The Kennel Club Charitable Trust (KCCT) has announced on 27 October that it is pledging £269,000 to help advance vital research into brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog health. This donation is a part of a fundraising drive to help investigate a number different aspects related to flat-faced dogs. It is hoped that breed clubs, breeders, owners and international partners will also pledge support and additional funding to help enhance and extend this research.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge, funded by the KCCT, have been investigating brachycephalic health for the last ten years. The results of this crucial research led to the development of the Kennel Club/University of Cambridge Respiratory Function Grading Scheme; a scheme that assesses Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs for a breathing issue known as BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome). To date, over 700 dogs have been screened through the scheme.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge are keen to expand these investigations and will be extending their work to look at a further 13 brachycephalic breeds.
This work will focus on the following breeds: Affenpinscher, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Dogue de Bordeaux, Griffon Bruxellois, Japanese Chin, King Charles Spaniel, Maltese Terrier, Pekingese, Pomeranian and Shih Tzu.
The research team will be exploring how each breed is affected by respiratory problems, and how this relates to their conformation, internal physiology and, in the future, genetics. In relevant breeds, neurological issues, such as Chiari-like malformation/syringomyelia (CM/SM), will also be investigated. Research into these neurological disorders will examine the impact of head shape, and if conditions such as these are in anyway linked to other issues, such as BOAS.
It is hoped that this new research, like the previous KCCT-funded research for Bulldogs, Pugs and French Bulldogs, will also translate into screening schemes to help breeders shape the future of these breeds and reduce the risk of producing affected dogs.
Jane Ladlow, European and Royal College Specialist in Small Animal Surgery and prominent BOAS expert who leads this research said: “As flat-faced dogs become increasingly popular, it’s more important than ever that we try to understand the complex and wide-ranging factors that lead to some of these dog becoming unwell. The next steps in our research will help us understand more about the relationship between respiratory issues and neurological problems, and how these issues relate to the structure of affected dogs.
“Our previous research has shown that the solution to these health problems isn’t always simple and that breathing issues in these dogs can vary dramatically, not only between breeds, but within them as well. Our investigations have led to screening schemes that help breeders reduce the risk of producing dogs affected by breathing problems, and we hope that the next steps of our research will help more breeds to do the same.”
The donation from The Kennel Club Charitable Trust will help to kick off this important research, but more support will be needed to maximise and enhance these investigations. Further funding will be required and to this end, The Kennel Club Charitable Trust welcomes donations from breed clubs and all those invested in the health of these breeds, both in the UK and internationally.
Bill King, Chairman of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said “Brachycephalic dog health is currently one of the most pressing global canine issues. It’s important that breed clubs and other international kennel clubs work with us to help protect and improve the health of these dogs. Research at the University of Cambridge has allowed us to turn research into evidence-based actions that can improve the health and welfare of a number of breeds.
“We have already received a generous donation from the King Charles Spaniel Club Welfare and Rescue and hope that others who have an interest and passion for these 13 breeds will join us in supporting this research, and help give it the maximum impact that these breeds deserve.”
To find out more and donate to The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, visit the website. There is more information on what The Kennel Club is doing for brachycephalic dog health, including the KCCT funded research and the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme, available online.