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Pekingese standard: KC says clubs must unite


THE KC’s new Pekingese breed standard has continued to cause concern and outrage within the ranks of the breed, with yet another meeting planned at this week’s Midland Counties show.
The emergency meeting which Our Dogs reported last week had seen breed delegates express their anger at the KC’s decision to go ahead with the revised standard with no discussion having taken place between them and the clubs. At the meeting, which saw many clubs unite for the first time in recent years, it was also decided that the clubs would request that the KC provide them with the evidence which prompted the radical decision.

The decision in the previous week’s meeting that the breed unite still appeared the favourite path to take, with most breed enthusiasts agreeing that the only way forward was as a whole.
The meeting at Midland Counties is likely to discuss the new standard and also whether Roy Stott, the breed’s health co-ordinator, retained the confidence of the attendees. Mr Stott alleged last week that he is the subject of a ‘witch-hunt.’

On October 6th the KC received a letter from John D. French, President of the Pekingese Club of America and Chairman of Breeder and Judges Education, Delegate to The American Kennel Club. In the letter Mr French told the committee that he wished to make them aware of happenings within the Pekingese world in the USA.

He wrote: ‘I wish to make The Kennel Club aware that in February of this year, the Board of Directors of The Pekingese Club of America (PCA) formed an International Health Committee with representatives from the US, Canada and the UK, including top breeders and a prominent veterinary surgeon, to actively address health issues. This was done to promote the awareness of certain health conditions in our breed and to improve methods of education as a means of eradicating the few serious health conditions that have evolved over time through the breeds shrinking gene pool.

Chief among their concerns were Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS) and restricted gait, both of which had been the focus of The Pekingese Club of Americas three principal educational seminars this year: the Westminster seminars with Dog Judges’ Association of America (DJAA) in New York, the AKC/DJAA Advanced Toy Institute seminars in Houston, Texas, and the breed study seminar held in conjunction with the national club show in Denver, Colorado.

Mr French’s letter continued: ‘I can assure you that PCA has undertaken a comprehensive approach to educate breeders and judges and has distributed literature on the Health Committee page on the PCA website: www.thepekingeseclubofamerica.com.

It is widely accepted in the fancy in America that the Pekingese is one of the healthiest and long-lived of all breeds, and that the gene pool of the breed here is nearly entirely based on Pekingese bred in the UK. Thus, North American Pekingese breeders share the same gene pool and concerns with UK Pekingese breeders. I wish to make it clear that there is no evidence to support any claim that there are widespread heart problems in the breed. However it is indisputable that BAS and a restricted gait is the breeds Achilles Heel. That said, any proposed radical amendment to the breed standard to alter classic breed type is not the answer to these problems when clearly the breed has thrived with good health and popularity for 140 years.

The letter suggested that what is needed are greater efforts applied toward breeder and judges education, and that wide open nostrils on a broad nose in proportion to the face be considered a requirement, rather than eliminating the flat facial profile. Mention was made of the substantial scientific evidence to support that Pekingese with a broad nose leather and wide open nostrils on a perfectly flat face can breathe freely without any obstruction whatsoever, and still be within the aesthetic of classic breed type.

It now also appears to be becoming better understood in the Pekingese community in America that well laid back shoulders and adequate length of upper arm are essential for complete freedom of movement.

Mr French is a 30-year Pekingese breeder of over 200 litters and has judged Pekingese in the UK and Scotland, including The Pekingese Club Championship Show in 2005.

His letter concluded: ‘We believe that the solution to the breeds health crisis is a global one, and thus requires a concerted effort on the part of breeders and judges worldwide to promote responsible breeding/judging and continuing education. Therefore, the Board of Directors of The Pekingese Club of America stands ready to help the breed community in the UK and worldwide to achieve our collective goals of promoting and protecting healthy Pekingese.’

Caroline Kisko, KC Secretary told OUR DOGS: “The Kennel Club has no wish for disagreements with any breed – far from it – we are keen to stress the need for everyone to unite in the best interests of dogs and dog health. Unfortunately the committee was not convinced that continued consultation with the various representatives of the Pekingese breed clubs was resulting in adequate progress being made towards improvement of the health of the breed. In particular there was considerable disagreement among Pekingese breeders and clubs as to the way forward; clear evidence that some breed clubs were only paying lip service to the required improvement process and even failed to accept that there is a problem; and requests from some breeders who believed that breed clubs will ‘never agree’, that the Kennel Club should simply indicate how it wishes breeders to proceed.

‘This we have now done and if the result of these difficulties is that the Pekingese Clubs are now agreed that they need to work together, then we should all be very grateful for that and hope that this move towards greater cooperation will continue and result in improved health for dogs.”