Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 575

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

on Wednesday 17 October 2012

Members present:

Miss Anne McIntosh (Chair)

Thomas Docherty

Richard Drax

George Eustice

Mrs Mary Glindon

Neil Parish

Ms Margaret Ritchie

Dan Rogerson


Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Professor Sheila Crispin, Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding, and Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, Lead, Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding, gave evidence.

Q173Chair: May I welcome our first group of witnesses this afternoon and apologise on behalf of the Committee for the fact we are running late owing to our democratic right to vote? Thank you for bearing with us. There will be further votes throughout the afternoon, and we shall return as promptly as we can. For the record, could I ask each of you in turn to give your name, starting with Professor Crispin and then Professor Bateson, and title?

Professor Crispin: I am Sheila Crispin, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding.

Professor Bateson: I am Patrick Bateson. I am retired, but I did the report that I think you have considered.

Q174Chair: We are most grateful to you for participating in our inquiry. Professor Bateson, perhaps I could start with you. What are you hoping to achieve from the government review? Are you satisfied with the speed and scale of response from the dog-breeding community and veterinary profession in acting to resolve the issues raised in your excellent report?

Professor Bateson: I appreciate that two and a half years is a short time in government, but I am pleased that the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding was set up. It was set up quite quickly and has already achieved a lot. The main problem of the council is going to be funding. It is very important that that council, which is doing good work, should be properly funded.

Q175Chair: You refer to outsiders finding it incomprehensible that anyone should admire or wish to acquire a dog with inherent health problems, yet we know that many pedigree puppies are born with such problems. Do you believe that the pedigree dog-breeding community is too insular to identify and respond to welfare problems arising from breeding practices?

Professor Bateson: I am pleased that the Kennel Club has made big strides. Clearly, some breeders have not responded. They reckon they know everything but they do not. They are poorly advised scientifically and they should get better advice than they do at the moment. The answer is really yes and no.

Q176Chair: When you say "get better advice", do you think they are dependent on the quality of advice, or are they simply not seeking advice?

Professor Bateson: It is both. Obviously, they have to get good advice, but the question is how you get it out to them. Getting advice out to them has not been as good as it might have been. One thing I would like to see happen as a matter of priority is getting good advice out to the breeders and the public too.

Q177Chair: Perhaps I may put a question to both of you. Professor Crispin, do you believe DEFRA should take a more proactive role in driving a programme of change, or even in introducing legislation?

Professor Crispin: I think we both say that.

Professor Bateson: Absolutely. DEFRA has been a bit reactive on this. It would be much better if they went ahead. Without introducing primary legislation, one could introduce new regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. For example, the duty of care could be tightened, and DEFRA ought to play an active role in that.

Q178Chair: Do you believe we have reached the point of last resort, to which you refer in your report, where we now need enforcement of welfare standards through regulation, or even legislation?

Professor Bateson: In some cases. Some people are not listening. There is undoubtedly bad practice in the breeding of dogs on a large scale. To try to control it may require primary legislation. It may be that it can be done under the Animal Welfare Act, but at the moment not enough is happening on that.

Q179Chair: To clarify it for the Committee, are you saying that the present Act is not working? I am struggling to understand why, if we have more legislation, it will work better, or do we need to clarify the legislation that is on the statute book by secondary legislation?

Professor Bateson: I think regulations could be introduced under existing legislation, so that would not require primary legislation. The local authorities who are responsible for looking at dog-breeding establishments have a real problem. They are short of resources, and yet what they do is not very effective. Some local authorities are much better than others. What both of us feel is that there should be some sharing of resources so that people who are doing a very good job should be able to go to other local authorities and help them with their problems. At the moment local authorities tend to look at just the facilities without looking at the welfare of the dogs.

Q180Chair: Professor Crispin, is there a timetable for your work, or a period within which you have to report? If there is not, should there be?

Professor Crispin: Originally, as we were set up, it was for three years, so in that sense there is a very tight timetable.

Q181Chair: Excellent. Do you think that making the Advisory Council an independent regulatory body would enable you to get tough with those who need to improve breeding practices?

Professor Crispin: It would certainly help. At the moment we can recommend as much as we like, but our recommendations can be totally ignored.

Q182Chair: Do you believe that you have the teeth to do the job?

Professor Crispin: Not currently.

Q183Chair: Professor Bateson, do you believe that currently you have the tools to do the job you have been asked to do?

Professor Bateson: They have a very good committee and they are doing good things. They are severely underfunded, and more tools can be used than are now available. A lot more could be done.

Q184George Eustice: I want to turn to the role of the veterinary profession in all this. The Advisory Council stated previously in its report that some members of the veterinary profession were a bit ambivalent. I think those were the words you used. Have they got the right mechanisms in place to ensure that their members are able to identify poor breeding practices, or is there something they need to do as a profession?

Professor Crispin: Things are improving. When I qualified it was not part of the course to look at welfare issues in dogs; it was an add-on to the health aspects of looking at dogs and other species. It has changed a lot over the years, so the newly qualified graduate has probably had more on ethics and welfare than people such as me. Having said that, there is now an awful lot in most veterinary conferences and congresses that covers ethical and welfare aspects, so it is improving. It is a region for improvement, but most people in practice are running very busy small businesses. They are dealing primarily with disease and, therefore, it is not always easy to remember some of the other aspects of what they do.

Q185George Eustice: You raised the importance of including it in the training curriculum. Is it that they do not really understand the issues, or is it that there is no incentive for them to act on them? For example, do they say, "We think there is inbreeding here. This is not right, but it is not for us to do?"

Professor Crispin: I think they do understand the issues, and increasingly they are involved in them. All the representative bodies, such as the British Veterinary Association and British Small Animal Veterinary Association, ie those that are particularly concerned with dogs, are now very good at highlighting this as part of all the congresses and conferences we have. There are other bodies that deal specifically with things like ethics, welfare and law that cover these in some depth, so it is changing and improving. It is not a negative; it is a positive.

Q186George Eustice: To whom would they flag this up? Suppose a vet had some dogs brought to him and he was concerned about their welfare.

Professor Crispin: Initially, it would be with the owners, obviously, because sometimes it is just ignorance on their part.

Professor Bateson: One of the things I tried to draw attention to in the report was that vets should focus as much on prevention as on cure. For example, if a bulldog has had two caesareans and the owner wants to have another litter with that dog, the vet should give advice that the owner should not go ahead and breed that dog again. There are things like that where the vet could be proactive.

Q187Neil Parish: I would like to put this question to both of you. What impact has the Kennel Club’s code of ethics and assured breeder scheme had in reducing the breeding of dogs with heritable diseases, or preventing breeding from too narrow a gene pool, especially perhaps in some of the exotic breeds?

Professor Crispin: The Kennel Club have done a lot since Pedigree Dogs Exposed. They would argue that they were doing a lot before Pedigree Dogs Exposed, but there is no doubt that the impetus was changed dramatically after that programme. Of the original 15 high-profile breeds, 13 were there because they had ocular-related disease. I am an ophthalmologist, so I have been very much involved in helping them make sure we remedy that situation, and it is improving. I particularly remember laying into the owners of Molossers some three years ago. Now they greet me with great cries of joy to show me what they have achieved within three years. There are considerable improvements in the breed, and the trick is working together rather than against each other.

Professor Bateson: The council has asked me to chair a committee to look at having a common standard for all breeds, which I think would be a very good thing to do.
Starting some time probably later this year, a group chaired by me will be set up, so hopefully we can move towards a common standard.

Q188Neil Parish: I commend the Kennel Club on the work they have done, but I am urging them to do more. One of their arguments is that because people do not have to register with them there is only so much they can do. Do we need to give them more regulatory backing or spur them on to do more and greater things?

Professor Crispin: You have hit on one of the major problems that applies not just to pedigree dogs but all dogs. So often when I am giving talks and lectures I realise that I am talking to the converted, but the population of dogs in this country is anything between 8 million and 10 million, of which Kennel Club registrations are less than 40%. There is another 60% out there. I would love to know-because it occupies us a lot-how you get education over to them. Pat and I have discussed that we must have a collaborative educational blitz using the power of the media as one aspect of this. The other aspect is: how do bodies like the Kennel Club talk to those who are essentially bringing them into disrepute?

Q189Neil Parish: Do we need further regulation, or do we do it through a series of educational promotions, for want of a better way of putting it?

Professor Crispin: It is always made very clear when you talk to Ministers that they are not at all keen on more primary legislation. We have both looked at the legislation as it is and feel that, within the existing framework, it is possible to do these things. As you also probably know, the Advisory Council is doing a review of existing legislation across all government, devolved as well as central. At the end of that we will prepare something for Ministers that says: this is the current legislation; it is or is not working; and this what we think should happen.

Professor Bateson: There is one area of legislation that could be very important. At the moment dogs can come in readily from Ireland or eastern bloc countries. The ones from eastern bloc countries might have rabies; the ones from Ireland have not been properly bred. At the moment under EU law we cannot stop them, but we could try to ensure that there was negotiation with the EU to make it much more difficult for dogs to be introduced like that, because it is a real problem.

Q190Neil Parish: As to those dogs that win prizes, particularly in shows like Crufts and others, where there might be hip or other problems, I think that we are gradually weeding them out, but is there more that needs to be done to make sure that the wrong type of dog with bad breeding does not win a prize in these shows, because it just sends the wrong message?

Professor Crispin: I could not agree more. To be fair, a lot has been done. There were veterinary checks at Crufts this time, which, in the dog-owning population, did not go down all that well, but it was the right thing to do. It is now more accepted that this will happen. I am sure it will be extended to occasional checks, if not regular ones, on other breeds, so it will not be just the high-profile ones. That will also mean that the high-profile breeds will not feel they are being particularly targeted. It will help, because what you would like is that the dog that wins at a show is one that everybody looks at and thinks is a wonderful healthy example of the breed, not how short its nose is or how badly it breathes.

Q191George Eustice: I want to ask a little bit about the importance of reliable data on genetic defects and diseases. I know that both the British Veterinary Association and the Small Animal Veterinary Association have talked about the importance of developing this. There have been projects like VetCompass to make a start. Do you think further impetus is needed to fill that gap and take it further forward? What is it that holds it back? Is it lack of funding to do that or lack of will?

Professor Crispin: I will start and I am sure Pat will continue. We both believe passionately-it came through in Pat’s report-that the collection of data has been pretty grim. What happened after Pedigree Dogs Exposed was that people decided they would collect data, but they all went running off in different directions rather like a bunch of ferrets. We need good quality, robust data, so it is something that the Advisory Council is doing. We put in a research application to Dogs Trust, which they would not fund because it was rather a lot of money. We are now making that a joint application in the hope it will be funded. We think it is absolutely essential to have decent data; otherwise, people ask you questions about what are quite important welfare issues, and you cannot give a response because the data is not there.

Professor Bateson: One of the things I found when writing the report was that it was impossible to get data out of the insurance companies. In Sweden there is a big insurance company that has readily given data on health problems in dogs. We really need this here. I do not know how one could apply pressure to the insurance companies, but it would be very important to have that information, because they are collecting it all the time. That would be yet another way of trying to get information about the prevalence of diseases.

Q192George Eustice: Are they collecting it because they insure the breeders should something go wrong with the dogs?

Professor Bateson: I think they are paying out for obvious diseases. They say they will not give up the data because it is a professional secret, but a big insurance company in Sweden has revealed all this data to immense usefulness. It has been very helpful to scientists in Sweden to have that information. We cannot get it.

Q193George Eustice: Does this data identify a particular bloodline or gene? How specific is the type of data you are talking about?

Professor Bateson: At the moment we cannot get anything.

Q194George Eustice: But how specific does it need to be to be useful? Does it have to be about the particular bloodline of a particular sire?

Professor Crispin: It does not even need to be that precise; it can just be a summary of morbidity or mortality data by breed. That would be immensely helpful for a start.

Q195George Eustice: Professor Bateson, we talked just now about possible changes to the law. I think you recommended some changes to the regulations on codes of practice in the Animal Welfare Act so there was a duty on dog breeders to look after the health and welfare of not just parent dogs but their offspring. Would that on its own make a difference, or is the problem that there is ignorance on the part of the breeders? It is not so much that they are deliberately breeding offspring they know will have problems but more that they do not know what they are doing?

Professor Bateson: Some breeders know perfectly well what they are doing, and there ought to be a duty of care there; some do not, and that is where good information should get out to the breeders, but it is a bit of both.

Professor Crispin: Unfortunately, a lot of people know exactly what they are doing. They regard it as an important income stream. They have absolutely no regard for what they are breeding, so they are doing it under dire conditions. Calling it farming is a joke, because, in the farming of sheep and cattle, lambs and calves are much more mature at birth than a puppy, so the social aspects are cruel. There is a huge degree of negligence, and it must be tackled.

Q196George Eustice: To be clear, you are talking about the importance of the welfare of the puppies rather than the breed characteristics.

Professor Crispin: The breed characteristics too-the lot-because socialisation is such a key feature of an animal that is immature at birth. It is not just that they are breeding with potentially awful diseases, including infectious diseases, because they do not necessarily vaccinate properly; they do not do the health checks. They may well have introduced quite a lot of genetic and inherited diseases of various kinds. On top of that, the situation in which those puppies are kept is such that they cannot possibly be socialised. It is a dire situation. Those dogs will never make suitable pets, because by the time they are sold from the back of a white van well away from where they are produced, which is another problem, the damage is done.

Professor Bateson: As a result of inbreeding, these dogs are more likely to get infections. A highly inbred dog is at risk for other reasons, not simply because it is carrying genetic diseases but because any type of infection is more likely to hit that dog.

Q197Dan Rogerson: Professor Bateson, what evidence led you to conclude that there was little support among breed clubs for out-crossing?

Professor Bateson: It is very variable. There is no question that some breed clubs are very good and some simply do not want to engage with scientists. Sheila will tell you that they have had problems with some of the breed clubs. It is very variable. Some breed clubs get set up because they are in different parts of the country; some get set up in rivalry to each other; and some are run by people who, frankly, know very little science and are ignorant about the effects of inbreeding. They talk a lot about line breeding, which is simply a euphemism for inbreeding. It is highly variable, and it is difficult to get through to some people.

Q198Dan Rogerson: You talked about them not wanting to engage. Do clubs sometimes actively hinder attempts to start a programme and stop members from getting involved in it and get in the way, rather than just not engaging? Do they actively hinder it sometimes?

Professor Bateson: I cannot really speak to that.

Professor Crispin: It certainly happened with Cavalier King Charles spaniels and syringomyelia and Chiari-like malformation.

Q199Dan Rogerson: What collaboration does the UK breeding and expert community undertake with international organisations to share data and approaches? We have heard in evidence that in Sweden strategies have been developed for particular breeds and a plan agreed to which everybody signs up so there is, I suppose, less fear among particular breeders that, if they do not stick to it, their animals will not be as competitive but also will lose value. Have you looked at evidence of that planned approach?

Professor Bateson: My sense is that we should get every bit of international collaboration we can. Some countries are way ahead of us. New Zealand, Sweden and Finland are ahead of us, and we can learn a lot from that. In some countries every dog is individually identifiable, either through a microchip or tattoo, so it is known to a central body what every dog is and who owns it.

Q200Dan Rogerson: So do you think it would be a good thing to develop a planned approach?

Professor Bateson: Sure.

Q201Dan Rogerson: Excellent. Could I ask you a little about the scale of painful or disabling conditions-the sorts of things we have talked about-arising from the extremes of conformation in pedigree dogs being registered today? What is the scale of this problem?

Professor Bateson: It varies from breed to breed. For some the problem is very acute. I have already mentioned the bulldog, where about 90% of bitches have to have their litters delivered by caesarean section. That is because the head is very large and it just cannot come through the normal birth canal. That is a big problem. If you want to treat the dog ethically you should not allow the breeder to breed more than twice. There are other dogs that have other malformations. Sheila can mention the problems with eyes.

Professor Crispin: One of the first things the council did was identify in-house, using external experts, some priority problems. The first eight were based on things where the effects were visible. We felt that would be easier for the public. With your permission, the eight were: ocular problems related to head conformation; brachycephalic airway syndrome-it is a long list and is available on the website. There is no doubt that ocular disease in some breeds of dog, largely because of head conformation, was a major problem. That has been tackled for some time, but it is only beginning to bear fruit. These things take a while to come through, but it is happening.

I know you touched on this. Sometimes the breed clubs are in denial that there is a problem, because they think that it is the breed standard and therefore it must be okay. It is a funny kind of circular argument, but gradually, usually working in conjunction with the Kennel Club, we have been able to educate breeders in the widest possible way to say that this is a welfare problem. If your lids do not close properly you will get secondary corneal problems, and so on. It is education of the breeders in that sense, as well as making them physically do something in the way they breed dogs. It is working but slowly.

Q202Dan Rogerson: You say it is working. Are the Kennel Club altering their breed standards to take into account some of these conditions? If not, why do you think that is so?

Professor Crispin: There was a huge review of the breed standards from about 2009 onwards. There is still a need regularly to review some of the breed standards. Some of them are there almost by habit and custom. I have spent a lot of time talking to breeders of high-profile breeds and other breeds to say, "This is not a desirable standard, and this is why." It is very time-consuming. They do not always agree but they do understand, and I think things are moving in the right direction. As an ophthalmologist I would like some of them to move faster because anything that produces pain or blindness because of an ocular problem is not something I would wish to have, so why should the dog be any different?

Q203Dan Rogerson: You talked a little about de-sensitisation and the feeling that something is normal for the breed and therefore we have to accept it. What more could be done to change those attitudes?

Professor Bateson: To be frank, some of the breed standards are very vague, even opaque, so it is very difficult for a breeder to do very much with the standards that are set. The standards should be much more precise about what could be done. If that is done it will become easier for breeders to move in the right direction.

To a certain extent some breeders have been very proactive. For example, Dalmatians have a problem that is very similar to kidney stones in humans. It is widespread across Dalmatians. A group in America out-crossed the Dalmatian to the English pointer and then back-crossed it again to the Dalmatian. They got puppies that were free of this disease and looked like Dalmatians. Some breeders said, "Oh, you’ve contaminated the breed," but it was nonsense. They looked exactly like other Dalmatians but they were free of the disease. That kind of thing can be done in many cases where a particular defect has been recognised; it could be solved by out-crossing.

Q204Dan Rogerson: Do you think educating the public would help in that? Would it be helpful to deal with it at source with the breeder on standards but also educate the wider public not to seek those characteristics?

Professor Crispin: I know that we have come back to a kind of large media campaign, but education is absolutely essential. The public have to ask things like, "We need to see those puppies with their mother. They need to be permanently identified when we take them away to their first home. These are the questions we are going to ask you about what we perceive to be health problems within the breed." They are the non-negotiables; that has to happen, and permanent identification is very much part of that.

Q205George Eustice: I was fascinated by photographs reproduced in your report showing how basset hounds had changed in the last 100 years. Has that been driven by a change in the specified characteristics of the breed societies, or has it remained the same but there has been a drift because of judges’ preferences?

Professor Bateson: In a sense it was the result of the standards. For the bulldog it would say it should have a big head, so breeders would breed for a bigger head; the judges would reward those breeders. The process was inexorable; it just went on and on, and it is very quick. You can change the characteristics of an animal very quickly by this sort of selective breeding.

Q206George Eustice: Do we need the judges of the breed societies just to show a bit more leadership?

Professor Bateson: Judges play a big role in that. As soon as they are alert to a problem they could reverse the whole trend, and I think that would be all to the good.

Professor Crispin: The Kennel Club came out with Fit for Function: Fit for Life some years ago. You could argue it means that if you are a border collie, you have to be able to work as a border collie on a Lakeland fell. The short-legged border collies with rather sweet little faces could not do that. Therefore, the fit for function bit-can they do the work once expected of them?-applies just the same to the basset hound. These were working dogs.

Q207Chair: On the licensing requirements on breeders, do you believe that local government has been able effectively to enforce them?

Professor Bateson: I do not think local government is able to do it at the moment. Some can but most cannot, and they look for the wrong things when they go and inspect, when they do it.

Professor Crispin: I agree. The idea that in some way you need to register people breeding from perhaps even a single dog is important; otherwise, people slip below the radar. They make a lot of money out of cash payments, which do not go anywhere near HM Revenue and Customs, and it is a disgrace. These are people who are doing it for all the wrong reasons. They do not care a great deal for what they breed, if at all.

Q208Chair: Would you like to see changes to the licensing regime?

Professor Crispin: Yes, in the sense that I do not think it works as well as it could. The argument is whether there needs to be some form of registration that is common to everyone who intends to breed from a dog. The other way of doing it, which is one of the suggestions in your oral evidence, is that you have a register of unneutered animals so you know the potential for breeding rather than the actual breeding out there, but it is an area that must be looked at.

Q209Chair: Professor Bateson, are you satisfied with the response to your recommendation that local authorities should inspect a wide range of aspects in issuing licences to dog breeders, including animal behaviour, socialisation of puppies and premating tests?

Professor Bateson: I am partially satisfied. Things are moving in the right direction. They could move more quickly. If the council can come up with specific recommendations, hopefully it will move more quickly, but there are funding problems that ought to be addressed.

Q210Neil Parish: This question is linked to the last one I asked. The Kennel Club have now brought in vets to check pedigree dogs at shows. Is this directly improving the welfare at shows like Crufts?

Professor Crispin: It probably is, and it is an evolving situation. The Kennel Club intend to broaden it to include breeds other than high-profile ones, which makes it slightly fairer all round. I am producing a document that has some helpful hints for judges and veterinary surgeons as far as eyes go, because people without specialist training often find looking at eyes difficult. This is the idiot’s guide to getting it right, as it were. There is a lot of good will to get that done. I would not say the resistance has crumbled but it is certainly less than it was immediately after Crufts.

Q211Neil Parish: But there are arguments that some dogs with health problems are still getting through and are being awarded prizes.

Professor Crispin: That should not happen, and it needs to be worked on. It is a bit like issuing a certificate under the eye scheme. You issue that certificate for your findings on the day of examination. That is where some of the difficulties have arisen. Sometimes the decision seems to go one way and then another way. That needs to be tightened up, because people then understand it and do not perceive it as an unfairness.

Professor Bateson: I understand that what happened at Crufts has already had effects. People are not bringing to shows dogs with hip dysplasia, for example. That is good; that indicates that you can use it as a lever on breeders.

Q212Chair: May I thank you both very warmly indeed? We would have liked to put questions to you about the sale of dogs and advertising. I am afraid that time does not permit that, but I thank you on behalf of the Committee for being so generous with your time and accommodating our slight delay earlier. We are very grateful to you.

Professor Crispin: I will give you just one little bit. Ideally, it should not be on the internet and not in pet shops. They must be seen with their mother. Then you can see what the circumstances are and what the puppies are like. That is simple. That is all I would say on that one.

Chair: We are very grateful to you. Thank you both very much indeed.

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Ian Seath, Chairman, Dachshund Breed Council, and Professor Steve Dean, Chairman, the Kennel Club of Great Britain, gave evidence.

Chair: May I ask the witnesses to make themselves comfortable and bear with us while we have a slight adjournment? We will return as quickly as we possibly can.

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

On resuming-

Q213Chair: I thank everyone for their forbearance. May I deal with a little housekeeping at the beginning? Because of the two interruptions, and a possible further one, I regret that today we will not be able to hear from our third group of witnesses: the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association. I can only apologise on behalf of the Committee. I hope you will understand that it is due to reasons beyond our control. May I welcome the next group of witnesses, perhaps starting with Professor Dean? Thank you both very much indeed for participating in our evidence session. Could I ask you to introduce yourselves and give your position in turn?

Professor Dean: I am Professor Steve Dean. I am a veterinary surgeon, but I am chairman of the Kennel Club.

Ian Seath: I am Ian Seath, chairman of the Dachshund Breed Council.

Q214Chair: As a reminder, for the benefit of us all so we can all hear each other, the microphones only record; they do not project. Following on from our earlier witness, Professor Bateson referred to outsiders finding it incomprehensible that anyone should admire or wish to acquire a dog with inherent health problems, yet some breeding practices enhance the likelihood of puppies in some breeds being born with health problems. Do each of you accept that this is a problem?

Professor Dean: Certainly, if you breed pedigree animals and you therefore use inbreeding, you increase the risk of inherited disease. I do not think any responsible dog breeder working under the umbrella of the Kennel Club, however, would seek to breed dogs with illness or an inherited disease. Indeed, the evidence is that they all try to breed away from such problems and have done for decades, if not hundreds of years.

Ian Seath: It is indisputable that there are problems in some of the breeds, and perhaps some people have lost sight of what good dog health should look like. I would not say that people are deliberately breeding unhealthy dogs, but there is clearly a bit of education still required in some areas and breeds to address some of the present issues.

Q215Chair: Mr Seath, when you say "education", is it partly down to ignorance?

Ian Seath: Some of it might be ignorance and some might just be that people have grown accustomed to seeing dogs the way they are. You have to include the veterinary profession in that. What people see becomes the norm over a period of time, and a lot of people should perhaps have been stepping up and saying there are some issues that need to be recognised and addressed.

Q216Chair: Can I ask each of you: do you think that the law as it exists is sufficient and could be better enforced, or do we need a new law? Do you believe there is a role for voluntary action to drive through a programme of change, or would you like DEFRA to take a more proactive role, including potentially the introduction of new legislation to set welfare standards for dog breeding?

Professor Dean: That depends on which sector of dog breeding you are looking at. One of the issues that needs to be clear in everyone’s mind is that dog breeders are not one amorphous group of people. For those who breed under the Kennel Club control, I believe that self-motivated action can and does produce a great deal of improvement. Once you step outside our sphere of influence, you are into the realms of cross-breeding but also quite a bit of pure-bred dog breeding that is basically puppy farming, and there we need at least the implementation of existing legislation at a high level. Part of the problem is that local authorities find it difficult to allocate suitable resources to deal with the problem on the ground, but I would urge everyone to keep in mind that dog breeders cannot be just looked at as an amorphous group. There are several sectors of dog breeders, and Sheila Crispin referred to that. That is something to be kept in mind.

Ian Seath: Steve is absolutely right. It is easy to tar everybody with the same brush. Different groups would need different responses. There is plenty of legislation in place at the moment. Speaking as a breed club representative, we hear all too many stories about puppy farms and poor welfare among dogs. It is pretty clear that either the legislation is not being enforced or the resources are not in place to make sure it is enforced effectively. I am not convinced that more legislation is necessarily the answer.

Q217Chair: Professor Crispin made the point about mothers appearing with the puppies, which was put very eloquently. Can I put this to each of you in turn? Professor Bateson recommended that new regulations and codes of practice should be produced under the Animal Welfare Act, including a duty on dog breeders to have regard to the health and welfare of both the parents and offspring. Would you, therefore, agree that breeders have affordable access to the right information to enable them to be able to fulfil any such requirement?

Professor Dean: I do not think there is any doubt. That is what the Kennel Club have been trying to achieve for their sphere of breeders, and we try to encourage others to adopt our practices. You will be aware that we have the assured breeders scheme. We would also like to see compulsory microchipping brought in. That is one area where a little bit of legislation would make a big difference, because it would identify not only the owner of the dog but it could be adapted to identify the original breeder of the dog. That therefore puts the responsibility very firmly on the breeder to get it right from the outset.

Q218Chair: If you consider that when we had dog licensing only 50% of dog owners were licensed, presumably only 50% of dog breeders would be licensed. How would you get round the other 50% who perhaps may not want to microchip and who are in the shady underworld? How can we reach out to them?

Professor Dean: The big difference between microchipping and dog licensing is that microchipping has benefits. Immediately the dog is identifiable, so if a dog is in difficulty or perhaps-going to the other subject that perhaps you are interested in-is a dangerous dog, it is either identifiable by its microchip or it does not have one. That will facilitate enforcement to a certain degree.

Q219Chair: If you have compulsory microchipping, are you going to ask for compulsory updating?

Professor Dean: Part of the requirement of compulsory microchipping is that it would be the responsibility of the owner to ensure that the details of the ownership of the dog are up to date. It is a little like the DVLA system.

Q220Chair: How would you reach out to the underworld-I am calling them politely puppy farmers-and encourage them to microchip?

Professor Dean: Clearly, you are not going to reach out to them because they are not interested, but the very fact that their dogs are not identified by a microchip means that they are outside the compulsion and that aids enforcement. You can immediately separate dog and potential owner because the dog is not microchipped.

Ian Seath: I am certainly in favour of microchipping. The issue you will have is how to persuade this underworld of people, if you like, who never bought dog licences and run puppy farms, or whatever the conditions are in which they are breeding dogs. They will never buy into it unless there are some resources associated with enforcement and checking that these practices are being adopted. If you are just putting in the legislation and saying dogs have to be microchipped, it is difficult to see how you are going to get to that population without more resource.

Q221Chair: Should we be naturally suspicious if puppies appear at a very young age without their mothers?

Professor Dean: Yes. If you are seeing puppies without their mothers, clearly they have been separated too early. The only time a reputable dog breeder would be trying to sell to a potential owner a dog that did not have its mother present is probably when it is much older than that. It is quite normal for people like me, who breed and show dogs, to sell an older puppy, maybe at six months, that they were going to keep but no longer wished to. Certainly, if you have an eight-week-old puppy and the mother is not present, I would walk away from that sale.

Q222Chair: That is very powerful.

Ian Seath: I completely agree. What you are touching on is the demand side of the equation. The puppy-buying public need to get more of those messages about seeing the puppy with its mother. There has to be a really good reason for them not to be able to see the puppy with the mother.

Q223Neil Parish: Further to that, do you think the public at large understand that a puppy, if it is not eight weeks old or older, should have the mother with it? That is the trouble. You understand that, but do the public?

Professor Dean: We as the Kennel Club push that to the public as hard as we can. I am told by the people who operate our website that we have 12,000 hits a day from people looking for a puppy from Kennel Club breeders. Simply coming to our website puts them straight into that type of information. We have also developed apps for iPads and iPhones that help people choose a puppy. We are not alone. We work strongly with other charities to push the same message, but getting to the public who wish to buy a puppy today is quite difficult. Despite all that, I have friends who have been tempted to buy that puppy because they can have it today rather than wait six months, as that is how long it can take, to get one from a reputable breeder.

Q224Neil Parish: Would making the Advisory Council a government-funded and regulatory body enable it to gain real traction in improving breeding practices?

Professor Dean: If it is going to be a regulatory body, it has to have an underlying regulation to regulate. Frankly, I do not think that is necessary. Its very title gives the clue. It is an advisory body, and I think it is best placed to bring together a lot of individual views into a common whole. If the Kennel Club has a criticism, it would be that a great deal of work has been done on things like how to buy a puppy and breeding standards-in other words, our assured breeders scheme-and we would like to see such schemes and others brought together and improved so that everyone can sign up to them, rather than see the group trying to do a great deal of work to generate information afresh. I do not see the need for a regulatory body in that sense as we stand today.

Ian Seath: I would agree with that. Its greatest potential benefit is being impartial, bringing together stakeholders and getting people to try to work across the whole system rather than in the silos where they tend to be working at the moment. It is much more a facilitative role where they can add value than a regulatory role.

Q225Neil Parish: Do you believe that at the moment the Advisory Council is helping with breeding practice?

Ian Seath: I think they are because they have identified eight priorities; they have got some really good scientific data behind the factors they are looking at. There is a huge task to do in terms of education and getting that out to the puppy-breeding community. As to whether they will succeed in getting that out to the people outside the Kennel Club and breed club community, it is a huge challenge. In the dachshund world, we struggle to get messages out beyond the people in the breed clubs. We work really hard at it, using all kinds of social media, but there is a whole underbelly of people breeding dogs who have never read a breed standard, would not know what a breed standard meant or what a health test was, and have no interest in breeding healthy dogs.

Q226Neil Parish: The next question is about the veterinary profession. In your experience do vets have sufficient understanding to enable them to identify poor breeding practice?

Professor Dean: Being a veterinary surgeon and chairman of the Kennel Club, that puts me in a spot. I would say that, generally speaking, the biggest difficulty facing the veterinary surgeon is distinguishing between a responsible and irresponsible breeder. The veterinary surgeon is the expert in recognising disease. Thus, we have used them at show level to do veterinary checks. They are not necessarily experts at looking at dogs in terms of conformation in relation to breeds. Where the dog breeder and veterinary surgeon tend to part company is when the latter expresses a view about the shortness of the nose. However, if the veterinary surgeon points out that because of that short nose the dog cannot breathe, that is irrefutable fact. What we need to be seen to do is have dog breeders and vets work more closely together to reach a consensus view. The profession’s problem is that it is a private industry, as you heard, and what we are asking them to do is work in a saintly manner and assist us by giving us information, but for their purposes it is difficult because this represents no income and they are, after all, having to run a private business. There are quite a few challenges for veterinary surgeons in practice.

Q227Neil Parish: Surely, one of the problems is that the vets very often see the puppy only when it is being bought by an individual, and they are not able to have any impact in advising what to buy in the first place.

Professor Dean: That is correct.

Q228Dan Rogerson: What impact has the club’s code of ethics and assured breeder scheme had?

Ian Seath: I will speak from a breed club’s perspective. The impact of a code of ethics will apply only to breed club members, and that is a subset of the people who are breeding dogs. It is only a guide, and it is now part of all our club rules. What it gives us is the opportunity to get some clear messages out to breed club members about what we expect in terms of behaviour. For example, our code of ethics says that where there are health tests available they should be used. The information that comes out of those health tests should inform breeding decisions, but at the end of the day there is no power behind it; it is about good practice and encouraging people to move in the right direction.

Professor Dean: The assured breeder scheme is a different situation, where a breeder signs up to that code and agrees to abide by the requirements, including health testing. There is no doubt that it has aided the Kennel Club in directing people to breeders who are assured breeders, where the very information everyone wants to see gets to the new owner of the puppy.

Q229Dan Rogerson: The first question I asked was not so much about what the limitations are, which is pretty much what you have said, but how much it has achieved so far given those limitations. It may be that, even though it is voluntary, everybody is welcoming it with open arms and it is happening, or there may be particular breeds where it is not. I am referring to just those kinds of issues.

Ian Seath: If you look at our breed club community, we have a DNA test for a form of PRA. I would not like to put a precise figure, but 95% of the people who are in breed clubs and breeding would probably be using that DNA test. We have got the data and publish an annual health report that shows the trends. We can show a 50% reduction in the mutation over a five-year period, for example. It is in the code of ethics and it encourages people to go in the right direction.

Professor Dean: From the point of view of the Kennel Club, breed clubs come to us with requests to put certain tests in their code of ethics so that the breed adopts them voluntarily. We are not now pushing breed clubs to do this; breed clubs come to us to say they want this test on the list.

Q230Dan Rogerson: Professor Dean, you place a requirement on breeders that they agree not to breed from a dog or bitch that could in any way be harmful to the dog or the breed. Do you think we should now be looking at regulation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to back that up?

Professor Dean: I do not think so. Within our community, that is well recognised, and I do not think there is an issue in the pedigree dog world in general in that area. It would be a very difficult regulation to police. We need to pay more attention to those who breed outside the Kennel Club umbrella.

Q231Dan Rogerson: I accept that this could be an issue were there to be any regulation, but how do you define "harmful" in that context? Do you leave it to the register to define that?

Professor Dean: If we are talking about an inherited condition that is well understood, it may be that breeding those two dogs will produce dogs with that condition, and that is clearly harmful. There are levels of harm, however, from severe pain to maybe virtually no effect at all except a slight impact on sight in older age. We need some prioritisation, but it is clearly the clinical effect of the breeding that will produce the harm. If you do that breeding knowingly without taking the required precautions, such as tests, for example measuring hip dysplasia, you can be found wanting, because you have gone ahead and bred two dogs without even knowing if they are likely to produce dogs with a high hip score.

Q232Dan Rogerson: Bearing in mind the earlier discussion about desensitisation of people to some of these characteristics and their acceptance as being normal, is that a debate that is very much happening? Has that now been turned round a little?

Professor Dean: With high-profile breeds, there is absolutely no doubt that we have completely challenged that perception. Sheila Crispin and I, with Kennel Club help, spent a lot of time talking to the high-profile breeds about eye conformation. It was clear that veterinary surgeons, exhibitors and breeders saw dogs’ eyes differently. I believe that we are coming to a good consensus and have made a lot of progress in helping people to understand why poor eyelid conformation is such a problem. There is a sea change in those breeds in the attitude to breeding dogs with healthier eyes, for example.

Q233Chair: Do you have a view on the frequency of caesareans and whether that should be known and whether a limit is imposed?

Professor Dean: We have put a limit of two on the pedigree dog breeder. I believe that since we introduced that about 2,500 breeders have self-declared their caesarean sections. The problem arises with prevalence. We heard earlier that 90% of bulldogs were given caesareans. We do not know that, but what we have discovered is that it had become accepted by the profession that you did elective caesareans in bulldogs, so they did this, not necessarily happily. Now we are discovering that a lot of bulldogs can give birth quite naturally, because they are given the chance, so again it is a question of perception.

Q234Thomas Docherty: What further impetus is needed to provide sufficient data? Is more money needed to fund research projects and data collection by vets, or is just more will required within the professions?

Professor Dean: It is a difficult one because there is a huge amount of data locked up in veterinary practice databases. I think the microchip is a key because that is a key identifier of a dog. Once you can identify a dog, you can identify its breed and so on. To get to a point where we can extract data and link it to a specific dog is very important. We have been doing that for some time with the BVA health schemes, where you have to have a microchip if you want your dog’s hip x-rayed or eyes tested. Getting this data out is the challenge. We work with VetCompass, based at the Royal Veterinary College, trying to gather data direct from veterinary surgeons’ databases. Remember also that veterinary surgeons are collecting that clinical data for their clinical purposes, not necessarily to inform the kind of work we wish to do. It is a combination of all the things you said. We need money, resources, the people to do it and the willingness of veterinary surgeons to take part in that type of investigation, so it is not one answer; it is a complex answer of all three.

Ian Seath: From our perspective we have found there are multiple sources of data. Something like VetCompass coming along could be incredibly powerful. We have just reviewed a paper from Sweden on back disease, that has data on 600,000 dogs. It would be brilliant if we could get that sort of data out of a UK insurance company. It just opens up a wealth of data that could be really powerful for us. Interestingly, it reinforced all the data that we have got in the UK from our own health surveys, so we try to triangulate the prevalence rates of the various conditions in which we are interested and prioritise accordingly.

Q235Thomas Docherty: You have clearly read my mind, because my follow-up question to both of you is: what work has been done with international colleagues to share best practice and data? You have cited Sweden. Are there other examples where you do this type of work?

Ian Seath: I have to admit that in our breed it is a bit more reactive. We have worked really hard at communicating what we are doing. We have a mailing list of people in overseas breed clubs as well as in UK breed clubs. The result of that is that people are approaching us and saying they would like to work and cooperate with us on research programmes. We have thrown out stuff and people have responded, rather than us proactively going out and looking to work with other groups, but we do look at all the research papers associated with health conditions in dachshunds that are published around the world. Part of our breed health strategy is to make sure we gather that data.

Professor Dean: There is exciting collaboration going on between scientists internationally. Just last year in Sweden an international meeting was held that brought together kennel clubs and veterinary scientists from all over the world to talk about these very issues. That work is active and ongoing, and it is already planned to have a second major meeting in Germany, I believe, next year or the year after, but in the interim there are plans to take forward quite a lot of projects to investigate the incidence of disease across a number of national boundaries.

Perhaps I may say one word about Sweden. Sweden has a totally different dog population. About 95% of it is pedigree and the vast majority are registered with their kennel club. They have a culture where the pedigree dog is king, and the cross-breed or mongrel is a very small proportion of their dog population. They have a very strong insurance base, so their data is almost assured as all coming from the registered community. That is the problem with insurance data in the UK. A large proportion of it will be, but at the moment we cannot guarantee that the data being taken out is from the registered community; it is a mixture of all the communities of dogs. Therefore, there are differences internationally.

Ian Seath: Some interesting stuff is going on internationally at breed club level as well. If you take, say, otterhounds, which is one of the more endangered species because of the numbers registered, there has been a global health survey to try to identify opportunities for improvement. For example, the Bernese mountain dogs have an international conference that rotates around different countries. There is some interesting international stuff happening at breed club as well as Kennel Club level.

Chair: We will have to break. I will ask for shorter questions and answers when we come back; otherwise, I fear that we will not be quorate.

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

On resuming-

Q236George Eustice: We talked earlier about the role of the different breed standards that different breed societies have and whether they have changed, or whether judges, particularly at shows, have given preference to certain characteristics that might lead to health problems. Do you think that the revisions that have been made so far go far enough, or do those breed societies need to go further?

Ian Seath: I can speak only for the dachshunds. The revisions that we asked the Kennel Club to put into the breed standard reinforced what people should have been looking for for a very long time as far as that breed is concerned. The Kennel Club’s preamble makes clear the responsibilities of judges in respect of health and welfare. I do not have any issues with the current wording of our breed standard. The challenges we have are the education of people to interpret them and for breeders to be breeding the kind of dogs that would match the breed standard.

Q237George Eustice: Do you have a panel of accredited judges for the major shows?

Ian Seath: We have judging lists. There are hundreds of judges on those lists, and different shows will select judges from those lists. We have a big population to get to from the point of view of education.

Professor Dean: We have the concept of the specialist judge who does certain breeds and the all-rounder judge who does many breeds and whose experience, obviously, is wider. Each breed club has a list of judges that it publishes, which shows will use to help select judges each time they put on that breed.

Q238George Eustice: That is a very small number. Can’t you get tougher training for those judges or much stronger adherence to standards?

Professor Dean: We spend quite a lot of time developing judges. We are just discussing how we might introduce some of the training at an even earlier phase in the judge’s development. The plan now is to give them training right at the start before they even go in the ring. Traditionally, that has been started after they have had some experience of judging dogs at a very low level, or what we call the open show level.

Chair: I am going to ask for shorter answers; otherwise, we simply will not cover the questions.

Q239George Eustice: You heard it said in the earlier evidence session that one of the criteria ought to be whether the dog was fit for function, which was the term used. Is that something that could have greater influence, if you like?

Professor Dean: I do not think it could be any greater from the Kennel Club; it is our by-line. To be brief, when we say "fit for function", we mean fit for the function intended. That does not mean it is a working dog; it means that if it is a pet, it should be able to live a happy, normal, healthy life as a pet.

Q240Dan Rogerson: We asked questions earlier about cross-breeding. What will the Kennel Club do to encourage the sorts of programmes that we have heard have been successful in some breeds internationally? How would you define a successful outcome for that sort of programme?

Professor Dean: We actively encourage breeds to consider cross-breeding where it would be of benefit to that breed. You heard about the Dalmatian. We have also had a number of clubs or people apply to do specific cross-breeding to increase genetic diversity. The measurement is: lower coefficient of inbreeding, better health.

Q241Dan Rogerson: As a slight diversion, do you have new breeds being registered very often? I know that in the States this happens.

Professor Dean: All the time people want to bring in new breeds. There is a lengthy process. They go on what is known as the import register and stay there until we believe the breed has enough weight in the country-in other words, enough dogs, experience of judges and so on-before we start considering whether to take them on as a full breed.

Q242Dan Rogerson: It is not so much a breed established in another country. I am thinking of something that is literally a new breed.

Professor Dean: No. They tend to come in from other countries.

Q243Dan Rogerson: What mechanisms do you have in place for ensuring that breed clubs, which might be less enthusiastic about undertaking these programmes even if you think they are necessary, comply? What would you do to encourage them to do so?

Professor Dean: Our ultimate sanction is to take away their ability to hold shows. We would seek to encourage them to adopt the standards that we are looking for. The vast majority do, but where we get difficult breed clubs we take away their right to hold shows, and we can de-register them as clubs.

Q244Dan Rogerson: How often does that happen?

Professor Dean: In the past two to three years, we have taken away from breed clubs the right to hold shows because they were unwilling to address issues to do with health that we felt were important. We tend not to take breed clubs off the list unless they basically cannot manage their business. I would say that has happened only once or twice.

Q245Dan Rogerson: Mr Seath, in terms of your specific breed I think there have been issues around intervertebral discs.

Ian Seath: Back disease is the issue in dachshunds. It has got nothing to do with the fact they are supposedly long dogs; it is because they are chondrodystrophic; they are a dwarf breed. If you look at all the evidence from around the world, the Scandinavian dogs, for example, which are longer in the leg and shorter in the back, still have the same level of disc disease. It is an issue associated with dwarfism, and we are currently doing a research project with the Animal Health Trust to see if we can find a DNA test to differentiate between the risk factors around that.

Q246Dan Rogerson: Is out-crossing something you have looked at to deal with these issues?

Ian Seath: We had one case two to three years ago involving crossing between a wire coat and smooth coat, which the Kennel Club approved, but what we have is a wide international pool of genes. There are quite a lot of imported dogs, so we have plenty of opportunity to widen the gene pool from international imports.

Q247Richard Drax: Following on from that question rather nicely, what is your breed council doing to help breeders and owners improve the health of the breed, with particular respect to intervertebral disc problems linked to the selection of dogs with short legs?

Ian Seath: We regularly hold seminars. Some are focused on the breed standard, so they are more oriented to judges and what they should be looking for to ensure we do not get exaggeration. We also hold health conferences and seminars. We had one last weekend. Those are well attended. We have a whole promotional approach in terms of information for vets that we send out, and information that we send out in newsletters. You would struggle not to find lots and lots of information about what good practice would look like from a health perspective.

Q248Richard Drax: Are your members taking up that advice and information? Are they responding?

Ian Seath: Yes, but the key word is "members". We still need to find ways to get to people who are not in the Kennel Club and breed club community and are breeding dachshunds.

Q249Richard Drax: Professor Dean, how does the Kennel Club work with effective breed clubs to help them spread best practice to the breed clubs?

Professor Dean: In terms of health, we have a network of breed health coordinators with whom we communicate. They then feed information through to their breed clubs. That is our major channel of communication. Where we have a particular breed that has a problem we do something similar to what you have just heard from Ian, but we may hold a wider seminar that deals with those health issues in one, two, three or more breeds. The eye seminars I mentioned earlier are a good example.

Q250Richard Drax: What can be done to educate puppy buyers on specific breed health issues?

Professor Dean: We use our website, where the public can go and look up individual breeds, and on there will be all the breed-associated problems of which they should be aware.

Ian Seath: We need to drive more people to our breed council website, where they will get the definitive evidence-based view of what the health issues are and how to find a good breeder.

Q251Mrs Glindon: Does the failure of some dogs awarded best in breed at 2012 championship shows to pass vet checks indicate that these checks are working, or does the entrance of unfit dogs mean there is much more work to be done?

Professor Dean: I think you need to turn it on its head. The fact that the vast majority of dogs since Crufts have passed the vet health check, considering these are the high-profile breeds with the most problems, is a very encouraging sign. The fact that occasionally we have a dog failing is just an indication that work is still to be done. The breeders are aware of that and they are working very hard to make further improvements. Some of these problems have been around since the 1800s; these are not new problems, so we are asking them to do a lot of work in a short time. I regard them as a success.

Ian Seath: It is very difficult for me to answer that, because we are not a high-profile breed and do not have the vet checks. My perception is that it is one piece in the jigsaw; it is part of the strategy for overall health improvement. Vet checks at shows will not change health, certainly not overnight.

Q252Mrs Glindon: Would you think that a vet check should be required before a dog can be entered in a show?

Professor Dean: Some breed clubs are discussing among themselves that they may have the dogs looked at before they even enter a show. We also have a working group looking at the whole vet check and health issue, and there are discussions about whether there should be some form of pre-checking, but there is a logistics problem in terms of numbers. Crufts has 21,000 dogs over four days. We would need a veritable army of vets to get through that number of dogs.

Ian Seath: I do not have anything to add to that.

Q253Chair: Professor Dean, in response to a question from Mr Eustice, you said there was no guarantee that irresponsible dog breeders would stop breeding dogs with exaggerations that endangered their health. Surely it is within your power to refuse to register them at the Kennel Club, so that would resolve the situation of its own accord. Why do you choose not to do so?

Professor Dean: If we do not register it, the dog still exists. There is fair evidence that people outside of our banner will carry on breeding those dogs anyway. The registration of dogs is very much done on the Somerset House principle. The reason we know so much about the pedigree dog is that we have always had a policy of registering all the breed so we can track the parentage and therefore the inheritance of disease. To start refusing to register a certain group of dogs because they show ill health will not improve the overall health of the dogs; they would just go underground. It is much better to know where they are and then you can do something about breeding from better parents that do not show those sorts of traits in their offspring.

Chair: I do not know whether Mr Eustice wants to come back on this. It strikes me that you should be proposing some mechanism.

Q254George Eustice: It would deter those breeders, wouldn’t it, if they could not register them, could not show them and they were not regarded as pedigrees? If you give them that accreditation it perpetuates the problem.

Ian Seath: Most of them are not showing them. I think the showing is a red herring. Registration is important to some of them, but there is a large population breeding dachshunds that do not register them. I would rather have dachshunds registered so we have a bigger database and can look at what is going on. A really good example of why you need that is that, three years ago, we asked the Kennel Club to write to everybody who had bred a miniature long-haired dachshund and send them a letter about the DNA test that was available for PRA. If we did not have that database, we could not do that sort of thing to get health messages out into the wider population, because probably 80% of those people are not breed club members. We have no way of getting to them.

Professor Dean: I would argue that the vet checks have basically taken out from those breeds the dogs that we do not want to see in the show ring. I would also argue that people will not breed from those dogs because they will only produce more dogs that cannot go into the show ring. It is the show ring that motivates the exhibitor, not money. The only people I know who breed dogs to make money are the puppy farmers who breed commercially, and they pay no attention to health and welfare. The people I mix with in the dog show world breed because they want the next wonderful dog they can take into the ring and win with. That is what motivates them, but in my view they do not set out to breed unhealthy dogs.

Q255Chair: I am slightly concerned that you are perpetuating the situation by allowing them to appear on the register and potentially to appear in the ring. Surely, it is incumbent on you-you are a vet as well-to propose a mechanism by which you stop this from happening in the future.

Professor Dean: I think we are over-simplifying the situation. We already impose on breeders that, if they have a dog that is affected by an inherited disease, they should not breed from it. If they do breed from it-for example, if it is an affected dog and it is a recessive gene-they could breed to a clear dog and produce healthy dogs, but it all depends on the individual breed and the extent of the disease throughout that breed. It is a far too simplistic approach to say that we should draw some imaginary line for each disease and say, "If you are on one side of it you cannot register, and if you are on the other side you can."

Q256Chair: You said earlier that 95% of dogs in Sweden are pedigree dogs, so would this situation arise in Sweden?

Professor Dean: They register all dogs as we do.

Q257Chair: Even if they have got these difficulties?

Professor Dean: Yes. The one thing I keep saying to people in dog breeding is that, if you have a carrier dog with an inherited gene, it is still a healthy dog. If you have a breed that has, say, 70% carriers, as we had with liver toxicosis in the Bedlington terrier, through careful breeding using genetic science you can eliminate the disease and never produce an affected dog. That is the way we are trying to take forward the health issue. But I come back again to the point that I do not think it is the Kennel Club community that is at issue here but the people in puppy farms who breed from a bitch and dog time after time. They are not interested in genetics. They do not check whether the dog has an inherited disease; they just churn out puppies from the parents that they own.

Q258Neil Parish: Professor Dean, I do not necessarily disagree with you on puppy farms, but I still have a slight disagreement with you. If a dog is bred with defects, once you register it with the Kennel Club, the public out there will see that that dog is fine to buy. Therefore, you are perpetuating the situation, and you could be much firmer. I know you say they can register somewhere else and do whatever, but I still think the Kennel Club could use their influence better by saying that those dogs are not fit to be registered.

Professor Dean: Mr Parish, I understand where you are coming from, but I am afraid it is over-simplistic to look at it in that way. It just would not work in that style. We have the assured breeders scheme, which is the best way of assuring that the puppies produced have the best chance of being healthy. At this time all of us sitting here have at least 10 defects. Therefore, just to talk about defects in that way does not work. Every dog, every animal and every human being has defects.

Chair: I thank you for being so generous with your time. We will revert to the subject next week. I also thank the Committee for remaining. On behalf of the Committee, thank you both very much for participating in our inquiry. I again apologise to the presidents of the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association for being unable to hear them this week. We are delighted to announce that we will be able to hear from you next week, and we thank you very much indeed for accommodating that request.

Prepared 14th February 2013