March 18, 2019
Scope: This position paper applies to the breeding of any 2 dogs whether the resulting progeny are considered purebred or hybrids. It does not apply to the mating of a domesticated dog to another Canid species. Further information on this subject can be found in the CVMA’s Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations (2018).
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) supports the breeding of dogs only when it is undertaken by those who are committed to providing a high level of care for their dogs, and to supporting their dogs’ physical and psychological well-being.
Likewise, the CVMA only supports the breeding of dogs by those who strive to produce offspring that are predisposed to a good quality of life. A good quality of life is one in which dogs normally experience a state of physical, psychological, and social well-being, without disease or chronic illness.
The CVMA opposes the selective breeding of dogs resulting in changes in body form, function, coat colour, or temperament, that are potentially detrimental to the quality of life of the resulting progeny.
- Only animals with good temperament, sound structure, and no known health or other disorders should be selected for breeding.
- The CVMA encourages breeders to become familiar with the inherited disorders known to occur in their breed(s), and to make use of any recognized breed registries and screening tests.
- The veterinary profession is aware that current conformation standards for some breeds lead to inherent health problems.
- The CVMA encourages kennel clubs to reconsider breed standards with the goal of emphasizing the overall well-being of the dog versus only the appearance of the dog.
- The CVMA encourages the sterilization of dogs that do not possess good temperament, sound structure, or that have known health or deleterious genetic disorders.
- The breeding of dogs is a serious responsibility that requires a commitment to continuing education, as well as reliable time and financial resources.
- The goal of breeding dogs should be to produce offspring that are free from inherited illnesses, and have temperament traits that allow them to co-exist with people and other animals without conflict (1).
- Dog breeders should have an in-depth understanding of animal health and welfare, and accept as their responsibility an obligation to provide a high level of care for their dogs in order to strive for their physical and psychological well-being.
- The physical and psychological well-being of both the sire [male] and dam [female] are essential for the production of healthy offspring. It is important that a sire or dam be in good overall health, and exhibit temperaments and behaviors that are compatible with mating and raising a litter.
- Whether or not to breed a pair of dogs is a critical consideration with respect to the health and temperament of their offspring. Breeding dogs to one another may compound both the positive and negative traits of those individuals in their offspring. If dogs with similar problems are bred together, these traits may become more apparent in their offspring, and therefore, they may not be appropriate candidates for a breeding program. Ideally only animals with good temperament, sound structure, and no known health or other disorders should be selected for breeding (2). The CVMA encourages the sterilization of dogs that do not possess good temperament, sound structure, or that have known health or other deleterious genetic disorders (3).
- Puppies are born with certain innate temperament traits. The way in which these traits manifest as behaviours are influenced by genetics, environmental factors including positive or negative experiences, and socialization with both people and other dogs (4).
- Many tests exist for temperament evaluation (5,6), but very few have been proven useful for the pet dog population (7). Validated evaluations such as C-BARQ (8) may be useful to the breeder in the detection of problematic behaviour so that these dogs may be removed from their breeding programs. Temperament traits that should be tested for include aggression, excitability, fearfulness, anxiety, and playfulness.
- Choosing to breed individual dogs with known or highly suspected genetic predispositions to inherited disorders, such as hip dysplasia (hip arthritis), progressive retinal atrophy (vision loss), and cardiomyopathy (heart disease) is damaging to the overall health of the breed. There is also concern about the impact of breeding closely related dogs on genetic diversity, particularly in breeds that have a very small gene pool. The practice of breeding close relatives can increase the incidence of genetic disorders in the offspring (9).
- The CVMA encourages breeders to become familiar with the inherited disorders known to occur in their breed(s) (10,11), and to make use of any recognized breed registries (12,13) and screening tests (14) for these disorders so as to reduce the likelihood of transmitting genetic defects.
- The CVMA encourages research into breeding practices that aim to minimize the transmission of heritable disorders in dogs.
- Breeders should inform potential dog owners about inherited diseases within the breeds they are raising, and disclose all relevant genetic tests available; which of the available tests the breeder has had performed, and all results for the puppy as well as its littermates, sire, dam, and grandparents.
- Breeders should provide a health guarantee for the dogs they sell, and diligently screen buyers to ensure that puppies go to suitable homes.
- Breeders should ensure that they have the ways and means to provide for the needs and medical care of any puppies that are not sold, as well as dogs that are no longer being used for breeding purposes. Best practices can be found in the CVMA’s Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations (15).
- Breeders should provide for the medical and preventative medical needs of puppies before the age of adoption. They also need to provide an enriched environment and positive socialization experiences for their puppies. Best practices can be found in the CVMA’s Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations (15).
- The veterinary profession is aware that current conformation standards for some breeds lead to inherent physical problems that have a negative impact on quality of life. Some examples include: marked respiratory (breathing), and ocular (eye) problems in bulldogs, Boston terriers, and Pugs due to the desired brachycephalic (short nosed) appearance; frequent dystocia (birthing problems) in bulldogs because of the desired large chest and head; inherited dental malalignment in multiple breeds (16), and skin infections in Shar Pei’s due to the deep wrinkling of the skin. The veterinary profession is aware that new and unusual coat colours in dogs are often linked to other detrimental physical conditions (17-20). The CVMA encourages a review of breed standards by kennel clubs (21), with the goal of emphasizing the overall well-being of the dog versus the appearance of the dog (22). The CVMA further advises that individual Breed associations revise conformational requirements that can result in a negative impact on the dog’s quality of life.
- The veterinary profession is aware that certain medical conditions appear at an abnormally high level in certain breeds of dog without evidence as to cause. Examples include the formation of bladder stones in the Miniature Schnauzer and the Lhasa Apso; allergic skin disease in the Bichon Frise and West Highland White terrier; entropion (folded eyelid) in the St. Bernard and the Chow Chow; and ear inflammation in the Cocker Spaniel. The CVMA encourages dog breeders to invest and/or participate in research to help identify the causes of certain medical/psychological conditions that appear at an abnormally high degree in their breed of dog.
- Improving Breed Health. Available from: www.thekarltonindex.com/index/aim-karlton-index/ Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding: Standard for Breeding Dogs. Available from: www.dogadvisorycouncil.com/resources/breeding-standard-final.pdf Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- CVMA Position Statement Neutering of Dogs and Cats 2012. Available from: https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/dog-and-cat-spay-castration Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Wilsson E. Nature and nurture—How different conditions affect the behavior of dogs. J Vet Behav 2016;16:45–52. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787816301575 Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Duffy DL, Serpell JA. Predictive validity of a method for evaluating temperament in young guide and service dogs. Appl Anim Behav Sci, 2012;138:99-109. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159112000433 Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- van den Berg L, van den Berg S, Heuven HCM, Duffy DL, Serpell JA. Evaluation of the C-BARQ as a measure of stranger-directed aggression in three common dog breeds. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2010;124:136-141. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2010.02.005 Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Henkman J. Testing behaviour tests. Just how accurate are behavioural assessments? Available from: https://thebark.com/content/testing-behavior-tests Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Canine Behavioral Assessment & Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ), University of Pennsylvania. Available from: https://vetapps.vet.upenn.edu/cbarq/ Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Pedersen N, Pooch A, Liu H. A genetic assessment of the English bulldog. Canine Genet Epidemiol 2016;3:6 Available from: https://cgejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40575-016-0036-y Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Crook A et al. 2011. Canine Inherited Disorders Database. Available from: http://cidd.discoveryspace.ca/ Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Sargan DR. Inherited diseases in dogs 2002-2011. Available from: https://www.vet.cam.ac.uk/idid/ Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Available from: https://www.ofa.org/ Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Companion Animal Eye Registry. Available from: https://www.ofa.org/diseases/eye-certification Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- University of California at Davis, Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. Available from: www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/dog.php Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- CVMA Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations 2018. Available from: https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/Code-of-Practice-for-Canadian-Kennel-Operations Last accessed October 30, 2018.
- Hale F. Why do I say stop Brachycephaism Now. Available from: http://www.toothvet.ca/PDFfiles/Stop_Brachy_2.pdf Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Bauer BS, Sandmeyer LS, Grahn, BH. Diagnostic ophthalmology. Microphthalmos and multiple ocular anomalies (MOA) OU consistent with merle ocular dysgenesis (MOD). Can Vet J 2015;56:767-768. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26130844 Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Strain GM, Clark L, Wahl JM, et al. Prevalence of deafness in dogs heterozygous or homozygous for the merle allele. J Vet Intern Med 2009;23:282-286. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19192156 Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Cheville NF, Cutlip RC, Moon HW. Microscopic pathology of the gray collie syndrome. Cyclic neutropenia, amyloidosis, enteritis, and bone necrosis. Pathol Vet 1970;7:225-245. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5534257/ Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Kim JH, Kang KI, Sohn HJ, et al. Color-dilution alopecia in dogs. J Vet Sci 2005;6:259-261. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16131833 Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- Canadian Kennel Club Breed Standards. Available from: www.ckc.ca/en/Files/Breed-Standards/Breed-Standards Last accessed September 29, 2017.
- CVMA Position Statement Cosmetic Alteration 2014. Available from: https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/cosmetic-alteration Last accessed September 29, 2017.
((Revised October 2018))