Breed-Specific Instructions for Judges

A health project of the Swedish Kennel Club concerning exaggerations in pedigree dogs

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The BSI does not add to the lists of faults found in many FCI breed standards. [These breed standards, which sometimes differ from AKC’s, are employed in Sweden as well as in most other European countries. — Ed.] However, it is a complement to them. The BSI issues should be assessed like other faults, but deviations linked to health matters are more serious than cosmetic flaws.

The judge should, in his written critique, [required for all dogs at all shows in Sweden — Ed.] provide a positive emphasis and point out when risk areas exhibit soundness. It is important, however, to be precise about exaggerations when these affect the evaluation and/or placement of the dog.

The judge should report his or her BSI observations on a separate form and also provide personal comments and make suggestions for other breeds that could benefit from the BSI survey.

Experiences from the trial year
The breed clubs
It was a pleasant surprise to find that most of the clubs welcomed the BSI initiative. This continuing cooperation enabled a consensus about the specific risk areas for each breed.

Some clubs were initially negative due to the stigmatizing effect on the breed by the BSI listing. A respectful dialogue was essential for a positive outcome. This dialogue will continue and also integrate the project for breed-specific breeding strategies.

Judges’ evaluations
A total of 1,840 evaluation forms were submitted, including about 10,000 statements. The majority of the judges found the project highly commendable.

In general, judges advised keeping a high-risk breed on the list rather than leaving it off. In 80 percent of the cases the dog show judges considered the breeds correctly identified, even if the dogs judged did not show BSI issues, which was the case in 66 percent. Show dogs do not always represent the general breed population, and the judges’ opinions reflect their general opinion of the listed breeds. Five breeds were suggested to be taken off the list by 50 percent of the judges, but are still kept on the list, awaiting a future revision.

The judges’ reports were communicated to the breed clubs for the sake of openness and for the clubs being able to forward the judges’ observations directly to the breeders. The clubs found that some dog show judges had avoided mentioning risk issues in the individual written critiques although they had reported these in their evaluations.

A scientific approach
The ambition to collect an inventory of the occurrence of exaggerations and deviations in the listed breeds could not be fulfilled, as the judges’ reports were not sufficiently precise. It was also noted that dogs with BSI issues were entered at shows with decreasing frequency. This reflects a compliance with the goal of the whole project and a decrease of the acceptance of dogs with exaggerations at shows (and, possibly, for breeding).

It was not possible to achieve a reliable scoring system to decide whether or not a breed should be listed, since the different aspects of the material do not allow for comparisons. It is therefore impossible to conclusively determine whether a dog breed should be listed or not, but the evidence as a whole creates a sufficient base for the assessments which have been done.

The trial time is too short (12 months) to allow for any updating at present. This will be performed at the revision planned for 2012.

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