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Dog Breeding

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Regarding the recent news story: "Calgary Bulldog breeder fined over distressed ‘designer’ dogs". The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association would like to reiterate our support for the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)'s position on dog breeding:

Originally published by the CVMA on July 6, 2015:



The CVMA supports the responsible breeding of dogs such that only animals with good temperament, sound structure and no known health or other deleterious inherited disorders are selected for breeding. The CVMA encourages breeders to become familiar with inherited disorders known to occur in their breed(s) (1,2), and to make use of any recognized breed registries and screening tests for these disorders (e.g. 3,4). This will minimize transmission of genetic defects.

The CVMA believes that breeding is a serious responsibility and breeders have an obligation to provide a high level of care for their dogs to ensure physical, psychological, and behavioural well-being, in accordance with the CVMA Code of Practice for Kennel Operations. This includes ensuring bitches are not bred too young, too old or too many times. Breeders must also provide a meaningful health guarantee for the dogs they sell, and diligently screen buyers to ensure that puppies go to suitable homes.

The CVMA opposes the selective breeding of dogs resulting in changes in body form, function or temperament, that are detrimental to the health and quality of life of the dog or that have a negative impact on its behaviour towards people or other dogs.


  1. The CVMA is concerned about breeding dogs with a known or highly suspect genetic predisposition to inherited disorders, such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and cardiomyopathy. The CVMA is also concerned about the impact of inbreeding and line breeding on genetic diversity, particularly in breeds that have a very small gene pool. These practices of breeding close relatives can increase the incidence of genetic disorders in the offspring. The CVMA encourages the development and use of breed registries, as well as research into breeding practices that avoid heritable disorders in dogs.

  2. The CVMA is also concerned about the continuation of breeds whose structure or characteristics inherently cause health problems. Some examples include the large, brachycephalic head structure in bulldogs, which can cause dystocia due to large fetal size, and respiratory difficulties throughout life; cardiomyopathy in Doberman pinschers and boxers; intervertebral disk disease in chondrodysplastic breeds such as the Dachshund, Corgi and Bassett hound; and extreme hind end angulation in German Shepherds that cause an ataxic gait.

  3. The CVMA encourages a review of breed standards under the Canadian Kennel Club, that will emphasize the well-being of dogs, and revise requirements that result in inherent welfare problems (e.g. bulldog)(5).

  4. The CVMA also opposes the cropping of ears or docking of tails for cosmetic purposes, and encourages breed clubs to change breed standards so as to discourage these practices. (See position statement on cosmetic surgery

  5. The CVMA encourages the sterilization of dogs that do not possess good temperament, sound structure or that have known health or other deleterious genetic disorders. (See position statement on Dog and Cat Spay/Castration


  1. Crook A et al. 2011 Canine Inherited Disorders Database:  last accessed May 23, 2012.

  2. Sargan DR. Inherited diseases in dogs 2002-2011 last accessed May 23, 2012.

  3. Orthopedic Foundation for Animals last accessed May 23, 2012.

  4. Canine Eye Registry Foundation last accessed April 30, 2013.

  5. Canadian Kennel Club Breed Standards, Bulldog last accessed May 23, 2012.

"Head: The head and face should be covered with heavy wrinkles. The skull should be very large, and in circumference, in front of the ears, should measure at least the height of the dog at the shoulders....Viewed at the side, the head should appear very high, and very short from the point of the nose to occiput.

Muzzle: The face, measured from the front of the cheekbone to the tip of the nose, should be extremely short, the muzzle being very short, broad, turned upwards and very deep from the corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth.

(Revised July 2012)