ANIMAL rights campaigners have uncovered the inbreeding behind two of last year’s Best of Breeds winners at Crufts that they say can lead to a range of chronic health problems.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) accused “pedigree fetishists” of breeding closely related dogs to create exaggerated characteristics for the competition, which began its 2016 judging yesterday).
Peta says breeding closely related dogs leaves pups with a range of serious health conditions including chronic breathing problems and an inability for bones to form properly. The charity also claimed that last year’s Best of Breed pug, Marbelton What a Guy at Zobear, had a grandsire from the same litter as his sire. And the 2015 Pekingese Best of Breed, Ch Yakee Ooh Aah Cantona, had paternal grandsires who shared one parent.
Peta director Mimi Bekhechi said: “The pedigree fetishists at Crufts are breeding close relatives to create exaggerated physical characteristics that can cause breathing problems, hip dysplasia and more.
“This disregard for dogs’ wellbeing is why we urge anyone who cares about animals to stay far away from Crufts.”
The charity said studies show inbreeding can cause problems in a number of breeds. It said many bulldogs, pugs, Pekinese and other flat-faced dogs cannot breathe well as a result. Many are unable to walk far or chase a ball without gasping for air because of shortened airways.
Others suffer genetic predispositions to epilepsy, heart disease, deafness and hip dysplasia, the charity warned.
But officials at Crufts said checks were carried out by vets at the four-day show, the biggest of its kind in the world.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: “More than 22,000 dogs compete at Crufts and dog health is central to the entire show.
“There are 12 breeds which can have health problems as a result of exaggerated physical features. We monitor these breeds closely and have put vet checks in place for them at dog shows to improve their health and welfare. No dog should be bred with exaggerated features.”
The Kennel Club previously revised breed standards to exclude “anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog breathing, walking and seeing freely”.