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KC launches new Breed Watch initiative

THE KENNEL CLUB recently launched a new initiative called Breed Watch, as part of its work to ensure that pedigree dogs lead happy, healthy lives. This is the latest development in the Kennel Club’s ongoing Fit For Function: Fit For Life campaign to ensure that pedigree dogs are free from any exaggerations which might cause them to have difficulty in walking, seeing or breathing freely.

Breed Watch will shortly be an area of the Kennel Club’s website which will serve as a constantly updated alert to all interested parties, but with dog show judges in mind in particular, to any undesirable trends or exaggerations that may be emerging in particular breeds.

The Kennel Club has e-mailed all of the individuals who have been nominated as Breed Health Co-ordinators for their breed, with further details of how the initiative will work and any proposed inclusions in Breed Watch for their breed. The Breed Health Co-ordinators have been asked to consult with all of the breed clubs within their specific breed via the Secretaries of those clubs and then collate all comments to be fed back to the Kennel Club.

Where breeds have not yet communicated the nomination of a Breed Health Co-ordinator to the Kennel Club, then no correspondence will be sent until such a time as a representative is chosen. The Kennel Club also reminded club members and breed clubs that they are responsible for this nomination and the Kennel Club would rather not select an individual on their behalf. Once a nominee is selected, these breeds will then be able to participate in the Breed Watch initiative.


The introductory text on the Kennel Club’s website for Breed Watch will read as follows:
The decisions made by judges in the show ring strongly influence future breeding plans
Judges must take conformation related health problems and temperament into account when making their decisions as well as breed type

All show dogs should be Fit for Function: Fit for Life

Judges should never award prizes to dogs which are visibly suffering from any condition which would adversely affect their health or welfare. For example:

Obvious breathing difficulty

Significantly over or under weight dogs

Lameness, including hopping

A discharge from one or both eyes or any signs of discomfort in either eye

Obvious skin or ear irritation

Inappropriate temperament – refusal to be handled, timidity or aggression

Exaggerations that would make the dog unsuited to the breed’s original purpose

A judge is expected to make such decisions based on their extensive experience of dogs as owners and breeders – they are not expected to display the knowledge of a veterinary surgeon and should not undertake any extra examination of a dog other than that which they would normally perform in assessing general fitness and breed type.


Particular points of concern for individual breeds may include features not specifically highlighted in the breed standard. The features listed are derived from health surveys, a meeting of Kennel Club Group Judges (Feb 2009), judges’ feedback and consultation with individual breed clubs/councils.’

There will then follow a description of any breed-specific points of concern which have been received by the Kennel Club. This information will be frequently updated, ensuring that the Breed Watch pages serve as a record of any concerns which judges should be aware of when judging a breed at a dog show.

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