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The Kennel Club ("KC") is a kennel club based in Londonmarker and Aylesbury, Englandmarker.

Founded on 4 April, 1873, the club is the oldest of the world’s all-breed kennel clubs . It is the governing body for dogs in the UK and its primary objective is 'to promote in every way, the general improvement of dogs'. It was the first official registry of purebred dogs in the world, and its annual registrations in the early 2000s average 280,000 . The KC is not part of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, as are most other countries' kennel clubs.

The Kennel Club’s best known event is the Crufts dog conformation show, held since 1928, which attracts competitors from all over the world. Crufts is held every March at the NEC, Birmingham. The Kennel Club also holds the fun dog event Discover Dogs, in London every November. This event features the Scruffts grand final for crossbred and mixed breed dogs.

The Kennel Club registration system divides dogs into seven breed groups: Hound, Working, Terrier, Gundog, Pastoral, Utility and Toy. The Kennel Club currently recognises 210 breeds of dog.

The Kennel Club has a Charitable Trust (registered charity no. 327802) which was established in 1987 with the objective of 'Making a difference for dogs'. It has donated over £3 million to a range of organisations and charities to fund a wide variety of work ranging from Scientific and Research grants to welfare initiatives.

Criticism

The organisation was criticised on the BBC programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed for allowing breed standards, judging standards and breeding practices which are said to be compromise the health of purebred dogs. The programme led to various sponsors such as Hill's Pet Nutrition, Pedigree Petfoods, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Dogs Trust to withdraw their participation in Crufts and other Kennel Club events. The BBC eventually dropped Crufts 2009 from their coverage after being unable to agree to terms with the Kennel Club. Crufts 2009 was streamed online while the 2010 show will be broadcast by More4.

The Kennel Club initially defended their practices, and criticised the programme as "highly biased". It also lodged a complaint to regulatory authority Ofcommarker claiming "unfair treatment and editing".

Due to the strong public response, the Kennel Club started rolling out new health plans. Breed standards for every breed went under review and show judges would be required to choose only healthy dogs. It has also requested regulatory powers from the Government, which would allow the club to take actions against breeders who do not comply with health standards. Bans on close inbreeding is set to take effect on March 1. New breed standards for 209 dog species were announced in January 2009, and are to be effective immediately, but with breeders allowed until June to object. The new standards will "not include anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog from breathing, walking and seeing freely." "This will help to prevent the practice of exaggeration, where features that are perceived to be desirable, such as a short muzzle or loose skin, are made more prominent by breeders, and which can have detrimental effects on a dog’s health."

In February, the results of an independent scientific report commissioned by the RSPCA concluded that "exaggerated physical features and inherited diseases cause serious welfare problems in pedigree dogs." It states that "Breeding practices and efforts by breed societies and kennel clubs, to date, have been ineffective at protecting the welfare of many breeds of domestic dog" and that "changes in breeding and selection practices are urgently required." The Kennel Club states that the report "fails totally to recognise the real steady progress and advance of scientific knowledge that has already been made in the area of pedigree dog health."

As a direct result of the BBC programme, the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) started an inquiry into the issues surrounding inherited diseases and breeding problems in dogs in November 2008. The results of the inquiry, released in November 2009, was consistent with the RSPCA report, mentioning the "serious problem with the health and welfare of many pedigree dogs" and how they can be caused by current breeding practices. The report made various recommendations: Breed standards should be based less on "visual aesthetics" and more on whether the dogs would be "fit for purpose". Where available for particular breeds, health tests should be strongly recommended and individuals not tested should have their test status reflected in registration certificates and should not be eligible for Champion titles.

The inquiry also stated that "the KC should make the decision about whether registering dogs or dog health and welfare is their primary objective and focus their attentions more precisely on this when taking this issue forward."

More4 was criticised for their decision to broadcast Crufts. "Until the problems of health and welfare are dealt with, the showing of certain dogs with problems associated with inappropriate breed standards is wrong". A More4 spokesperson stated that its "coverage will place a particular emphasis on health and welfare issues, providing a high profile platform to keep these issues in the public eye – something that has been welcomed by the British Veterinary Association."

Accredited Breeder Scheme

The Club's Accredited Breeder Scheme - meant to help potential dog owners identify responsible breeders - has been described by Dogs Trust as "full of pitfalls, the main one being that it's self-certificating". The APGAW report indicates that the low breeding standards practiced by some in the ABS may allow the public to be "falsely led into thinking a puppy they buy from an accredited breeder registered with the KC will have no health or welfare problems associated with its breeding history." It called for more random checks and robust enforcement of the scheme and states that "the use of the word ‘pedigree’ should be tied to a high standard of breeding (for health and welfare) across the board with the KC not just with the few that decide to join the Accredited Breeder Scheme (ABS)."

The report warned that if the health measures implemented by the KC fails, government regulations might be necessary. The Kennel Club has issued a response to the report. PDE producer Jemima Harrison condemned the KC's response, stating that they are downplaying the criticism of the KC in the report and misrepresenting the findings.

References

11. History of the Kennel Club

External links



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