ALL 14 high-profile breeds passed their veterinary checks at Crufts.
They were the Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Chow Chow, Clumber Spaniel, Dogue de Bordeaux, French Bulldog, German Shepherd Dog, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Pekingese, Pug, Shar-Pei and St Bernard.
Unlike last year’s show at which the controversial checks were launched and conducted by two ‘independent’ vets chosen from those who applied by the KC and the British Veterinary Association (BVA), general responsibility for the show and for the checks as this year bestowed on the team under the leadership of chief vet Dr Andreas Schemel.
The two vets who conducted the checks at last year’s Crufts – Will Jeffels and Alison Skipper, who failed six breeds between them –joined the team after being invited to do so by the KC.
In addition to those two and Dr Schemel the team comprised Claire Arrowsmith, Richard Best, Karen Bridle, Heather Briggs, Erik D’Arcy-Donnelly, Sue Finnett, Richard Furber, John Robson and Sally Turner, who were all on the team last year.
When the KC announced earlier that responsibility was being handed to the team, spokesman Caroline Kisko said it had been decided by the Crufts Sub-Committee which had wanted to bring arrangements for the veterinary checks back in line with those at other championship shows.
Dr Schemel told DOG WORLD at Crufts that the members of the veterinary team had wide-ranging and different experience in various fields: some were eye specialists, some younger and some retired; KC members, and vets involved with dogs and those not at all dog oriented.
All had received training and attended the KC’s high-profile breed seminar at Stoneleigh. The name of the vet to conduct a check was pulled from a hat each day, so the process was completely random.
KC spokesman Caroline Kisko said: "We want to ensure that only healthy dogs are rewarded in the show ring and also use the show ring to help move those breeds forward that are the most inclined to suffer from health conditions that affect their health and welfare.
"We have been running the vet checks throughout the past year and we have been delighted with the results. We know that the show ring can be, and should be used as a force for good. We have been working hard with breed clubs and breeders of the 14 high-profile breeds to help move the health of each breed forward and I think the results speak for themselves.”
KC chairman Steve Dean said: "The active involvement of the high profile breed health co-ordinators and the exhibitors has been vital to the success so far. It is clear to see that we can be very proud of our pedigree dogs and of the breeders who put so much into ensuring the long term health and welfare of their chosen breeds. Through the vet checks we are challenging some views of the general health and wellbeing of ‘show dogs’ as opposed to the ‘pets’ that vets usually meet.
"The Kennel Club’s Dog Health Group is closely monitoring the scheme to see how best to take it forward and there will be changes as time goes on.”
The Croatian owner of the Clumber BOB who failed the vet check at Crufts last year, Lana Levai, competed again this year despite having said she would never be back. And it was worth the effort, as her dog won best of breed and passed his vet check.
Her bitch Multi Ch Chervood Snowsun, was failed on her eyes, and at the time Mrs Levai said: "My bitch has had every health check done – eye, hips, elbow, everything is clear. I come from a little country and Crufts was the number one show for me, but not any more.
"This is my last entry in the UK. The whole of Europe and the US know this bitch but apparently on the KC knows what a healthy Clumber is.”
Mrs Levai took her bitch to her own vet a few days later who reported that both eyes were normal ‘without any discomfort or inflammation and cornea transparent and oval. No pathological or degenerative change’.
But this year she returned with the bitch’s son, 23-month-old Big Boom’s Banditos Dex.
"I said I would never be back but some things are more important,” she said. "I was going to bring the bitch but she is in whelp.
"I would never put my bitch through the health checks again as I have all the health certificates for her and her health has been confirmed. We have all we need.”
After her dog passed the check she said the process has changed considerably.
"I think the KC has learnt a lesson,” she said. "It was much more low key this year and everyone was very kind; not like last year. My dog is a nice dog, same as hismother. I said to the vet that the mother of this boy says hello from home.
"Now I feel great, but before the health check I felt horrible and I think these checks destroy every moment of happiness. It’s too stressful. The KC doesn’t need vet checks; if dog isn’t any good or not in good condition the judges will not reward them. They take great care over it. I think the vet check is superfluous.”
Other exhibitors who returned this year following a vet check failure at last year’s show were Jim and Jean Smith. This year their Pekingese Palacegarden Madoc took the RCC.
A short film showing what happens during the veterinary checks has been released by the KC. Produced just before Crufts it is said to be a candid look at the ‘friendly and non-invasive process’ involved, and demonstrates what the vets look for during a check.
It was produced for the benefit of exhibitors, judges and the vets involved in the process, the KC said, as well as anyone else interested in how it works.
The high-profile breed vet checks were introduced at Crufts last year, and have been carried out at all general and group championship shows since. A best of breed and any dog made up to champion status must pass this check before their titles are confirmed.
Vets are asked to look for conditions related to externally visible eye disease, lameness, skin disorders and breathing difficulty. These are the four main areas where clinical signs are commonly associated with the structure (conformation) of the high profile breeds. The vets are asked to look out for signs of inflammation related to poor eyelid conformation or signs of chronic damage to the corneal surface of the eye. In addition they look for dermatitis associated with skin folds and long or heavily coated ears, signs of respiratory difficulty or any lameness or hind limb weakness.
checks aim to identify if there are any visible clinical signs of pain or
discomfort, caused to a dog as a result of exaggerations,” Mrs Kisko said as
Crufts was due to start. "During a check the vet will assess a number of
aspects of the dog, as per KC guidelines.
"The checks have caused some controversy since their introduction so we created the film to show that the veterinary health checks are a simple, straightforward procedure, with the health of the dog at their heart. The checking process is a far more relaxed and friendly one than many people realise, and the main consideration is always the welfare of the dog involved.
"We are pleased at how the first full year of vet checks has gone and are confident that results will be equally impressive as we progress through the first part of 2013, with continued great work from breeders and exhibitors of the high profile breeds.”
To read the end of year review for the veterinary
health checks for 2012, visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/4704.