Five years on from the documentary highlighting the suffering endured by many pedigree dogs not enough has been done and many dogs are still suffering needlessly.

Today marks the five year anniversary of the revealing BBC documentary ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’  which highlighted the shocking levels of suffering many pedigree dogs endure as a result of the way they are bred. We have produced a progress report, Pedigree dog breeding progress report (60KB PDF), highlighting the areas where urgent action is still needed from The Kennel Club and dog breeding world to improve the health and welfare of pedigree dogs.

Programme maker Jemima Harrison, who produced and directed Pedigree Dogs Exposed, has backed our call for urgent action. She said:

“Five years on from Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the Kennel Club is still in denial about the extent of the problems.


“It is unethical to continue to breed dogs like pugs and bulldogs which have such flat faces that they cannot breathe – and yet the Kennel Club registers these breeds in their growing thousands and these dogs continue to be celebrated at Kennel Club shows.


“The Kennel Club has done very little to tackle the suffering these dogs endure, despite an increasing amount of science which both articulates the issues and offers solutions.


“The dogs continue to pay a huge price.”

Much more should have been done

We have acknowledged the progress made by the Kennel Club and dog breeders, including the development of DNA and health screening tests for hereditary diseases and the introduction of veterinary checks on ‘high profile’ breeds. However we believe much more should have been done in the five years since Pedigree Dogs Exposed was first broadcast on BBC One in 2008.

RSPCA chief vet James Yeates said:

“Although some progress has been made by the dog world to address the issues raised in Pedigree Dogs Exposed, it has not been nearly enough. Five years on the problems are still far from being solved.


“We are concerned that many pedigree dogs are still suffering because they’re bred and judged primarily for how they look rather than with health, welfare and temperament in mind.


“We believe that meaningful action is urgently needed in order to make a real improvement to the welfare of pedigree dogs.”

Welfare issues related to pedigree dog breeding are very serious

This is a view supported by the EFRA Committee’s Dog Control and Welfare report which said that too many dogs continue to suffer ill-health due to inbreeding and breeding for exaggerated characteristics.

Three major reports were published on dog breeding in the UK in the 18 months that followed Pedigree Dogs Exposed. All three reports concluded that the welfare issues associated with pedigree dog breeding are very serious, and included a series of recommendations for possible ways forward. Many of the recommendations are solely within the Kennel Club’s control, and have not been acted upon.

Some of the changes we are calling for include:

  • An independent review of Kennel Club breed standards

  • Dog shows, such as Crufts, should judge dogs on their health, welfare and behaviour, rather than their appearance

  • Revision of Kennel Club registration rules to prevent the registration of offspring from matings between second degree relatives (e.g. grandparent-grandchild or aunt/uncle-nephew/niece matings)

Read our recent blog post about pedigree dog breeding and the changes that have happened in the last five years since the documentary.

Take action now!

Our Born To Suffer campaign and petition was launched more than 18 months ago and collected the signatures of over 20,000 dog lovers calling for a change breed standards.

If you agree that the health and welfare of dogs should be prioritised over their looks add your name to the petition.

We can’t do it without you

To help support the RSPCA, please donate online or text HELP to 78866 to give £3. Text costs £3 plus one standard network rate message.