Illustrated Guide launched to help dog judges improve breed health

The Kennel Club has released a new Breed Watch Illustrated Guide to provide judges, veterinarians and anyone interested in dog health with a booklet that helps identify physical features that could lead to health and welfare issues in show dogs.

The Breed Watch Illustrated Guide offers detailed illustrations and comprehensive information to demonstrate how exaggerated conformation can affect dog health in category two and three breeds – breeds identified by the Kennel Club as being at risk of health problems due to their physical conformation – and the conditions which should be penalised in the show ring. It has been sent to all Crufts judges and breed health coordinators of category two and three breeds.

The guide, which covers important areas of canine health and welfare, including respiratory issues, muzzle, nose and nostrils, eyes, skin, weight and body condition, tail formation and general conformation and soundness, is part of the Kennel Club’s Breed Watch programme.  Breed Watch serves as an ‘early warning system’ to help judges identify and monitor breed specific visible characteristics associated with health problems, known as ‘points of concern’.

Both category two and three breeds have listed points of concern, and judges examining these breeds are required to complete health monitoring forms after every appointment at group and general championship shows. This new booklet will help not only judges, but breeders, exhibitors and owners to keep health in the forefront of their minds and is part of the Kennel Club’s continued commitment to education about how to improve health in these breeds.

Frank Kane, Chairman of the Breed Standards and Conformation Sub-Group of the Kennel Club’s Dog Health Group, said: “The show ring is, and must remain, a force for improving dog health. Judges and the veterinarians who perform vet checks at Kennel Club licensed shows have an important role to play when assessing category two and three breeds, because their judgement about whether there are any visible signs of health concerns will help to move these breeds forward. This guide shows the visual points of concern and how they relate to health in a very clear and concise way, and will help these individuals to keep health to the forefront of their minds.

“If the best and healthiest dogs are winning at dogs shows, even if these account for a very small percentage of the overall dog population, this can help to influence how dogs are bred and what is seen as desirable outside of the show ring, producing a wider positive impact on dog health.”

The guide has been sent to all breed health co-ordinators of category two and three breeds, is available as a free download with a judge’s Kennel Club Academy subscription or can be purchased from the Kennel Club online shop for £10.