Inherited diseases and exaggerated characteristics

Statement

 

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) strongly recommends that animals which show extremes of conformation that negatively affect their health and welfare should not be used for breeding.

The BSAVA strongly recommends that breeders avoid the mating of closely related dogs and accepts the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding recommendation that bitches should only be mated to a dog when the Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI) if the resulting puppies, as measured from a five generation pedigree, would be lower than 12.5%.

The BSAVA recommends that in order to reduce the incidence of inherited diseases with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance breeders should use genetic test when available and not breed from carriers.

BSAVA recommends that in order to reduce the incidence of inherited diseases with a polygenic or multifactorial mode of inheritance breeders should participate in recognized health schemes and only breed from those animals which are clear or better that the breed average as appropriate. Where health schemes do not exist, breeders should preferentially breed from individuals that show less extreme morphologies (bearing in mind other considerations).

The BSAVA recognises that the majority of dogs and cats will be kept as pets and therefore recommends that consideration is given to the temperament and socialisation of animals being bred.

The BSAVA supports the idea of expanding gene pools of certain breeds where this is necessary to avoid welfare problems, and limiting the number of progeny from any individual sire.

The BSAVA recommends that those thinking about buying a puppy consider carefully the potential problems of different breeds (and crossbreeds) and discuss the issue with a veterinary surgeon before purchase.

The BSAVA supports the work of the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding and other initiatives which seek to improve the health and welfare of companion animals. BSAVA supports the recommendation that breeding animals should be permanently identified before leaving the breeder to enable full traceability.

The BSAVA supports epidemiological and genetic research into the prevalence and molecular mechanisms of inherited diseases in dogs and cats.

 

Background information

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) acknowledges that the selective breeding of companion animals has resulted in a number of health and welfare issues related to inherited diseases and exaggerated characteristics. While there may be problems in any species that is bred selectively, there appears to be a particular problem in dogs because of the selection pressures that have been applied to species. Inherited diseases and exaggerated characteristics not only cause health and welfare issues for the animal concerned, but also create a financial burden and emotional distress for the owner.

Although inherited disease and exaggerated characteristics can occur in any dog, there can be specific issues related to pedigree, purebred and 'designer' dogs, which are often selected for breeding on the basis of aesthetic considerations (e.g. conformation, coat colour or gait). This may introduce inherited disease and exaggerated characteristics which are detrimental to health and wellbeing of the animal, either as a direct result of selection for particular characteristics or where the inherited condition is linked to a trait which is being selected. Within this group it should be noted that show dogs may have a disproportionate influence on the gene pool, both directly in that they may produce a large number of progeny, and indirectly in influencing the public's perception of the breed.

Websites

The Dog Advisory Council
Genetic welfare problems of companion animals - UFAW
Dog Breed Health
The Karlton Index
University of Cambridge - Inherited diseases in dogs
International Cat Care - Inherited diseases in cats
Independent inquiry into dog breeding - The Bateson Report
BVA - Canine Health Schemes
Animal Health Trust - Canine Genetic Testing
Kennel Club - Assured Breeders Scheme

Provenance

New: 2012

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