By Shianne Kilpatrick
Dear pet owners, what if your dog was recorded on camera, forced to perform for entertainment, and held to unrealistic standards which could put more pets at risk? With restrictions lifting – it is likely Crufts 2022 may get the green light to go ahead next year and many animal rights activists are already becoming concerned about the hundreds of dogs that may be put through this.
And it wouldn’t be the first time.
Crufts has been around for years, dating as far back as 1891. It has held a controversial view for almost as long, beginning around 2008 when the ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’ documentary was released.
Many see the Crufts dog show as an exciting time. Gathering around and guessing which dog will win, almost like betting – however, this is where the second opinion comes in, that it is cruel and dangerous for not only the animals involved but for future generations of pups.
The main debate comes from The Kennel Club, the organisation that runs Crufts, and their breeding standards.
Despite the group working to reverse these harmful breeding strategies and providing accurate guidance for judges so only healthy dogs win the competition – this has shown unsuccessful as dogs who are at an unhealthy weight still often win.
Anna Kralova of The Kennel Club said:
“The Kennel Club, as one of the country’s biggest investors in dog health, has developed many vital resources from DNA tests to inbreeding coefficients to help breeders – of purebred dogs or otherwise – to breed the healthiest possible puppies.”
She continued to say how The Kennel Club also runs the Assured Breeders Scheme which was set up in hopes to “help puppy buyers find a happy and healthy puppy” from safe and trustworthy breeders.
Breeding techniques within The Kennel Club have been scrutinised heavily in the past after it was uncovered that from 2001-2013 over 20% of Crufts winners showed to be overweight, according to Veterinary Record.
“Dogs at Crufts and other dog shows are judged against breed standards, which are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are in no way detrimental to health.
“Every breed standard states that exaggerations which impact negatively on health are not acceptable.”
Groups such as; PETA, RSPCA, and even the BBC have critisised the dog show since the ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’ documentary was released. The BBC even went as far as to stop the streaming of the show on their platforms.
The documentary showed many examples of dogs that ended up poorly all due to exaggerated breeding.
Some examples include; a Cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition that transpires when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain, Boxers suffering from epilepsy, Pugs with breathing problems, and Bulldogs who are unable to mate or give birth without assistance.
Physical traits are also impacted. Previous Crufts winners have had short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails, and dwarfism – all of which go against The Kennel Clubs standards.
During Crufts 2018, a campaigner from the pressure group PETA ran onto the arena, interrupting the dog show from announcing its winner. The protester was tackled to the ground by guards at the event.
The man was carrying a banner that stated, ‘CRUFTS CANINE EUGENICS’, suggesting that Crufts supported the manipulation of Pedigree dogs genes, a claim in which they have completely denied.
“While PETA believes that it is wrong to own dogs as pets at all, there are millions of dog lovers in the UK and many more across the world that would disagree, and millions of dogs that love being well cared for by responsible owners.
“Crufts has a duty of care for all dogs that attend the show and as such, health and welfare is our main priority.”
She then goes on to say that everyone at The Kennel Club is proud to be one of the “leading organisations funding research into dog health.”
Mike Flynn, Scottish SPCA chief superintendent said:
“We feel that any incident that could cause extra stress to the dogs in what is already a potentially stressful and high-pressure environment is not in the best interests of animal welfare.”
The Scottish SPCA are an organisation that work to protect animals all over the country. They aim to “push for changes in the law to improve the welfare of animals on farms, in labs, in the wild, in paddocks, or our homes.”
Their opinion of the show is that it has both positive and negative aspects.
“The show on one hand can be extremely rewarding for both the dogs and their handlers with the different competitions such as flyball and agility.
“We also welcome the introduction of Scruffts, a part of the competition where any crossbreed dog can win a prize based on how handsome they are rather than their pedigree credentials.
“On the other hand, we feel a focus on breeding for breed standard rather than health is not always in the best interest of dogs, especially when it comes to brachycephalic breeds.”
Many of those against Crufts share a worry that it may influence inexperienced dog owners to decide on a specific breed of dog without doing any proper research into how to properly look after it – or even source a responsible and safe breeder.
Mike continues to explain if an individual chooses against rescuing a dog, that Crufts is one of the safest options as the SSPCA Assured Puppy Breeders Scheme.
“By sourcing a puppy through one of these schemes the public know they will be buying a dog from a breeder who is carrying out health tests.”
If you want to find out how to spot a bad breeder or advice on how to buy a puppy responsibly, visit www.saynotopuppydealers.co.uk.