Pedigree dogs are suffering from genetic diseases following years of inbreeding, an investigation has found. A BBC documentary says they are suffering serious problems, because the emphasis is on health when breeding dogs for shows. The program shows spaniels with brains too big for their skulls and boxers suffering from epilepsy. The Kennel Club says it works tirelessly to improve the health of pedigree dogs. Bred animals represent 75% of the seven million dogs in the UK and cost their owners more than 10 million pounds in veterinary expenses “each week.
The program, pedigree dogs exposed, says that dogs suffering from genetic diseases are not prevented from competing in dog shows and have gone on to win “best in class”, despite his poor health. It says physical traits required by the breed standards of the Kennel Club as short faces, wrinkling, screw tails and dwarfism, have inherent health problems.
Other problems occur because of exaggerations bred into dogs by breeders trying to win rosettes, it adds. The program shows a prize-winning Cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition that occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain. It also features boxers suffering from epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs who are unable to mate or give birth unassisted. It says deliberate mating of dogs which are close relatives is common practice and the Kennel Club registers dogs bred from mother to son and brother to sister matings. Scientists from Imperial College London, recently found that pugs in the UK are so inbred that although there are 10,000 of them, is the equivalent of about 50 different individuals.
Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, said: “People are carrying out breeding which would be the first of all entirely illegal in humans and secondly is absolutely insane from the point of view health of animals. “In some breeds they are paying a terrible price in genetic disease.”