« NAIA Feedbag: 1/18/11 | Main | Another Border Collie in the News; Beware of Pets in Beds! »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Well said and I am in total agreement.


Thank you for this balanced view!


While a vet may be able to see some health issues from the dog's appearance, most health issues are "under the hood" so to speak and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Some examples that come to mind - ED, HD, cataracts (unless really bad), SAS to name a few. These to me are extremely important.


Well said Marty as always! Great article.


Excellent article. I completely agree that the way this has been implemented is problematic. However, I would be extremely interested to know what you feel IS a solution. I find the exaggerated features purposefully bred into some breeds that result in almost guaranteed health problems is a very real problem in our fancy. Not only do the dogs suffer, but the practice lends major ammunition to the AR agenda.

Based on the current condition of some breeds (and some very high profile winners as of late) it appears clear that even if some breeders within a given breed may be trying to clean up the problem, not all are. Is there any real chance at all that this will change without a forced hand? Unfortunately, I don't think so.

Christina Maxwell

Thank you for a thoughtful article but I feel you are being a little unfair to the Kennel Club. Obviously the current examination of the 15 breeds (and the timing of it) with withdrawal of Best of Breed for those who 'fail' does seem like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut but I can see where they are coming from. In recent years we have had the rewriting of breed standards and the formation of breed councils, both of which, in the case of my breed (Chows) has had some benefit. In our case entropion has been reduced and also skin problems, though I suspect that has as much to do with changes in feeding and improved parasite control. However, as far as I can tell there has been little improvement in, for instance, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and cruciate ligament injuries. None of these, obviously, can be diagnosed by sight alone though in my experience, with Chows, you can get some idea by looking at the conformation of the hind quarters. Some Chows have what I call 'teapot bum(!)', where the tail looks like it has been stuck on as an afterthought rather than flowing up and over the spine as it should.
I personally don't have a problem with very heavy headed Chows as in my experience they still function perfectly well, both in their everyday lives and breeding-wise, as long as they don't have entropion. I was informed by a very wise man, the chief eye man at Edinburgh Vet School in fact, that entropion is NOT determined by the heaviness of the head but by an equal mix of genetics and environmental factors, something that is bourne out by my own exoeriences with the breed in that of the four I have had to have operated on one was heavy and three were certainly not! Of the three who were not two suffered badly from skin problems and the entropion started during bad eczema flare ups.
Apologies for my random musings and anecdotal observations.
I would like to add that I feel extremely sad for the breeders of the dogs who were disqualified at Crufts, what a horrible shock for them and I have seen nothing to suggest that they are anything but decent breeders. In summary the Kennel Club might have got the METHOD a bit wrong but the INTENTIONS are right.

Wendy Graves

Very well said, and I am in total agreement with this. Crufts intentions may have been good but their method and current process of protecting breeds is not.


A very simplistic view stated by Dr Greer.

Firstly the breeds and breed traits were NOT selected selected by Crufts. Crufts is just another show, abit a high profiles show, just like any other, and as such is held under rules laid down by the UK KC. The decision to vet check certain breeds was taken by the KC based on the Bateson report on pedigree dog health.

Second, logistically it would be impossible to vet check all dogs at Crufts or even all entries in the 15 breeds considered at risk. Yes it would be nice to test all qualifying dogs at the show where they qualified, but Crufts is a very international show, with dogs coming from all over the world. And other countries would not take kindly to us trying to dictate how they run their shows. The Clumber for example came to Crufts from Croatia, and in a champion in many countries including America, but NOT incidentally a UK champion, so it's possible that it's never been to the UK before Crufts! No chance to vet check it before the day!

As to point 3. As I said above, Crufts officials are targetting nothing, mearely obeying the rules laid down by the UK KC.

Point 4 I explained in point one.

Point 5 is really nothing about showing. A dog with a cruciate injury would never move acceptably in the ring. These things have nothing to do with showing. I know for example that at least two teams are looking for the gene/genes for epilepsy in Labradors, and after owning an epileptic Labrador it's something close to my heart. But nothing that can be viewed or judged in the show ring. Remember, a judge is judging the dog in the ring, not the dogs name!

Is it correct to remove all dogs from the breeding pool who have a health problem? At first sight one has to say yes. But looked at a bit deeper, for example, most Bulldogs have health problem. Take those dogs from the gene pool and are you then going to have to breed so tightly that the breed starts suffering from inbreeding depression? I think it very likely. In other words, use that approach and the breed will go extinct. What Bulldogs are has taken over 100 years so to think it can be changed at a stroke is living in cloud Cuckoo land. Yes the breed can be improved, if everyone wants it. The KC for example changed the wording of the Bulldog Breed Standard to try to remove excesses, but the KC's in other countries, I believe the AKC for one refused to change theirs. So in time we are going to have two very different Bulldogs in the world, in the same way that the AKC in their wisdom decided to issue a very different Labrador Standard to the UK standard, effectively creating a different breed.

It’s easy to be the “Expert” and write how good the KC has been to make a stand, or how bad the KC has been to penalise those poor dogs and owners. But things are never that easy. Yes I think the KC needed to do something, but no, I don’t think they have got it right yet. In the same way it’s easy to kick the breeders for what they have done. But strange no one was making a fuss before the Jemima Harrison's “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” program. Being wise after the event is not clever. (That bit is not aimed at Dr Greer, but a general statement aimed at everyone jumping in on the bandwaggon, and there are plenty of those!)


thankyou for ur unbiased point of view, thoroughly enjoyed reading this article :)

Maureen Sanderson

Extremely well said!!! Great that both sides of this controversial subject were addressed. Thank you for sharing you views and communicating it so well!!!


BRAVO..I am sending this to all of my British friends..

Angela Stein

VERY Fair & Balanced!

Leo Maxwell aka Fairfax

Crufts will no longer be a show of importance. The anti breeder agenda of the RSPCA is equivalent to the Humane Society of United States. Their goal is to destroy breeders and all exhibitions. Wayne Pacelle of HSUS and all of his world side counter parts have stated ALL breeds are man made and therefore should be one generation and out. We have endured Vets who misinterpret and misuse scales to further the rights of the "pet".

ann Waters

What an in depth and balanced article. it hits the nail right on ghe head.

ann Waters

What an in depth and balanced article. it hits the nail right on ghe head.


Very intresting article, and so right considering the health issues.
Only thing is, while this is a comment to the do's and don't's of Crufts, this view is too broad, in this situation. Offering the malicious a reason to say this is not fair, so it's not good.

We are in a "beauty" contest. So only exterior is shown. For that reason, only health issues that can be seen, should be taken care of in this matter. While a judge of beauty is not ALLOWED to judge health problems, the idea of using vet's for that, is a correct one.

Dog's that cannot breath properly, cannot walk in a normal way and have constant pain because of eye / back or skull problems f.e., can easily be deducted on sight.

So this is only a start. You have to begin at one point.

Altough I think the way this rule was implemented was rather harsh, when one speaks of fair or unfair, maybe this was the only way to begin.
Is it fair to let a dog suffer, because the owner can win a beauty contest?
Most breeders see their dogs as their childs. What would you choose for your children?

You can say, it's not honoust that only the winning dog's get a vet check. But you also can see this from another angle.
Every breeder should know how to breed. By entering the ring, you confirm to that rule. So it really doesn't matter if a check comes before or after a show. (Like a doping test in sports.)
And of course there is the practical thing, that testing all dogs is way to expensive. So it's understandable that an organisation chooses this way.

Hopefully, soon, kennelclubs all over the world will see to other healthproblems that cannot be seen from the outside more profound that is done nowadays.
To back up the responsible breeders that always ask : Do I breed to win contests in the first place or do I breed because I like healthy dogs that have a good life and besides that also can win contests?
Because health in dogs is always, in the first place a breeders thing.


Speaking about cattle, farmers do not have closed pedigrees perse.
In the past there have been problems with the genetic structure of cattle. And there still is.
Only thing is, most cattle don't die of old age. So diseases like cancer some eye diseases etc never show up.
Besides that, farmers have the opportunity to use other genetic material.
Dogbreeders don't.

Karen Hedberg BVSc

Very well and throughly thought out from all angles. If one dog/breed is checked within a group, all dogs/breeds should be checked as is the rule when judging within a single class - if one is measured, all should be measured, if one is temperament tested, all are temperament tested.
On the examination itself, can someone tell me how they can discard results from qualified specialists?Many animals have clearances/passed health screening for various conditions within their breeds - are these results to be ignored - if so, it is sending the wrong message - like why bother to test if the results will be ignored?
On the judging, most judges are quite competent to carry out visual checks for health - lameness/soundness of movement relative to their standards, healthy eyes(not squinting/no discharges), healthy coats etc - unless these dogs are in peak condition, they are rarely selected to win a class.
While I appluade the increasing use of health testing, be it of repeatable reliable schemes (hip/elbow screening), DNA testing, eye screening etc, surely this should be the aim/basis for improving the overall health of breeds in the long term, for as the author states many diseases and deadly/debhilitating diseases are not visible to the naked eye.
If needs be, long term goals should then tie good/excellent health results to the issuing of challenge certificates as is occuring the some Scandanavian countries at present.
"Testing" a few dogs by non-specialist veterinarians does not improve dogs, apart from creating the warm fuzzy feeling as mentioned within the general public.


Hear Hear!!How refreshing to hear a sensible objective comment on this matter without the high flown hysteria and personal bias that we so often see. I cannot agree more.

It is about time we had some common sense in this matter and actions based on sound research and statistical data not propaganda


Yes, but judges are making their decisions based on external physical characteristics. Isn't it fair enough that the system should do what it can to encourage judges and therefore breeders to avoid producing dogs with external physical characteristics which carry a health cost? As far as the "hidden" issues go, maybe where there are tests available they should be made compulsory for competing dogs (and certainly for breeding stock). I don't think anyone is claiming that the new checks are going to solve all problems, but at least it's a start.


Excellent article!

Have EVERY breed vet checked and certified for every known disease within the breed within seven days of the show. No certificate, automatic scratching.

Vicki Smith

Excellent, balanced post. Let us hope commons sense will prevail in the end.

Peter Lundin

Most production animals are actually outcrosses.


Very well said.

Kathy Kail

Please don't use the word hybrid for mixed breeds, since too many pet people think mixes must have "hybrid vigor", which they can't have because dogs are all the same species. We need to get over the general public's idea that any randomly bred mixed breed dog must be healthier than a purebred.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Support NAIA!

Tip Jar

Become a Fan