Breed Watch

What is Breed Watch?

Breed Watch serves as an 'early warning system' to identify points of concern for individual breeds. It provides further information about specific health concerns to anyone involved in the world of dogs. 

What is the aim of Breed Watch?

The Kennel Club considers that providing information on breed-specific visible health concerns allows judges, breeders and exhibitors to discourage the breeding of dogs with exaggerated conformational issues that are detrimental to health and welfare. Breed Watch provides an opportunity for all involved to monitor and protect the future of pedigree dogs.

The Breed Watch Illustrated Guide

The Breed Watch Illustrated Guide is aimed at judges, veterinarians and anyone who is interested in the health and welfare of show dogs with all levels of experience. It provides an objective and comprehensive illustrated guide for category 2 and 3 breeds with points of concern.

The booklet covers points of concern listed under each visual area assessed by judges:
  • Nose and nostrils
  • Mouth and dentition
  • Skin and wrinkling
  • Eyes
  • Weight and body condition
  • Tail
  • Limbs and movement
It can be difficult to ascertain how a point of concern has an impact on the health and welfare of an animal. This guide aims to explain the correlation between exaggerated conformation and how these features can affect an individual and lead to welfare concerns.

Buy the Breed Watch illustrated guide in our online shop.

What is a category 3 breed?

The Kennel Club has highlighted a number of breeds as category 3 breeds on Breed Watch, as these breeds have been considered to be more susceptible to developing specific health conditions associated with exaggerated conformation; in particular problems that involve the eyes, skin, dentition, movement and respiratory function (breathing).

Category 3 breeds are:

What is The Kennel Club doing for category 3 breeds?

For several years we have provided dedicated resources to category 3 breeds to help to address health concerns, including breed health and conservation plans. Further support is offered to judges and exhibitors of category 3 breeds, as outlined in the links above.

What are the breed clubs doing?

We recommend visiting breed club websites for further information on breed-specific efforts to address health and welfare concerns.

Category 3 reclassification

Every breed wishing to be reclassified must put forward a proposal to the our dog health group for discussion. The proposal must show that the breed is actively involved in improving its overall health, and have measurements in place to prevent health deterioration, such as regular health testing clinics or engagement in breed club health schemes.
Category 3 breed removal criteria
The following is a list of required and recommended actions necessary to make an application for removal from the category 3 breed list.

The aim of this criteria is to offer support and advice to breed representatives in making the breed health improvements necessary for removal from the category 3 breed list.

Required

Health schemes

  1. Ongoing health scheme in place for the continued health testing and data collection in relation to any visible conditions of concern specified for the breed
  2. A significant proportion of the accessible* population health tested for any visual conditions of concern as specified for the breed. Health testing must be conducted and verified by a veterinary surgeon. Data collected should be published on breed health websites or in breed publications
  3. Veterinary protocol and guidance to veterinary surgeons health testing dogs to ensure consistency. This requirement refers to schemes created by breed health committees and not BVA/KC recognised schemes which have their own established protocols
  4. Breed representative(s) appointed to be responsible for administrating health scheme(s) on an ongoing basis

Breed health plan and reporting

  1. Breed representative(s) appointed to be responsible for producing an annual breed health plan and reporting to The Kennel Club via the breed health coordinator. The breed health plan should outline the current uptake of health scheme(s), objectives for health monitoring over a 12-month period and achievements of the previous 12 months
  2. As part of the breed health plan, evidence of veterinary health screening must be submitted. Where adopted health schemes do not utilise approved BVA/KC screening schemes, then a veterinary report must be submitted on the progress made in addressing health concerns and general overview on the health scheme in place. If the vet has assessed dogs as part of the health scheme(s), a summary of the number of dogs tested and their findings should be included as part of the veterinary report
  3. A summary of any of the 'recommended' actions being implemented by the breed

Judges' education

  1. An overview of the judges' education programme and how it highlights health and welfare as a primary concern and outlines visual health concerns that should be penalised. A summary of the number of judges' education events run and how many attended

The Kennel Club's health monitoring

  1. A significant number of the dogs consistently passing veterinary checks at general and group championship shows
  2. Data from judges and observers' health monitoring forms indicating the majority of the entries displayed no health or welfare concerns and there are not any new trends developing that would cause a health or welfare problem

Recommended

  1. Breed health testing or DNA testing for hereditary conditions that can cause health and welfare concerns. Ideally, making use of any of The Kennel Club's official DNA testing schemes, which can be requested via the health team
  2. Breed health website and links to breed club websites outlining the health scheme(s) and how to participate. Information on health concerns for the breed and contact details for further information and advice
  3. Communication strategy for publicising breed health scheme(s) to increase the number of dogs health tested. Owners of all dogs registered with The Kennel Club should be encouraged to participate in all health testing. This should emphasise the importance of gathering information on all dogs within a breed; pet dogs as well as those participating in any of The Kennel Club's disciplines e.g. shows, agility etc.
  4. Photographic evidence of dogs to demonstrate the healthy examples of the breed over a period of years
*Accessible population can be defined as dogs that the breed clubs, breed councils and breed health groups have access to through members. The average entry at general championship show level may be reflective of the accessible population. The number of The Kennel Club's registrations each year will be taken into consideration but will not be compared to the number of dogs health tested.

Timescales

The Kennel Club’s health team will work with all breeds to offer advice and support on the content of any presentation for removal from the list. Any removal application will first be considered by the breed standards and conformation sub-group which will make a recommendation on the application for consideration by the dog health group, which will in turn make its recommendation for consideration to The Kennel Club Board.

Once a breed has been removed from the category 3 list, the necessity for best of breed veterinary health checks at general and group championships will cease. The point(s) of concern for the breed will however remain on Breed Watch as a reminder to judges and others of the issues faced by the breed.

Category 2

Category 2 breeds are identified as having visual points of concern that can cause pain or discomfort and have been reported to us by judges, clubs or councils. As a result, championship show level judges are required to complete a mandatory monitoring form following assessment.

Vet checks

Veterinary health checks confirm best of breed awards at dog shows, by assessing dogs to ensure that no visible health conditions, which may cause pain or discomfort, are rewarded. Further information on the processes and procedures behind these checks can be found below.

Best of Breed winners

Best of Breed winners of category 3 breeds at general and group championship shows must pass a veterinary health check with the show society veterinary surgeon before they can enter the group competition.

This regulation applies to the following breeds: 

Champion titles

The category 3 breeds must also undergo a veterinary health check before their Champion title is confirmed. Exhibitors are advised to contact the show society secretary of the general or group championship show they wish to attend in advance, to ensure the secretary is aware that you intend to have a champion title check.

If you have any further questions, please contact us.

Frequently asked questions

General

1. What role do judges play regarding Breed Watch? 

Underpinning Breed Watch is the role of the judge who plays an important part in reporting back on the prevalence of existing points of concern, but also contributes to the formation of new points of concern.

From 2014 all judges at championship shows have had the opportunity to report on any visible conditions or exaggerations that they consider to be detrimental to the health and welfare of dogs. Consultation with breed health coordinators and breed clubs and councils is an important part of the health monitoring process.

2. What are ‘points of concern’?

Points of concern are the specific visible conditions or exaggerations which a judge must take into account when deciding awards and should be penalised accordingly. Judges are not expected to assess dogs as a veterinary surgeon would. However judges should use their extensive experience and knowledge of the breed to make a considered decision where the published points of concern are present. The points of concern for your breed can be found in our Breeds A to Z.

3. Is Breed Watch just for judges or can it be used by exhibitors too?

Breed Watch is predominantly aimed at dog show judges to highlight any points of concern which they should take into consideration when judging the breed.

However exhibitors should also take the time to become familiar with the points of concern that can affect their breed, as they too have an important role to play in the future health and welfare of their breed.

4. Does every breed have points of concern?

No, not every breed, but all breeds fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Category 1: breeds with no current Breed Watch points of concern – no visible health concerns have been reported by judges, breed clubs or councils
  • Category 2: breeds with Breed Watch points of concern – visible conditions or exaggerations that can cause pain or discomfort have been reported by judges, clubs or councils. After consultation with the breed clubs or councils, these issues are then added as a point of concern. Mandatory judge reporting begins
  • Category 3: breeds where some dogs have visible conditions or exaggerations that can cause pain or discomfort. We provide additional support for these breed representatives. Best of breed (BoB) veterinary health checks at general and group shows are required

5. Does my breed require a BoB veterinary health check?

Only category 3 breeds require a vet health check upon winning BoB prior to competing in the group. After judging your breed, the judge is also required to complete a mandatory health monitoring form. 

If your breed is a category 2, the judge will need to complete a mandatory monitoring form following an appointment at championship show level. If your breed is category 1, currently no visible health concerns have been reported by judges, breed clubs or councils for your breed, so judges are not required to provide mandatory reports on the health of the breed.

6. How were the points of concern developed for my breed?

Any points of concern are derived from a combination of health surveys, veterinary advice, feedback from mandatory and optional judges’ health reports, evidence from the breed health and conservation plans and consultation with individual breed clubs and councils via the breed health coordinators through our dog health group.

7. How do points of concern get removed from Breed Watch?

The dog health group reviews the information reported by all parties (including judges). If over a consistent period of time a specific concern is no longer prevalent in the breed, there will be consultation with clubs and councils, after which the relevant point of concern will be removed from Breed Watch and judges’ monitoring of that point will cease.

8. My breed has points of concern. Could it become a category 3 breed?

The current category 3 breeds can be found on this page above. The transition between a breed having points of concern, to becoming a high profile breed is a very gradual process which only occurs when there is no discernible improvement in these points of concern. Our aim is that the Breed Watch process will enhance each breed’s ability to manage health improvement and to address emerging health issues. 

9. How do I inform The Kennel Club if I believe there is a health concern in my breed?

Breed enthusiasts should raise their concerns with the breed health coordinator, whose role involves collecting health information and data. If appropriate, the breed health coordinator will then inform The Kennel Club's health team.

10. If Breed Watch is about visible conditions, is there anywhere I can find information on hereditary conditions affecting my breed?

For more information on conditions which may affect your breed, we recommend that you:

Judges

1. Championship show judges – optional forms

All championship show judges of category 1 breeds have the opportunity to report on any visible conditions or exaggerations that they consider to be detrimental to the health and welfare of dogs. If a specific concern is consistently reported, we will consult with the relevant breed clubs and councils for input and, if necessary, add the concern to Breed Watch so the issue can be monitored. This decision is made via our dog health group.

2. Championship show judges – compulsory forms

All championship show judges of category 2 and 3 breeds are required to complete a judges’ breed health monitoring form. This form also allows judges to report on any further emerging conditions. If a specific concern is consistently reported, we will engage in consultation with clubs and councils for input and, if necessary, we'll add the concern to Breed Watch so that the issue can be monitored. This decision is made via our dog health group and general committee.

3. Why are category 2 and 3 judges required to complete a health monitoring form?

Improving the health and welfare of dogs is of paramount importance to The Kennel Club. We recognise that judges are in the unique position to influence the future development of these breeds, not only by the decisions they make at shows but also by monitoring the visible conditions affecting the breeds they judge. By completing the health monitoring form, judges also enhance the information we are able to provide to breed representatives, enabling them to continue to protect the future of their breed.

4. How does The Kennel Club use the information provided on health monitoring report forms?

The information reported by judges is used for analysis and statistical purposes by the dog health group to monitor each breed’s progress. The information is also used by breed health coordinators in developing and monitoring breed health improvement plans.

Show societies

1. We run a breed club championship/general/group show. How do the changes to Breed Watch affect our show?

If your breed is in category 2 or 3, then we will send a health monitoring report form to the judge(s) of your show approximately two to three months before their appointment. All championship show judges’ books should include the optional judges' report form as the last page. This enables judges to raise any point of concern they may have noted whilst judging. The forms can also be found on this page.

2. Where can I get the BoB veterinary health check triplicate booklet and envelopes?

Please email your request to our canine health and welfare team.

Breed health co-ordinators and breed clubs

1. How do we inform The Kennel Club if we believe there is a health concern in our breed?

Breed health coordinators should email our canine health and welfare team.

2. How do we find information on how to develop breed health improvements?

For more information and resources, please visit the breed health coordinator page or email our health team. Breed Watch data is also included as part of the breed health and conservation plans project, which was launched in 2016. Eventually each breed will have its own bespoke plan, detailing the health evidence available for the breed. From this, the breed will decide their main health and welfare concerns and, with our support, will develop an action plan to tackle these concerns. If you would be interested in assigning your breed to the next round of plans, or have any queries regarding the project, please email us.