Should Dog Agility Trials Require a Vet Check

dog weaveA few years back the Kennel Club (in the UK) added a new rule making vet checks mandatory on 15 breeds. They are to “focus on clinical signs associated with pain or discomfort which will come under the main headings of external eye disease, lameness, skin disorders and breathing difficulty. The show veterinary surgeons will be looking for signs such as ectropion, entropion, corneal damage, dermatitis, breathing difficulty on moderate exercise, and lameness.”

Originally we did not point out that these tests are not necessarily for breeding limits, but rather to ensure the safety of those dogs during competition or to find signs of “abuse” to the dog due to breed standards. We asked your thoughts were and this is what you said.

Ann Harrison commented:

Every dog shown should have both an extensive health check, including all joints and eyes or any other genetic problems associated with that particular breed plus temperament testing before they can be shown. In this way the winning dogs which will be sought after for breeding will indeed be as perfect as possible, truly earning the right to be the Best in Show or whatever.

Sheila makes a valid point:

I really don’t think too many folks these dogs breed their bitch without health checks and certainly would not breed to a stud dog without them. The Belgian Tervuren magazine will not even allow you to place a photo of your dog or an ad of any kind with the health report numbers. There will never be any solution to those who buy any bitch and any dog to breed for money. They don’t show anyway! Vet checks will add to the already horrendous expense of traveling, entries, sometimes handlers,advertising, grooming products and equipment, etc. I am against it.

Cindi refutes:

I agree with this due to the high number of conformation dogs bred. I believe that the sport dog population weeds out defects (there are affected dogs competing but check it out…most times they are neutered!) because physical flaws decrease performance! How can you run if you can’t breathe? There is an increase among sports dogs of breeding for physical soundness only and ignoring appearance. Most would not be able to get a conformation championship but can really compete. Look at the lab that won group at Westminster…very overweight by sporting standards. I like Europe’s attitude…confirm the dog is physically competitive before they are allowed to compete in the conformation shows or be bred. I want my dogs to live long and healthy!!

Sam Adams agrees:

WOW! This is such a huge step forward for the world of purebred dogs. It would be great to see the AKC and other kennel clubs institute similar ideas.

Sandra points out:

I disagree. Most Breed clubs have requirements for minimum testing of breed specific problems that your dog should pass before breeding. In the US, having vets check dogs at shows would be a waste of time and money for those visual problems.

It’s also a slippery slope and erodes our rights. Where do you stop? Only conformation? Field trials? Obedience and Rally? Agility people should not immune either. I know plenty of agility dogs who could not pass OFA hips and elbows.

Be careful of what you wish for…

Lucy says:

I agree that all dogs should be checked for soundness and breeding stock should be free of genetic defects…or as free as we can make them. Genetic unsoundness is a HUGE problem in some horse breeds, too, yet many of these animals (who look beautiful but end up crippled at six or seven and since a horse’s life expectancy is into the mid-twenties, this is REALLY bad) end up in breeding programs. Anything that will help promote good breeding practices is great. AKC should encourage it.

Kathy Stepp has a great idea:

I think this is a great idea. I would love to see AKC require it for all breeds. I suppose it would be very expensive and time consuming, but there must be s way to make it work. Another option would be to require a vet certificate before the dog earns it’s championship? I’m not a conformation person so I would not be the best one to find a solution, but lots of reputable breeders complain that unsound dogs are being given titles. There must be a way to prevent that.

We will ask again, what are your thoughts on this seemingly hot debate?  Though it would not be good if more regulations caused a loss in participation.

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