The Kennel Club has announced the most recent updates to the requirements and recommendations for Assured Breeders.
The breed-specific health testing and screening requirements and recommendations within the scheme are regularly reviewed following consultations with breed clubs and councils, and with the agreement and oversight of The Kennel Club Dog Health Group, in a collaborative effort to ensure that health and welfare issues are kept at the forefront of what the scheme sets out to achieve: the encouragement of responsible breeding.
The list of breed-specific requirements and recommendations is generally updated twice a year to ensure that they remain relevant and of maximum health benefit to all dogs bred by Kennel Club Assured Breeders. Further tests can be expected to be announced as they are developed.
The most recent updates come into effect immediately. However, existing Assured Breeders have a period of grace of six months to comply with any new requirements and recommendations, to allow them to take account of any existing breeding plans.
The scheme guidelines emphasise the importance of conducting not only the required health tests but the recommended tests too. Results provide data which allow researchers to help develop a picture of how each breed is affected by particular diseases, and how best to improve the health of affected breeds, and develop the best and most cost-effective testing methods.
Breed clubs and breed councils wishing to make changes to the breed-specific requirements and recommendations for their breed should contact their breed health co-ordinator who can then liaise with The Kennel Club health team ( Health (The Kennel Club) ) and review available data to support the change.
Breed specific updates are as follows:Shetland Sheepdog – DNA testing
It has been agreed to add two new DNA tests for the Shetland Sheepdog to test for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). These recently recognised DNA tests are for the BBS2-PRA and CNAGA1-PRA mutations. PRA is a known inherited condition in the breed, but not seen in high numbers in the breed at this time. Therefore, it was agreed that these DNA tests should be recommended, and breeders should continue to screen using the BVA/KC/ISDS eye scheme as a complementary tool.Picardy Sheepdog – hip, elbow and eye screening
Three new tests have been agreed to be added as recommendations for this breed in order to maintain and collate data on hip, elbow and eye health in this numerically small breed. To date, very few dogs have been recorded under any of these schemes, and therefore by adding these as a recommendation, the breed and Kennel Club can begin to build a better database from which to draw meaningful conclusions. Furthermore, as this breed is from working origin, the breed are keen to maintain this and prevent accidental breeding of severely affected dogs.Keeshond – hip, elbow and eye screening
Elbow and hip screening have been agreed to be added as requirements for the Keeshond, as BVA/KC scheme data suggest that dysplasia does occur in this breed. Eye screening has also been accepted as a new test under the Assured Breeders scheme, but at this stage will be placed as a recommendation as very few dogs have been tested to date, and therefore there are little data to draw conclusions from with respect to the incidence of eye disease at this time. Therefore, by recommending Assured Breeders eye test, new data will be collated and may support the necessity to add this as a requirement in the future.Cirneco Dell’Etna – amendment to breeding recommendation
The breeding recommendation “no stud dog to be used on a bitch of less than two years of age”, has been removed for the breed as there are already two breeding recommendations which cover this (“no stud dog to be used under 18 months of age” and “bitches under two years not to be mated”), and therefore this phrasing was duplicating guidance.Bedlington Terrier – eye testing
It has been agreed to downgrade eye testing for this breed to a recommendation, as the data from BVA/KC/ISDS eye scheme tested dogs suggest that the known inherited ocular disease in this breed (total retinal dysplasia) has not been found, and as such is not a priority condition for the breed at this time. Similarly, the breed has a small breeding population and in order to allow breeders to source suitable mates, and to prevent genetic bottle necks from occurring, it has been agreed that this test should be moved to a recommendation. Breeders are still expected to have their dogs tested within 12 months of breeding.Cocker Spaniel – AON
This DNA test has been downgraded to a recommendation as the details for this mutation have not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific paper. This means that The Kennel Club cannot have confidence that the available laboratory is offering a valid test for this condition. However, this has remained a recommendation as the breed are concerned that this condition does exist within the breeding population, and so breeders should remain mindful that this is available and that they are still expected to consider this test prior to breeding.Dandie Dinmont – eye testing
It has been agreed to downgrade eye testing for this breed to a recommendation as the known inherited ocular disease in this breed (goniodysgenesis/pectinate ligament abnormality (PLA)) is tested for via gonioscopy and is already a requirement for the breed. Similarly, at this time no other known inherited disorders are known in the breed. The breed has a small breeding population and in order to allow breeders to source suitable mates, and to prevent genetic bottle necks from occurring, it has been agreed that this test should be moved to a recommendation. Breeders are required to get their stock tested every three years via gonioscopy, and recommended to undertake a general eye screen at this time to establish any other disorders that may be present.Irish Red and White Setter – vWD
The previous test available for this mutation in the breed is unfortunately no longer available, and as such breeders have no possible avenue to test for this condition. Data from tested dogs further suggests that the mutation has been successfully selected against within the breeding population, and The Kennel Club and breed will continue to monitor this condition closely in the breed. As such, the test will be removed completely from the Assured Breeders scheme.
Bill Lambert, Health, Welfare & Breeder Services Executive at The Kennel Club, said: “The last few years in particular have seen a soaring demand for puppies, reinforcing the importance of signposting puppy buyers to breeders who do all they can to produce healthy puppies.
“The Assured Breeders scheme offers a way to source these breeders, and regular review of the scheme ensures we can continue to maintain maximum progress for dog health improvements and encourage good breeding practices, in order to protect the future of the UK’s much-loved dogs.”
More information on the Assured Breeders scheme, including the latest list of health testing requirements and recommendations, can be found on The Kennel Club website.