With Bonfire Night coming up, the Kennel Club is warning pet owners to be extra vigilant following statistics that show that 71% of owners’ details on microchipping databases are inaccurate. Around 40% of dogs are scared by fireworks so there are increased risks of dogs being frightened and running off at this time of year.
The Kennel Club also says it is a good time of year to ensure that your dog’s microchip details are up to date. By registering with Petlog owners can be reassured that their money is put back into rescue and welfare organisations which are being supported by the provision of free services to help the rehoming process.
Tips for Bonfire Night:
- Acclimatise your dog to noises prior to the big night. – (use a noises audio CD unless your dog is already severely noise-phobic)
- Distract your dog by having a TV or radio on
- Act as normal; keep calm, otherwise your dog will pick up on your behaviour
- Comfort your dog if he/she is scared; ignoring them will only make things worse
- Consult your vet about giving medication to help your dog cope better
For more tips, read the KC’s press release.
Advice from the Kennel Club.
Discover Dogs, run by the Kennel Club, depends on dozens of volunteers to make it the success it is. Enthusiasts from around 200 breeds bring their dogs and help to educate potential owners on why their breed is best!
The Southern Dachshund Association’s volunteers provide dogs for the 2 days and today (Saturday), the breed booths were packed with visitors. Sue and I were there with 4 Wires.
Tomorrow will probably be even busier. For a great day out, cuddling Dachshunds and shopping for doggy essentials, get along to ExCel, Docklands.
Last month, I commented on the potential unintended consequences of breeders endorsing their puppies because “that’s what responsible breeders do”. There aren’t enough well-bred, KC registered puppies to meet demand and an estimated 70% of pedigree puppies are not KC registered. If someone has bought an endorsed puppy (dog or bitch) and is determined to breed from it, they are more likely to look for an unregistered mate and produce a litter of yet more unregistered puppies. They are unlikely to go back to their puppy’s breeder for advice or to understand what health tests may be required. It is debatable how much knowledge they will have about canine husbandry, how to care for a pregnant bitch or how to rear and socialise puppies.
Not only might this result in more pedigree dogs being bred outside the KC registration system but it probably also increases the chances of the puppies growing up with temperament and developmental issues.
A quick trawl through any of the online puppy sales sites shows just how many unregistered dogs are being bred and advertised. Many of the puppies (certainly in my breed) look rather untypical specimens and seem to command virtually the same prices as KC registered ones.
More “responsible owner” fallacies?
In this country, many new owners are encouraged by their vet to neuter their dogs. The BVA’s policy on neutering states:
“Neutering helps to reduce the number of unwanted litters. BVA strongly supports the practice of neutering cats (castration of tom cats and spaying of queens) and dogs (castration of dogs and spaying of bitches) for preventing the birth of unwanted kittens and puppies and the perpetuation of genetic defects. Such surgical intervention removes the problems associated with finding homes or increasing the stray population.”
The 2018 Dogs Trust survey said there were 56,000 stray dogs across the UK, which is the lowest level reported by councils for 21 years. That’s about half a percent of the UK dog population and hardly seems the best evidence for neutering. About 10,000 of those strays ended up in welfare organisations. The Dogs Trust report also estimated that 130,000 dogs come into rehoming charities every year.
A recent paper (Throwing the Baby Out With the Bath Water: Could Widespread Neutering of Companion Dogs Cause Problems at a Population Level? – Dawson et al) starts by saying “In many countries, ‘responsible dog ownership’ also involves spaying and castration”. In the USA, Australia and New Zealand, neutering is normal practice now and, in some cases, puppies are neutered at a very young age, before they go to their new homes. In contrast, in several European and Scandinavian countries, routine neutering is not the norm and is considered to be mutilation, similar to ear-cropping or tail-docking. In those countries, it is illegal. Here, just over half of all dogs are neutered as part of so-called responsible dog ownership.
More than health impacts
There have been numerous studies on the association between neutering and dog health. These cover large breeds where there are links with musculoskeletal conditions such as hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament disease, and also with osteosarcoma and diabetes. In my own breed, our 2015 and 2018 breed surveys identified an association between neutering and an increased risk of back disease. A VetCompass study published this year showed that spaying of bitches increased the risk of urinary incontinence.
The information on the effects of neutering on behaviour is more mixed, with some studies suggesting it increases the risk of nervous aggression and others saying it reduces dog-dog aggression.
The Dawson paper considers the possible effects of widespread neutering on the breeding of dogs and their success as human companions. The authors describe 3 types of breeder:
- Hobby breeders – who are often very experienced in a breed and often also participate in canine activities such as showing, obedience or agility. These people breed for their hobby/sport primarily, rather than to supply the pet market.
- Commercial breeders – who breed primarily to make a living (profit) and specifically target the pet market, with higher volumes of puppies.
- The general public – who have a dog and decide to breed from it, possibly without much experience of husbandry, whelping or puppy-rearing. They may be described as “backyard breeders” and probably know very little about health testing or genetics. They possibly breed because “it would be nice for Daisy to have puppies” or “to make a bit of money”.
No doubt breeders in all 3 groups would describe themselves as “responsible” but, Dawson et al go on to explain the changes they feel are needed if dogs and owners are not to be exploited.
Firstly, breeding choices and puppy-rearing processes should be based on knowledge of good practices. Clearly, schemes such as the Assured Breeder Scheme and the Dog Breeding Standard can help here. The free resources for breeders on the KC Academy is another useful starting point.
Secondly, they advocate that all dogs should be independently tested for suitability before being bred from. In addition to suitability from a health point of view, they believe behavioural testing is important to check their suitability to be good companion animals. There are several canine mentality/behaviour tests available, but programmes such as the KC’s Good Citizen Dog Scheme is another option. Dogs that are themselves good companions, are more likely to produce puppies that will be as well.
Thirdly, experienced breeders should be helping their puppy buyers who may be interested in having a litter so that these people don’t become “backyard breeders”. It would be relatively easy to include advice on breeding in the puppy pack that is given to new owners. Advising them not to neuter could also be beneficial from a genetic diversity perspective by keeping breeding options open. Widespread neutering excludes thousands of ideal companions from the gene pool. This includes dogs neutered by their breeder before sale or those who are sold with a contract stipulating they should be neutered or not bred from.
The paper concludes by saying: “Over the long term, a more considered approach to the breeding of companion dogs would help lessen the gap between owner expectations and the dogs available to them. However, this is only possible if attitudes toward neutering are addressed and “responsible ownership” is broadened to include a dynamic partnership between owners and breeders to produce dogs most suited for life as companions.”
If we don’t change our thinking on what is meant by “responsible breeding” and take a population-wide view, we risk continuing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. More and more unregistered puppies will be bred by inexperienced people and the gene pools of our closed stud books will get even smaller.
KENNEL CLUB LAUNCHES JCF SURVEY: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR SAY
The Kennel Club is hoping for a large response to its consultation on the Judges Competency Framework (JCF), the second phase of which has been launched in the form of a survey, it has been announced.
This along with the work of the JCF review panel, which has held two meetings to date, will inform the Board’s decisions on the future education and training of dog show judges.
The JCF review was formed as a result of a resolution passed at the Kennel Club AGM in May of this year that the JCF be placed on hold pending a complete assessment of the scheme by an independent review body.
Vivid Interface Research has been commissioned by the Kennel Club to carry out the consultation on its behalf, the first phase of which saw representatives from the company interviewing judges, exhibitors and officials at Richmond and Darlington championship shows in September. Representatives will give exhibitors and judges the opportunity to participate in the survey at South Wales championship show as well as Hitchin and Rugby open shows over the weekend of October 11 – 13.
The Kennel Club will be contacting as many judges and exhibitors as is possible via email in order to publicise the survey, which can be answered both online and by mail, and details will also be disseminated via the canine press and on social media.
Kathryn Mansfield, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Vivid Interface Research was employed previously by the Kennel Club more than five years ago when the Dog Show Promotion Working Party was gathering data about the dog world, so the Kennel Club is confident that the company already has a good understanding of how dog shows operate. We would urge as many people as possible to answer the survey, so we can get as clear a picture as possible of what exhibitors, officials and judges want when it comes to the education, approval and listing of judges. We owe it to future generations of dog show enthusiasts as well as to ourselves to get this right, so please have your say.”
The survey can be accessed online at http://bit.ly/JCFSurvey. The deadline for completing it is October 18 and paper copies are available on request from email@example.com or phone 01296 318540 and ask for the JCF team.