New Pekingese Rules Cause Furore

Yesterday’s article about the Kennel Club’s change in breeding standards has caused a backlash from the breeding societies.

The BBC broadcast a recent documentary about the side-effects of unhealthy breeding, caused primarily by over-keen breeders looking to breed their dogs to conform to the Kennel Club’s breeding standards and ultimately win a rosette at one of the pedigree dog club’s dog shows, such as their highly prestigious Crufts show.

One piece on the programme which caused much uproar was the revelation that a Pekinese, the Best in Show dog of 2003, had had surgery (soft palate resection) so that it could breathe.

Yesterday, new breeding standards (see bottom of this page) were put in place for the Pekinese breed saying that a flat face is no longer acceptable. Indeed, as we highlighted in yesterday’s article, thanks to breeding the muzzle out the skin that used to cover the muzzle is now in the poor dog’s throat.

Barry Offiler, the chairman of the Pekingese Club, which has been going for 104 years, said the Kennel Club was simply panicking. He stated:

“If it’s got a muzzle it won’t be a pekingese, and if we have to breed dogs with a muzzle which breed do we cross with them? We are talking about a breed that is popular worldwide. This will prevent us showing dogs abroad and will stop overseas competitors entering Crufts. We all support improved health, but we don’t know what damage the muzzle might give to the breed.”

What damage might the muzzle give to the breed? Enable it to breed, I would have thought. Besides, surely to breed in a muzzle, you simply take a Pekinese that over-zealous breeders would previously have taken to be a ‘poor example of the breed’ and breed with that one. Besides, the muzzle was more pronounced in the Pekingese back in the 19th century, so surely we are simply returning to how the dog used to look, not getting rid of the breed altogether.

It will take several generations, perhaps three to five or as many as seven, before the new generations will show the more pronounced muzzle.

The secretary of the Kennel Club, Caroline Kisko, said:

“Our new breed health plans will enable us to ensure that the health of every dog is a number one priority and we are taking a tougher line with breed clubs by adjusting those breed standards that fail to promote good health.”

Several other well respected members of the dog community have also commented on the Kennel Club’s new focus:

President of the British Veterinary Association, Nicky Paul, gave her support:

“What is particularly important is that the judges have clear instructions now that only the healthiest dogs can be rewarded.”

Editor of Dogs Today, Beverley Cuddy, a critic of the Kennel Club said:

“At last this is a sign that things are moving. But I don’t want this to be just a bit of lipstick to make Crufts look acceptable. If it were me, my first change would be to tackle inbreeding and let people know the family history of dogs before they are bought as pets.”

The Kennel Club will also be meeting with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs shortly in order to discuss the way forward for breeding standards.

We wait with baited breath to see what these changes will bring, but if nothing else, we are sure it can only be for the good of our dogs.

Pekingese Breeding Standards:

“Old rules: head large, skull broad. Nose short and broad. Wrinkle, continuous or broken, should extend from the cheeks to the bridge of the nose. Muzzle wide with firm underjaw. Profile flat with nose well up between eyes. Eyes large. Short body heavier in front than rear. Coat long, with profuse mane extending beyond shoulders”

“New rules: head fairly large. Skull moderately broad. Nose not too short. Slight wrinkle may extend from the cheeks to the bridge of the nose. Muzzle must be evident, but may be relatively short and wide. Eyes not too large. Relatively short body. Coat moderately long, with mane not extending beyond shoulders”