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Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


FAQ are listed below. Click on the question to link to the Council's answer


Q1. Can you tell me, if I want to buy a puppy, what is a good (responsible) breeder?

Q2. Can you tell me what sort of breeder or supplier is best avoided?

Q3. What do I do if my dog shows problematic, or undesired behaviour?

Q4. How can I prevent problem behaviours developing in my dog?

Q5. I am told that ‘designer dogs’ and/or crossbreed dogs are healthier than pedigree dogs. Is this correct?

Q6. I am told that ‘designer dogs’ will breed true. Is this correct?

Q7. As a breeder, why should I comply with the Council's Breeding Standard?

Q8. I don’t want a pedigree dog. I just want a cross-bred or designer dog or a “mutt”. Is this Breeding Standard relevant to me?

Q9. Why do we need a Council Breeding Standard? The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS) has been around for a long time and is well respected.


FOR THOSE CONSIDERING BUYING A DOG or PUPPY

Please consult our "How to buy a Puppy" Guide for detailed advice on the needs of dogs and puppies and on finding a good breeder.


Whether it is your first dog, or the most recent in a succession, bringing a new puppy, or a new adult dog, into the household is a life-changing event and should not be done lightly. The first four steps to responsible dog ownership are:

1. A considered decision that you want to commit to the demands of looking after a dog; you can adequately meet its needs; and you can reasonably expect to be able to fulfil this responsibility for the duration of the dog's life.


2. An informed decision about the type and characteristics of dog which are best suited to your circumstances.


3. Ensuring that the puppy or adult dog is obtained from a reputable source: either a responsible breeder or a recognised re-homing organisation.


4. Never, ever, buy on impulse or allow yourself to be pressurised into making an instant decision.


FAQ are listed below.


Q1. Can you tell me, if I want to buy a puppy, what is a good (responsible) breeder?

A. The following are all important signs of a good breeder:

• Someone who asks you as many questions about your suitability as an owner of the dogs they are selling as you ask them.

• Someone who lets you see puppies with their mother and won't let you take a puppy home before it is at least 8 weeks old and has also been permanently identified (microchip or tattoo).

• Someone who has ensured that their puppies have been raised in a suitable environment, had a varied experience of normal domestic situations, and socialised with people and other dogs.

• Someone who carries out the recommended breed specific health tests on both the Sire (father) and Dam (mother) prior to a mating taking place and can provide up to date documents and certificates to confirm the results.

• Someone who uses a Puppy Contract and abides by recognised Codes of Conduct applicable to the Law (licensed) or an Assured Dog Breeders’ Scheme that in all important elements complies with the Council’s Standard for Breeding Dogs. (insert link to Council's recommended Standard)

• Someone who will take a dog back, or re-home it, should it at anytime prove necessary to do so and whose sole concern is the long term health and welfare of all the dogs they breed.


Q2. Can you tell me what sort of breeder or supplier is best avoided?

A. You should buy a puppy ONLY from a responsible breeder. Accordingly, you should satisfy yourself that the breeder from whom you are considering buying meets the necessary standards and you should certainly avoid anyone who does NONE of the above. If you are told that these measures are unnecessary, you are being misinformed; they are widely accepted and implemented by responsible breeders. If you are concerned that these standards are not being met, the best advice is not to buy the puppy, or any other dog they may have for sale. This is the case even if you feel sorry for the animal. It is in the best interests of you, your puppy, and dogs generally, that you deal only with a responsible breeder.

If you buy a puppy or an adult dog from a breeder or supplier who disregards basic standards of health and welfare, you are not only contributing to the problem - you have become part of it. Even though you may be buying a puppy with the best of intentions, all you will be doing is helping the breeder or supplier to stay in business and thereby to allow them to perpetuate the unnecessary suffering of dogs bred simply for profit, without proper care and attention to their health and welfare. If there is no market for their puppies, they will stop selling them.

If you should come across such a breeder and have concerns particularly about the welfare of the dogs in their care, then, difficult as it might be, you are advised to report them to your Local Authority (a list of contacts is available here and further guidance here) or contact the RSPCA, tel: 0300 1234 999.

Q3. What do I do if my dog shows problematic, or undesired behaviour?

A. Dogs can develop a range of behaviours which owners find difficult to deal with or control. Many of these are actually normal behaviours for dogs, and develop in response to elements of the environment which cause anxiety or fear. However, some may occur as a result of physical diseases. If your dog is showing an undesired behaviour, such as destruction, or aggression, it is therefore important to first consult your Veterinary Surgeon to check that there are no physical causes. If these are ruled out, your veterinary surgeon will be able to refer you to a suitably qualified Veterinary or Clinical Behaviourist, or Training Instructor, depending on the nature of your dog's problem. You can find further information about the different professionals working in dog training and behaviour from the Animal Behaviour and Training Council.






Q4. How can I prevent problem behaviours developing in my dog?

A. Most undesired behaviours in dogs are preventable through providing puppies with the appropriate early experiences and training. Your veterinary practice may run puppy socialisation classes or 'parties', or may be able to recommend one for you. These classes should provide you with some information about the basic training of your puppy using reward-based methods, and provide an opportunity to start socialising him or her to other people and dogs. These classes should be run by someone with appropriate qualifications and experience and be well controlled so that interactions between puppies are always well supervised. You can get further information about training practitioners from the Animal Behaviour and Training Council.
You should also ensure that your puppy has a wide range of experiences between classes, for example by inviting people to your house so that he or she meets a range of different people. Ideally you should also ensure contact with at least one healthy, vaccinated adult dog that you know is calm and friendly with other dogs. Because of the risk of disease, avoid taking your puppy into public areas before the full vaccination course has been completed. Check with your veterinary surgeon if you are unsure about when you can do this.
The other things that your puppy needs to experience are being handled all over, including feet and ears, gentle grooming with a soft brush, and short periods of separation from you. Making sure that your puppy is gradually introduced to all the things that he or she is likely to experience later in life reduces the risk of undesired behaviours developing. Check with your veterinary practice if you are unsure about how to socialise your puppy - this is an important time in their life which influences how their behaviour develops, so it is important to get it right!
If you have a rescue dog, the organisation from which you have re-homed your dog may be able to give you advice about training, or even run training classes for new owners. Otherwise, investigate the training classes in your area. It is important to find a trainer who is both qualified and experienced, and who uses welfare compatible training methods. You can get further information about training practitioners from the Animal Behaviour and Training Council.

Q5. I am told that ‘designer dogs’ and/or crossbreed dogs are healthier than pedigree dogs. Is this correct?

A. This is not automatically true, although there may be benefits in some cases. Where inherited disease is a problem, a cross-bred dog may inherit problems from either or both parents. Only if a recessive inherited disease (ie a problem which has to be inherited from both parents before it is visible in the offspring) is prevalent in one breed involved in the cross and not in the other(s) will a cross-bred dog be less likely to suffer that particular problem. If the problem is extremes of conformation that in themselves cause welfare or health problems then this may still cause problems, whether or not the dog is pure or crossbred, depending on the extent to which this type of conformation is maintained in the cross.


Q6. I am told that ‘designer dogs’ will breed true. Is this correct?

A. If by designer dog you mean one which is the result of a cross between two different pure-bred dogs (eg a Labradoodle bred by crossing a Poodle and a Labrador Retriever) then crossing two Labradoodles will not reliably produce more Labradoodles. What will be produced is a range of puppies along the spectrum from poodle to Labrador; ie some will look like Poodles, some will look like mixtures, and some will look like Labradors.


FAQs ABOUT THE ADVISORY COUNCIL'S STANDARD FOR DOG BREEDING

The Breeding Standard is available here


Q7. As a breeder, why should I comply with the Council's Breeding Standard?

A. The Breeding Standard sets out in one place, simply and clearly, both the standards you should meet if you wish to provide good standards of health and welfare for all your dogs, and advice on how to meet the standard. By complying with the Standard you will therefore be secure in the knowledge that you are providing the best possible conditions for both adult dogs and puppies.
Moreover, as a good breeder, it is in your interest to encourage purchasers to be careful and very selective about where they buy. Compliance with this Standard is a good way of demonstrating you are a good breeder. The Advisory Council, and other animal welfare bodies, advises potential purchasers to be very careful to buy only from such a breeder. None of us with the welfare of dogs at heart wish to encourage people to buy from negligent or careless breeders.

Q8. I don’t want a pedigree dog. I just want a cross-bred or designer dog or a “mutt”. Is this Standard relevant to me?

A. All dogs should be bred to a standard that ensures good health and welfare for both parents and all puppies. This applies whatever the type of dog. All dogs deserve to be treated with kindness and care should always be taken in how they are bred and reared.


Q9. Why do we need a Council Standard? The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS) has been around for a long time and is well respected.

A. The Assured Breeder Scheme has had uptake only from breeders of KC registrable dogs - roughly 30% of the dogs in the UK. Our aim is to provide a Standard that protects all dogs.
Furthermore, when Professor Sir Patrick Bateson reported in 2010 he reviewed the Kennel Club scheme and concluded that, although it was the best scheme around, it did not fully meet all the criteria he considered necessary for a robust welfare standard. The Council agrees with his view. Moreover, the Kennel Club themselves have carried out an analysis of the gap between the Council Standard and the Assured Breeder Scheme that has confirmed substantial differences. We will continue to discuss with the Kennel Club how their Assured Breeder Scheme might deliver against the Council Standard, for it is clear that a unified scheme would be desirable.


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Donation

For anyone wishing to make a donation: either send a cheque to the address below made out to “WFCA Canine Advisory Account; or (preferred) make the payment by deposit to a Barclays bank or by BACS to WFCA Canine Advisory account, Barclays Bank, Exeter, Sort code 20-30-47, A/c No 90782173.

Address: Secretary of the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding
Scotland Farm, Dry Drayton, Cambridge, CB23 8AU.