Thursday 25 November 2010

Kennel Club fails to grasp concept of independence

Now it's the KC's turn to be disappointed. Dog World today reports that the KC is not best pleased that, despite fielding four of its own candidates to sit on the new independent Dog Advisory Council, none of them was appointed.

So what part of the word "independent" does the KC not understand? Why would the Council appoint someone who works for the organisation that is responsible, in no small part, for the whole sorry mess in the first place; the organisation that is supposed to be main beneficiary of the Council's advice?

And what's with this sour-grapes quote from KC Chairman Ronnie Irving (one of the KC applicants)?

Mr Irving said he did not doubt the first-rate academic qualifications of ‘most of those chosen... However we are concerned that some of those appointed have a past history of making what can only be regarded as anti-pedigree-dog noises." 

I have no doubt that several on the new Council have expressed their serious concern about the state of pedigree dogs today, but this is not "anti-pedigree" (although the KC always thinks it is).

Ronnie Irving goes on to express his hope that "they will all be able to leave such positions behind and will be truly independent of their current and previous associations in order to ensure the best future for dogs."

What, like he would have done if appointed?

There might be more disappointment for Ronnie to come. Dog World reports that "the KC is pleased that council chairman Professor Sheila Crispin believes the burning issues for the council to tackle are reportedly puppy farming and status dogs."

Now it is true that, up until now, Professor Crispin has put puppy farming and status dogs on the top of her list and I know that these are issues she is very keen that the Council tackles - but in an interview on Radio 4 earlier this week there appeared to be a shift in emphasis. After a discussion about how a univeral puppy contract would give consumers more protection when things go wrong, Professor Crispin was asked what else was high on her list of priorities. "Well obviously genetic and breed-related disease, exagggerated conformations, but also perhaps the hidden diseases, metabolic diseases that dogs may develop later on in life," she answered. "So genetic, inherited disease and then really everything else boils down to irresponsible breeding and irresponsible ownership."


  1. are you not the same person who said Prof Crispin was a Kennel Club insider and theroe a lackie, or so you now withdraw that? or id it the two faces you have that will stand by those remarks

  2. What exactly is The Independent Dog Advisory Counsil? Who funds it?

    What powers does it have? Can it make any laws, or binding rules? What is it's legal position vs that of the KC - can it rule over the KC in any way, or can the KC ignore the IDAC?

    What is the IDAC's charter - what is it trying to accomplish?

  3. "are you not the same person who said Prof Crispin was a Kennel Club insider and theroe a lackie, or so you now withdraw that? or id it the two faces you have that will stand by those remarks" wrotes Anon.

    I have never accused Sheila Crispin of being a KC "lackie" but yes, have certainly expressed my concerns that she is too much of a KC insider to head up a body that is overseeing the Kennel Club. She is, after all, an Hon Member of the KC and she still sits on their Dog Health Group. This is not imcompatible with me now feeling heartened by what would seem to be a change in her emphasis. This is called being being prepared to moderate your view should new information come in that challenges your existing view. I hope, however passionately I feel about this subject, that I am not blind to that.

  4. For more info on the Dog Advisory Council, see:

  5. I hope, however passionately I feel about this subject, that I am not blind to that" LMAO you need a labrador my love

  6. "she listed "genetic and breed-related disease and exaggerated features" as her number one priorities - an interesting shift in emphasis. " I think you need your hearing tested this was just one of the many points she said about, why do you try and twist the words of others to suit yourself? Listen to it and hear what she said and tell the truth or cant reporters do that?

  7. I wish the new council all the best. They have some huge issues to tackle and there will always be certain issues that some may feel should be sorted before others.
    We should all be behind this new group of INDEPENDENT ADVISORS, and lets face it, it may never have been formed had it not been for PDE and 3 majors welfare reports that followed.

  8. Well it certainly sounded like a change in emphasis to me (she did not actually mention puppy farms by name whereas she was quite specific about genetic/inherited disease and exaggeration conformation) but I was, perhaps, a little too emphatic. Have edited it.

  9. Dijana from Sweden27 November 2010 at 21:01

    I have a bit of concern with the sentence "a univeral puppy contract would give consumers more protection when things go wrong".

    I do understand that irresponsible breeding (and also upbringing of the puppies) is the main foundation for the diseases of our dogs today. But I do feel that you're sort of stabbing the breeders in the back when you force them to pay for the illnesses that our dogs show to day.

    Why? Because the KC doesn't really allow responsible breeding if you think about it. You'll simply have a hard time getting rid of genetic diseases when you can't crossbreed to get healthy blood into your lines. You can't choose to include a larger part of the genetic pool in a breed because they HAVE to follow the rigid standard (not too tall or too small, not the wrong colour, not showed or whatever the standard/breed clubs doesn't allow). Not all health-tests are approved (only when the KC/breed club feel it's relevant- at least that's the way it works in Sweden) etc.

    When you think about it, some breeds are so sick that you'd be financially ruined if you wanted to breed it (even try to do it the responsible way) and have to pay for the sick puppies you breed. Simply because there is no healthy breeding material for you to use since the previous generations of breeders did a shitty work and painted us all into a corner.
    This would mean either the downfall of some ill breeds (and I can't seem to decide if that's a good or a bad thing?) or a change in their breed standards.

    When I think about it, some breeders are really stubborn and would rather let their dogs become sick "down to their bones" than to change their looks. This is what we have seen so far in our dog world and that's the sole reason we have these discussions...

  10. In some ways the most worrying prospect is that everyone will say: "Why don't you do something about what he's doing instead of picking on us?" and nothing will get done about anything.

  11. Dijana - I believe the puppy contract here will be based, at least in part, on the Swedish one. I don't think you should be too spooked. Everyone recognises, I hope, that dogs are not fridges. There can be no absolute guarantees. I believe the puppy contract will ask that breeders have done their best - ie taken reasonable steps to ensure their pups are healthy. And will, equally, demand that buyers do their bit, too.

  12. Dijana from Sweden28 November 2010 at 16:20

    Ah! Is there anywhere I could find a current UK contract to look at?
    I've been trying to look at the KC's web-service page but it completely eludes me..

  13. The puppy contract is being worked on by the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation and the RSPCA, among others - but not by the KC which is opposed to it. Reasons for this are unclear - although the guess is that it's because it would be tougher re health than the contracts KC breeders use currently. At the moment, breeders draw up their own and they vary enormously. Here's one for flatcoats. A rather limited warranty, as you can see - particularly note Clauses 3 + 4. If a breeder using this contract decided to mate two dogs that were known to be affected/carriers of a genetic disease and the puppies later develop the condition, he would not be liable. Under the new contract, he may be. (I should say that this contract belongs to a responsible flatcoat breeder who wouldn't do such a dodgy breeding so please note I am using it as an example only.)

    1. Your new puppy has been bred and reared with the utmost love and care to every detail. These points have been drawn up to maintain the quality both in your puppy and in the Flatcoated Retriever breed.

    2. The puppy is believed to be in good health but you are strongly advised to take it to your veterinary surgeon for a general health check within four days of purchase. It is always useful to establish a relationship with your vet at this stage. This check and any tests or examinations associated with it must be at your expense.

    3. If your veterinary surgeon finds any problem which, in his their opinion, renders the puppy unfit for sale, I will take the puppy back and refund the full purchase price on condition that the puppy is returned within seven days of purchase and is in the same state of health as when it was sold. Before purchase you should consider the puppy as a living thing which will become a much loved member of the family in a very short time, and this may effect what you wish to do if return of the puppy becomes necessary. After drawing your attention to this possibility, I can not be held responsible for any distress caused to you and your family by return of the puppy.

    4. Before purchase, I recommend that you consult your veterinary surgeon about this breed and any possible diseases, genetic or otherwise, to which it is prone, and you accept that I, the breeder, can not be held responsible if such a disease develops later in life; after a satisfactory preliminary examination by your veterinary surgeon.

    5. The Flatcoated Retriever Society have recommended that your pup's pedigree is endorsed with a Kennel Club Export Restriction, to prevent export to parts of the world where standards of canine care are low. Additionally, in an attempt to prevent puppy farming, a breeding endorsement is also in force. Both of these endorsements can be lifted by myself, or my executors should you have a bona-fide reason to emigrate or to breed from your dog after proof of satisfactory hip-score and eye test.

    6. Should your circumstances change in the future and you become unable to keep the Flatcoated Retriever, he/she should not be placed in general rescue kennels but referred immediately to me, the breeder.

    7. The purchaser agrees to abide by the Code of Ethics drawn up by the Flatcoated Retriever Society.


    By contrast, I know of one amazing ridgeback breeder in the US who offer a LIFETIME guarantee against inherited disorders. For her pet/companion pups her contract states that "the dog will have no inherited medical problems that would prevent it from being a normally-active companion with an average lifespan." (Thus a minor degree of HD would not be covered, but severe HD would, although the the contract also states that the warantee is invalidated if the owner does not keep the dog within 10lbs of the appropriate weight for that dog's height and build.)

    And those willing to pay for show/breeding potential pups get a guarantee against any degree of the inherited problems that would prevent
    that dog from ethically being used for breeding.


  14. The mew universal puppy contract is being worked on by the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation and the RSPCA, among others. The KC is opposed to it so you won't find a copy of the KC website. I believe the reason for the opposition is that it will go further than the contracts KC breeders currently use. These vary but usually give a very limited warranty (typically requiring the purchaser to get the puppy vet-checked within four days of purchase - with any conditions that appear after that period not covered).

    At the other end of the scale, I know of one amazing Ridgeback breeder (in the US) who offers a lifetime warranty against inherited disorders that shorten lifespan - subject to certain requirements, such as, in the case of HD in a pet-quality dog, that the dog is not overweight. In a show-quality pup, the guarantee is against any condition that would mean the dog could not ethically be bred from. Impressive. Even more impressive is that she has never had to honour it. But then ridgebacks are a healthy breed (notwithstanding the dermoid sinus problem). This would be an impossible guarantee to give in many other breeds, unless you were a millionaire.

    I suspect the new puppy contract will be somewhere inbetween.

  15. It doesn't actually give much protection to the puppy, though? I know of cases where pups were returned and then re-sold with a cock-and-bull story that what was wrong with them had been caused by the initial purchaser. (Obviously this was a highly unethical breeder and I would greatly doubt that she was KC registered).

    In many cases the ideal situation would be for part of all of the purchase price to be refunded to be used to pay for veterinary treatment of the puppy. An example would be entropion, where the best outcome would be for the puppy to stay with the purchaser who'd got fond of it, but getting the treatment needed to have good quality of life.

  16. What good is a guarantee if you have you have to give your dog away to a dog breeder to collect on it?

  17. Dijana from Sweden30 November 2010 at 13:02

    Well in a way I do understand that contract, if the puppy is unfit for sale the breeder would probably want to have it back so that she can make sure that it won't be mistreated. If you buy a puppy and the first thing that happens is that it gets sick, then some people would want to get rid of it. Mainly cause these kind of illnesses (that you haven't detected before selling the puppy) are hard to deal with an will cost a lot of money and heartache. More money than what you paid for the pup and more money than the breeder can give you.

    This is why most breeders in Sweden usually get a "hidden fault" insurance to make sure that if the puppy get sick the breeders insurance kicks in. This means that if the dog develops any illness within 3 years of purchase (that has been developed before the owners bought it) they will get paid the full amount given for the puppy when purchased. If they don't get this insurance they are, by law, forced to pay back the money either way.
    But honestly I'm not sure whether or not you get to keep the puppy, I hardly doubt it cause usually when you return a faulty item you have to give it back to get your money..

  18. You can get computer warranties for repair, so I don't think there's any legal reason why you couldn't have something similar for a puppy. In fact, suitable breeders pet insurance to cover treatment of pre-existing conditions might be the solution.

    There would probably be higher premiums for more problematic breeds which would provide an incentive to breed for health.