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Stafford owners ‘irate’ at Kennel Club post

Issue: 15/05/2020

The Kennel Club had to rapidly pull a social media post featuring a blue Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy after irate breeders complained about the use of this type to promote the breed.

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In the post it said, ‘Meet Astro the Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy! Why do you (love) the breed? Get involved and share photos of your Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the comments below.’
Linda McCulloch complained about the post and she told OUR DOGS, ‘Nearly 80% of our puppy registrations are poorly bred blues like that puppy. 
‘Many of their parents are not DNA tested for L2-HGA and HC, 2 hereditary conditions, when DNA tests have been in place over 12 years. 
‘The blue breeders are charging £2,000 to £2,500, double the price of a well bred, fully tested puppy. Then the KC post that picture of what a Stafford puppy looks like!’
She went on to point out, ‘I should add that blue in Staffords is a dilute gene, the breed is now swamped in to the detriment of our traditional colours.’
On social media there was a similar reaction with one poster writing, ‘What chance has the breed got when the kennel club itself chooses to promote the breed with that.... Just paying into the peddlers’ pockets.’
There were similar complaints made against the KC earlier this year when they used a blue French Bulldog in a social media post.

Dismayed

Linda Hall told OUR DOGS, ‘I was very dismayed to see an image used by the Kennel Club to portray our breed on a thread on the KC’s own official social media page that is not representative of our breed.  
‘Given the fact it was a thread specifically for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the least the member of staff could have done was to use an image of a breed standard dog or puppy. 
‘Whilst blue is in the breed standard, it is not an actual colour but a dilute, a recessive gene, even more upsetting is the image used has poor breed conformation, apart from the fact the KC missed an opportunity to promote breed specific health testing and eye screening. 
‘The KC are fully aware of the horrendous issues we have in the breed from the explosion of blue breeding and I fail to see why they could not have used an image  that meets the standard!  They already have an excellent example on file - the one they used in the updated Illustrated Breed Standards Publication.’
Helen Reaney, the Breed Council Secretary, wrote to the KC and she said in her letter, ‘Dear Kieran, I hope that you are well.  Further to my message to you last night I now write to you in my capacity as Breed Council Secretary along with Notts & Derby SBT Secretary just to save time.
‘The Breed Council and the Breed Clubs welcome any PR the Kennel Club provides the Staffordshire Bull Terrier but we have concerns as this is the second time when promoting the breed or dogdom in general  a blue Stafford has been used and I thank you for taking the initial post down last night.
‘The Council and the Breed Clubs work extremely hard to guide the potential puppy buyers to purchase a Stafford from a reputable breeder and one who has used health tested parents. 
‘Over the last 15 years the breed registrations have dropped from over 13000 to under 5000 in 2019.  We are also aware that there are many other Staffords bred that are not registered. 
‘At the height of the registrations there was only a very small percentage of blue litters, or litters containing blue, around 1000-1500 puppies  per year but over the years this has now increased  with the other colours not being bred and over 75% of the 2019 and 2018 litter registered with the KC being blue litters or containing blue.  
‘Those breeding Blue litters are breeding for profit and generally not health tested. The Blue Staffords do tend to suffer with more skin conditions, I know of three Blues in my area who are on steroids for skin aliments. 

Difficult job

‘The promotion of the Blue or using a Blue Stafford photo is damaging the breed to a considerable degree and making the custodians of the breed (Breed Council and Breed Clubs) job more difficult when they receive any phone calls, or are talking about the breed at Crufts Discover Dogs and Discover Dogs London or any Stafford events hosted by the Breed Clubs or Council. 
‘The number of calls we get as a breed from people sourcing Blues because they think they are rare and are prepared to pay over £2000+ for a puppy when puppies are usually around £750. 
‘The Breed Council and the Club would hope that in the vast array of photos you have at the KC of the breed that consideration will be given to using another Breed colour (Black Brindle/Red or Pieds ) when promoting the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a breed or Dogdom in general.’
Lesley McFadyen, Secretary of the East Anglian Staffordshire Bull Terrier club, also wrote to the KC, ‘As Secretary of the East Anglian Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club I am very disappointed to see the image used in the Facebook post about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  
‘Our breed currently has well documented problems caused by business breeders over exploiting the breed and producing dilute coat colour (blue) puppies in excess of 75% of our KC registered puppies.  
‘As a Breed Club Secretary I spend a huge amount of my time - voluntarily - trying to explain to potential puppy owners why no reputable breeder would mate a dilute coloured sire to a dilute coloured dam (which is the only way of ensuring blue coated pups).  
‘The business breeders that have exploited our breed also do NOT adhere to the required DNA and clinical health testing recommended for the Stafford - very few of their breeding stock have clinical eye screening and even fewer of their litters are clinically eye screened. 
‘There are still numbers of these breeders allowing untested bitches to their stud dogs, despite our Breed Council having tried on numerous occasions unsuccessfully to get the KC to correct this situation.  
‘When the compulsory DNA testing for L2HGA and HC comes in to place in 2022 there will no doubt be a huge drop in registrations as currently these breeders highlight the fact their stock is ‘hereditarily clear’ but won’t be seen paying for physical tests which will eat in to their profit.  
‘It is a huge pity that the social media constituent of the Kennel Club could not have approached our Breed Council for an image of a well bred typical Staffordshire Bull Terrier to use.  
‘This post has seriously let down the hard work that so many of our serious breed enthusiasts and especially the Breed Club secretaries do in trying to inform the general public of the pitfalls of buying a well bred, healthy, typical Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy.’

Consultation

A Kennel Club spokesman said, ‘The Kennel Club is aware of some concerns regarding an image that was recently used on our social media channels. The image was of a Kennel Club registered blue Staffordshire Bull Terrier that was submitted to us, as part of our Kennel Club Online Dog Show in the context of asking why people love the breed 
“’The Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed standard, blue is a recognised colour and there is currently no scientific research to suggest that this recognised colour has a detrimental impact on a dog’s health or welfare.
‘We have recently had a consultation with a number of breed communities regarding breed standard colours and would advise that any breed clubs who have concerns regarding their breed standard, including recognised colours, to make a formal representation to the Kennel Club breed standards committee outlining their concerns.
‘We fully support the work of breed clubs on our social media channels, including advising members of the public on the importance of health testing within their chosen breed. This includes contacting the breed clubs for advice, ensuring that both the dam and sire of their prospective puppy has had any recommended health tests and that the prospective puppy owner sources their puppy from a responsible breeder, such as those who fulfil the requirements that are mandatory for Kennel Club Assured Breeders.’


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