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Introductory Blog and Questions to Ponder

Kelly Arthur

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Hello IPFD Community, dog-question.jpg


My name is Kelly Arthur and I am a third-year veterinary student at Colorado State University (for more background see my introduction page). I’m very excited to announce my participation in IPFD through the newly created veterinary student projects. Projects are being initiated in various countries to educate students on the need for an international perspective and multidisciplinary approach to the issues facing pedigree dogs. Projects involve gathering, evaluating information, and creating educational resources for dog breeders and owners, veterinarians/veterinary students, as well as other stakeholders.  My project is generously supported by the Skippy Frank Fund.


My project specifically will focus on welfare and ethics of breeding dogs, with an emphasis on veterinarians and veterinary students. See an overview of my project, A Veterinarian's Role in the Ethics and Welfare of Breeding Dogs, for an ongoing list of my work.


When I first heard about this project, I could think of the following as important issues in ethics and welfare of breeding dogs, from a veterinary perspective:


  • What are veterinarians doing to improve breeding genetics?
  • Is selective breeding detrimental to decreasing diversity in certain breeds?
  • Does breed specific regulation really help in protecting the public from dog bites?
  • What is the influence of the breeding dog supply on the overall dog populations around the world?


While it is easy to come up with quick opinions on these issues, the more I read, the more I realize that these issues are highly complex. For example:


  • Veterinarians can play a role in breeding dog education, however there may be economic disincentives to decreasing the number of dogs born with inherited disease.
  • Selective breeding has allowed us the great diversity that we have from dogs that serve in the military to assisting people with disabilities.
  • Even if breed specific regulation can decrease dog bite incidents, the ability of people to prove the genetic makeup of their dog can be challenging legally. 
  • While some may say that only rescue is an appropriate way to get a dog because of pet overpopulation in some countries, there is still a great demand for purebred dogs. 


I hope others will join me on this journey.  There will be opportunities for your participation and comments as we go. If this project interests you or you have a perspective you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. Please register at so you can follow not only my blog, but other resources I will be developing!


I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with a collaborative group invested in the health and well-being of pedigree dogs. I hope it has overarching appeal both for veterinarians and breeders to encourage cooperation.  




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I would clarify some of the question as it may be misleading if interpreted not properly.


There are two big issues related to breeding in relation to dog health: the selection of morphological features detrimental to dog health, and the reduction of genetic basis. In your first bullet point about important issue, I would therefore precise that the brachycephalic issue is an illustration of this first problem, otherwise it looks as if brachycephalic breed are the only breeds with morphological issues.


Thanks for this interesting post !



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Thank you Dr. Leroy for your thoughtful comment. I have corrected the post to focus on inherited disease in general. As you pointed out, my project does not directly focus on brachycephalic dogs. For a more in depth look, feel free to check out the first educational module I created as a resource on the topic of inherited disease. 


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Welcome Kelly!  Are you in touch with the UK vets that are working to improve dog health (the brachycephalics a big focus at the moment) by exploring both measures they believe should be introduced by the Kennel Club (such as the introduction of minimum muzzle lengths) and how vets can better work to educate their clients?


Gudrun Ravetz  (BVA Junior Vice President ) would be a good person to contact. She presented this webinar, which gives an overview, last week.

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Thank you very much for your suggestion, Jemima. I had a chance to listen to the webinar and I think a lot of useful information was presented. I enjoyed the citation from the RSPCA report that stated "All members of society have a moral and ethical obligation to overcome this problem." I have not been in contact with the UK vets but I'm hoping the materials developed from my projects are getting to various people working in this area. 


Additionally, the webinar discusses the influence of media, how people can make more educated decisions on dog breed acquisition, and how veterinarians need to be more involved in purebred dog welfare issues. All of these points are addressed in my my 2nd module "How Can You Promote Informed Decision-Making in Acquiring a Purebred Dog". Please feel free to share the materials on DogWellNet to get this information to various stakeholders. 

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