Friday, October 10, 2008

The (UK) Kennel Club becomes breeding Gestapo

As a working houndsman, I've made no secret of my issues with the numerous conformation focused Kennel Club systems.

That said, those focused on an individual breed -in any capacity- typically, and rightfully, consider themselves to be the stewards of their respective breeds, at least in their respective country. For many breeds, these guardians/stewards coalesce themselves into something referred to as a "Parent Club". These Parent Clubs, ideally, become a meeting place and repository for fanciers, admirers, and especially breeders, whose cumulative decades (often centuries) of knowledge and insight into and about their breed are without question, some of the most (if not the single most) valuable resource and advocacy the breed has in that country.

Most Kennel Clubs/Registries turn to these parent clubs for direction in group placement decisions (herding, sporting, terrier, etc) and for a written standard (idealized physical description) of the breed, as well as other matters of specific import to the breed in question.

This was basically the case in the British system until a documentary recently appeared on the BBC entitled "Pedigree Dogs Exposed". The Kennel Club's response is detailed here:

The documentary made many good points, and brought to light numerous issues within the conformation side of the dog fancy that -do- deserve some scrutiny. Dogs that are bred in such a way that they can't breathe properly, or walk properly, or whelp (birth) normally, etc.

These are legitimate issues that need to be addressed through the effected Parent Clubs, not in spite of them. The problem is that the Kennel Club's plan is instead going to alienate and undermine the Parent Clubs (parent club breeders) - this is extremely unwise.

When the working-dog community gives up on the Kennel Club, you lose a lot. When the show-dog community gives up on the Kennel Club, you lose what’s left.

Then What?

If the Kennel Club wants to oversee a hodgepodge of backyard breeders and profiteers then they are right on track.

But if they want to remain in league with those that actually –care- about the form, function, and health of pure bred dogs, they need to remember who the true dog folk are, and who they are not.