The Times of London reports that the BBC, which has had exclusive broadcasting rights to broadcast the Crufts dog show for more than 40 years, is reviewing its coverage in light of a programme (Pedigree Dogs Exposed!) that it had commissioned on canine health which shows that the Kennel Club's program of closed registries and beauty-show conformation standards has resulted in a high incidence of inherited genetic disease which have left many pedigree dog in misery.
The Times reports that that "the BBC fears it will not be able to defend its coverage of Crufts after the showing."
Three quarters of Britain’s seven million dogs are pedigree and it is estimated that veterinary bills now amount to £10 million a week to cover what the documentary makers, backed up by evidence from the RSPCA and others, claim are increasing cases of ill health.
The programme showed a prize-winning Cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition that occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain.
Veterinary neurologist Clare Rusbridge says in the film: “The cavalier’s brain is like a size 10 foot shoved into a size 6 shoe – it doesn’t fit.”
It also showed boxers suffering from epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs who were unable to mate or give birth unassisted.
Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics at University College London, told the BBC: “People are carrying out breeding which would be first of all entirely illegal in humans and secondly is absolutely insane from the point of view of the health of the animals. In some breeds they are paying a terrible, terrible price in genetic disease.”
Selective, or line breeding, is commonplace among pedigree dogs and the Kennel Club has registered dogs bred from brother-to-sister and mother-to-son matings.
The RSPCA’s chief veterinary adviser, Mark Evans, told the BBC: “The show world is about an obsession, about beauty, and there is a ridiculous concept that that is how we should judge dogs.
“It takes no account of temperament or fitness for purpose potentially as a pet animal, and that to me makes no sense at all. It is a parade of mutants; a freakish beauty pageant.”
Dog owners wait to compete at Crufts.