IF THE Government and the public are to find the Kennel Club credible it must consider the increase in the popularity of crossbred dogs.

The issue can no longer be ignored, members were told at the SGM, so the club is to consider opening a unique register for crossbreeds.

But it does not want to upset its ‘core constituents’ while offering something to the pet-owning public.

An update was given on the Crossbreed Registration working party, which General Committee member Gerald King said he considered the most important of the three propositions made at the annual meeting, because it affected the future direction of the KC and how it is viewed by Government, the public and its stakeholders.

Jean Lanning proposed the KC should set up a small working party ‘to review the whole current registration policy, comparing and contrasting the approaches to pure breeds and crossbreeds’.

This was done, and among other things the group considered whether to offer a form of crossbreed registration.

Mr King said there was a wide variety of views regarding to what extent crossbreed breeders should be engaged with. The KC was concerned with all dogs, he went on, and this had been part of its constitution since its formation, mentioned in the first Stud Book in September 1874 which includes the first rule that the KC should endeavour to promote ‘the general improvement of dogs, dog shows and dog trials’.

“If it is to represent all dogs and have credibility with Government and the wider public, the KC must consider the cultural shift and large increase in crossbred dogs over the last few years,” he said. “The issue cannot simply be ignored, especially from a health standpoint.

“The KC’s outlook should be to ensure it is involved in all aspects of dogs while continuing to strongly promote pedigree dogs.”

Currently, crossbreeds can be entered on the activity register and Companion Dog Club register. They can be bred under the Assured Breeder Scheme, which is a UKAS requirement – although it is recognised that this ‘sits poorly with the specialist pedigree world’, he added.

The KC was considering separate pedigree and non-pedigree registers before Miss Lanning made her proposal, he continued; providing one for non-registered dogs would provide ‘clarity’.

The current registers are pedigree, with 225,000 registrations last year; activity, 3,500; and Companion Dog Club, which registers any dog regardless of any other registration, with 400. The fourth service offered to owners is Petlog, which logs animals’ microchips and provides a reunification service, which recorded 637,000 dogs in 2014 – 448,000 purebred, 135,000 crossbreed, 43,000 ‘designer’ dogs, and 11,000 unknown.

“While the Companion Dog Club might be considered to be the obvious register to encourage owners of crossbreeds to use, it is clear from the numbers that this is not what people want,” Mr King said. “So we have looked at the possibilities of a unique crossbreed register – separate from the KC – which would offer health testing and published results as well other services which we have yet to define.

“We recognise that it is vital to support the pedigree breeders and not upset the KC’s core constituents while offering something to all breeders, exhibitors and the wider pet-dog-owning public.”

The crossbreed register would be associated with the KC only, he said.

“Clear communication and education is imperative. A crossbreed register would help all dogs, including maintaining and improving the KC’s capacity to support and promote pedigree dogs.”

Pedigree breeders and owners must be offered something which differentiates them from breeders and owners of crossbreeds and continues to give them a good deal, he said, so from April pedigree breeders who register their puppies with the KC will get Petlog Premium free.

Miss Lanning said she had not been invited to any of the working party’s meetings or updated on its progress, which she thought was ‘quite sad’.

Designer dogs were crossbreeds with fancy names bred to make a huge profit, she said.

“Registration of purebred dogs is dying and entries are falling – all quite likely because of designer dogs,” she said. “It’s time to re-educate the public, tell them that there’s nothing better than a well-bred dog with no health problems. We’ve been honest about health problems but because there’s been so much publicity the public quite often gets hold of the wrong end of the stick.

“The first duty of the KC should and must always be to purebred dogs. This doesn’t always seem to be the case at present.”