THE KENNEL Club has identified a number of breeds as being the first to require support from its new Breed Health and Conservation Plans project. Those which have been flagged as ‘key priority breeds’ are: the Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chow Chow, Clumber Spaniel, Dogue de Bordeaux, English Setter, French Bulldog, German Shepherd Dog, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Otterhound, Pekingese, Pug, Shar-Pei and St Bernard. The Breed Health and Conservation Plans team will organise meetings with the breed clubs and breed councils to help develop plans for each of these breeds.
The KC has said that it hopes ‘breeding for health plans’ will be developed for the identified key priority breeds in 2017, with other breeds to follow.
The Breed Health and Conversation Plans project, first reported in DW, Sept 9, will use evidence-based criteria to help identify common breed specific health concerns. Breeders will be provided with information and breeding resources to help them improve the health of their puppies and breed.
The plans will take a holistic view of breed health with consideration given to known hereditary conditions (both simple and complex), conformational concerns and population genetics (inbreeding, effective population size etc).
To help determine the impact and importance of the health concerns in each breed, a number of evidence-based criteria will be used. Each health concern identified will be assessed and prioritised, based on welfare implications, proportion of the breed affected and likelihood of the concern getting worse in the future. The bespoke nature of these breed-specific health plans will include monitoring and review, to ensure they are up-to-date and remain relevant.
The project will involve collaboration across a broad spectrum of stakeholders including breed clubs and the veterinary and research community. Breed health coordinators will continue to be central collaborators in the identification of health concerns and risks, said the KC.
Alongside research studies the KC will use the information collected in the ‘annual health reports’ and any health information provided by the breed clubs.
DOG WORLD contacted French Bulldog breed health coordinator Penny Rankine-Parsons who said of the plan to include the French Bulldog as a ‘key priority breed’: “It’s an extremely positive move. It’s an excellent initiative and I have no problems at all with it. The very fact that we are going to have easy access to experts to help us along the way and to help us make the correct decisions for the future health of the breed is just so positive. This will give us more easier access than we’ve ever had before.
“In terms of getting information out to breeders there are already routes and the KC does help tremendously with mass emails to breeders. It’s the guidance than we need and I think many breeds are lacking this professional guidance.”
Linda Taylor, breed health coordinator for the English Setter, was also positive about the project. She said: “I’m really pleased. We’ve been trying to get some help on these issues for quite a while but it’s quite difficult when it’s not a really large breed. We’re not getting numerically smaller and we keep going in and out of being at risk of becoming an endangered native breed, so I’m very pleased we’ve managed to get this funding and be included on the list for some attention in the first bout.”
The KC has asked for any health information breed clubs have collected through health surveys or health schemes. This can be e-mailed to [email protected]