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Is two-tier registration the answer?

German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) enthusiast David Payne is calling for a two-tier registration system, which he believes would ensure that breeders of pedigree dog puppies (not just in GSDs) would have a quality standard that was relevant and enforceable.

He is also suggesting that the German Shepherd fraternity would be willing to be the ‘guinea pigs’ for such a pilot scheme. The Accredited Breeder Scheme (ABS) has already established the principal of two classes of registration but what is now required, he says, is the addition of a Breed Health Certificate (BHC) scheme which breeders would have to agree to take part in if they were to be accredited. At present, members of the ABS can gain an ‘accolade’ by agreeing to have their breeding stock tested, but this is of no more value than being a member of a breed club, breeding five litters or having dogs eligible for the stud book.

In his letter he says: ‘A thorough and carefully considered approach by the Kennel Club and the respective Breed Clubs to a National scheme to improve the health of pedigree dogs is essential. The Kennel Club, various breed clubs and many responsible breeders have done much to improve the health of pedigree dogs over many years; however more can be done and, indeed, should be done. It is important that any national scheme to improve the health of pedigree dogs is seen to be wholly beneficial and positive. It must be open and available to all breeders of pedigree dogs that register their litters with the Kennel Club and who fulfil the required criteria. It must also complement and underpin existing breed health screening schemes, breed surveys and breed standards.

‘It is also very important to persuade, encourage and attract breeders of pedigree dogs to participate in breed health improvement schemes. A national scheme to improve the health of pedigree dogs, should contain an incentive to participate and at the same time be applicable to all breeds, albeit that some criteria will vary between the breeds. Such detail can be discussed and resolved with each breed.’

He further goes on to say that the current system of registration, he feels, fails to recognise those dogs used for breeding that have been tested by a number of health screening tests, when compared with those dogs used for breeding that have not been tested. Also that the term ‘Kennel Club registered’ ‘needs to mean much more to the Pedigree puppy buying public. A Class One Kennel Club registration of a puppy, will clearly inform them that both parents of such a puppy have completed the ‘BHC’ criteria and both are Breed Health certified.’

This idea appears to have a great deal of merit and certainly members of the Our Dogs Message Board have greeted it with approval. However, the report we carried two weeks ago of the American Kennel Club Chairman’s recent remarks clearly indicate that problems might arise if our Kennel Club moved forward without ensuring that its Accredited Breeders were not committed to the idea of a Breed Health Scheme. Apart from health screening – a minor cost in some breeds but very significant cost in others, Mr Payne is suggesting that all dogs and bitches should have their DNA record on the certificate. This is getting less expensive but at present is still in the region of £40.

He also says ‘a national scheme should contain an incentive to participate’ but precisely what those incentives might be, other that the knowledge that they are taking part in an important initiative is left vague at this stage.

German Shepherd Dog representatives are meeting with the Kennel Club on 20th November and David is hoping that his proposals will be ‘on the table’ although as the KC called the meeting this will rather depends on whether the KC is prepared to allow discussion discuss on it and of course, whether the GSD clubs take it up.

See the proposal in full at