On Sunday SVT (the Swedish state TV channel) recently broadcast the highly contentious documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed (PDE).
PDE first aired last August in the UK and caused an enormous furore primarily because it shows a very one-sided view of how British dog breeders have supposedly caused a string of problems for breeds such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Rhodesian Ridgeback, the Bulldog and the Basset Hound.
This documentary may well upset you.
I’m sure that many of you here in Sweden will have found the section featuring the basset hound distressing. The section of the documentary on the hound claims:
the basset hound is a dwarf breed, and it comes at a price. As they age, bassets commonly suffer from crippling arthritis.
The film also shows a judge unable to explain why bassets have folds of loose skin and goes on to impy that bassets are no longer fit for purpose: i.e. capable of working in the field as they were originally bred for.
The Swedish Kennel Club
Here in Sweden both the national kennel club (Svensk Kennelklubben) and breed club, SBHS, work hard to ensure the health and function of basset hounds. In recent years numerous conferences have been organised to ensure that judges are educated to safeguard the health of bassets. New guidelines that went out to judges earlier this year stipulate that overdone bassets –hounds that have excessive loose skin, are too low to the ground, etc– should not do well in the ring. Greater emphasis is to be placed on soundness of movement and health.
Have you signed the Save the Basset Hound petition yet?
In response to PED the Swedish Kennel Club put out a press release last week (Swedish only) on their website. Unfortunately, I can’t link directly to it as the site uses frames but you’ll find a link to it on their homepage. For non-Swedish speakers the press release catalogues a series of initiatives the SKK has introduced over the last twenty years to ensure our dogs are healthier than those of our British counterparts.
Of course, this is in part a bit of PR spin but I sincerely believe the SKK’s track record speaks for itself. Initiatives have been introduced and the latest round of directives to judges (both Swedish and international who will be judging in the ring in Sweden this year) will go some way to improve things.
Use social media to promote your campaign and get your ideas and opinions across to a wider online audience.
Swedish Basset Hound Breed Club takes proactive stance
This weekend sees a meeting of Svenska Basset Hound Sällskapet, the Swedish basset hound breed club. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss health issues and continue to promote good breeding practice. This is indicative of a club committed to ensuring the continued health and prosperity of the breed in Sweden.
Hopefully SBHS will also put out a statement via the club website after the meeting this weekend to reassure the public of the concrete steps being taken to promote the health of our beloved breed.
Unfortunately, I personally am not able to attend the meeting this weekend. I have a couple of pups to get to new homes and my dog sitter is away on a course herself. Even Mr Teen, who helps out now and then, is away playing football for the national team ! It’s typical that the most important club meeting happens on the one weekend I can’t go.
In spite of this, I would like to make it quite clear that I support the initiative of the breed club in holding this meeting. Through discussion, openness, critical awareness and education, hopefully we can work harder to ensure the continued well-being of bassets in Sweden.
Personally, my goal is to breed healthy bassets that are able to cope with the rigours of long walks and that have the supreme temperament that makes bassets such a wonderful breed. As I’ve said before, I am diametrically opposed to inbreeding and close-line-breeding. Although these techniques have produced so-called “successful” show dogs, I am sceptical of their value in such a small population of hounds. Having earned my PhD and worked as a journalist for many years I know how to do research, talk to scientists and form my own opinions.
Pedigree Dogs Exposed and You
If you’re a basset owner or thinking about a basset and this weekend’s documentary concerns you, please feel free to contact me and discuss your concerns. We’re always happy to talk bassets at Kennel Björkwood. Även om jag skrivar på engelska på min hemsida, går det bra att prata svenska!
Got a kennel? Read my article on how weblogs can help you manage a crisis.