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Clubs to consider breed changes


This week the Kennel Club’s breed health plan letters have been sent out to the breed clubs, suggesting far reaching changes and amendments in some breeds. The letter also tells clubs that breeds will have ‘interim’ standards whilst any changes are discussed.

the plan is based on three separate areas: conformation of the breed, the prevalence of certain conditions and diseases within the breed, and also the diversity of the breed’s gene pool. In the letter it is further stated that all the KC Breed Standards have now been reviewed and it is pointed out that in some cases only minor changes have been made, but in others there are more extensive amendments. It is hoped that these changes will lead to the breeding and exhibition of healthy dogs. These revised standards will come into force in January 2009 as “interim” breed standards, and will be reviewed continually for the first six months, pending feedback from the breed clubs and the veterinary profession. After this “settling in” period the final versions will be published.

All breed standards will now start with the following paragraph: ‘This Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of the [name of breed] and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of dogs of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect the [name of breed] adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues.’

The Kennel Club has said it will periodically request feedback from breed clubs and judges on ‘conditions or exaggerations’ which they consider may have the potential to adversely affect each breed. These will be considered and, if thought significant and relevant, will be published regularly as a further guide for judges and breeders.

Each breed club has been sent information regarding the presence and prevalence of certain diseases and conditions in each breed. The information has been gathered from three different sources:

· The prevalence of conditions affecting certain parts of the dog, as documented by the KC/BSAVA Scientific Committee’s Pure Bred Dog Health Survey, completed in 2004.

· An analysis which has been compiled using data provided by Agria Pet Insurance and covers all purebred dogs covered under the Kennel Club Healthcare Plan for the past 5 years.

· A list of conditions included in published material in peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Diversity

The health plan will examine breed genetic diversity, on a breed specific basis. This will be completed after the breed clubs have received the health plans and feed back has been returned to the KC regarding breed health issues.

As part of the implementation of the health plan the breed clubs have been asked to review the breed standard amendments and the health information provided. They have also been asked to appoint a breed health advisor. Many clubs already have a breed health advisor or health committee in place, and have as part of this review asked the KC to add their breed to selected health test listings, even though the breed in the UK is not known to suffer from the health problem. Where there exists more than one club, for a breed, the KC have said that the clubs will have to nominate a single lead health coordinator. The KC will establish an electronic communications group of all of the nominated breed health coordinators.

It is further proposed that regular meetings (possibly every two years) will be organised for all health coordinators to discuss health trends, to which specialists in some of the identified conditions will be invited to contribute to the discussion. It is hoped that by ensuring continued health surveillance that the newly diagnosed conditions in dogs will be highlighted in the breeds as soon as possible and provide the clubs with access help from veterinary professionals and scientific experts.

Health groups will be expected to collect and collate all health data. There will be annual or bi-annual health reports for all breeds presenting the health statistics that have been collected since the previous report.

More information about the diseases the breeds are known to suffer from, are available to view on the web site http://server.vet.cam.ac.uk/index.html The information there has been gathered from a number of sources, which include the health survey the Kennel Club Charitiable Trust undertook, data complied from Agria Pet Insurance and scientific literature.

The database, developed by Dr David Sargan at Cambridge University, can be searched either by breed or specific condition. It is hoped that when all these measures are put in place that any new health or welfare issue can be dealt with promptly and not spread right through a breed before action is taken.