Barking Blondes: Crufts, poodles in curlers and wet dog smell
Its Crufts at the Birmingham NEC this weekend and we paid a visit on Thursday. Hoping to be fresh for our radio broadcast the following day, we stayed in one of the many hotels on site. If your budget can stretch this far, we reckon this is actually the best bit.
Walking into the lobby, we were confronted by a pair of poodles in curlers with a hair dryer, two afghan hounds in raincoats and an open lift with three blood hounds waiting to ascend to the third floor. A perfect start to the event!
Thursday was drizzly so the stench was powerful. The smell of wet dog has been voted by a well known commercial air freshener manufacturer as Britains least favourite smell.
But not for us dog lovers… it’s as invigorating as a mountain stream. Besides, it lured us like a beacon through the peril of Spaghetti Junction. We had only been on air a few minutes when a caller, questioning our reason for broadcasting from Crufts, asked “Do you two not feel guilty attending this dog beauty pageant? Do you not consider the plight of pedigree dogs? And their health?” This year this is the question on many lips.
BBC’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed revealed in 2008, that many breeds do suffer from congenital illnesses such as hip dysplasia, the onset of premature blindness, kidney disorders epilepsy and breathing problems. Also some pedigree dogs have a higher propensity for cancer. This is a pretty bleak scenario.
The Animal Health Trust has a large presence at Crufts. They are working together with The Kennel Club, combining science and technology, in order to assist the health of future generations of pedigree dogs. By introducing tests for certain hereditary conditions such as PRA in poodles, ligament problems in Labradors, breeders can now test for genetic disorders prior to breeding. Another service called Mate Select facilitates a genetic diversity to be assessed, ahead of a planned litter.
It’s the Kennel Club’s new online service that helps breeders choose prospective ‘partners’ for their dogs, and determine the genetic impact of this ‘partnership’ virtually, before proceeding. It allows extra planning and conscientious breeding for genetic diversity and health tests parents.
If you attend Crufts with the thought of taking on a dog, research your breeder and your breed. It’s unadvisable to buy a puppy from a local newspaper advert or online, dog breeding in this country is not legislated. And back-street breeders, or puppy farmers mass produce puppies for money alone, and have no interest in animal welfare let alone health testing.
There is little regulation over dog breeding in this country. The Kennel Club, and its Assured Breeder scheme is unique in offering guidelines, services and veterinary advice on health in the breed standards. It’s the perfect place to look for a breeder leaving you confident that you’ll be buying a puppy that’s health tested.
Pedigrees come in all shapes, sizes, coat types, and personality. It’s their heritage, often centuries old that makes them special. And people do get ‘hooked’ onto a certain breed. Cross breeds with quirky names like ‘Porki, Puggle, CockerPoo, and Jackawawa are no less likely to have health issues and might inherit health problems from both parents.
A Labradoodle sold as being ‘hypoallergenic’ may take the Labrador’s coat gene and then actually ends up in a rescue centre because the pup moulted like a Labrador. The soaring dander levels and extra hoovering was not what was expected. These owners might have been better off choosing a non shedding breed like the Standard Poodle in the first place.
Lets hope science and responsible breeding ensures the health of breeds we have loved and grown up with.
‘The Barking Hour’ is on Thursdays on BBC London 94.9fm from 3-4pmTagged in: crufts, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, The Animal Health Trust, The Kennel Club
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