Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Supplementary written evidence submitted by Ian J Seath, Chairman of the Dachshund Breed Council Prepared with the support of: Archie Bryden (Staffordshire Bull Terriers), Sheila Atter (Cesky Terriers), Judith Ashworth (Otterhounds), Val Jones (Flatcoated Retrievers)

It was a privilege and a pleasure to have the opportunity to attend as a witness to your enquiry into the welfare issues of dog breeding on 17 October. I have followed the sessions attended by the other witnesses, with interest.

I wish to make some comments to follow-up the responses made by the BVA and BSAVA witnesses. Professor Dean had responded to a question about why “unhealthy dogs” were allowed to be registered. He said “if it is an affected dog and it is a recessive gene, they could breed to a clear dog and produce healthy dogs”.

Peter Jones (BVA) said, on 24th October: “I think it was disingenuous when he gave the example that if you have a dog with a recessive gene and you cross it with a normal dog, then you might produce a normal puppy, and therefore there is no problem. You perpetuate the problem by doing that. I would say the way to stop this perpetuation of the problem is not to register those dogs if there is a problem.”

I have some major concerns about this comment. We have DNA tests that can identify Affected, Carrier and Clear dogs with Recessive inherited conditions. This enables breeders, depending on circumstances, to mate Affected dogs to Clear dogs and produce puppies that will not be Affected, with absolute certainty. A screening programme, as is typically required within the KC’s Assured Breeder Scheme, enables health problems caused by recessive genes to be eliminated in a controlled way, without adversely affecting the genetic diversity of the breed.

Removing Affected dogs (with a Recessive mutation) from the Registration database and the breeding pool risks decimating the existing level of genetic diversity (which may already be rather low in some breeds). There is no single, right, breeding strategy for dealing with identified health conditions. The chosen strategy is dependent on factors such as current levels of genetic diversity in a breed, the prevalence of the particular mutation, the prevalence of any other mutations (which may not yet be known, or have tests) and the severity/impact of these conditions. Breed Clubs regularly seek advice from the KC and geneticists to help them select the best approach.

You may be aware that each Kennel Club breed has its own Breed Health Coordinator (BHC) who acts as a central point of contact and expertise on health matters. These BHCs also work together to share knowledge and good practices across their different breeds. There has been much discussion among the BHCs who have been following the EFRA Committee proceedings and we are all agreed that it is both naive and dangerous to accept the proposition that “affected” dogs should not be registered. Were the KC to reject such registrations, it is possible that irresponsible owners might breed such dogs outside the KC’s registration system and sphere of influence.

I’m sure BHCs would be pleased to meet with you if you wished to find out more about how we are using DNA testing and clinical screening programmes to improve the health of our breeds without adversely affecting their genetic diversity, or introducing additional problems.

November 2012

1 Prepared with the support of: Archie Bryden (Staffordshire Bull Terriers), Sheila Atter (Cesky Terriers), Judith Ashworth (Otterhounds), Val Jones (Flatcoated Retrievers)

Prepared 14th February 2013