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The Accredited Breeder Scheme
and permanent identification

Since its launch at Crufts there has been considerable debate about elements of the Accredited Breeder Scheme, which is good news because it means that the Scheme can evolve to address some of the problems that have been raised and hopefully encourage even more breeders to join.

Surprisingly, at least to those of us here at the Kennel Club that have been intimately involved with the Scheme, the most serious problem that has arisen to date concerns the permanent identification of breeding stock. The present Scheme requirements lay down that all breeding stock should be permanently identified by DNA profile, microchip or tattoo. This means that both the dam and the sire of a litter produced by an Accredited Breeder should be permanently identified under the Scheme.

Some of the Scheme’s members are managing to satisfy this requirement, but many are having difficulties finding a stud dog that they would like to use that is permanently identified. Obviously, a breeder’s choice of stud dog for their bitch has many facets and it would be running contrary to the spirit of the scheme to deny a breeder’s much-deliberated choice of a stud dog if the only criteria it failed to satisfy was that of permanent identification. For this reason we have chosen to be flexible with this particular requirement at this time, although we would, of course, prefer that our members satisfy all the Scheme’s requirements.

What we do advise, though, is that if an Accredited Breeder does choose and use an unidentified sire, then the breeder draws this to the attention of any future purchaser of a puppy from the litter. This flexible approach does mean that we need to be informed if an Accredited Breeder uses an unidentified sire. This does not mean, as some have interpreted, that an Accredited Breeder must seek permission from the Kennel Club to use an unidentified sire, but we do need to know if this has occurred so that when we do the relevant cross checks upon registration of a litter from an Accredited Breeder we are not surprised to find that the sire is unidentified. An explanatory note attached to the litter application form will suffice!

We clearly need to do more work on the question of permanent identification. There is a commitment in the Scheme to move to a mandatory requirement for DNA profiling of all breeding stock. Again this means that both dam and sire will need to be profiled. When we reach this stage, it is far more important that both parents are profiled; only having the profile of the dam, without that of the sire, actually undermines the DNA profiling element because it means that parentage verification cannot be performed satisfactorily. However, we will have to learn from our experience with the present problems encountered in finding permanently identified sires. We do have time though and we need to work hard to publicise the benefits of DNA profiling and dismiss some of the myths that have arisen, so that more owners of potential sires are prepared to have their dogs DNA profiled. However, in the meantime we will have to display similar flexibility with the DNA profiling of sires so that we do not prevent Accredited Breeders from using otherwise perfectly complementary dogs for their bitches, simply because they are not DNA profiled.

We have also received some valuable feedback on the health screening requirements under the scheme. Once again, we all knew that this particular element of the scheme would evolve with experience and breeder input. One of our hopes has always been that we could work with breed clubs and councils, and their memberships, to make the health screening components of the Scheme more breed-specific. We will be contacting breed clubs and councils in the very near future to begin the dialogue that will hopefully produce a more practical and valuable set of breed-specific health checks for Accredited Breeders of their breed.

Finally, we would like to point out to critics of the scheme, that while it was never anticipated that the scheme would satisfy everyone at any time, we do feel that its launch has undeniably raised the profile of its objective i.e. responsible dog breeding. We would like to thank those of you who have given us your support to work towards this end.