From my Dog World column ‘Crossing the headlines’ (10th July 2013) where I look into the direction our UK Kennel Club appears to be heading in.

These are certainly turbulent times for the world of pedigree dogs. Hardly a week goes by without some edict being issued from Clarges Street that often results in the stirring up of simmering resentment! What with the reductions in CC allocation, the registration of ‘undesirable colours’ and now the talk of registering ‘cockerpoos’ and ‘doodles’. It’s certainly left a number of us scratching our heads in confusion questioning the direction in which our Kennel Club is heading?

Well it seems we need question no longer as a recent article by Ronnie Irving appears to shed light on the KC’s thinking. It appears that because 4,000 labradoodles were microchipped last year (through the KC’s microchipping system) it now feels compelled to “help and advise” the breeders of such dogs on how to breed healthy animals. One way of doing so, it claims, is to welcome them onto the Assured Breeder Scheme and encourage them to use the relevant health screening tests.

Purity

Now, I know many of us had assumed – quite wrongly it would appear – that our KC was all about the promotion and improvement of pedigree dogs. But, no, we were in fact wrong in that assumption for, as Mr Irving points out in his article in the American paper Dog News (June 7), the initial objectives for the KC back in 1873 was to “promote in every way the general improvement of dogs”. He states, quite correctly, that the rule “in no way referred to purebred or pedigree dogs” however I believe that ‘purity’ of the breeds must have been the founding fathers’ intention, especially given the fact that many hound packs had been practicing line breeding and keeping ‘pedigrees’ many, many years before that fateful meeting at No 2 Albert Mansions in 1873.

Mr Irving goes on to brand anyone who dares to resist the acceptance and registration of such ‘designer’ dogs as ‘Luddites’. Such terminology is, I believe, quite offensive and unfair to the thousands who have willingly supported and eagerly embraced the myriad of KC directives, paying a lot of money to have their animals screened and health checked and have carefully following the issued guidelines to produce happy, well socialised, healthy puppies.

Week in, week out, these people travel up and down the country (in all weathers) supporting the shows and their respective breeds.

So, yes, naturally these ‘luddites’ are very angry that we now seem to have a KC that on the one hand spouts on about “getting tough on the unscrupulous breeders and the need for responsible breeding”, yet on the other hand seem to be giving, what appears to be, the seal of approval to breeders of crossbreeds now wishing to register their pups and granting them the status of ‘Assured Breeder’ – all at a time when many of our native breeds are going to the wall.

The more cynical among us say that all talk of ‘designer dog’ registration is down to revenue and it does indeed seem a very strange coincidence that along with a fall in pedigree pup registrations this subject should now suddenly raise its head. How on earth can it be ‘responsible’ to promote the breeding of crossbred puppies when our shelters and charities are already bursting at the seams with such dogs? And, where will it end? Will we have the scenario of an ever-expanding number of breeds, far more than there are competent breeders and owners to care for them? Or, have we indeed already reached that point?

Instead of promoting the breeding of these fancifully titled mongrels, maybe it should adopt the policy of the animal charities (inundated with cockerpoos and labradoodles) and support their neutering.

And to those who scream, “How do you think your breed of dog came about?” I would answer that the majority of our established breeds’ foundations go back well over 60 to 100 years – back to a time when culling was widely and ruthlessly enforced. Such practices are now, of course, deemed unacceptable. So just where would the surplus (those that don’t make the grade in the formation of these new ‘breeds’) find homes?

Others point to the unique qualities of these ‘breeds’. Just what these are is anyone’s guess. It defies belief that such ‘qualities’ cannot be found in the 200 or so breeds recognised by our KC.

Public opinion

Mr Irving finishes his article by saying, “the most important issue for modern day kennel clubs to consider is their ability to influence public opinion and legislation.”

Really?

And is our KC doing a very good job at that? There certainly seems to be very little sign of its presence in the mainstream media.

Time and time again I’ve seen chat shows lambast pedigree dogs. I have heard ‘celebrity’ vets confidently state: “It’s a proven fact that your average Heinz-57 is healthier than your pedigree dog.”

There has been no sign of any KC presence on these chat shows and no robust challenges have ever been issued to such vets to prove these ‘facts’. Indeed, the KC appears to have distanced itself from defending the show scene and the pedigree world (maybe to further justify its claim as the ‘voice for ALL dogs’) yet, despite such moves, it continues to be seen as an irrelevance by the mainstream media and one only has to look at the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s recent exclusion of the KC from giving evidence at its latest session on dangerous dogs to see just what the government thinks of the organisation. When the media and government need to consult, they go to what they perceive to be the ‘voice of dogs’ and that is usually The Dogs Trust or Battersea Dogs Home.

Our KC urgently needs to listen to the groundswell of opposition and concern from its supporters and members – the people to whom it owes its very existence. The pedigree and show world has so much to teach the general public about the proper breeding and raising of dogs and this should be the thing that is heavily promoted. Our shows are an incredible spectacle for the general public and the promotion of such shows and showing should be its number one priority.

It needs to listen to the ‘old guard’ who constantly put forward ideas to reverse the decline of our sport.

In these harsh economic conditions (with ever-escalating fuel costs), restricting CC allocations is absolute madness. I certainly wouldn’t travel miles to a show that didn’t offer the chance of a CC and I’m sure many other show-goers feel the same. The argument that CCs for every breed would create ‘cheap champions’ really doesn’t hold water. There are ‘cheap’ champions in most breeds and, once again, there seems to be that same strange KC paradox of upholding a strict standard at one end while preparing to ‘dumb down’ at the other!

I sincerely hope the KC listens to the concerns and worries of its staunch supporters before its ‘jack of all trades’ stance leads to a revolution and renewed calls for the formation of a new governing body – something that I and many others really would hate to see.

 

*** note that Mr Irving responded to my column in his own column in Our Dogs (19th July 2013) ***

 

Read more news and opinion on the Dog World website: http://www.dogworld.co.uk/product.php/96123

 

On 2nd October 2013, Dog World reported that the UK KC are not considering the registration of crossbreeds so it seems the article has had an influence as others have also voiced the same views since my original article was printed in July 2013 http://www.dogworld.co.uk/product.php/101562/1/kc__not_considering_recognition_of_crossbreeds/3f1126dfa8d6ed8c45661aea8d1b58d3

 

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