Veterinary checks of the Best of Breed (BOB) winners in each of the 15 high profile breeds were introduced at Crufts 2012, which took place at the NEC in Birmingham 8-11 March.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) welcomed this move as a positive step by the Kennel Club (KC) to improve dog health and welfare in the show ring. The initiative will continue at all championship dog shows.
Six of the fifteen high profile BOBs failed their veterinary checks and were not represented in the group judging – bulldog (utility group), Pekingese (toy), Clumber spaniel (gundog) mastiff (working), Neapolitan mastiff (working) and Basset hound (hound).
Commenting, Harvey Locke, Past President of the BVA, said:
“This initiative by the Kennel Club is to be applauded. It is a huge step forward in tackling the health problems in pedigree dogs as a result of their exaggerated conformation. The KC deserves the support of the veterinary profession and dog welfare organisations at this time.
“We also pay tribute to the two BVA members who were chosen to carry out the veterinary checks after responding to our open letter in Veterinary Record asking for volunteers.
“They have performed their duties in a highly professional manner and have certainly set an example to the show vets who will be carrying out these checks at future championship shows.
“What has happened at Crufts this year should act as a catalyst for all vets in practice. Firstly, to be more proactive in educating their breeder and owner clients on the health consequences of breeding dogs for extreme conformation. And secondly, to ensure that any caesarean sections and surgical procedures to correct conformation problems performed on KC-registered dogs are reported to the KC.”
The 15 breeds have been identified by the Kennel Club as having particular health problems often due to poor conformation as a result of having been bred with exaggerated characteristics. The veterinary checks ensure the BOB winners are not suffering as a result of their conformation, such as eye problems, skin disease, lameness or breathing difficulties, which should have been identified by the judge.
The open letter asking for veterinary surgeons to volunteer to carry out the vet checks appeared in Veterinary Record on 4 February 2012 (Volume 170, Issue 5).