggerated features, including extremely flat faces, which can cause health issues – many of which owners are not aware of before they buy, which can sadly result in the emotional stress of having a sickly dog and high veterinary bills, highlighting how crucial is it for anyone intent on owning a French Bulldog to go to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.

    “Without a doubt the most important thing is for people to do the proper research before deciding on a breed.  The great thing about pedigree dogs is that they come with a high level of predictability, so people can work out which breed would be the best fit for their lifestyle based on things like temperament, how much exercise the dog will need and any relevant health concerns.  With all the information available these days, and with events like Crufts coming up in March where people can meet around 200 breeds and speak to experts in each one, there really is no excuse for buying a dog that is not a good match for you.”

    The Kennel Club is also concerned that, because the French Bulldog is not a suitable choice for everyone, people buying one without doing their research will then have to give the dog over to a rescue centre when they realise they cannot care for it. 

    Jackie Mavro-Michaelis, Secretary of the Pennine and Scottish French Bulldog Association, said: “French Bulldog welfare services are getting more and more dogs through their doors, so there is a genuine concern that we could be facing a welfare crisis if their numbers keep increasing.

    “The fact that we used to have one welfare service for the breed, and now we have three because of the increase in numbers, is concerning in itself and the breed could be in real trouble if people let impulsiveness take over and rush out to buy a French Bulldog without knowing much about the breed.

    “To anyone looking for a French Bulldog, we would suggest researching suitable alternative breeds first, but those intent on owning one should contact the relevant breed clubs for advice, go to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, and make sure they are buying a puppy with two health tested parents.”

    The Kennel Club is urging anyone who wants to get a French Bulldog to consider other breeds that are similar to it in terms of temperament and care requirements, but that might be more suited to their lifestyle and home environment.  Examples of suitable alternatives include the Miniature Schnauzer, Beagle, Border Terrier and Welsh Terrier. The Breed Information Centre on the Kennel Club website gives information on each breed of dog, including details on exercise and care requirements, the type of lifestyle each breed is likely to be suitable for, and health considerations for each breed.

    The Kennel Club is also inviting people to come and meet the breed at the Discover Dogs zone at Crufts from 9th-12th March 2017, at the NEC in Birmingham, find out more about whether or not it is the right breed for them.  Visitors can meet around 200 other breeds of dog and can find out which ones are best suited to their lifestyle.

    The Kennel Club’s Breed Information Centre can be found at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/.

    Further information on Crufts can be found at www.crufts.org.uk.

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    February 7th, 2017Laura P (Editor)Articles

    The International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD), of which the Kennel Club is a founding partner, has announced an initiative called the ‘Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs’, to support the appropriate selection and use of DNA testing in dog health and breeding decisions.

    The ever-increasing emergence of new canine DNA tests and testing laboratories has made choosing quality DNA testing providers, and the right DNA tests for health and breeding decisions, increasingly challenging for many owners, breeders and veterinarians.

    Working with a wide-spectrum of stakeholders in dog health, the IPFD’s ‘Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs’ initiative will provide practical support to address these challenges.

    With no existing national or international standards of accreditation, or standardisation oversight group, there is a growing need for a reliable third party neutral organisation which can provide guidance surrounding test reliability, laboratory quality assurance processes and procedures, test applicability by breed, and provide advice regarding interpretation and best use of genetic test results.

    This is needed to support consumer confidence in DNA testing, educate consumers in the use of these tests, utilise these tests effectively as tools to reduce the incidence of inherited disease, and to reduce redundant international efforts. The IPFD will work to coordinate and consolidate expertise, as well as ongoing and new work to increase the availability of resources to consumers.

    The goal of this new IPFD initiative is to create an open access, searchable and sustainable online resource that will:

    • Catalogue information provided voluntarily from commercial test providers for genetic testing in dogs
    • Describe expertise, quality assurance, activities and resources of the test providers
    • Host expert panel reviews of genetic tests, their reliability, and applicability
    • Coordinate a programme for standardised proficiency testing and potentially peer review and audit
    • Collate/assemble existing and new resources for genetic counselling and education, and provide the foundation for future developments.

    The initial phase of the initiative is to develop a working prototype of the online resource. Both the prototype and the final output will be hosted on the IPFD’s website at www.dogwellnet.com. The initiative will be guided by IPFD CEO, Brenda Bonnett and Project Director, Aimee Llewellyn-Zaidi, who was the Kennel Club’s Head of Health and Research before returning to the United States at the end of 2016.

    The initiative will be overseen by a multi-stakeholder steering committee set up by the IPFD and initial funding for the prototype is provided through generous contributions from IPFD founding partners, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, and the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation. The IPFD is inviting other collaborators and potential contributors to contact them via Brenda.Bonnett@ipfdogs.com or Aimee.Llewellyn-Zaidi@ipfdogs.com.

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