As in humans, any dog can be vulnerable to disease. However,
there are certain dog breeds that are known to be prone to
particular hereditary conditions that can affect their quality of
Over the last decade huge advances have been made in the field of
canine genetics that are enabling breeders to reduce or eliminate
these diseases. These advances started with the sequencing of the
entire genome in 2004. Since then it has become much easier for
scientists to develop DNA tests that enable breeders to test their
dogs for inherited diseases, so that they can avoid breeding from
those dogs that are affected, ensuring that only healthy genes are
passed down through the generations.
What the Kennel Club is doing to help eliminate inherited
diseases in dogs
The Kennel Club Canine Genetics
Centre at the Animal Health Trust is embracing the science that
is now available and is leading pioneering research into inherited
diseases in dogs. The Kennel Club
Charitable Trust has invested £1.2 million to investigate the
mutations responsible for inherited diseases and to develop DNA
tests. It was the development of a DNA test that enabled breeders
to breed away from, and eventually eliminate CLAD (Canine Leukocyte
Adhesion Deficiency), in Irish Setters. This was an inherited
immunodeficiency condition which affects the white blood cells
ability to fight infection and caused early death in puppies.
Five different mutations associated with diseases in 20 breeds of
dog have now been identified and DNA tests for them have now been
The Kennel Club has also worked with the British Veterinary
Association since the 1960s to develop health screening tests for
hip end elbow dysplasia and eye disease.
What breeders can do to help eliminate inherited diseases in
Breeders are now able to find out whether their dog is clear or
carries a mutation for an inherited disease by supplying DNA to the
AHT genetic services laboratory through a simple cheek swab.
Breeders can then make responsible decisions about which dogs to
mate, and choose to mate healthy dogs so that future generations
are not affected.
What puppy buyers can do to help eliminate inherited
Puppy buyers are encouraged to bring about change in the dog
breeding world by only buying from responsible breeders. There is
no legal requirement for breeders to health test their dogs but the
Kennel Club strongly recommend puppy buyers to only go to breeders
who do so.
The Kennel Club Assured Breeder
Scheme is the only one in the country that sets standards for
and monitors breeders and amongst the requirements of the scheme is
the need for breeders who are members of the scheme to health test
their dogs for any relevant conditions (you can find Assured Breeders
here). The Kennel Club is lobbying the government to make such
requirements mandatory for all breeders. Puppy buyers are strongly
advised to always buy from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.
Puppy buyers are also able to find the health test results for
every Kennel Club registered dog online, so that they can see which
health tests have been carried out and the results of these tests.
Health test results for Kennel Club registered dogs can be found here.
The Kennel Club Breed Information
Centre contains information about the health tests that are
available for different breeds, the Kennel Club health test results
finder and links to Kennel Club Assured Breeders who carry out
these important tests.