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Official Publication of Dogs NT Vol. 50.2 Apr/May 2022
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Dogs Australia LogoDogs Australia Notices
(Page 1, Page 2)

DOGS AUSTRALIA: STATEMENT ON NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT BREED BANS

Dogs Australia response in relation to the recent court decision in Norway:

Norwegian Government Bans Breeding Of British Bulldogs And Cavaliers

The recent court decision in Norway to ban the breeding of British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels has resulted in debate and concern that a similar situation could occur in Australia. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), of which Dogs Australia is an Associate Member, has stated that: “The FCI community – which represents not less than 98 countries and thousands of breeders worldwide – truly hopes that the verdict would not provide a privileged position to the unregistered, backyard uncontrolled puppy farmers who perform their activity without making use of any of the available scientific methods aiming at improving the general health of dogs.”

“To the contrary, registered breeders, with the assistance of responsible veterinarians, have been adopting quite an opposite approach for decades, getting very good results in terms of health.”

These sentiments reflect the approach taken by Dogs Australia/ANKC over many years. In response to media inquiries, we have formulated the following statements.

Do Dogs Australia currently hold any concerns over the breeding of 'flat-faced' dogs in Australia based on animal welfare?

We have concerns for all breeds of dogs, flat-faced or not. All breeds should be bred with due care to inherited diseases, especially where there are proven methods of disease testing whereby the incidence of severe disease can be minimised. This equally applies to flat-faced breeds and is based on animal welfare. Dogs Australia Breeders of British Bulldogs and Cavaliers use health testing regimes that ensure that breeding stock are suitable for breeding, as Australia has a large gene pool of both breeds, and other brachycephalic (flat-face) breeds.

What Is Dogs Australia Doing To Improve The Lives Of Dogs In Australia?

Dogs Australia breeders are bound by a Code of Ethics on frequency of breeding (basically one litter per year), maximum number of litters in the bitch’s lifetime (6 with the average bitch having 3 litters or less) and health testing for recognised diseases.

If breeds and their breeders operate outside of Dogs Australia control, there are usually no basic health testing requirements and no limits on frequency of breeding or litter numbers. The challenge in Australia is to sideline these breeders who do not address health and welfare in their breeding programs; their only motivation to breed is for a quick profitable sale. The health and heritable disease status of their breeding stock is not central to their business plan, many crossbreed to obtain exotic colours, which can introduce significant health problems into a breed. All breeders of dogs where heritable diseases have been identified should be compelled by legislation to conform to a breeding code of ethics as Dogs Australia breeders are.

Would Dogs Australia Back A Call For Banning Breeds On Welfare Grounds?

For several reasons, Dogs Australia does not see any need for breeding bans. This would not stop backyard breeders or puppy farmers, and where breeds have a large population, there is sufficient genetic variety to gradually breed away from diseases and structural abnormalities. Each breed has within it a very wide range of structure, temperament, and health components. For the sake of a few severely affected individuals, why should the whole breed have to be banned. Our approach is to address the major problems, consistently remove any adversely affected individuals from breeding programs, and the breed can change over time to an overall healthier breed. With a large gene pool and access to DNA and other regimes to ensure the health of breeding stock, it has been proven that responsible breeders can reduce the incidence of heritable diseases.

Given the obvious 'line in the sand' approach taken by the Oslo District Court (which has the impact of significantly raising the profile of the welfare of certain breeds), in response to the concerns of Animal Protection Norway, where is the line for Dogs Australia on this issue?

The Norwegian response is a basic full stop. This should have been a considered response as mentioned previously, targeting specific diseases or construction issues, and giving breeders time (5-10 years minimum to improve breed averages, preferably longer). Many breeders have spent lifetimes preserving these breeds and need to be allowed to gradually adapt as breeds take generations to change without causing further conditions to occur due to a sudden narrowing of the gene pool. Outcrossing is of limited value unless to correct a fixed disease or an extremely limited gene pool such as numerically restricted breeds. Dogs Australia is confident that observing of the Breeding Codes of Ethics and using international diagnostic programs will ensure that people who purchase any breed, including brachycephalic breeds, from Dogs Australia breeders can be assured of a healthy, long-lived puppy.

Has Enough Been Done In Australia – Both About Irresponsible and/or Illegal Breeders But Also The Actual Welfare And Health Of Breeds?

Dogs Australia has no control over rogue puppy farmers or backyard breeders. The problem in Australia is that state and territory legislation only targets responsible breeders who can be easily identified. The illegal breeders advertise on the Internet and are usually only contactable by mobile phone, which makes it virtually impossible for the regulators to find them; and they ignore government requirements to obtain a Breeders Identification Number because they know that they are untraceable, which means that there is no pressure on them to observe health and welfare issues regarding their breeding stock. We have well-developed health testing schemes for hips, elbows, hearts, eyes, and DNA breed specific testing for a wide range of diseases. Some of these tests are national requirements for all litters bred (LRL’s – litter registration limitations) where all parents much be health tested, as well as numerous additional health testing requirements within breed clubs.

Is The Respiratory Function Grading Scheme A Thing In Australia? Or Something Similar? Is It Of Use?

Dogs Australia are licensed to the Kennel Club (UK) / Cambridge University Respiratory Function Grading Scheme. We have appointed Dr Arthur House, a Veterinarian Specialist in brachycephalic diseases to head the RFG Scheme in Australia; however, due to COVID restrictions in his home state, Victoria, the implementation has been delayed, but we expect to be underway shortly. There are pockets within several states where this testing is being done (unofficially at present). Dogs Australia would prefer the scheme to be official so the results are internationally acceptable. We feel this system is the best possible means of moving forwards in validating healthy breeding dogs within the brachycephalic breeds.

DOGS AUSTRALIA: STATEMENT ON AUSTRALIAN POPULAR BREEDS BAN

Dogs Australia is responding to calls for some of Australia’s most popular breeds to be banned, namely Pugs, British and French Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

The debate follows the recent decision in Norway to ban the breeding of British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. The Oslo District Court ruled that selective breeding had led to numerous health problems including breathing difficulties and heart and eye conditions.

Dogs Australia says the solution, rather than banning the breeds outright, is in eradicating irresponsible breeders who fail to do health tests. The organisation believes that tackling the issue effectively in Australia requires regulation and research into the health status of the brachycephalic (brachy) breeds, including Pugs, French and British Bulldogs, to get a more accurate picture.

Dogs Australia President, Hugh Gent OAM, says a breeding ban on these much-loved dogs is not the solution, as it would serve only to drive the industry underground and exacerbate the situation. “First, we must work to eradicate irresponsible breeding practices,” he says. “There are breeders who are not regulated. There are inexperienced and unscrupulous breeders in this country who do not do health checks and their litters are not part of the national register maintained by Dogs Australia.” Dogs Australia registered breeders follow a strict code of ethics, conduct health checks and, for accountability, are supported by a database of inherited diseases: 1 ‘ORCHID’. “Second, we need to get a true understanding of the size of the problem in Australia.

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is responding to a situation in Norway with data that may not be relevant here.” Leading Australian veterinarian Dr Karen Hedberg says: “There is very little relevant data on these breeds in this country. We need to use science, health checks and consumer education to ensure these breeds continue to be much-loved companions in Aussie homes.”

Dogs Australia is taking immediate steps to conduct a study into the health status of brachy breeds in Australia. The study, to initially focus on NSW and Victoria, will be officially announced soon.

Dogs Australia is calling on all breeders, vets, animal welfare groups and consumers to report irresponsible and unethical breeding practices. “If you buy a dog from someone who doesn’t bother with health checks, you’re dealing with an irresponsible breeder” maintains DA president Hugh Gent.

Popular TV vet, breeder and Dogs Australia Ambassador, Dr Rob Zammit, agrees. “Dogs and owners are suffering at the hands of unethical breeders who bypass the checks that reputable kennels undertake, such as DNA tests to monitor bloodlines, so that most heritable defects can be avoided,” Dr Zammit says. “Legitimate breeders are registered and regulated, so they can be easily identified. Illegal operators usually only have a mobile phone contact – they’re largely untraceable, so there’s no pressure on them to observe health and welfare issues.”

About Dogs Australia

Dogs Australia (Australian National Kennel Council Ltd) is a not-for-profit organisation advocating for the preservation of purebred dogs through ethical breeding. It champions the highest standard of animal welfare through education and fostering dog-loving communities. Internationally recognised and established in 1958 as the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC), the organisation promotes responsible dog ownership; maintains the 1ORCHID heritable canine diseases database; funds research into canine diseases; and supports state and territory-based member bodies. Dogs Australia promotes breed conformation shows and community sports for dogs that fulfill a breed’s natural instincts.

For further information - www.dogsaustralia.org.au

1 ORCHID – ‘Officially Registered Canine Health Information Database’.

AFGHAN HOUND SURVEY RESULTS

A survey was conducted by Dogs Australia last year to ascertain the feedback from all owners of registered Afghan Hounds in relation to the Minimum Breeding Age for Afghan Hound bitches being 24 months at the time of mating (unless a veterinary certificate is produced stating that for health reasons the bitch should be mated before 24 months).

The response received indicated support.

As this was an amendment to current regulations, the result of the survey was referred to the Dogs Australia Board of Directors for consideration at their February 2022 Special Board meeting where it was endorsed.

As a consequence, the following new clause will be added to Regulations Part 6 – The Register & Registration which will be effective from 1 July 2022:

8.16   Afghan Hound (Added 02/22 – 6.1. Effective 01/07/2022)

The Minimum Breeding Age for Afghan bitches is 24 months at the time of mating (unless a veterinary certificate is produced stating that for health reasons the bitch should be mated before 24 months).

Breeders of litters whelped on or after 1st June 2022 will be required to comply with the requirements as a prerequisite to registration of any litter on the ANKC Ltd Main Register. Litters which do not meet the above requirements will only be able to be placed on the Limited Register and will be flagged not to be upgraded.

Dogs Australia link: https://ankc.org.au/MemberNewsItemDetail/?id=3336

 
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