Welfare groups claim new Kennel Club requirements for some show dogs to undergo veterinary examinations are a “positive step” for canine health, but claim they do not go far enough.

Welfare groups claim new Kennel Club requirements for some show dogs to undergo veterinary examinations are a “positive step” for canine health, but claim they do not go far enough.

High profile breeds, including the Shar Pei, will be required to undertake vet exams under new Kennel Club rules.From March next year all high profile breeds in line for a win at Kennel Club dog shows must undergo a vet exam. The move represents a policy shift for the organisation – currently animals can be removed from an event if they look unhealthy but checks are not compulsory.

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said a minority of breeders and judges were promoting unhealthy dogs and “bringing down the reputation of the hobby and the rest of the dog showing fraternity”.

She said: “The Kennel Club must ensure, for the good of dogs, that only healthy dogs go home from dog shows with prizes.”

The changes will apply to the club’s 15 “high profile” dog breeds, such as the bulldog, pug, Pekingese and Shar Pei, affecting all relevant dogs up for Best of Breed at Crufts 2012 and all general and championship shows at local level after that event.

Dogs Trust veterinary director Chris Laurence told vetsonline the exams would be a “positive step” in discouraging the showing of unhealthy dogs, however, he called for them to be extended to all dogs at all shows, not just the 15 profiled breeds.

Claire Calder, senior scientific officer for companion animal science at the RSPCA.He said: “Some significant health conditions will not be detectable so this is not a sure way to ensure that only healthy dogs are championed. Health checks at shows are one part of the bigger picture of reducing the levels of inherited disease in pedigree dogs.”

Claire Calder, senior scientific officer for companion animal science at the RSPCA, welcomed the requirement for health checks, but believes the requirements “do not go far enough” and should apply to the other 180 breeds not on the high profile list.

“While the RSPCA is pleased that the Kennel Club is making positive first steps to improve pedigree dog health, we believe that there is still a lot more that needs to be done,” she said.

Miss Calder said recent scientific evidence suggested 50 of the country’s most popular breeds showed examples of conformation that might cause suffering.

She also worried that show vets would not be able to assess animals on physicality alone, which itself could led to welfare problems, though not necessarily produce clinical signs of bad health.

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