Monday 6 November 2023

Shocking! And here's how YOU can help stop this abuse

Kennel Club registered - Britishbullz Fat Jack

Last year, the UK Kennel Club registered over 60,000 Bulldog, French Bulldog and Pug puppies  and fewer than five per cent of these puppies were born to parents whose breathing had been tested before they were bred. This despite respiratory issues being their number one health issue. 

Today, Bulldogs, Frenchies and Pugs make up one in five of all the dogs registered with the Kennel Club - an increase from one in fifty in 2005.

Thousands more untested dogs are bred outside of the Kennel Club. There is, currently, an appetite for very extreme, freakish looking dogs - some sold for £100k and more by unscrupulous breeders.

As many people know, these breeds suffer from many health issues as a result of being bred for a flat (brachycephalic) face, with one of the most serious being Brachycephalic Obstructed Airway Syndrome (BOAS). 

A conservative estimate suggests that 67% of Bulldogs, 54% of all Frenchies and 75% of all Pugs in the UK exhibit some degree of BOAS.  The true figure is likely to be higher.

The 'air hunger' these dogs  experience has been described by experts as a significant welfare concern - in the same category as drowning or being deliberately asphyxiated. At best it is unpleasant; at worst terrifying.

The health issues suffered by short-faced (brachycephalic) dogs are considered so serious that the Netherlands has now banned their breeding . Other countries are now considering introducing their own measures - from an outright ban to strict breeding rules.

In 2019, in response to increasing concern from veterinarians and welfare bodies, the Kennel Club introduced a breathing scheme for Bulldogs, Frenchies and Pugs. The scheme grades dogs' breathing between 0 and 3, with Grade 0 being unaffected and Grade 3 being severely affected. 

The scheme is only mandatory for breeders signed up the KC's elite Assured Breeder Scheme but there are very few of these (just 11 assured Pug breeders in the whole of the UK) and there is no pass or fail. For all other breeders/owners, it is voluntary and uptake has been slow.

While some of the more health-conscious breeders are now testing, the vast majority of Bulldogs, Frenchies and Pug puppies registered by the Kennel Club have not been tested and are at an increased risk of suffering significant breathing issues.

This dog above ,for example, is registered with the Kennel Club. He has not been BOAS tested and it is likely from his conformation that he is severely affected. His pups, all Kennel Club registered, are currently being offered for sale on Gumtree. 

His pedigree name is Britishbullz Fat Jack - born in the UK on 9th June 2022 (incorrectly registered as fawn). 

Here's what he looked like as a pup:

Here is his sister:

Fat Jack was exported to the US earlier this year and, thanks to the reciprocal agreement between the UK Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club, Fat Jack is now registered with the AKC. 

Fat Jack's sire is Jackpot of Cheshire - a dog that sired 19 KC litters until his death in June 2022 at the age of just 18 months. 

Jackpot's sire is four-year-old Topboy Bully, still only four years old. He has sired - wait for it - 80 KC-registered litters.

And Topboy Bully's sire is Burleybulls Nemesis, who has sired 160 KC-registered litters.

"We're just a register!" is the KC's defence. And indeed, the KC makes it clear in their small-print that KC registration is no guarantee of a quality dog. 

"Think of us as the DVLA for dogs," said a spokesperson for the KC recently. But cars have to meet manufacturing guidelines before they can be sold and they require annual tests to ensure their road-worthiness. 

I have always been sympathetic to the argument that it is better to register these dogs than not. After all, if the KC had not registered them I couldn't give you the above info. 
But it is deeply shocking that dogs like Fat Jack and his relatives are being bred and legitimised through KC registration. 

Being able to breathe is something just SO fundamental to quality of life - and the situation is now just SO serious that we need to do something.

I am calling on the Kennel Club and ultimately the Government to make pre-breeding breathing tests mandatory in order to prevent the legitimisation of dogs like the above, and I am also asking that only dogs graded 0/1 are bred, as has recently been ruled by the Supreme Court in Norway. Most health-conscious breeders in the above breeds would be in full support of this move.

Please sign the petitition urging the Kennel Club and the UK Government to take action now! Together we can make a difference to these dogs' lives.