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, H&C is pleased to hear. 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 on the advice of the Kennel Club Dog Health Group, in order to ensure that the 15 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.
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.