'Dating website for dogs' launched
An online "dating site for dogs" has been launched in a bid to improve the health of pedigree animals.
The Mate Select service, now available through the Kennel Club website, enables owners to assess how a proposed mating of two registered pedigree dogs will affect the genetic diversity of the whole breed.
It will also allow breeders and prospective buyers to check official health test results of all Kennel Club registered dogs, to see whether the puppies from two adults are likely to be healthy.
The service is another step by the Kennel Club to tackle concerns over genetic diseases in pedigree dogs, sparked by a BBC documentary which claimed animals bred for shows such as Crufts were suffering a high degree of genetic illness.
The controversy prompted the Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust to jointly fund an independent inquiry, which last year made a number of recommendations to tackle inbreeding in pedigrees, puppy farming and other welfare issues for dogs.
The Mate Select service's attempt to ensure genetic diversity within pedigree breeds, to prevent the concentration of harmful genes which can cause illness and debilitating conditions, is in addition to moves such as banning matings between close relatives.
Professor Jeff Sampson, Kennel Club chief scientific adviser, said: "Mate Select is a groundbreaking service that will enable breeders to match the compatibility of two dogs based on the contribution that they will make to the long-term health and genetic diversity of the breed.
"It is vital that genetic diversity is preserved so that future generations can continue to thrive."
And he added: "Too many puppy buyers unwittingly buy from back street breeders who do nothing to safeguard the health of their puppies or of their chosen breed and this service is intended to rectify that."
The online tool will also include links to Kennel Club accredited breeders and list the health tests they are required to use on their dogs.