3 Dog Welfare |
Breeding of dogs
86. According to the RSPCA, about half of the
UK's pet dogs are obtained from breeders, around 30% from neighbours/friends/the
internet, 10-15% from rescue organisations and only 5% from pet
shops. Recent Kennel Club research found that some 1.2 million
people (one in five dog owners) may have bought a puppy from a
so-called 'puppy farm'.
Canine Action UK noted the lack of accurate commercial dog breeding
figures but considered there to be an "overproduction of
dogs bred for the pet market" and criticised the ease with
which dogs could be purchased.
87. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 an owner
of a pet is obliged to:
- provide a proper diet (including fresh water);
- provide somewhere suitable to live;
- cater for any need to be housed with or apart
from other animals;
- allow it to express normal behaviour; and
- provide protection from and treatment of illness
88. In addition to these welfare protections
for all dogs, anyone who carries on a business of breeding dogs
for sale must obtain a licence from their local authority and
meet certain conditions, such as providing suitable accommodation,
food, water and bedding.
The law also limits the timing and frequency of breeding from
a bitch: bitches cannot be mated before they are a year old; should
have no more than six litters in a lifetime; and can only have
one litter every 12 months. Dog breeders should keep records to
show compliance with these requirements. Puppies bred at licensed
breeding establishments can only be sold at those premises or
at a licensed pet shop. So-called 'hobby breeders' who are not
in the business of breeding dogs for sale and produce fewer than
five litters in any 12 month period do not need to obtain a licence.
89. Professor Patrick Bateson conducted an independent
inquiry into dog breeding partly in response to public concern
about the ease by which puppies bred under poor welfare conditions
may be sold in the UK.
Professor Bateson's report, published in January 2010, focused
on the problems of negligent or incompetent management of breeding
bitches; failure to socialise puppies; the sale of dogs that are
unsuited to the conditions in which they will be kept; and issues
related to breeding of pedigree dogs (which we consider separately
90. The Bateson report noted the high level of
concern about the welfare implications of large-scale commercial
breeding of dogs. It concluded that, while many breeders "exercise
the highest standards of welfare, are passionate about caring
for their dogs properly and take great trouble to ensure that
their puppies go to good homes," nevertheless "current
dog breeding practices do in many cases impose welfare costs".
The report noted that welfare concerns often arose when breeders
regarded dogs as "tradeable commodities".
Professor Sheila Crispin, Chairman of the Advisory Council on
Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding,an
independent body established following the Bateson reviewstated
that there are "real and immediate" challenges from
both "neglectful large-scale dog breeding for profit"
and "ignorant breeding by well-meaning owners who are poorly
prepared to do the task well".
91. The current dog breeding legislation was
criticised by many witnesses both in the terms of its provisions
and enforcement. The BVA, the BSAVA and the Dogs Trust, amongst
others, advocated stronger controls and regulation of dog breeders.
On the other hand, the Countryside Alliance argued that further
dog breeding legislation was not required because the existing
framework provided a "good framework of regulation".
Nonetheless, the Alliance accepted that there might be a need
for further codes and/or regulations under the Animal Welfare
Act 1986 setting out issues on welfare and breeding practices
in greater detail.
92. The Advisory Council has recently devised
a Breeding Standard setting out essential elements of good practice
on a raft of issues related to breeding which it has sent to Defra
and the Devolved Administrations for their consideration. The
Council developed the Standard since, in its opinion "no
other current standard published in the UK [is] comprehensive
enough to fully protect the welfare of both breeding stock and
their puppies". The Standard states that a dog's "specific
experiences early in life and the relative complexity of the environment
have a profound influence on behaviour throughout life".
It further notes that:
These issues are as true for cross-bred dogs as they
are for Kennel Club registered and so-called pure-bred puppies.
It is therefore important that only physically and temperamentally
healthy dogs are used for breeding and that their puppies are
reared in an appropriate environment.
93. The Welsh Government has consulted on amendments
to the dog breeding regime in Wales. It is proposing amendments
to the Animal Welfare (Dog Breeding) (Wales) Regulations 2011
to change the threshold so that a person who has three breeding
bitches and who breeds three or more litters a year will need
to be licensed.
A number of witnesses to this inquiry supported such an approach.
The BVA and the BSAVA told us that "five litters is an awful
lot. You could produce 40 puppies from that in a year," and
they therefore supported a limit of no more than two litters per
year before a breeder needed to be licensed.
The Blue Cross went further, recommending that any owner of two
or more un-neutered dogs should be licensed as a breeder.
94. The current threshold for
licensing breeders, which is set at five litters per year, could
equate to some 40 to 50 dogs being produced by each breeder each
year. We consider that threshold is too high and therefore recommend
that anyone breeding more than two litters per year should be
licensed as a breeder.
Sale of dogs
95. The Pet Animals Act 1951 (as amended in 1983)
protects the welfare of animals sold as pets. The Act requires
any person keeping a pet shop to be licensed by the local authority.
Before granting a licence the local authority must be satisfied
that the animals are kept in accommodation that is both suitable
and clean; that they are supplied with appropriate food and drink;
and are adequately protected from disease and fire. The local
authority may attach additional requirements to the licence, may
inspect the licensed premises at all reasonable times and may
refuse a licence if the conditions at the premises are unsatisfactory.
Non-compliance can lead to removal of the licence. The Kennel
Club noted that enforcement of the legislation varied across the
country and, along with other witnesses, proposed an end to the
sale of puppies from pet shops.
96. Despite public concern about puppy farming
and the health and welfare implications for breeding bitches and
their puppies, there is little public awareness of the basic precautions
that should be taken when buying a puppy. For example, Professor
Crispin told us puppies should always be seen with their mother.
She considered it was "absolutely essential" that the
public be better educated about welfare when buying a puppy.
The BVA has supported the introduction of a puppy contract setting
out requirements on both sellers and purchasers in order to safeguard
the basic welfare of puppies.
97. We recommend that Defra
and other agencies such as local authorities and dog welfare charities
work together to publicise puppy contracts and make buyers aware
of the need to buy only from reputable sources and to ensure basic
conditions are met, such as always seeing a puppy with its mother.
98. We received a great deal of evidence expressing
concern over the sale of dogs via internet advertisements. In
the absence of even basic guidance on the purchase of pet animals
online, the Dogs Trust advocated banning the sale of pets online
and recommended urgent work with websites to improve the ability
of their systems to "filter out unscrupulous advertisements".
Canine Action UK also drew attention to the lack of any "real
regulation" of pet advertising and the anonymous nature of
internet adverts. It noted that few internet sites carry any advice
for buyers, meaning a "vital opportunity to educate on good
purchasing protocol is lost".
99. Some companies are taking steps to improve
their sites. Gumtree stated that animal welfare was "at the
heart" of changes to its process for listing animals for
sale. For example, an advertiser of a pet for sale must now register
with the website and agree to abide by certain rulessuch
as not selling a dog sourced from commercial breeders or a puppy
aged under eight weeks.
100. The Advisory Council stated that the Government
should be "ready to update the legislation controlling the
advertising, sale and supply of dogs" since, although already
regulated, current controls were "old and outdated"
and needed to be replaced with ones which were both effective
and resource efficient.
101. The internet is making it easy for disreputable
breeders to find a market for dogs and puppies and to operate
without appropriate traceability, transparency and accountability
due to the anonymous nature of an online transaction. This could
have grave consequences for the health and welfare of the animal
being sold, as well as causing buyers distress and cost. We welcome
the work of those websites and agencies attempting to find solutions,
but not all websites are taking steps to improve and, as Gumtree's
evidence highlighted, there are means by which an unscrupulous
trader could circumvent the processes designed to protect animal
recommend that Defra works with websites and with other Government
departments, including the Department for Business, Innovation
and Skills, initially to develop a voluntary Code of Practice
to which it should encourage any internet site offering dogs or
puppies for sale to adhere. This Code should establish minimum
requirements for any listing of a dog or puppy for sale on the
internet, such as pre-registration of the seller so that they
can be identified at a later date if necessary and setting a minimum
age of eight weeks for any puppy sold.
102. Professor Bateson's inquiry included pedigree
dog breeding and explored a number of concerns about health and
welfare raised in a 2008 television documentary, Pedigree Dogs
documentary criticised some pedigree dog breeders and the Kennel
Club for allowing Breed Standards, judging standards and breeding
practicessuch the mating of dogs closely related to each
otherto compromise the health of pedigree dogs.
103. Professor Bateson concluded that some of
the main reasons why some breeders continued to breed unhealthy
animals included the owner's early exposure to a breed and opportunities
for them to care with animals with a health problem. However,
he also said that "it cannot be denied that some recognise
an opportunity for making money....irrespective of welfare issues".
Professor Bateson's report made a number of recommendations addressed
to the Kennel Club, the veterinary profession, the research community
and local and central government. They included tackling:
- the use of closely related breeding pairs which
had led to an increase in already high levels of inbreeding;
- the use of breeding pairs carrying inherited
- the artificial selection for extreme characteristics
that were "directly responsible for the failure to meet one
or more welfare criteria".
RESPONSE FROM THE BREEDING COMMUNITY
104. The Kennel Club told us that "significant
and effective steps" had been taken, 
both before and since Professor Bateson's report, and that it
recognised that the Club was in a "strong position to influence,
help and work with relevant parties," since its registered
breeders were "obliged to follow its rules". However,
there remained irresponsible breeders who operated outside the
Club's sphere of control.
105. The Kennel Club has a General Code of Ethics
by which all breeders who register their puppies or dogs must
abide. This includes a statement that a breeder should agree not
to breed from a dog or bitch which could in "any way be harmful
to the dog or to the breed".
However, the Club does not appear to collate data on compliance
with this requirement. The Club also has an Assured Breeder Scheme
under which breeders must make use of health screening schemes
relevant to their specific breed stock (including DNA testing,
hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and inherited eye condition schemes).
The Club would like to see principles and standards similar to
the Assured Breeder Scheme made mandatory for anyone breeding
the Club continues to accept registration of dogs not bred under
this scheme. Furthermore, as Professor Bateson's report notes,
there is no requirement under the Club's Assured Breeder Scheme
to apply the results of health tests to breeding decisions.
106. Dog welfare charities considered that the
Kennel Club and the veterinary profession had made "some
progress" in prioritising the health and welfare of pedigree
dogs, with some
witnesses praising the "significant strides" made by
the Kennel Club "pushing quite hard" on the Assured
Breeder Scheme and vet checks at dog shows.
Yet these charities, as well as the BVA and the BSAVA, considered
that there was still much to be done to protect the future health
of dogs. In 2011
the Advisory Council stated that it was unlikely that the Bateson
report had had "any impact on irresponsible breeders, in
part through ignorance, but also because some aim to make as much
money as possible without any consideration for animal welfare".
107. Whilst we recognise that the Kennel Club
and individual breed clubs do not have a remit to control the
actions of all pedigree dog breeders, let alone all dog breeders,
these bodies have a vital role to play in influencing the opinions
of breeders and buyers. In particular, those considering purchasing
a pedigree puppy or dog will be influenced in their decision by
the fact that the animal may be registered with the Kennel Club.
The Kennel Club has a vital role in shaping the culture of the
dog breeding community and must make far greater efforts to ensure
that it pursues every opportunity to communicate the need for
high health and welfare standards to be at the centre of all breeding
practices. We recommend that
the Kennel Club refuse to register puppies that do not meet the
conditions of its Assured Breeder Scheme so as to send a strong
signal to breeders about the need to adopt high health and welfare
standards. The Assured Breeder Scheme should require key tests
for heritable health problems to be undertaken and the results
of these tests applied to breeding decisions as a condition of
membership of the Scheme.
Tackling inbreeding and inherited disease
108. The pedigree dog breeding community places
a value on 'line breeding'mate selection based on genealogy.
Many breeders make a distinction between line breeding and inbreeding,
but, as Professor Bateson notes, this is a distinction without
Although there can be positive outcomes from inbreeding if it
leads to the loss of some deleterious genes and thus improve the
health of a breed, Professor Bateson highlighted a range of health
problems linked to inbreeding. These were also a focus of the
Pedigree Dogs Exposed television programme. The
Kennel Club has now banned first degree matings (ie parents to
offspring, siblings to each other). However, in some breeds there
has been such a level of inbreeding that the genetic pool is very
limited and the number of genetically distinct individuals of
certain breeds is so low as to pose a potential threat to the
continuation of that breed.
Research published by Imperial College London based on Kennel
Club data found "extremely inbred dogs in each breed except
the greyhound" with an "effective population size of
between 40 and 80" for all but two of the breeds studied.
The BVA and the BSAVA recommend increasing the diversity of the
gene pool by a) limiting the use of popular sires, b) prohibiting
the breeding of puppies where the co-efficient of inbreeding is
greater than 12.5%,
and c) by outcrossing.
109. Outcrossing has improved the genetic diversity
of some breeds, but there are those in the breeding community
who oppose breeding away from the 'pure lines'. As the Bateson
report notes, whilst respondents stated that breed purity should
under "no circumstances take precedence over welfare"
there was "little support among current breed societies"
Professor Crispin highlighted the lack of knowledge of many breeders,
stating that many of those who run breed clubs knew "very
little science" and were "ignorant about the effects
The Kennel Club said that it was "willing to look at crossbreed
programmes as long as they are scientifically based" and
that the Club would register these crossbred dogs and allow them
to be shown. It has undertaken work on outcrossing including with
Dalmatians, Bloodhounds, Otterhounds, Foxhounds, Poodles, Miniature
Bull Terriers, Dachshunds and Belgian Shepherds.
110. Professor Bateson acknowledged the need
to develop breeding strategies specific to individual breeds to
prevent ever smaller gene pools leading to worse problems or creating
new ones. He referred to the work occurring internationally on
breed issues noting that as much collaboration as possible should
be pursued, particularly since some countries such as New Zealand,
Sweden and Finland were "way ahead of us".
111. We recommend that the Kennel
Club and breed clubs work with the veterinary and research communities
to co-ordinate action to develop outcrossing strategies for those
breeds which have the most pressing health issues linked to inbreeding
and narrow gene pools. These bodies should ensure that they liaise
with international counterparts to learn from the experiences
of those countries with similar breed problems.
112. The Advisory Council stated that "only
with good data on incidence can disease be tackled effectively
by identifying those individual dogs who are affected or may be
The Council considered that the veterinary profession should have
a role in collecting data on inherited defects. Professor Crispin
noted that data gathering to date had been "pretty grim".
Professor Bateson's report concluded that, while a long list of
heritable diseases affected dogs, "little or no hard data"
was available on their prevalence amongst the UK dog population.
113. The BVA and the BSAVA recommended improving
data gathering so as to identify individuals with heritable diseases
or exaggerated characteristics and that this information should
be made available to those seeking to breed from or buy progeny
from these animals. They welcomed the DNA testing programmes largely
funded by the Kennel Club and run by the Animal Health Trust.
There have been some significant new programmes aimed at filling
the data gap which have been welcomed by the Advisory Councilin
particular the SAVSNET project run by the BSAVA and Liverpool
and the VetCompass project, co-ordinated by the Royal Veterinary
College. The latter aims to develop online surveillance of inherited
and acquired disorders in dogs and cats through collecting data
from vets. The Royal Veterinary College retains the data securely
and it noted that veterinary practitioners had been "very
positive" about the project with the sharing of data covering
over 125,000 dogs.
Furthermore, initiatives such as the Kennel Club's Mate Select,
which provides information on health test results and on the co-efficients
of inbreeding for breeds, helps to provide data on the implications
for the health of offspring of potential matings.
114. Nevertheless, Professor Crispin was concerned
about the lack of co-ordination, stating that "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". She was also concerned about the need to secure
funding for such research.
115. The most effective approaches to improving
the health of pedigree dogs will be those based on good data so
that breed-specific assessments can be made and strategies developed
for overall breed health. We
endorse the work of academics, veterinary professionals and breeders
who are working to provide sufficient data to develop strategies
to improve the health of breeds, including outcrossing where relevant.
However, it is vital that there is proper co-ordination of research
and data gathering and that adequate funding is secured.
116. The insurance industry in countries such
as Sweden collects health data to enable a full picture of health
problems in pedigree dogs. Some witnesses advocated this approach
for the UK. Professor Bateson told us that he found 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
117. The Association of British Insurers (ABI)
accepted that in theory it would be possible to gather such data
but noted that there could be practical issues, such as sample
size affecting reliability, and data would need to be extrapolated
to industry level to avoid commercial objections from insurance
Ellis, Defra's Deputy Director, Animal Welfare Team, told us that
Defra had had no discussions on the possibility of requiring insurance
companies to provide data. Nevertheless, the Minister told us
that he recognised the logic in this approach but was "mindful
of the data protection controls" and had asked Professor
Crispin to consider the issue further.
118. We note the potential value of data held
by the insurance industry on claims related to dog health which
could be used to inform the development of health improvement
programmes. We recommend
that Defra investigates with the insurance industry the potential
for aggregated, anonymised data to be provided to researchers
on the incidences of inherited and other diseases in dog breeds.
119. It is clear that the morphology of some
breeds has changed significantly over time. Professor Bateson's
report included pictures to show how appearances had changed,
for example in Basset Hounds and Dachshunds.
Figure 1 shows: left, the Basset Hound in 1901 (top)
and 2004; and right, the Dachshund in 1930 (top) and 2004. Figure
Source: Patrick Bateson, Independent Inquiry into
Dog Breeding, p 32
120. The Kennel Club determines Breed Standards
for some 210 pedigree dog breeds. These set out in a detailed
"picture in words", the desired physical characteristics
which are used by judges at all licensed breed shows. The Kennel
Club owns the standards and all changes are subject to approval
by the Club's General Committee.
Both the television documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed and
the Bateson report noted that the change in physical characteristics
to meet idealised appearances as set out in Breed Standards has
had negative impacts on the health of some breeds. The Pedigree
Dogs Exposed programme linked extreme conformity to these
standards in some breeds to a range of health issues, including
those related to skull and back structures and problems with skin
and eyes. The Bateson report stated that "in some instances,
the Breed Standard and selection for specific characteristics
contained within it, can be demonstrated to be directly threatening
to health and welfare".
It stated that "selection for form rather than use has created
in specific breeds a number of welfare problems that need to be
121. The Bateson report also referred to the
fact that both dog owners and the veterinary profession have become
"desensitised" to the difficulties suffered by dogs
bred to reflect extreme traits.
For example, in May 2012 the Royal Veterinary College published
a study which found that "many owners of short-nosed dogs
consider breathing problems to be normal for the breed".
The Chief Executive of the Universities Federation for Animal
Welfare stated that "it is likely that many other genetic
welfare problems, caused by selective breeding for particular
physical characteristics are also perceived by pet owners as normal".
He added that a lack of information was a problem for pet owners
which the Federation was trying to address by provision of an
online resource describing welfare conditions on a breed by breed
122. In recent years, the Kennel Club has introduced
a number of measures to improve the health and welfare of pedigree
dogs, including revisions to some Breed Standards. It has targeted
a number of key breeds such as Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, Cavalier
King Charles Spaniels and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. The Kennel Club's
website states that the Club wants to ensure that:
the show-ring is a positive force for changeas
Professor Bateson said that it could beand that it acts
as an incentive for breeding healthy, happy dogsin order
to achieve this it has to ensure that dogs are bred without exaggerations.
123. According to the Kennel Club, it has reviewed
the Breed Standards to ensure that none contains "any wording
that could be interpreted as encouraging exaggerations and to
make it absolutely clear that health must always come first".
However, the Club notes on its website that "sadly all of
this is no guarantee that some irresponsible breeders will stop
breeding their dogs with exaggerations that are dangerous to their
The Dachshund Breed Council argued that, since only 16% of Miniature
Smooth-haired Dachshund litters registered with the Kennel Club
were bred by people involved in showing, then "any argument
that the dog-showing breeder community is responsible for the
ill-health of pedigree dogs has no basis in fact for Dachshunds".
The Dachshund Breed Council, which represents 18 Dachshund breed
clubs, told us about its work as a co-ordinating body to promote
health and welfare in Dachshunds through education and research.
It had made a number of amendments to the Dachshund Breed Standard
to emphasise the need to avoid exaggeration, and made this a "key
message" in educational events.
124. However, some commentators remain concerned
that too little has been done to address the consequences of the
Kennel Club's Breed Standards on the health of pedigree dogs.
The RSPCA cited the fact that of 22 recommendations made to the
Kennel Club on Breed Standards only eight had so far been implemented.
The Dogs Trust considered it unacceptable for dogs with genetic
health problems to continue to be held up as a "pinnacle
for good breeding" at dog shows.
The BVA and the BSAVA wanted Breed Standards to emphasise health
and not aesthetics, and in a rebuttal of the arguments made by
the Dachshund Breed Council, referred to the "disproportionate
influence" of show dogs on the desired phenotype and genotype
of a breed. The
Associations urged "greater pressure" on those showing
and breeding dogs to improve the health and welfare of their dogs
and called for an independent review of Breed Standards led by
125. Nonetheless, the Kennel Club states that
"there will be no place for such dogs at Crufts ... or other
championship dog shows".
126. Whilst we recognise that
the Kennel Club and some breed clubs have taken steps to address
the consequences of Breed Standards on the health of some pedigree
dogs, progress has been slow and many problems remain. Those involved
in breeding dogs, including the Kennel Club, breed clubs and individual
breeders, must redouble their efforts to eradicate health problems
caused by conformation to Breed Standards.
127. We recommend that the Kennel
Club commission an annual review of Breed Standards to be undertaken
by an independent panel of experts led by relevant representatives
from the veterinary profession.
Vet checks at dog shows
128. A further measure the Kennel Club has introduced
to improve pedigree dog health and welfare is the requirement
for any dog from one of 15 'high profile' breeds winning 'best
in breed' category at certain dog shows to undergo a veterinary
At Crufts and other championship shows held in 2012 several dogs
awarded best in breed failed these vet checks and were not allowed
to proceed any further in the show. Many witnesses, including
dog welfare charities such as the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust, welcomed
these checks which the Trust considered to be a "positive
step" to discourage the showing of unhealthy dogs.
The BVA and the BSAVA also welcomed vet checks but wanted them
extended to cover more breeds. They also urged the publication
of health and genetic test results before a dog is awarded champion
status. The Associations
responded positively to our suggestion that random checks could
be made on any dog being entered in a dog show ahead of the event.
Professor Crispin told us that the Kennel Club's proposed extension
of checks beyond the current 15 'high profile' breeds would make
it "fairer all round". She noted that the resistance
to the checks from breeders had diminished over time.
129. We welcome moves by the
Kennel Club to introduce vet checks at dog shows. Extending these
checks to other breeds will be a helpful step. The Kennel Club
should also consider the feasibility of performing additional
checks on dogs before their entrance to show is accepted, perhaps
through selecting dogs at random to reduce the burden of conducting
a large number of checks.
REGULATION OF PEDIGREE DOG BREEDING
130. There are mixed views as to whether the
types of voluntary approaches discussed above are sufficient to
drive timely improvements in dog health or whether there needs
to be additional regulation. The Dogs Trust would like the Government
to introduce legislation to help prevent "inappropriate breeding
practices" particularly the intentional inbreeding of closely
related dogs or those with "known debilitating genetic illnesses".
The RSPCA noted that, since Defra preferred other means, such
as accreditation schemes or education programmes, "no progress
has occurred in England on dog breeding legislation".
Professors Bateson and Crispin told the Committee that they considered
that Defra should take a more proactive role in driving through
Bateson labelled Defra's approach "a bit reactive" and
noted that change could be effected by amending the Animal Welfare
131. Professor Bateson's report led to the setting
up of the Advisory Council on Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding to
develop "evidence-based breeding strategies that address
the issues of poor conformation, inherited disease and inbreeding,
as appropriate to the specific breed and to provide advice on
the priorities for research and development in this area".
The RSPCA told us that it welcomed the Council's establishment
since it had "undertaken a lot of good work on agreeing breeding
standards and recommendations for the top eight priority welfare
While Defra has committed to considering the Advisory Council's
recommendations, a majority of those submitting evidence to the
All Party Group on Animal Welfare (APGAW) considered the Council
should have "more statutory power to apply recommendations
immediately" and be given increased resources in terms of
"both manpower and money".
The BVA and the BSAVA considered that the Council was "on
the right track" since it could bring stakeholders together
to take a more co-ordinated approach, but urged Defra to redress
the lack of funding so that the Council could "work properly".
132. The Advisory Council itself has argued that
the Government should consider providing some financial support
for a specified period since the body is currently funded through
charitable donations. A match-funding arrangement would enable
it to work "more closely with Government and to undertake
more complex research and projects with confidence".
Professor Crispin regretted the Council's lack of power and told
us that at the moment the Advisory Council could "recommend
as much as we like, but our recommendations can be totally ignored".
The Minister told us that an advantage of the Council was that
by working through consensus its recommendations "carry consequent
weight and influence", however he could not commit to providing
it with financial support.
133. We were not convinced by the Minister's
evidence to us that Defra places a high priority on tackling health
and welfare issues linked to dog breeding. He was unable to provide
us with detailed information at our oral evidence session in October
2012. Asked whether Defra had assessed the effectiveness of local
authorities in relation to their dog welfare role, the Minister
said it had not and had no plans to do so formally.
On the issue of establishing minimum criteria for breeding, he
considered this was something it was "less appropriate to
regulate for" but when pressed he was not "able to elucidate
why I think that but it is the view I have".
On the matter of inbreeding and Breed Standards causing welfare
problems he said "it is not something that I have given a
lot of thought to".
On several occasions the Minister said he would be able to answer
questions following a meeting with the Chair of the Advisory Council.
134. We are concerned that Defra appears to have
been, and continues to be, reactive rather than proactive on issues
relating to pedigree dog health and welfare. The Minister appeared
poorly briefed, disengaged and content to rely on the Advisory
Council to which the Department has delegated the responsibility
but not the powers to enable it to be effective. The current limits
to the Advisory Council's remit hamper its ability to drive change.
We recommend that Defra consider giving the Advisory Council on
the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding a regulatory role on the implementation
of provisions relevant to dog breeding. Funding should continue
to be provided by those involved in dog breeding such as the Kennel
Club and dog welfare charities.
135. Professor Bateson's report raised the possibility
of an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 so that "any
person breeding dogs should have regard to the health and welfare
of both the parents and the offspring of the mating". He
recommended that a statutory Code of Practice on the Breeding
of Dogs should be established under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that certain conditions
are inherited, outcomes are not straightforward to predict in
individual cases. Breeders can test their dogs and bitches for
diseases such as hip dysplasia, Syringomyelia, congenital eye
conditions and heart defects, and there are DNA tests available
for a range of other diseases.
However, it is not possible to establish in advance the health
outcomes for the offspring of specific matings for many disorders.
136. Current legislation provides little protection
for puppies that may inherit health problems due to inbreeding
or breeding for conformation. Whilst it is not possible currently
to predict with total certainty the health outcomes for all matings,
nonetheless health tests on individual dogs and general breed
data could enable breeders to make better informed judgments about
the probability of a mating leading to puppies with a specific
health problem. Despite some progress under a voluntary approach,
this information is not currently being fully utilised by all
breeders. We recommend that
Defra consider amending the Animal Welfare Act 1986 to place a
duty on anyone breeding a dog to have regard to any offspring's
health and welfare. As part of this consideration, Defra must
ensure that sufficient data is available to a breeder at an affordable
cost to enable them to make informed decisions as to whether it
is appropriate to breed from any dog or bitch.
171 "Rogue breeders and online puppy scam fools
millions", The Kennel Club press release, 6 September 2012.
The Kennel Club defines puppy farmers as volume breeders who have
little consideration for the basic needs and care for their breeding
bitches and puppies Back
Ev w36 Back
RSPCA website animal welfare webpages http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=animalwelfareactadvice Back
The requirement to be licensed is made under provisions in the
Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 which amended and
extended the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 and the Breeding of Dogs
Act 1991 Back
Patrick Bateson, University of Cambridge, Independent Inquiry
into Dog Breeding, Executive Summary, January 2010 (referred
to in this report as the 'Bateson Report') Back
As above Back
As above, p 20 Back
Note: the Advisory Council on Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding is
referred to in this report as the 'Advisory Council' Back
Advisory Council on Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding, Annual
Report 2011, May 2012 Back
Ev 87 and Ev 84 Back
Ev w18 Back
As above Back
Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding, Standard
for Breeding Dogs, August 2012 Back
Welsh Government, Written Statement: Consultation on Dog Breeding
Regulations, 20 December 2011 Back
Q 349 Back
Ev 79 Back
Ev 99 Back
Q 212 Back
Q 204 Back
Ev 84 Back
Ev w36 Back
Gumtree blog, https://blog.gumtree.com Back
Ev 111 Back
Ev w92 Back
The BBC broadcast Pedigree Dogs Exposed in August 2008.
This set out concerns about health and welfare issues related
to pedigree dog breeding. A follow-up programme was broadcast
in 2012 Back
Bateson Report, p 35 Back
Bateson Report, Executive Summary, p3 Back
Ev 98 Back
As above Back
The General Code of Ethics is on the Kennel Club website at http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/247 Back
Ev 98 Back
Bateson Report p 23 Back
Ev 84 Back
Q 164 [Clare Horton and Steve Goody] Back
Ev 84 Back
Advisory Council on Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding, Annual
Report 2011 Back
Bateson Report, p15 Back
Calboli FC, Sampson J, Fretwell N, Balding DJ, Population structure
and inbreeding from pedigree analysis of purebred dogs, August
2008. Examples of small population size include Boxers, Rough
Collies, English Springer Spaniels, Akitas Back
Bateson Report, p 17 Back
The coefficient of inbreeding indicates the probability that two
genes at any locus in an individual are identical by descent from
the common ancestors of the two parents. The inbreeding coefficient
of an individual is approximately half the relationship between
the two parents. This equivalence only applies to low levels of
inbreeding in an otherwise outbred population. e.g. two single
first cousins normally have a relationship of 1/8. If there has
been no previous inbreeding, their offspring will have a coefficient
of 1/16. With high levels of continuous inbreeding this relationship
breaks down with corresponding increases in coefficients to a
maximum theoretical value of 1.0, resulting from close inbreeding
over time Back
Outcrossing is the practice of introducing unrelated genetic material
into a breeding line. Dog breeders may choose to outcross by mating
a dog of one breed with a bitch with no common ancestor in order
to introduce desired traits Back
Bateson Report, p 21 Back
Q 195 and Q 197 Back
Associate Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare, Dog Breeding
Update Report, July 2012 Back
Q 199 Back
Ev 111 Back
Q 191 Back
Bateson Report, para 4.15 Back
Ev 87 Back
The Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) aims
to provide information on the frequency of occurrence of diseases
in the small animal vet-visiting population through two parallel
surveillance projects http://www.liv.ac.uk/savsnet Back
Ev w65 Back
For further details see http://www.the-kennel club.org.uk/services/public/mateselect/Default.aspx Back
Q 191 Back
Q 191 Back
Ev w97 Back
Ev 129 Back
Kennel Club website, Breed Standard webpages www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/210 Back
Bateson Report, p 33, para 6.20 Back
Bateson Report, p 39 Back
Bateson Report, p 22 Back
"Worrying numbers of "short-nosed" dog owners do
not believe their pets to have breathing problems, despite observing
severe clinical signs," Royal Veterinary Society press release,
May 2012 Back
"Breathing problems 'considered normal' by owners of short-nosed
dogs", Veterinary Record, 19 May 2012. The Universities Federation
for Animal Welfare (UFAW) website is at www.ufaw.org.uk/geneticwelfareproblems.php Back
Kennel Club webpages, www.fitforfunction.org.uk Back
Kennel Club webpages www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/4204 Back
Ev 127 Back
Ev 125 Back
Q 164 [Gavin Grant] Back
Ev 84 Back
Ev 87 Back
Q 335 Back
Kennel Club Webpages, http://fitforfunction.org.uk/content.asp?contentId=4 Back
The Kennel Club has identified 15 so-called 'high profile' breeds
based on the potential for conformation standards to raise health
Ev 84 Back
Ev 87 Back
Q 346 Back
Q 210 Back
Ev 84 Back
Ev 77 Back
Q 177 Back
As above Back
Bateson Report, p 4 Back
Ev 77 Back
As above Back
Ev 87 Back
Ev 111 Back
Q 181 Back
Ev 129 Back
Q 406 Back
Q 416 and Q 417 Back
Q 431 Back
For example Q 419, Q 430 Back
Bateson Report, Executive Summary, p 4 Back
For examples see Kennel Club webpages, http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/download/8288/dnatestsworldwide.pdf Back
Kennel Club webpages on genetic health http://www.doggenetichealth.org/intro_disease.php
Approximately 400 inherited diseases have now been identified
in the dog and of these the majority have a simple recessive mode
of inheritance. However some of the inherited conditions that
most worry present day dog breeders are more complex, being caused
by problems in more than one different gene, so called polygenic
diseases (eg hip dysplasia). In addition, some of these polygenic
conditions are also influenced by environmental factors. Hip dysplasia,
for example, can be affected by both exercising and feeding Back