Thursday, 31 March 2016

Are puppies born the wrong colour still being euthanised?

Large Munsterlander
It is expressly forbidden in the Kennel Club's code of ethics but, according to show breeder and judge Annette Hewitt,  Large Munsterlander puppies are being euthanised for being born the wrong colour.

"Bucketing" was once a common practice in many breeds but is much less prevalent today - partly because most modern breeders find it hard to kill the puppies themselves; partly because very few vets will euthanise a healthy puppy just because it doesn't conform to the breed standard.

This week's Dog World documents a dispute between Mrs Hewitt and the Large Munsterlander Club UK (See article here). It tells how the Club turned down Mrs Hewitt's request to join on the basis that she had registered brown-and-white Munsterlander puppies when they turned up unexpectedly in a recent litter. 

Brown is carried recessively in the breed, due to its shared ancestry with the brown-and-white German Longhaired Pointer, and it still pops up occasionally despite attempts to stamp it out.

Kennel Club rules allowed Mrs Hewitt to register the brown and white pups as "colour not recognised" and she sold the pups (in demand for pet/work) with endorsements preventing them from being bred - but it clearly caused much tutting within the Club. When Mrs Hewitt re-applied to join the Club after her membership had lapsed, she was turned down because of this Club rule.
Club members must only allow matings between dogs and bitches "which both conform to the colour defined in the breed standard"whether registered or not.
Mrs Hewitt complained to the Kennel Club which instructed the Club to remove the clause from their rules, which it has now done.
“I'm aware that brown and white puppies are often euthanised or remain unregistered, and that’s no help to the breed," says Mrs Hewitt. 
"I’ve been a breeder for many years and when I was chucked out of the club I said that while there was breath in my body I would get the rule overturned. My own deep and painful feelings are unimportant compared to the interest of the breed.”
No doubt the Club is suitably contrite.

Not a bit of it!

As Dog World reports:
... chairman Christine Ogle said that clubs have the right to refuse anyone’s membership application without giving a reason, and ‘next time we shan’t give a reason’.
Mrs Ogle says she is not aware of brown dogs being culled but reflects the general discriminatory tone adopted by many LM breeders by claiming, absurdly, that "the head shape and characteristics of brown and white dogs are very different".

No, Mrs Ogle. They are exactly the same as the black and white dogs. They are just a different colour. 

The Large Munsterlander has a small gene pool, it suffers from inbreeding and the overuse of popular sires and only 94 puppies were registered in the UK in 2014. 

Breeders cannot afford to be throwing away good dogs because they are the wrong colour. They have at their disposal a DNA test which identifies those dogs carrying brown, enabling carriers to be bred and managed within the breed.

Surely it's time the Kennel Club insisted that a basic genetics course is a prerequisite for all breed club committee members?  It would be incredibly simple to set up one online and would really help stop this kind of nonsense which so often damages rather than protects a breed.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Aren't you hungry?

A thank you to Julius K9 for this. A great cartoon from a company that makes some of the best dog harnesses in the world.. as my rescue English Setter, Monday (a refugee from the island of Kos) is happy to testify.

Monday, 28 March 2016

CRUFFA writes to the AKC

I was shocked to be forwarded this image, currently embedded in emails being sent out by the American Kennel Club to those registering a new pup.

You really would never see the Kennel Club in the UK using a Pug like this in their marketing these days because of greater awareness about exaggerations. So... some small progress.

As some of you will know, I have started a new initiative called CRUFFA, currently in soft-launch mode (essentially waiting for me to be find the time to develop it/build a website).

CRUFFA stands for the Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals (in media/marketing/advertising) and I ping off emails/messages to companies that have used poor examples of brachycephalic dogs to make them aware of the issues. The aim is for the emails to be a gentle nudge, rather than a sledgehammer.

It was a little hard to know how to approach the AKC re this one - but I felt strongly enough to want to try.  Let me know how you think I did.

Here's what I wrote to Brandi Hunter, the AKC's Director of PR.

Dear Brandi Hunter 
I am writing in response to this image, which the AKC is currently using on registration emails.

The Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals (CRUFFA) was born out of  concern over the increasing use of Pugs, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and other 'brachycephalic' breeds used in advertising, marketing and the media - especially the use of more exaggerated examples of these breeds.  This of course reflects their current popularity - but also helps fuel demand. 
While many people find flat-faced breeds cute,  you will be aware they can suffer from health problems as a direct result of having been bred with a very short muzzle/wrinkling.  
CRUFFA does not seek to ban the use of images of Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogs in the media; preferring to educate, suggest alternatives and to promote the use of a healthier phenotype - e.g Pugs, Frenchies and Bulldogs that have good eyes, less wrinkling, wide-open nostrils and are not overweight.   
We believe that the use of more moderate dogs in the media/advertising/marketing will help influence the popular “template” for the breed, increasing the demand for less-exaggerated dogs.  Our sincere hope is that this will lead to improved quality of life for these breeds. 
This Pug, for instance, has much more moderate features than the one in your image while still being undeniably a Pug. 

We would appreciate greatly if this is something you could bear in mind in the future. 
Please feel free to pass this on to anyone within the AKC responsible for marketing/advertising/media. 
Yours sincerely 
Jemima Harrison
(Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals) 
 And I got a near-instant response, which is very nice.

Click to enlarge

I'm sure they think I'm being cheeky. But,hopefully, it will be something they will take into consideration in future.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

REVEALED: the GSD sequence that was cut from PDE2...

This sequence never made it into Pedigree Dogs Exposed: Three Years On which was broadcast in 2012.

The reason? There was a lot of great material vying for the space and it wasn't as strong as other sequences. But it seems timely to release it, for three reasons.

The first is, obviously, that GSDs are in the news following Crufts 2016.

The second is that it captures rather neatly the prevailing view from within the breed that outside critics are ignorant.

And the third is that I hear that GSD breeder David Payne, featured here (Videx GSDs), bans people from one GSD forum he helps administrate if they so much as mention my name.

As you can see, though, he was perfectly happy to be interviewed for the sequel (indeed it was quite a fun, sparky interview) and he was much meaner to me than I was to him...

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Meanwhile in the Philippines...

Wait until they start gaiting.

Kennel Club announces new template for the German Shepherd

I am not sure if Britney is a purebred shep. I suspect there's collie in there. But wouldn't it be special if today's show-bred German Shepherds looked and could perform like this.

The headline?

Wishful thinking.

British Veterinary Association: statement re Crufts

The British Veterinary Association today issued a statement expressing concern about some of the decisions made by judges at this year's Crufts - and says it is looking forward to hearing more from the Kennel Club about how it will address the issues.

The statement in full:

"We share the concerns expressed by members of the public regarding some of the decisions made by judges at this year's Crufts. Improving the health and welfare of dogs is a key priority for BVA and its members, and the current debate highlights the importance of responsible breeding to optimise the health and welfare of  our dog population.

"The remit of vets at Crufts is to assess the health of the dogs through hands on examinations, while decisions about conformation are the preserve of the judges. We look forward to hearing more  from the Kennel Club about how it will work with judges to address existing protocols and the guidelines referred to when making their decisions. 
"In their day to day work vets see first-hand the tragic consequences that can result from poor breeding, as owners are faced with serious and avoidable health problems in their new pets. Anybody thinking of getting a dog must make sure that they understand the potential breed-related health problems. If members of the public are keen to purchase a specific breed we would urge that they should only buy from responsible breeders who have carried out the appropriate health tests on the parenys before they are bred from. By collectively taking responsibility when buying a puppy, downloading the AWF/RSPCA puppy contract and using it to ask the right questions, owners can ensure they come home with a happy and healthy pet and help improve the health and welfare of our dog population."

Monday, 21 March 2016

LEAKED LETTER: KC downplays Crufts furore to members

It's been a grim Crufts for the Kennel Club - with the scandal over that German Shepherd  and that Pekingese continuing to reverberate in the UK and abroad.

But, in a letter sent to to  Kennel Club members last week, KC Chairman Simon Luxmoore describes this year's show as a "quite marvellous event". He also refers to the fuss as "one or two breed specific issues" and insists that he "neither overheard nor received a negative comment" as he walked round the show.

Now, of course there are good things about Crufts. (In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's all good - other than what Luxmoore describes as "our shop floor" - the breed rings.) And I can understand the KC wanting to put a positive spin on things. But did Luxmoore even stop to think how the cursory dismissal of the worst PR the KC has received since Pedigree Dogs Exposed would look when this letter leaked, as it surely would?

The letter in full.

Dear Fellow Member 

I thought it appropriate to give you a brief update on a number of issues prior to our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 17th May. 

Firstly, I would like to reflect on Crufts 2016 which, barring one or two 'breed specific' issues, which will be addressed by the Board in the coming weeks, I believe was a quite marvellous event with many highlights, and expertly delivered by both Gerald King and Vanessa McAlpine, and their respective teams. With over 160,000 visitors and a peak television viewing audience of almost three million people, more than in any previous year, I felt that the NEC staff, our press and media teams performed with great credit. 

We enjoyed a very successful 'royal' visit on Saturday, 12th March and I can report that our President, Prince Michael of Kent, in the company of Princess Michael, thoroughly enjoyed the time they spent with us. 

Everyone who participated will have their own highlights but I wanted to share my top three with you. Together with my wife, Pauline, we attended the Junior Handling Association's International dinner prior to the competition the following day. At this dinner, each of the 45 competitors from 45 different countries took the microphone and spoke about themselves, their pride and pleasure in being at Crufts and wished each other the very best of luck in the competition – “eye watering”, I can assure you. Secondly, the sight of 9 year old Lauren Bridges on taking Group 4 in the Pastoral Group with her Samoyed and then marching forward to congratulate those in front of her was memorable. I would suggest these two events themselves give us great hope for the future. Thirdly, the many 'activity' events which adorn the arena, the YKC arena, and elsewhere for what seems like an eternity, cannot go unmentioned. Whilst 'Pudsey's' win in the medium-sized dog agility championship brought me special pleasure, there was a host of other top level competition which was not only mouth-watering in its content but ran like clockwork. 
Last but not least, on the many miles I walked around the rings 'our shop floor' over the four days, I neither overheard nor received a negative comment. Everyone appeared very upbeat and we should all seek to build on this. 

Beyond Crufts, I am delighted to report that the Kennel Club has 'exchanged and completed' on the Aylesbury property project and 'exchanged' with a view to near term 'completion' on the Emblehope property project. The Chepstow project is progressing and will be presented to the members via the Board at an appropriate time. 

The working parties are progressing and the Governance working party, supported by the Board, is set to make a number of proposals to the membership at the AGM. It is proposed that this working party will continue its work in the months to come with a renewed agenda aimed at advancing both the business and 'sporting' sides of Kennel Club activity. 

The Communications working party continues to 'move things forward' on the back of consultation and review through 'focus groups' and you will be updated on progress at the AGM. Likewise, the 'Crossbreeds' working party is making slower but steady progress on a range of issues, and again you will be briefed in May. 

We had advised you at our November meeting that we would be bringing proposals to the membership in May regarding a possible revision to our membership structure in the context of 'out of town membership'. I can advise you that these proposals will not be brought forward at the May meeting but deferred for discussion later in 2016 since the Board considered that every effort should be focussed by the members on the proposed Governance changes. 

I do hope that as many Members as possible will be able to attend the AGM and in the meantime, enjoy the Spring!

Saturday, 19 March 2016


WARNING: graphic image of a Bulldog having sex


And here's dad, Bentley.


Although some Bulldogs can mate naturally, the majority of breedings are done by artificial insemination. This is sometimes because their shape precludes a natural mating; sometimes because the effort/stress can result in a heart attack.

The KC's 2014 health survey found that almost one in five Bulldogs die from heart failure. Although some Bulldogs do make it to old age, they are dead, on average, by the age of 6 - much the same as it's always been, despite better nutrition/vet care.

Interesting to see the changes in the breed since he 1950s. The dogs in this archive mostly have terrible fronts... but are longer-legged and kept leaner than today's show dog.  

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

REVEALED: the GSD at Crufts that looked GREAT!

This is a German Shepherd bitch called Kenmil's Bellisima Of Danala.  She looks great, doesn't she? She is free-moving and balanced on the move.

Unfortunately, it wasn't this year - it was in 1982, 34 years ago, that this dog won Reserve Best in Show at Crufts.

A dog like this is no longer considered correct today by most in the GSD show-world - as we have seen in recent days.

I hope by now that most people have realised that the Best of Breed bitch at Crufts is not a one-off.

Cruaghaire Catoria is typical of what's being bred and shown in the UK and much of Europe - following the lead of Germany, the home of the GSD.

This was the top show bitch in Germany in 2015. This is what they're aiming for. Look at her and weep.

None of this has happened overnight.

And neither is it the first time that people have been horrified and demanded that something is done about it.  We shot this at Crufts in 2008 for Pedigree Dogs Exposed.

And there was a fuss again in 2010 when viewers reacted badly to the sight of Best of Breed, Ch Veneze Ellie in the main ring (deja vu performance from both Clare Balding and Caroline Kisko, the KC's head of communications, isn't it?).

The upshot, I think we can agree, is that the Kennel Club has been completely ineffectual in sorting out "the GSD problem".

The reason? 

The breeders don't think there is a problem.

Oh, they might admit to a little overangulation here... a bit of a wobbly hock there.. but as anyone who has tried to discuss it with them knows,  the bottom line is that they really think the dog is fundamentally correct. And when a bit of slo-mo footage breaks  through the cognitive dissonance, there is always an excuse. It was the slippy surface..poor handling...the size of the ring.. a non-representative unlucky moment... the dog was coming into/out of season... the noise (this from a dog that's temperamentally supposed to be as steady as a rock!).

There is nothing you can do to persuade them otherwise.

• You can tell them there is no precedent for this shape in a canid.

• You can tell them that it's no coincidence that the breed suffers spinal/joint issues

• You can tell them that the biggest canine locomotion study in the world found that the shape handicaps the dogs.

• You can tell them that anyone with eyes in their head can see it's wrong.

• And you can tell them that the breed's founder, Max von Stephanitz, would turn in his grave if he could see what had been done to his beloved shepherd. Because what he thought was a good dog was this....

...and this...

1924, Donar von Overstolzen
..and this.
1925 Klodo vom Boxberg

No, today's show breeders will look you straight in the eye and ask you to believe that this...

..and this...

..and this..

...are better dogs.

Right now,  the Kennel Club is trying to work out what it has to do in order to regain some credibility in the eyes of a very disappointed public - without totally pissing off the GSD Clubs.

The KC's Caroline Kisko has already suggested (as she did in 2010) that withdrawing challenge certificates might do the trick. For those that don't know, this simply means that the dogs can still compete and still win, but won't be able to be called a Champion. 

But I suspect it will be taken out of the KC's hands. The GSD League of Great Britain is furious. How dare the kennel club throw one its own to the wolves as the Kennel Club did on television on Sunday night in a clunky attempt to save its own neck. (And it really did... this was no mea culpa hand-wringing... it was an attempt by the Kennel Club to absolve itself of any responsibility.)  

Not us, guv... it was the judge... the dog... the breeder... the runes... basically anything other than the fact that once the fuss died down after 2010, the Kennel Club has done very little to tackle the issue. (Although there is one bit of good news - a new biomechanics study, funded by the KC, is just beginning at the University of Surrey. Researchers there hope to recruit 260 GSDs over the next two years. I am waiting for more info on this and will blog separately.)

As I reported a couple of days ago, the KC delegated judges training to the GSD League of GB - the very body that thinks it's perfectly OK for the dogs to look like this. 

And as for the hope expressed by Caroline Kisko on Sunday night's broadcast that next year's GSD Crufts' judge won't give the top prize to a dog like Cruaghaire Catoria... well, his name is Malcolm Robinson and he gave Cruaghaire Catoria a 1st in a class in 2014.

My guess is that the GSD League will stick two fingers up to the KC and other GSD Clubs could follow. The League is affiliated to the WUSV and already runs shows in the UK under WUSV rules.  This way, it can continue to breed and show German Shepherds that look like hyenas without having to run the gauntlet of a prime-time television audience which, in its view, knows nothing.

This would solve the Kennel Club's immediate problem - although be a bit embarrassing. But of course it does nothing for the dogs.

So what's the answer?

Hah! You thought I was going to suggest something?

Nope. I'm right out of ideas. You need psychologists to sort this one - well, and some more conclusive science as there haven't been enough studies comparing the show GSD with the working-bred dogs that - thank God - you can still find outside the ring. Dogs like this one.

Or how about this Finnish dog - who actually has competed in the Finnish show-ring?

And then there's this dog, Super Trouper at Brightmeadow, who won well at Paignton Championship Show in Devon last year under top (but non-specialist) judge Jean Lanning. Lanning has been around long enough to not be afraid of going against the flow.  

The problem is that dogs like this rarely get a chance in the UK show-ring because the "Germanic" type rules.  Super Trouper is what they would call an Alsatian - what the breed was called during/post WW2 here in the UK (a time when anything German would be given a hard time). Anyone who likes them is called an "Alsatianist". It's not intended as a compliment.

So... how do we solve the "GSD problem"? Let me know your thoughts below.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Crufts GSD owner: "worst nightmare of my show life"

Illustrating just how blind some German Shepherd breeders are to the problems, the owner of the Best of Breed German Shepherd has today released this picture along with a statement defending her dog.

Says Susan Cuthbert:
I was blissfully unaware of all the negativity around one of the best show days of my life until earlier today (Monday) and I am both deeply shocked and terribly upset by all the horrendous comments directed towards my beautiful Tori.  
Words cannot express the heart wrenching experience that I have suffered. This is so unreal I want to believe it is untrue and to wake up. The comments made on television about my lovely Shepherd were unbelievable especially when one considers the brevity of the images. How can you judge a dog on such a brief observation? There is a clear lack of tolerance and knowledge of our German shepherd breed. 
It should not be a surprise to anyone why the GSD breed in the UK are being strongly drawn towards the German SV system – Germany being the founders of our breed just over a hundred years ago and they have established the most comprehensive system of any other breed in the world. The German SV system requires for showing and breeding DNA parentage, microchip identification, to meet strict conformational criteria according to the German breed standard, hip and elbow grades and assessment of the spine along with formal character assessment, endurance test of 20 kilometers gaiting, IPO test of courage, tracking and obedience and a very demanding breed survey (korung) Soundness in mind and body is a crucial part of the German Shepherd breed. 
At Crufts 2016, the vet examined my bitch before she was presented with her Best of Breed certificate and deemed her to have no visible condition which adversely affects her health and welfare. This is the second Kennel Club required vet check she has passed in the last 6 months.
As if it was not upsetting enough that my bitch faltered under the heavy media coverage in the Arena on what should have been the happiest day of my show life to then be tried and convicted on social media and the press this has now become the worst nightmare of my show life.
Mrs Cuthbert also included the dog's health record and a long list of show wins, pointing out that the dog had won under a number of top Kennel Club judges.

I confess I have some sympathy for Mrs Cuthbert. Her dog is now being scapegoated by a Kennel Club seeking to distance itself from the public backlash.  And yet, of course, Cruaghaire Catoria is typical of many German Shepherds in the show-ring today.

It also emerged tonight that the Crufts GSD judge, Davy Hall - publicly condemned by the Kennel Club on national TV last night - is Vice Chairman of the GSD Breed Council.
The relevance?

The GSD Breed Council is the body the Kennel Club put in charge of training for German Shepherd judges.

Meanwhile, the GSD League of Great Britain has issued this statement insisting that Cruaghaire Catoria is "a fit, healthy dog" and  "a correct type to the German Shepherd Dog standard.

That statement in full:

Statement from the GSD League of Great Britain incorporating the British Regional Groups and Working Dog Branches 
Re GSD Best of Breed at Crufts 2016 
The GSD League condemns most strongly the manner in which the Kennel Club and the Crufts presenters have created public hysteria regarding the German Shepherd Bitch who gained Best of Breed at Crufts 2016 under breed specialist judge, Davy Hall. 
With complete disregard for all of the many breed specialist judges, including highly regarded judges from the breed’s country of origin, that have awarded this bitch top honours at both Kennel Club and WUSV shows, the Channel 4 coverage acted as judge, jury and hangman without any balance of reporting.Cruaghaire Catoria is a correct type to the German Shepherd Dog standard, she has a KC/BVA hip score of 13 and elbow score of 0 – these scores are well below the maximum for showing at WUSV shows, the Kennel Club have no minimum standard for showing or breeding purposes. She is a fit, healthy, family dog.The judge, Davy Hall, of the Gayville’s GSDs kennels has been an exhibitor and breeder of GSDs for many years having bred, owned, trained and handled many top winning animals and Champions including the current breed CC record holder. 
After being awarded Best of Breed, Catoria was then passed by the appointed Crufts vet to certify that she was fit and healthy to enter the big ring. She had passed another vet health check 6 months earlier. Indeed, no GSD has ever failed a vet health test at a Championship Show since they were introduced as part of the KC’s Breed Watch. 
German Shepherd Dogs are generally shown outside and certainly very few have ever experienced anything like the Crufts Best In Show ring. This young bitch performed extremely well in her breed ring but shortly afterwards in the main arena became overwhelmed by the environment and did not show her true beauty or proper movement, she was not the only dog to react badly to the pressure of the situation. Her internationally renowned handler Craig Rice, who has handled at the top level for many years, explained what took place in the lead up to the group judging and in the main arena….After a foot perfect performance in the GSD Breed ring, where Tori gained Best of Breed in a high quality entry that included 2 VA rated Dogs, we were taken to do the KC appointed Vet Check. The Vet stated that there was absolutely no possible reason that he could not pass Tori as she showed no signs of bad health and her movement was not impaired in any way. This test included movement of the dog. 
After a long wait of over 3 hours, which includes numerous forced photo shoots in the Crufts Best of Breed collection ring, we were finally abruptly told we would be entering the main Arena. This is a situation that no owner, trainer or handler can prepare for. A packed auditorium with hot lights, music, loud speakers and constant cheers and clapping is not an everyday occurrence for any dog. Unfortunately, after a further wait whilst inside the Arena, Tori had become quite agitated. I had tried to calm her by allowing her move around a little but was repeatedly told that I must not let the dog move at all. By the time we were judged Tori was in a high level of distress and was struggling to cope with the situation, which seemed to worsen after the judges rough handling, whilst checking the teeth, of a clearly stressed dog. Tori's uncharacteristic erratic behaviour has clearly given a bad impression of what I consider a GSD of the highest standard in both construction and health test results. 
German Shepherd Breeders lead the World in their attention to health testing and breeding selection and whilst they must not be complacent about any exaggerations in conformation or temperament, the breed should not be victimised in this way by the Kennel Club, the media and social media. 
German Shepherd exhibitors have a viable alternative to Kennel Club shows and it is of no surprise that more and more are turning their back on traditional UK shows in favour of the WUSV style show where DNA recording, identification and health tests are pre-requisites, not afterthoughts. All dogs are graded and critiqued so that their owners and breeders are given a clear picture of what they need to do to improve in the next generation. This is a great responsibility for the judges who are trained to a high level and have to have considerable experience as breeders before they are approved. 
The GSD League will continue to strive to consult with the Kennel Club on matters regarding health of the GSD and hope that our suggestion of piloting compulsory identification of all exhibits, health testing prior to confirmation of Champion title and mandatory minimum health test requirements for all breeding animals will one day become a reality.German Shepherd Dog League
So now you see what all those who want change are up against. Scary isn't it?

Further scandal rocks Crufts as KC admits it censored broadcast

In a statement given to the Daily Telegraph today, the Kennel Club has admitted that it instructed Channel 4 producers to edit out the footage of the Best of Breed German Shepherd from Saturday night's broadcast of Crufts.

When asked why the broadcast had not included footage of the dog on the move, the KC said:
"In light of the concern over the particurlar dog we made the decision not to further highlight the unsound movement of the dog whilst we discuss ways forward to improve the health of the breed."
Remember that the KC here is talking about the TV footage broadcast on Channel 4, a public service broadcaster.

Here's what the Channel 4 guidelines say on this point:

Broadcasters must retain complete editorial control over their programme content. In order to achieve this: 
  • programmes must always be and appear to be editorially independent;
  • programmes should not promote or endorse the commercial products and services of others or appear to. 
  • any improper external influence on the editorial process must always be resisted e.g. by a commercial organisation, a contributor or anyone or any organisation who seeks to exercise some degree of control over programme content;

I have today submitted a complaint to Channel 4 - and will follow it up with the broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom.

I know this one won't provoke as much outrage as a deformed German Shepherd, but I'm a TV producer and guard very fiercely my editorial independence when making my own films.

Behind the scenes, there has been a lot of concern about the impartiality of the Crufts broadcasts because it is pretty obvious to anyone in the know that the Kennel Club pulls a lot of strings.  Everyone invited on to that Crufts TV sofa is KC-friendly.

My understanding is that the live footage from the show is streamed to an OB (outside broadcast) team that edits the footage for broadcast, with a KC media representative overseeing the process.

Hopefully next year, if Channel 4 continues to broadcast the show that the BBC dropped on animal welfare grounds after Pedigree Dogs Exposed, measures will be put in place to ensure that the Kennel Club is not running the show.

Crufts 2016: KC admits GSD shouldn't have won... But...

Faced with widespread concern about the German Shepherd Best of Breed at this year's Crufts, the Kennel Club did the right thing: it went on TV on Sunday night and admitted the dog shouldn't have won.

But don't be fooled by the suggestion in this clip that this win was a one-off aberration by a rogue judge. Nope, this dog has actually won dozens of times under many different judges - all under Kennel Club rules.  And no one has batted an eyelid.

Here are a couple of judges' critiques of the dog - the second one, incidentally, by the daughter of the judge that awarded the dog Best of Breed at Crufts on Saturday.

1st - CRUAGHAIRE CATORIA (MR & MRS S CUTHBERT)This bitch is so correct throughout, lovely feminine head & good expression, neck well set on to body. Very good front angulation, lovely topline & good croup, very balanced hind angles. Correct height to length ratio, super underline. In movement she is outstanding so clean coming & going & her profile movement was really excellent.. Very pleased to award her the CC & BOB. Later I was informed that I gave her 1st award as MPB, which pleased me & thinking back I recalled a very moulded shapely little pup of quality and a real baby but what a bitch she has grown in to now!
Mr W Armstrong ( Corn Stalk ) Working & Pastoral Breeds of Scotland 7th November 2015

1st Cuthbert CRUAGHAIRE CATORIASire: Ch. Conbhairea Waro Dam: Korzwin Zynti3 years black and gold female of ideal middle size and strength, excellent general proportions, feminine expressive female with well shaped head dark eye and excellent ear carriage, normal wither into straight strong firm back, well laid croup which could be a touch longer, very good forehand with very good underline, excellent hindquarters with strong broad thighs, in top show condition, this female shows a willingness to perform in all phases, demonstrating excellent reach and drive, this was a super class of females, in my opinion this is a female who deserves the highest of accolades, a pleasure to judge. BEST BITCH AND BOB.
Ms Samantha Hall ( Gayvilles) North Eastern Open Show October 2015

The problem here is not this one dog. There are hundreds more just like her being shown in the UK (and in many other countries) because no one has called "Stop!" to the train-wreck that is today's show German Shepherd.

The problem is the mass delusion among show German Shepherd breeders that what they've done to the breed is an improvement.

The main reason for the hand-wringing on TV last night is because the awful truth was suddenly evident to the public, mostly via this blog, and because the Kennel Club's social media was over-run by so many shocked people.

The Kennel Club had no choice last night. It would have been PR suicide to try to defend the dog.

Of course, some people have praised the KC for its willingness to admit there was a problem with the dog,  but it is important to know that the Kennel Club also said it would act after Pedigree Dogs Exposed in 2008 highlighted the problems in German Shepherds - and again in 2010 after there was criticism of another top-winning GSD at Crufts.

Very little has changed.

Sure,  the problem is complex. There are thousands of German Shepherd breeders out there who will look you in the eye and tell you there's nothing wrong with their dogs.

But we've got to try to tackle this.

Please... can we use this opportunity do something for this breed?

See also:

REVEALED: The Crufts GSD footage they didn't want you to see.

GSDs at Crufts: the continuing travesty

Sunday, 13 March 2016

REVEALED: the Crufts GSD footage they didn't want you to see

This is the footage of the German Shepherd that was edited out of last night's  TV broadcast on Channel 4.

As I reported in this post last night, GSD Cruaghaire Catoria was the only dog in the Pastoral Group that wasn't seen moving  - with the reasons why perhaps being obvious.

Of course a dog this stressed is not going to show at their best, but "Tori", as she is known, is just dreadful and it is so sad to see her - especially given some small improvements seen in the UK show-ring in the past few years. (Top winning Elmo von Hühnegrab, while not to my taste, was a small step in the right direction in terms of structure/stability compared to the dogs we filmed in 2007/8 for Pedigree Dogs Exposed.)

As I mentioned last night, the  KC's Facebook page has been inundated with posts/comments from people expressing their dismay that such a dog could have won Best of Breed.

The footage above is clipped from the Day 3 Live Stream that the KC uploaded on to their dedicated Crufts YouTube channel - so it is available online, albeit buried in a very long video.

But, at the time of writing, the KC has not made available its extended video of the Pastoral Group judging which is likely to contain even more damning footage of the dog - despite the judging of all the other Groups being available.

Or rather the KC did make the video available. But it has now hidden it.

If you click on the link, here's what you get. 

Probably not the best PR move. 

You can let the Kennel Club know what you think about the BOB GSD by leaving a comment on the Crufts Facebook page - here.

Every voice counts.

See also: 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

GSDs at Crufts 2016: the continuing travesty

The above clip was all Channel 4 showed of the GSD in the Group judging at Crufts on television tonight. It was the only dog in the Group that wasn't shown moving.

The only explanation, surely, is that the Kennel Club - which claims no editorial control  over the TV footage - vetoed it being shown, embarrassed at the state of the dog.

The bitch, Cruaghaire Catoria, really was a shocker, and very stressed by the occasion. She was nervy in the breed ring earlier in the day, too.

But of course it wasn't just her temperament.

Below is footage of her winning Best of Breed at Crufts today - alongside the just-as-awful Best Dog,  Ch Yupp Vom Hammelsbacher Hof.

The Crufts Facebook page is being bombarded with complaints.

It is just heart-breaking. 

How much longer can we stand by and not insist that something is done about the state of this breed?

See also: 

Good Gordon! Keeping it in the family

Ch Lourdace Fulcrum - winner of the Gundog Group, Crufts 2016

My inbox is full of emails this morning from show peeps who wouldn't normally say my name without spitting venom.

The reason?

The Gordon Setter that won the Gundog group at Crufts last night was bred and is co-owned by the judge's sister.

But really... so what?

Amusingly, there was an item on the TV coverage last night that present the show world as a lovely little community where everyone looks out for each other.

The reality is that it's a nest of vipers and people can't wait to stick the boot in.

But I fail to see the great scandal here. The showing bug often runs in families and it's a small world. Inevitably, loads of people are related to each other or in relationships with each other.

Indeed, you've got to ask what judge Di Arrowsmith was supposed to do - ignore the dog because of the relationship? That would surely be unfair.

James, as Ch Lourdace Fulcrum is known, won Best of Breed under a different, independent judge. He is clearly a lovely-looking dog and my personal tip for Best in Show because he ticks a lot of boxes - beautiful, a vulnerable breed and his handler co-owner came over well on TV last night.

This might just be my wishing thinking, though - or perhaps the fear that I will self-combust if that disgraceful ball of fluff that won the Toy Group waddles off with the top prize.

Of more concern to me is that Ch Lourdace Fulcrum has a hip score of 27. He is the son of a sire with a hip score of 17 and his dam's score was 27; hardly surprising his hips aren't great.

A score of 27 is almost triple the breed average (the 5y rolling median is currently 10).  James has also already sired three litters, two of them to bitches with hip scores also above the breed median (18 and 11).

The BVA advice is to not breed dogs with hip scores above the breed median.

I hope James is used judiciously at stud from here on in.  I've met a lot of older Gordons who look terrible on the move - clearly stiff and sore. It is, I'm afraid,  one of the consequences of a breed that is no longer kept fit and functional by the work it was originally developed to do. (Very few Gordons in the UK are working gundogs).

I have suggested, several times, that dogs should come to the ring with some existing points in the bag - e.g. for good hip scores/health tests/working qualifications/lower than breed-average inbreeding etc. I can't see that it would be anything other than a win-win situation - for the dogs and for Kennel Club PR.

But no. Crufts and other dog shows remain primarily about outside appearance and not inner health.

Guess what I saw at Crufts?!

Well, I wish. What the T-shirt actually said was this.

Most show Frenchies have terribly stenosed nostrils. It is a potentially life-threatening fault and yet it's non-standard colours that get the French Bulldog show peeps hyperventilating. They are obsessed with the increasing popularity of French Bulldogs that are the 'wrong' colour - and loathe that non-show breeders take advantage of the recessive colours that lurk in the breed. 

Now there is certainly reason to worry about merle - it's a gene in a double-dose that can certainly cause defects and it was almost certainly introduced into Frenchies from another breed. But chocolate, blue and black and tan? These are just cosmetic issues. The genes are there recessively in the breed. 

(Blue in some breeds can by associated with a condition called colour dilution alopecia, but there's no evidence of it in blue Frenchies.)

Both the UK and FCI standards call for open nostrils - and in fact "totally closed nostrils" is a disqualifying fault in the FCI standard.  And yet this is routinely ignored. This dog, shown at Crufts on Thursday, is absolutely typical of what you see in the ring. No wonder that, according to recent research, 50 per cent of Frenchies have problems breathing.

Yep. You guys do indeed need to read the breed standard.

Friday, 11 March 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Crufts winner Bert Easdon breeds crossbreeds

Isn't it just great when you discover that a top show breeder is willing to embrace genetic diversity?

There was I thinking that the breeder of the winner of the Crufts 2016 Toy Group would be a dyed-in-the-wool purist. But no! Here are just some of the ads placed by Peke breeder Bert Easdon and his partner Philip Martin, of the famous Yakee kennel, on the internet site Pets4Homes in the past two years.

Of course, they breed purebred dogs too. Lots of 'em!

Given that their 70-acre country estate in Dumfriesshire, which they bought for £975,000 in 2002, is rather remote, they even kindly offer to save you the journey to collect your puppy.

How do I know it's them?  Well, helpfully, there's this...Same basket... same blanket.. same stuffed toys. Plus although the contact details have been removed from these ads because the pups have been sold, the name listed when the ads are live is Philip Martin, Bert's partner.

Click to enlarge

Now I'm genuinely pro-crossbreeding when it's done well. I have no inherent objection to people making money out of dogs as long as their dogs are carefully bred and well-raised/kept. Maybe, although they don't mention it, all their stock is fully health-tested. Maybe pimping your puppies in cutesy-pie wicker baskets surrounded by soft toys is just fair-enough marketing these days. And while I am not a fan of breeding kennels, maybe these ones are exemplary and all those dogs get to run about their 70 acres every day.

I hope so.

Last night, the TV coverage of Crufts on More4 had a repellent piece of pro-purebred propaganda which said it was a myth that crossbreeds were healthier and implied there was no reputable crossbreeding - singling out the Cavachon as one designer cross being flogged on the internet by people with no morals for loadsamoney. The item also blamed the rise in the popularity of the designer dog for a 70 per cent increase in imported puppy-farmed pups from eastern Europe. (The reality is that many if not most of those imports are purebred pups - French Bulldogs, Pugs etc)

Here's (some of) the offending footage (NB: may not be available in every country).

Crufts 2016: watery-eyed, exercise-intolerant maggot wins the Toy group

Tonight, the Toy Group at Crufts 2016 was won by a Pekingese, Ch Yakee Ooh Ah Cantona.  I confess I yelled "Nooooo!" so loudly that all my dogs ran out of the room.

But at least they could.  Poor Eric had to be carried in the ring tonight by his rather creepy joint-owner Bert Easdon; and when the poor little thing was made to waddle for the judge, out popped a U-shaped tongue (seriously, can any Peke move at all without panting?) and the dog did his best to take a short-cut.

Afterwards, a tired Eric sat watery-eyed on the sofa with Easdon, who explained that his top show-dogs didn't actually live in the house because if they were allowed to mix when in full show-coat, they would chew each other's ears.

Thus denied even this one act of revenge on the humans who have bred them, Eric and his fellow hostages are doomed to spend their show careers crated or kennelled on their own. I bet they don't get out much, either.

The judge was awful too, making a point of dipping her pasty face into every dog's face, even pursing her lips to kiss one or two of them.  She may love her dogs, but she should know better than to do this with strange dogs - even the supposedly fondle-friendly runway models at Cruft's. The Italian Greyhound , the Crestie and the Pug recoiled visibly.

For those that don't know, Eric is the grandson of Yakee A Dangerous Liaison (aka Danny the Peke) who won Crufts in 2003,  After Danny's win, a rumour spread that Danny had had "a facelift". Owner Easdon denied it, saying that the dog had had an exploratory operation for tonsillitis.

In fact, as we revealed in Pedigree Dogs Exposed, Danny had had surgery to treat BOAS (brachycephalic obstructed airway syndrome) before his big win. I've never published this before, but now seems as good a time as any to show you this statement from Glasgow Vet School.

Despite this, the Kennel Club allowed Danny's win to stand. 

Danny sired over 49 puppies from 19 litters. His grandson Eric has already sired 59 puppies from 22 litters. 

There are no necessary health tests for Pekingese - and none listed for either dog on the KC's database.

Eric celebrated his win by chewing off what remained of his legs

Related post: Crufts winner Bert Easden embraces genetic diversity