Dog breeding defects emerge as top concern for vets

Vets are calling on prospective dog owners to think twice before buying a puppy after breeding and hereditary defects came out as vets’ top animal health and welfare concern, with the number of vets citing it as a pressing issue more than doubling in the past two years, according to figures from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) revealed during Puppy Awareness Week (4-10 September). 

According to BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, which polled almost 700 vets across the UK, there has been a significant rise in the levels of concern with regard to conformational deformities and pedigree breeding, particularly of brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs and French bulldogs, with nearly half (45%) of companion animal vets surveyed including these among the three welfare issues that concerns them most. 

Poorly bred puppies can suffer diseases, health problems and poor socialisation that can lead to behaviour problems, while brachycephalic dogs suffer serious health and welfare problems including struggling to breathe due to their flat-faces, which are a ‘characteristic’ of the breed.

This Puppy Awareness Week, BVA and Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) are encouraging prospective pet owners not to buy a brachycephalic breed and consider healthier breeds or cross-breeds instead, and to always consider how a puppy has been reared and cared for in its first few weeks to ensure a happy, healthy dog in later life.

 British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz said:

“Anyone thinking of getting a new puppy should speak to their local veterinary practice for advice on the right dog for them and use the free Puppy Contract that gives prospective owners all the information they need to ensure they are buying a healthy, happy and well-socialised puppy. If a seller is not willing to provide the information listed in the Puppy Contract or allow you to see the puppy interacting with its mother, then you should walk away otherwise you risk perpetuating irresponsible dog breeding and lining the pockets of people who care more about profits than puppy welfare.”

The Puppy Contract, developed by AWF and the RSPCA, is an invaluable go-to tool to empower pet owners to ask all the right questions when choosing a puppy, in order to help avoid the problems that can arise from buying a puppy from an irresponsible breeder.

 BVA and AWF are highlighting five top tips for anyone thinking of buying a puppy:

  • Download the Animal Welfare Foundation/RSPCA Puppy Contract for free, to help you ask the breeder all the right questions:
  • Do not buy a puppy from anyone but the breeder, and ensure you always see the puppy interacting with its mother and any littermates.
  • Ask to see the puppy’s health records, including records of vaccination, worming and flea treatment as well as other veterinary treatment.
  • Consider getting a rescue dog from one of the recognised rehoming charities.
  • Ask at your veterinary practice about the right pet for you, your lifestyle and your family.


 Notes to editors

1. BVA is the national representative body for the veterinary profession in the UK. We represent the views of our 16,000 members on animal health and welfare, and veterinary policy issues to government, parliamentarians and key influencers in the UK and EU.

2. AWF was set up in 1983 by vets with a passion to alleviate unnecessary pain and suffering in all animals including farm animals, wild animals and pets. It funds research, supports veterinary education, provides pet care advice and encourages debate on animal welfare issues.

3. Puppy Awareness Week is a Kennel Club-led initiative that takes place from 4-10 September and aims to make people more aware of the importance of finding a responsible dog breeder.

4. BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey is a bi-annual survey of vets drawn from BVA members and carried out by the independent research company, Alpha Research The Voice of the Veterinary Profession captures the profession’s views and experiences by asking questions about animal health and welfare, public health, and trends in the veterinary profession. The panel is broadly representative of the BVA membership, which is largely in line with RCVS membership. For more information about the survey please go to  

5. The Spring 2017 Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey asked 669 vets to select the three most pressing animal health and welfare issues in the UK. The top six issues have been the same over all four years in which the question has been asked, albeit with some variation in the order of priority. For the first time this year, breeding and hereditary defects was the issue most likely to be mentioned as a pressing concern, with over half (52.5%) of vets putting it in their top three, followed by antimicrobial and anthelmintic resistance (48%) and irresponsible animal ownership (44%).

6. For more information including details on the Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey statistics used, please contact the BVA media office on 020 7908 6340 or 07503 190 247 or via

Girija Duggal

Media Officer
British Veterinary Association
Direct line: 020 7908 6348
Media Team: 020 7908 6340 or     

(out of hours: 075 0319 0247)

7 Mansfield Street, London W1G 9NQ
Switchboard: 020 7636 6541
Fax: 020 7908 6349

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