Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misunderstanding around what a crossbred dog is, never mind how pedigrees and Kennel Club registration work. A lot of people believe or hear that buying a puppy that is Kennel Club registered offers some form of protection or guarantee when this really is not the case. This article aims to bust some common myths and provide the facts!
A pure breed or breed generally refers to a group of dogs from a known and registered set of ancestors within a closed stud book. In the UK, the Kennel Club is the primary body which registers members of Kennel Club recognised pure breeds.
A purebred dog is registered with the Kennel Club and has a pedigree proving that the dam and sire are of the same Kennel Club recognised pure breed.
Crossbred dogs are intentionally bred from two or more recognised purebred dogs or different breeds. Crossbred dogs can only be registered with the Kennel Club as Companion Dogs or on the Activity Register; they cannot be Kennel Club registered in the traditional sense.
A pedigree dog is any dog with recorded ancestry. This can be a purebred dog with a Kennel Club pedigree, a crossbred dog with a handwritten pedigree or anything in-between. Pedigree is often confused with purebred and this is the root cause of much misunderstanding.
A mongrel is a dog which does not have known or recorded ancestry.
The Australian Labradoodle is a crossbred. It has six parent breeds which are all pure breeds in their own right: Labrador, Poodle, English Cocker Spaniel, American Cocker Spaniel, Curly Coat Retriever and Irish Water Spaniel. Australian Labradoodles can and should have a pedigree because they are from known lines and therefore should have recorded ancestry – they are not mongrels. Australian Labradoodles cannot be Kennel Club registered in the traditional sense because they are not members of a pure Kennel Club recognised breed.
You may have heard or might believe that buying a Kennel Club registered puppy offers some form of protection or guarantee, or you may think that if your puppy is not Kennel Club registered then it cannot have any ‘papers’ – this is a myth. The Kennel Club is a widely misunderstood organisation and its role is much more limited than people believe.
This means that as a buyer, you could be buying a Kennel Club registered puppy from an unlicensed breeder. The puppy’s parents might be different to what the Kennel Club pedigree states and could be closely related, and they could suffer from common genetic health defects that are not being disclosed to you. The puppies could have been raised in poor conditions, the parents could be malnourished, and there might not even be any record keeping.
Lomond Hills’ Australian Labradoodle puppies are not Kennel Club registered, but they all have a pedigree and their parents have relevant health screening completed. We are licensed by the environment health department of our local authority – they inspect our premises, dogs, puppies and record keeping along with an independent veterinary surgeon every year.
With this in mind, Kennel Club registration cannot and must not be used as a shortcut to avoiding buying a puppy from an unscrupulous “breeder” or ‘puppy farm’. It is down to individual buyers to do their own research and select a breeder with good breeding practices.
Puppies that have been crossbred are generally less likely to suffer from genetically inherited defects. Since they do not derive from a closed stud book, the inbreeding coefficient (COI) is likely to be considerably lower which reduces the likelihood of recessive defects. Within some breeds, the gene pool is so small that it is virtually impossible to find an individual with a low COI. It is also worth noting here that it is possible for crossbred puppies to have a high COI if two closely-related individuals are bred together.
The Kennel Club does not register puppies resulting from mother-son, father-daughter, or brother-sister breedings (these all have a 25% COI to one generation). Of course, this is a good thing, but it is not that simple. Inbreeding co-efficiencies are cumulative and should reflect as many generations as there is data available for. This means that the Kennel Club accept and register puppies with COIs in excess of 25% despite their rule.
To put this into perspective, at Lomond Hills, we generally work with COIs under 5%, and the majority of our litters will have a COI under 2%.
You can learn more about inbreeding co-efficiencies in the Institute of Canine Biology website. (http://www.instituteofcaninebiology.org/blog/coi-faqs-understanding-the-coefficient-of-inbreeding)
The Kennel Club produces a ‘breed standard’ for the breed it recognises. This is a document which details the physical traits that the breed should display – breeders who are interested in showing their dogs use it as a target or a set of goal posts and they aim to breed dogs as close to that standard as possible. The Kennel Club has been heavily criticised recently for producing breed standards which have compromised the health of many dog breeds. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels suffer from Syringimyelia (a condition where the brain is too large for the skull), the Pug’s ‘screw tail’ is caused by Hemivertebrae which is a deformity and Bulldogs are prone to severe breathing problems due to their short noses. These health defects are all a result of breeders exaggerating the traits which the Kennel Club has deemed to be desirable within their breed standard.
Breeders of crossbred puppies are not focused on winning conformation classes in the show ring. This means that they are more likely to be concentrating on producing puppies of sound health and temperament and not being distracted by physical traits which are most likely unimportant to you as a pet puppy buyer. Of course it is also entirely possible that they are focusing on nothing at all, so select your breeder carefully.