The Kennel Club celebrates health milestones in 2020

And looks forward to introducing more schemes and partnerships to improve dog health in the new year

A webcast released today (17 December) by The Kennel Club celebrates the health milestones reached by the organisation during 2020, and explores the science and collaboration behind the tools being developed to support breeders.

From international partnerships to address the respiratory function of some brachycephalic breeds to a new screening scheme for Dachshunds, The Kennel Club has made significant developments to improve dog health, set against a backdrop of challenges presented by Covid-19.

Some of the collaborative dog health projects The Kennel Club has been working on in 2020 include:
  • The formation and progression of The Kennel Club Neurology Development Group made up of vets and leading neurology specialists in the UK
  • International collaboration so overseas canine organisations are able to license The Kennel Club/University of Cambridge Respiratory Function Grading (RFG) Scheme for Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs, to protect and improve the health of these breeds globally
  • Arrangements have been made with New Zealand, and discussions are underway with organisations in Denmark, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Australia
  • In the UK, there has been a 19 per cent increase in the number of assessments in 2020 compared to 2019
  • Breed Health Conservation Plans now cover 89 per cent of Kennel Club registrations. Throughout 2020, The Kennel Club has continued to develop Breed Health Conservation Plans alongside breeders and breed clubs to create a single and unique resource, bringing together all available health information and data, to support balanced breeding decisions which make health a priority
  • The development of 38 more CombiBreed™ health test packages – introduced in December 2020 – bringing the total number of breeds eligible for The Kennel Club/Weatherbys health packages to 61. This DNA testing provides a simplified process for canine genetic health testing for the benefit of both dog breeders and owners, and help to eradicate some of the most concerning genetic disorders facing certain breeds. Since the launch, 3,736 CombiBreed DNA test results have been recorded
Looking ahead to 2021, The Kennel Club aims to continue to form partnerships and develop tools for breeders:
  • The Kennel Club Neurology group is launching a new IVDD health scheme for Dachshunds in early 2021. This accessible tool will be available for breeders of all varieties, helping them to make informed decisions and improve the health of these popular breeds
  • Continuing discussions with international organisations to enable access to the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme, making a difference for brachycephalic dogs globally
  • The Kennel Club Charitable Trust this year pledged over £250k to help advance research into brachycephalic dog health and support future research into Brachycephalic Airways Obstructive Syndrome in 13 more breeds at the University of Cambridge
  • Almost 600 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Heart Scheme assessments have been undertaken to date, and to encourage further screening in the New Year, The Kennel Club will support and subsidise breed clubs so they can hold heart testing sessions for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels across the UK. The Kennel Club will also continue to grow its cardiology development programme with the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society, in order to offer accessible and affordable heart testing to protect and improve dog health
  • Sadly the home of The Kennel Club Genetics Centre, the AHT, was forced to close in 2020. However, discussions for the future and how to adapt to ensure the important work continues are making progress

The webcast, which includes comments from Bill Lambert, Head of Health at The Kennel Club, and Charlotte McNamara, Health and Welfare Development Manager, is available to watch at: www.facebook.com/groups/doghealth.news.thekennelclubuk

There is further information on what The Kennel Club does for dog health, and all of its health schemes and partnerships, available at: thekennelclub.org.uk/health.