International Collaborative on Extreme Conformations in Dogs
A core belief of the ICECDogs is that we should all put the welfare of the dog at the heart of everything we all do that involves dogs. For this reason, ICECDogs works from the position that “Maximising good health, welfare and temperament overrides all other considerations for dogs.”
Extreme body conformations can adversely affect the health and welfare of a dog, particularly when an emphasis is made towards selecting for unhealthy exaggeration of certain traits. For example, a flat-faced (brachycephalic) dog may have difficulty breathing in average day-to-day situations and may be especially challenged in warm weather or when exercising. A dog with extensive skin folds may have partial obstruction of the eyes or nose, and may show infection and inflammation of the folds. Features such as these that are associated with reduced health and welfare are viewed as extreme conformation. Some types of dogs and breeds typically show more extremes of conformation that impact their health and welfare than others and therefore require urgent reform to move away from these typical but unhealthy extremes of conformation.
Our ICECDogs Vision
A world where no dog experiences health-related welfare problems attributable to having been selectively bred for an extreme conformation.
It is increasingly clear that extreme conformation in dogs is really a human problem – but one where it is the dog who largely suffers as a result of our human fascination with owning dogs with unnatural body shapes. It is important that strident efforts are made to produce the next generations without conformations that are linked with serious health issues. When thinking of purchasing a dog, prospective buyers should actively seek out individual animals or breeds that do not show extremes of conformation that may impact the dog’s quality of life and lifespan. Selecting a type of dog that is innately healthy should also increase your enjoyment of this dog as a family pet.
ICECDogs Advice to the Public
Given the known common and serious health issues linked to extreme conformations such as flat-faces, skin folds, tailessness and other unnatural body shapes, it is important that we all play our part in moving humanity away from seeking out dogs with extreme body shapes. Consequently, ICECDogs encourages all members of the public to:
‘Stop and think before acquiring a dog with extreme conformation’.
When we all work together with the welfare of the dog at the heart of all we do, we truly can all be part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem.
The issues surrounding extreme conformations in dogs are complex and involve many stakeholders. Therefore, an international multi-stakeholder approach is needed to make real progress. The ICECDogs believes the most sustainable way forward will be achieved if the main stakeholders act at the national level with multi-stakeholder collaboration and cooperate internationally. Breeders, veterinarians, kennel clubs, breed clubs, the media, authorities, Non-Governmental Organisations including welfare organisations and the public including present and future dogs owners should work together to help ensure that dogs are bred away from extremes of conformation.