RSPCA slams Crufts for encouraging 'deformed dogs'

The RSPCA has pulled out of the dog show Crufts amid claims that the judging criteria encourage owners to breed disabled and deformed dogs.

The animal welfare charity has cancelled plans to have a stand at the show, where it has exhibited for  the past four years. It said that judging should focus primarily on the health and temperament of the dogs rather than their appearance.

Mark Evans, chief veterinary adviser at the RSPCA, said: "Dog shows using the current breed standards as the main judging criteria actively encourage both the intentional breeding of deformed and disabled dogs and the inbreeding of closely related animals.

"There is compelling scientific evidence that the health and welfare of hundreds of thousands of pedigree dogs is seriously compromised as a result."

The Kennel Club, which runs the annual show, said the comments were regrettable and that it regularly reviewed the judging criteria.

"The fact that the RSPCA continues to make such unhelpful statements with regard to the health of pedigree dogs is extremely regrettable," said Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club. "But we will continue to endeavour to work with them, despite their stated position, for the benefit of dogs.

"The Kennel Club is dedicated to improving the health and welfare of dogs through responsible breeding and will continue to use Crufts as a platform to educate breeders and the public about the importance of joining us on this quest."

A Kennel Club health survey in 2004 showed that 90 per cent of pedigree dogs would not suffer from health problems that would affect their quality of life.

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