Thursday 25 November 2010

Bulldogs: vets express their "disappointment" with the KC

Seems that I am not the only one who's confused regarding the KC's announcement on C-section limits. As I wrote here three days ago, the KC has added a little caveat to the new ruling (which comes into effect in January 2012) which would appear to allow business as usual, as long as a breeder's vet writes in to say that a C-section is necessary on welfare grounds.

This morning, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) say they are "very disappointed that the KC has not gone further. Both organisations lobbied strongly for KC to stop registering puppies from a bitch that has undergone one caesarean operation, with no exceptions, and will continue to push for this rule change.

"The BVA and BSAVA are also concerned about the get-out clause in the KC rules which will allow exceptions for “scientifically proven welfare reasons”. The organisations believe that this is an ill-defined term that could be open to abuse and that there should be no exceptions.

Commenting on the changes, Harvey Locke, President of the BVA, said: “We remain disappointed that the rule changes do not yet go far enough and that they are not being brought in earlier. The sooner we can start to tackle these major health and welfare problems, the better.”

Grant Petrie, President of BSAVA, added:

“No bitch should be expected to go through the trauma of a caesarean operation more than once. These rule changes are not perfect but they are a step in the right direction and we will continue to lobby the Kennel Club to tighten up its registration rules further."

Two days ago, I emailed RCVS President Peter Jinman for a statement in response to the KC's wriggling on this issue. He replies: "This is a ‘first step’ and while it may not go as far as we may like, it is to be applauded as a step in the right direction.

"Clearly it is for the KC, hopefully with guidance from the new Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding and the veterinary profession, to continue to address dog breeding issues. The KC does write and interpret its own rules, it equally will have to say how it sees those rules being used to fulfil its obligation to improve the outcome of the breeding of dogs.

"The College has, in discussion with the Kennel Club, cleared the way for veterinary surgeons to report the undertaking of a caesarean section without falling foul of any rules on confidentiality. We will continue to give advice to veterinary surgeons on how to respond to any new rules that the KC puts in place.

"As Professor Bateson pointed out ‘The health and welfare problems of dog breeding were first identified more than 40 years ago’. Like you, I do not wish to see another 40 years go by, and trust that this opening measure is but the first of many designed rapidly to address the welfare issues of dog breeding. "

It's nearer 50 years actually.  As I write in a forthcoming issue of Dogs Today (Jan issue, on sale in a couple of weeks' time):

In 1963, former BSAVA president Graham Oliver-Jones addressed the profession’s annual congress with these words: "We have recently been to the House of Commons on your behalf and met many members of both Houses. We told them of our tremendous interest in the abnormalities of some of the dogs that we are called upon to treat; and explaine that our concern is that dogs are being bred and born into this world to suffer throughout their lives from certain conditions which probably could be prevented."

In fact, the BSAVA organised an entire symposium in 1963 on "Abnormalities and Defects in Pedigree Dogs" and six accompanying papers were published, one by Dalmatian breeder, Eleanor Frankling, who wrote:  “…the tendency among breeders today is to adopt an attitude of “the more the better” over any desired point. If, for instance, small eyes are demanded as they are in the Chow standard, then “the smaller the better’’ and the foundations of entropion are there. The Alsatian stifles are described as “well turned”. I love the Alsatian and owned one when it was a noble upstanding animal. The angulation in hock and stifle is now so extreme that the hocks are practically non-existent and the animal walks almost on its metatarsals. It is short-legged and slinking.”

And it has got a whole heap worse since then. 

It is more than time for the veterinary profession to take a strong stand again on this issue.


  1. Absolutely. We are now being taught about pedigree dogs as part of our anatomy and clinical cases course. Today we were learning about Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Dermoid Sinus along side our neuroanatomy. Us "young vets" as Ann Woodrow would say, are actively being taught about breed specific predispositions. I hope to represent a generation of veterinary surgeons who do the right thing for the dogs, not the "breed".

  2. Why has it taken so many years for young vets to be taught anything about different breeds of dog, the prices they charge one would of hoped they could at least recognise a breed, but it seems not!

  3. I hope never to run into a vet like you.. imagine just now learning about breeds of dogs.. something I would think every vet should have known BEFORE they were admitted to school.. no wonder breeders shun vets who will not listen to a breeder who has years of experience in a certain breed Vet should always do the best thing for dogs but within that knowledge they should be open to knowledge about breeds.. ( no not in quotes)

  4. We're not learning about breeds of dogs, we are being taught neuroanatomy, more specifically the development of the spinal cord and brain. It just happened that we looked at the case study of a Rhodesian Ridgeback with Dermoid Sinus and how it is a result of a neural tube defect.
    I apologise if I wrongly phrased my comment to sound like we needed to be taught about breeds of dogs.

  5. I guess it's time to start limiting c-sections on humans, too. What do you do? 2nd kid, also a c-section.....then what?

  6. There are a great many women who would be quite determined that one C-section was enough.

    Voluntarily let themselves in for a third C-section?....... I don't think so.

  7. The difference is that humans are not being selectively bred by another species and we don't normally have more than one baby at a time. Survivable caesarians are probably somewhat relaxing selection for the ability to survive natural childbirth in humans, but there's no reason to think they're positively selecting against it.

    The only reason for a breeder to want to do 3 caesarians on one bitch is that the bitch has other characteristics that the breeder thinks are desirable. Otherwise, why not spay her and breed litters from a bitch who can survive the process of giving birth.

    If the 3 caesarians all produce 4 puppies that are "good" enough to be chosen for breeding in the next generation that's huge artificial selection against the ability to give birth normally.

  8. I usually don't think about limiting the number of c-sections in bitches, but after reading this post, I have given it some thought.

    People cheat. When writing rules and laws, I think people should word those rules and laws in a manner which limits cheating and loopholes, and with a mind to decreases the efforts of those entrusted with the enforcement of those rules and laws.

    If you make the limit so that every c-section is also a spay, you could enforce that limit. As a bonus, the mother dog does not need a second operation.

    Anesthesia and surgery is no walk in the park for the mother dog, and nursing and caring for a whole litter while trying to recover from the same, is a drain and a pain on the mother dog. Why make her go through it again?

    Also: What trait is more important: a big head or the ability to whelp without surgery?

    Limiting a mother dog to one c-section, is a good way to encourage breed reform towards healthier, fitter dogs. A sire with a huge head, tends to sire puppies with a huge head.

    I have read that, in cattle, some bulls sire calves who can't be born without human assistance, even when bred to mother cows who have calved naturally before.

    To read more on these bulls, look up "myostatin", "double-muscled cattle" or "Belgian Blue dystocia".

  9. We could feel maternal both about our pet dog having puppies, and about hearing of a woman were know having a baby, but the comparison stops there.

    When we are discussing population genetics, people and animlas are "apples and oranges". Discussions about people and their babies is sociology, with animals it is animal husbandry.

    All domestic animals depend on us to choose their mates. We let people choose their own mates.

    In people, most women who are able to have a baby are allowed to have a baby if they want to. In dogs many are spayed without ever having a litter of puppies, while other feamsle dogs might have over 100 puppies.

    In men, many men have a wife and a few children. In male dogs, it is common for most of the male dogs to be eunuchs or to live their lives as a virgin, while other dogs sire hundreds of puppies.

    It is this "feast or famine" uneven dog breeding which has caused the loss of genetic diversity and the inbreeding of purebred dogs.

    Also, dog breeders often select some dogs for breeding based on how extreme they are. Human society doesn't select which people get to have a baby.

    Socially, and in the big picture, how we select which dogs to breed, has nothing to do with how men and women choose each other, marry, or have babies.

    Talking about controlling dog breeders has no more to do with people, than selecting racing horses has to do with women.

    I think this type of arguement is pointless.

  10. shame vets have a predisposition to some breeds, and see them as money makers for them, if they cared to learn and not be blinkered they would find that the well breed ones do not have the problem's that they tell people who walk into there surgerys with have.
    Yes some do, these are breed mostly by people who do not care about the breed, but for god sake humans are not getting themselfs right so why do we think that animals will be any diffrent, nature has a way of kicking us in the teeth and often dose, noone who care wants to breed unhealthy dogs.
    My breed/dogs are a very big part of my life and I don't want to breed ill unhealthy pet's so come on use some sence and give us show breeders a break, not all are bad.