Earlier this year, our team was faced with a big challenge: to replace the FCI magazine with an e-newsletter and we hope that we made it.

Time has come now to write the second edition and we hope that you will enjoy reading us.

In our March 2011 e-newsletter, we have tried to explore different fields, to turn to people active on the show scene asking them their opinion about Junior Handling or the FCI Centenary Winner Show that will take place in Dortmund. We also propose other interesting articles and it is our pleasure to invite you to take a look at them.

Virtual communication has become very important over the last years and the FCI, like many others, jumped into the train of modernism. As you will see, the figures about the visits to our website, and our e-newsletter speak for themselves.

We are very happy to remind you about the existence of our « e-newsletter’s sister », i.e our Face Book page to which more than 15.000 people have already adhered. Please pay us a visit, It will be a big pleasure to see you there.

Time has come now to say goodbye and to wish you an excellent reading.

Y. De Clercq
FCI Executive Director
Special Breed Specific Instructions (BSI) regarding exaggerations in pedigree dogs

Dog shows and breeding of pedigree dogs are correctly criticized for promoting breed type exaggerations constituting risks and hazards for the heath and soundness of individuals as well as entire breeds.

A show judge shall guard the characteristics of each breed within the frames of the standard and never at the expense of soundness and health. Judges should be acquainted with the health issues which exaggerations can cause. A breed standard never describes exaggerations but fashion and trends can lead to misintepretation and neglecting.

Four champion Boxers – Muzzle shall be 1/3 of length of head – not shorter!

Good, Very Good, Excellent and… Grotesque?

“Skin is supple and elastic without any exaggeration”

In Sweden an initiative was taken by the Swedish Kennel Club in order to prevent destructive influences of extreme typed dogs in breeding pedigree dogs:
1. 2006: Ten Scandinavian all-round judges scrutinized the FCI breed list to select breeds at risk regarding overemphasis of type characteristics. 50 breeds were listed.
2. 2007: Cooperation was established with the breed clubs for these breeds. In majority the clubs positively greeted the initiative to make judges more aware of the risk situation.
3. Veterinary medical knowledge and insurance company statistics were integrated and the number of high profile breeds then rose to 60.
4. 2007: The Swedish Kennel Club arranged a general judges’ conference focusing the listed breeds. Another ten breeds were added.

The foundation material (1-4) was evaluated and there was strong motivation for 47 breeds to be listed in the first edition of the BSI (2008). The intention of the BSI-project is to raise judges’ awareness of health and soundness matters in general and the risks of exaggerating type characteristics in particular. BSI identifies areas of risk in order to prevent these developing into problems. The judge should be particularly observant on trends of exaggerations. The show judge is in an excellent position to prevent unsound breeding by avoiding to award dogs of extreme type.

The first edition of the BSI was applied and evaluated during 2009 at all shows affiliated to the Swedish Kennel Club. Based on the initial foundation material (1-4) and the judges’ 1840 evaluations a revised edition of the BSI is now approved by the Swedish Kennel Club Central Board to be in use from 2011. It will be integrated in the Swedish show system and continuously updated regarding the breeds and areas of risk being focused.

The document focuses 46 breeds. The compound material is motivating the listing of each breed. The level of risks for the individual breed - which of course vary greatly (!) - is expressed in the text identifying the specific risk areas for each breed.

See examples below:

The extreme conformation of this breed with, for example, shortened muzzle and underdeveloped bridge of nose, causes serious health problems if exaggerated. Areas of risk are • Breathing difficulties which can be linked to narrow respiratory channels on different levels but foremost due to insufficient room in throat cavities and ribcage; also pinched nostrils. Breathing distress is a disqualifying fault. • Exaggerated type conformation and insufficient angulations of fore- and hindquarters might result in unsound movement/lameness. “Soundness of movement of the utmost importance.” • Excessively short bridge of muzzle, excessively loose facial skin and loose eye-rims can cause injury and inflammation of eyes. • Overhanging nose roll and skin wrinkles in the anal region can cause inflammations. Particular attention must therefore be paid to the shape of the head/skull, width of the nostrils, breathing and eyes, skin and tail, but also to movement. The breed standard very clearly emphasises that unconstrained breathing and sound movement shall be highly awarded.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Area of risk is:
• Inverted canine teeth. Particular attention must therefore be paid to bites and teeth.

Application and routines
All judges invited to judge any of the 46 breeds get written information about the specific instructions for the breed he/she will judge and gets a briefing each show. Judges should continue to positively select winners of correct type and quality. The BSI initiative shall not lead to an impoverishment of breed types and an emphasis on fault judging! A dog that is obviously healthy and sound is not an excellent breeding result if it is not also of excellent type!

Nature sometimes creates exaggerations which gives health problems (In giraffes high blood pressure, difficulties to drink and lay down a s a). But a computer bred sound and healthy giraffe cannot be awarded excellent type…

The BSI does not add to the list of faults found in many standards, but is a commentating complement. The BSI issues should be assessed like other faults but deviations linked to health matters are more serious than just cosmetic flaws. The judge shall give his written critique a positive form and point out when risk areas show soundness. It is important though to be precise about exaggerations when these have affected the evaluation and/or placing of the dog. The judge should report his/her BSI observations on a specific form and also personal reflections and comments – and suggestions for other breeds that should benefit from the BSI survey.

Experiences from the trial year
The breed clubs
It was positively surprising to find that most of the clubs welcomed the BSI initiative. The continuous cooperation enabled consensus about the specific risk areas for each breed. Some clubs were initially negative due to the stigmatising of the breed by the BSI listing. The respectful and bilateral atmosphere in the dialogue was essential for the positive outcome. The dialogue will continue and integrate the project for Breed Specific Breeding Strategies.

The judges’ evaluations (1840 evaluations forms covers about 10 000 items!)
The majority of the judges found the BSI project highly recommendable. In general the judges advised keeping a breed on the list rather than omitting it. In 80 % the judges considered the breeds correctly listed. This also even if the dogs did not show BSI issues which was the case in 66 %! Show dogs do not always represent the general breed population and the judges’ opinions reflect their general opinion about the listed breeds. Only five breeds were suggested to be omitted from the list by 50 % of the judges. The judges’ reports were communicated to the clubs which found that some judges had avoided mentioning risk issues in the individual written critiques although having reported this in their evaluations.

A scientific approach
The ambition to get an inventory of the occurrence of exaggerations and deviations in the listed breeds could not be fulfilled since the judges’ reports were not precise enough. It was also noted that dogs with BSI issues were decreasingly entered to shows! This reflects a compliance with the goal of the whole project and a decrease of acceptance of dogs with exaggerations for showing (and breeding?).

The justification for listing a breed is its burden in the compound material. A score system was not possible since the different factors of the material do not allow comparing. It is thus not possible to prove that a breed shall be listed or not.

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

Risk evaluation
In the first edition the breeds were divided into three groups according to the estimated risks for health and soundness problems: Urgent attention (7 breeds), increased attention (12 breeds) and Attention (28 breeds). This caused serious negative reactions and disturbed the good cooperation with the clubs and was in fact beyond the aims of the BSI project. The risk evaluation is instead expressed in the text of each breed.

Overall reflections
The aim of the BSI project which is to improve the breeding of pedigree dogs is certainly not possible to assess at this early stage. It was surprisingly easy to introduce the project and the routines in practice. The interest and loyalty for the preventive and reparative perspective is ubiquitous in the Swedish dog world and show judges! No doubt that the awareness of these issues was raised almost instantaneously and most judges have praised the initiative and its practical realisation. Many have expressed that BSI made these problems easier to handle and verbalise. It will be possible to investigate if the BSI routines influence the levels of awards in high risk breeds – There is in fact a tendency for diminishing the numbers of CKs (Certificate Quality) in some breeds.

Only few negative consequences have been noted: A couple of judges have used the BSI to disqualify dogs inadequately. - Dogs with poor breed type characteristics have been preferred to dogs of excellent type. In some cases the instructions have been totally disregarded.

The main reason for the positive outcome so far is likely to be good timing with the general opinion that these problems must be dealt with. – The profoundness of the preparatory work and the continuous bilateral dialogue with the breed clubs were important as well as the structured information to judges and the follow up of their written detailed opinions and observations.

Göran Bodegård, Chairman of the BSI group of the Swedish Kennel Club