Tackling genetic defects in pedigree dogs

Media release date: 
Friday, 18 September 2009

There are many inherited health problems in pedigree dogs in Australia says the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).

“There’s a need for more research, monitoring and changes in breeding practices,” Dr Mark Lawrie, AVA President said.

“Many dog breeders in Australia are responsible, taking measures to limit genetic defects in their dogs, but there is definitely room for improvement.

“There are a number of schemes in Australia that monitor genetic defects and restrict breeding from affected animals.

“Veterinarians have been involved in these schemes for many years, and have been active in educating owners about not breeding from animals with inherited problems.

“Improvements in technology such as DNA testing are helping vets and owners to accurately screen animals, and these new approaches are very promising, but still in the early stages,” Dr Lawrie said.

“We applaud the collaborations between veterinarians, researchers, breeders and others at the University of Sydney and elsewhere to find solutions.

“At the same time, we encourage breed societies and kennel clubs to continue to improve breeding and judging practices so that the health and welfare of each animal is the top priority.

“Bad breeders whose actions cause the suffering of animals should not be tolerated. The Victorian Code of Practice for the Responsible Breeding of Animals with Heritable Defects is an excellent approach to regulating the industry.

“The current controversy has raised the issue that there is a critical shortage of funding for research into companion animal health and welfare problems. This funding needs to come from a broader base than dog breeders and the veterinary profession.”

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or media@ava.com.au.


The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 9000 members working in all areas of animal science, health and welfare.

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