Breeding resources and health schemes

Women and child looking at puppy

The Kennel Club Assured Breeders

Our Assured Breeders scheme promotes good breeding practices and ensures its members are dedicated to canine health.

The scheme is intended to help direct puppy buyers to those breeders who follow best breeding practice and who conduct health testing for known inherited health conditions in their breed/s.

Every assured breeder is inspected by us to ensure that their facilities and practices meet the welfare requirements set out in the scheme standard.

Currently the scheme has around 3,000 members, who produce approximately 17,500 puppies a year.

Health screening schemes

We work with a number of organisations to help breeders assess which of their dogs to use for breeding, with the aim of reducing the incidence of health issues in future generations.

We are committed to developing new health schemes and ensuring, where possible, that we transfer our outcomes from funded health research into screening tools for breeders. Since 2019, we’ve developed three new screening schemes for breeders and we continue to work with the experts in each field to hopefully extend heart testing, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) assessments and possibly respiratory function grading assessment to other breeds.

The BVA/KC Hip Scoring Scheme

Launched in 1965, this scheme was designed to address the problem of hip dysplasia. The scheme evaluates radiographs that have been taken of an individual dog’s hips. Each hip is evaluated by two experts who score nine anatomical features of the hip and score each hip out of a total of 53. The two hip scores are then added together to give an overall total hip score. A dog’s hip score can therefore range from 0 to 106, and the lower the hip scores, the better the anatomy of the dog’s hips.

Each year the BVA/KC Hip Scoring Scheme evaluates approximately 12,000 dogs registered with The Kennel Club.

The BVA/KC Elbow Grading Scheme

Launched in 1998, this scheme has been designed to address elbow dysplasia. Each dog is assessed from radiographs that are taken of the dog’s elbows. Each elbow is graded by two specialists on a scale of 0 to 3. The lower the grade, the better the anatomy of the elbow. In this scheme, if the dog has two different elbow grades, the higher of the two is used as the dog’s elbow grade.

Each year the BVA/KC elbow scoring scheme evaluates approximately 9,000 dogs registered with The Kennel Club.

The BVA/KC/ISDS (International Sheep Dog Society) Eye Scheme

This scheme has two lists, schedule A and schedule B. Schedule A contains all of the known inherited eye diseases and the breeds that are currently considered to be affected by these conditions. Schedule B lists breeds and conditions where further investigation is urged.

Specialist panellists, appointed by the BVA, can examine any individual dog for clinical signs of these diseases. Some of these inherited eye diseases are not present from birth and breeders especially are advised to have their breeding stock examined throughout their dog's life.

Each year the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme evaluates approximately 12,000 dogs registered with The Kennel Club.

The BVA/KC Chiari Malformation/Syringomyelia (CM/SM) Scheme

Launched in January 2012, this is the most recently developed scheme. MRI scans, carried out under BVA procedures, are reviewed by a panel of BVA-appointed neurologists and radiologists and graded by two scrutinisers. Grading is assigned according to the severity of the CM and SM changes. As CM/SM is a progressive condition, scans throughout the dog’s lifetime are recommended, generally at years 1, 3-5, and over 5.

The BVA/KC CM/SM Scheme screened has evaluated over 400 dogs since its launch.

The Kennel Club and University of Cambridge Respiratory Function Grading Scheme

The Respiratory Function Grading Scheme was launched in 2019 and evaluates Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs for a progressive breathing disorder that can have a life-limiting impact and can impair a dog's ability to sleep, eat, play and exercise.

For the assessment, a specially trained assessor uses a stethoscope to listen to a dog's breathing while it is calm and relaxed and then again after three minutes of quick-paced exercise. Each dog is then given a grade from 0 to 3, with grade 0 dogs being unaffected and grade 3 dogs showing severe signs.

The scheme evaluates around 763 dogs a year.

The Kennel Club Heart Scheme

The Kennel Club Heart Scheme assesses Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for mitral valve disease and other potentially significant heart diseases.

The scheme advises owners if their dog is affected by heart disease and gives guidance to breeders on how to lower the risk of producing affected puppies. A number of approved cardiologists (vets specially trained in heart conditions) have been appointed to carry out heart grading on dogs.

The scheme evaluates around 300 dogs each year.

The Kennel Club IVDD Scheme for Dachshunds
Launched in 2021, The Kennel Club IVDD scheme for Dachshunds (all varieties) in partnership with Dachshund Health UK, uses X-ray to detect the presence and severity of a spine problem known as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), in all varieties of Dachshunds. The scheme assesses for spine calcifications and gives guidance to breeders on how to reduce the risk of producing puppies affected by intervertebral disc disease.

The Kennel Club DNA Testing Services

The Kennel Club DNA Testing Services offers a simple and cost-effective way to DNA test your dog for that particular breed's priority DNA tests from just one swab.

Many of our breed packages include multiple priority DNA tests. By using a single swab to check for a number of different genetic mutations, our DNA testing services makes health testing your dog simpler and easier than organising individual tests from several different laboratories.

Find out more about The Kennel Club DNA Testing Services.

Official DNA testing schemes

The Kennel Club records and publishes the DNA test results for 90 official DNA testing schemes, run by a number of different laboratories, for over 80 breeds.

Last year we recorded and freely published 187,000 DNA test results. Each of the DNA test results can be found on our health test results finder.

Online health resources

Our online health resources allows breeders, puppy buyers and owners to look up the health information that is available for each dog registered with The Kennel Club Breed Register.

Estimated breeding values

The estimated breeding values resource is used by breeders to assess the degree to which a dog may have inherited, or pass on, genes associated with hip or elbow dysplasia.

Health Test Results Finder

The Health Test Results Finder is a resource to allow breeders and potential puppy buyers to search for health test and screening scheme results for any dog registered on The Kennel Club’s Breed Register.

Inbreeding calculators

The Inbreeding Co-efficient calculators, among other things, can be used to run the scenario of how inbred potential puppies would be from a hypothetical mating. 

Breeds A to Z

Our Breeds A to Z recommends breed-specific health tests and includes essential information about each pedigree breed, including its exercise and grooming needs.

Breed health and conservation plans

The breed health and conservation plans (BHCPs) are an ongoing project that uses health data and published scientific research to identify each breed’s health concerns to ensure that breeders, breed clubs, veterinary researchers and The Kennel Club are all working together to improve dog health. At the end of the first stage of a breed’s BHCP, a document is produced that summarises all of the project's findings. A meeting is then arranged with breed representatives to discuss the evidence base and agree priorities, an action plan and a review date to evaluate progress. 

The Kennel Club Academy

The Kennel Club Academy offers a series of free films for breeders that cover topics on breeding considerations, such as understanding inheritance, health testing and how to be a responsible and informed breeder to produce healthy puppies. There are also films on whelping and rearing, and canine pregnancy. All films have been developed by experts in their fields and offer users an insight into their knowledge and experience. In 2018, a film on brachycephalic breeds' health was released, focusing on breathing problems in flat-faced dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogs and what clinical signs may be presented in affected dogs. Every film comes with useful learning resources and suggested further reading. 

Breeding guidelines

The Kennel Club provides extensive and detailed online guidance on important factors to consider when breeding dogs, as well as how to use results from health tests and screening schemes appropriately.