Kennel Club marks five years of breathing scheme and collaborates with CVS to engage more vets

The Kennel Club is marking five years since the inception of its ground-breaking respiratory assessment, developed to improve and protect the health of Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs.

The Kennel Club/University of Cambridge Respiratory Function Grading (RFG) scheme was launched in 2019 and is the only practical, evidence-based tool currently available in the UK to collect data on Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), help owners to understand their dog’s respiratory function, and crucially, help breeders to identify and breed away from this disease. Over 3,500 Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs have now been assessed in the UK, including almost 300 for free at Crufts as part of a drive to increase uptake and ensure a healthier future for these popular brachycephalic breeds.

More than 50 vets are now approved RFG assessors, ensuring the scheme is accessible to breeders and owners across the UK. The Kennel Club is also pleased to be working in collaboration with one of the UK’s largest vet groups, CVS, to encourage and enable more vets to become RFG scheme assessors and build the infrastructure for more wide-scale health testing.

Veterinarians interested in becoming an assessor can sign up at here or email

Health (The Kennel Club)

to express their interest. The next training day is scheduled for the 11 October at Granta Veterinary Specialists, Station Road, Linton, CB21 4NW.


The scheme is also now licensed and used in 18 countries worldwide (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, North America, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan), enabling wider data collection on BOAS and promoting an international and collaborative approach to improve and protect breed health for current and future generations.

Charlotte McNamara, Head of Health at The Kennel Club, commented: “We would like to thank all those breeders, owners, vets and organisations who have helped to build the foundations of this important scheme.

“We look forward to continuing to work with CVS, vets and other collaborative parties dedicated to improving brachycephalic dog health across the board through promoting the scheme – increasing its uptake and access – and engaging vets, breeders and puppy-buyers to raise awareness and understanding of BOAS.

“This collaboration is key in improving dog health across the board – by working together we can make a difference for dogs.”

In line with the scheme’s evolution and data collected from its first five years, the breeding guidelines for dogs assessed as grade 2 are being updated. The grading system currently categorises mating pairs into green (lowest risk), amber (higher risk), and red (not recommended due to high risk) based on the likelihood of producing BOAS-affected puppies. From 1 June 2024, all mating pairings that include a grade 2 dog will be designated as 'amber', not solely on genetic basis, but with consideration for the welfare of the dogs involved in the mating and whelping processes. The updated guidance can be found here.

“Health schemes should be reviewed and adapted as we continue to collect more evidence and understand more about often complex conditions and diseases,” added Charlotte. “The RFG scheme breeding guidelines, which are based on best practice as outlined by expert geneticists, are determined by data and will change in line with the breed populations – underlining the importance of continuing big data collection.

“Whilst the scheme has been in its infancy, we have worked hard alongside vets and committed breeders to make it more accessible and collect data to inform protocols and breeding guidelines. Our health schemes are continually reviewed as they evolve to ensure they are effective in reducing disease and improving dog health, but are also pragmatic and practical.”

The Kennel Club takes insights from research and feeds them into its Breed Health and Conservation plans, so that it can work with breeders to give information and guidance about how to ensure the future health of pedigree breeds. These plans, which enable The Kennel Club to track progress and make meaningful changes to breed health, have been developed as a result of reviewing more than 4,000 research papers, making these plans the most comprehensive review of pedigree health data anywhere in the world.

The organisation continues to urge further collaboration between all stakeholders on the issues facing brachycephalic dogs and last year launched its Play Your Part report, detailing the collaborative measures that need to be taken by the puppy buying public, breeders, vets, government and The Kennel Club to protect and improve the health of current and future generations, including:  

Health screening, including increasing uptake of the University of Cambridge/Kennel Club Respiratory Function Grading scheme; 
Education and behaviour change of breeders, puppy buyers and dog owners, and the role of online marketplaces which advertise pets; 
Introducing mandatory contracts for breeders and overhauls to Codes of Practices on caring for dogs. 
More information about the RFG scheme – including how to have your dog assessed or become an assessor – can be found here on our website.

The Kennel Club’s Play Your Part report and recommendations about breeding, buying and bringing up brachycephalic breeds better is available here