Health Coordinator


As a direct result of the adverse publicity generated by the “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” programme shown by BBC television in 2008 and the subsequent publication of three reports relating to canine welfare, the Kennel Club announced the introduction of their “Fit for Life, Fit for Purpose” campaign.  Shortly afterwards the Kennel Club carried out a review and, where appropriate, revision of the breed standards of all UK Kennel Club recognized breeds.  Additionally, they consulted individual breed clubs/councils, via the Breed Health Coordinators, to determine whether or not there were any “causes for concern” within their breed.  

Breed Watch.

As part of the “Fit for Life, Fit for Purpose” campaign the Kennel Club subsequently announced the introduction of the Breed Watch initiative the ultimate purpose of which is to alert interested parties to undesirable trends and conformational exaggerations within a breed.

The first mailing from Breed Watch contained a document, directed at show judges, which outlined a number of points to which they should pay particular attention. Additionally, the document drew attention to one particular item that was of special concern in Bedlington terriers – “cracked/corny pads”

Details of this initiative, which will which will be updated as necessary, can be found on the Kennel Club website at:

On the Kennel Club website “Home” page, click on the “Services” tab and then on “Breed Watch” in the right-hand column.  For specific details, click on the appropriate item in the list on the right-hand side of the page.

Changes to Breed Watch - Note

The Kennel Club has announced that it is expanding its monitoring of breed health and welfare to ensure that it can provide breed health representatives with more information to enable them to continue to protect the future health of their breed.

The structure of Breed Watch is changing to allow for a greater involvement by judges in the reporting on and monitoring of the points of concern and the Kennel Club will enter into regular communication with feedback to breed clubs on any significant issues which are reported.  These changes will be introduced in 2014.

Breed Watch is now a 3 tier process which all the KC recognised breeds will be placed in one of three categories. The Bedlington terrier falls in to Category 2. Being in Category 2 will not affect the way Bedlingtons are exhibited.  However, as from January 2015 it will be a mandatory requirement at Championship Shows that the judge completes a health monitoring form after their judging appointment. This will provide the Kennel Club with information on the visible health issues which have been identified as affecting the breed.  In Bedlington terriers the only health issue to be monitored is the condition of the feet i.e. - “cracked and corny pads”.

Role Description for the Breed Health Coordinator.

One of the initiatives introduced in 2009 was the appointment of breed nominated Health Coordinators who would operate as part of the Kennel Club’s Breed Watch initiative.

Initially, although there was no specific “job specification” ascribed to the breed health coordinators, the declared objective was the collection and communication of data pertaining to the health of dogs within the breed.  This data would be collated and analysed by the Breed Watch administration team at the Kennel Club, fronted by Diana Brooks-Ward.  The primary role of the breed health coordinators would be to act as the “conduit” for the collection and transfer of information to/from the Kennel Club and the breed clubs, and their members.

Consideration of the views of all members was considered to be essential and to achieve this it was imperative that an effective communication network be established.

At their 2012 Breed Health Coordinator’s seminar the Kennel Club introduced the “Breed Health Improvement Strategy: a Step by Step Guide”.  Appendix A of this document listed, in detail, what was considered to be the role of the Breed Health Coordinator.

This appendix is detailed below:

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The KC Health Coordinators Symposium - 2011

The first Breed Health Coordinator’s seminar, chaired by  Professor Jeff Sampson, was held at the Kennel Club Building at Stoneleigh Park on the 18th November 2011.  

The first paper was a power-point presentation on “website design” in which material from the Kennel Club’s own website was used to illustrate and reinforce aspects of good website design and the opportunity was taken to draw attention of delegates to the recently introduced  “Online Health Toolbox” which will eventually provide 14 “health services”.

This was followed by a talk on “Mate Select - Estimated Breeding Values” (one of the “online tools”) by Dr Sarah Blott, a geneticist based at the Animal Health Trust.

The final session was devoted to a paper  on “Breed Surveys - the Basics of Survey Design, Evaluation and Analysis”, presented by Dr Dan O’Neill

Action - Copies of the papers presented at the seminar have been sent to members of the Health Group and it is proposed to include these topics as agenda items for the next meeting.

The KC Health Coordinators Symposium - 2012.

A breed health coordinators seminar was held at the Kennel Club Building at Stoneleigh Park on the 13th September 2012.

The first presentation, by Ian Seath, dealt with the two documents (the “Breed Health Improvement Strategy” document and the “Health Survey Toolkit”) that have just been introduced by the Kennel Club.  Copies of these documents were handed out to delegates during the lunch break.

This was followed by a paper from Simon Smith that was basically a reiteration of the main aspects of website design that were presented at the 2011 seminar.

The final session of the morning was presented by Penny Rankine-Parsons, Breed Health Coordinator for French Bulldogs, who gave an excellent account of how that particular breed has developed a breed health strategy and the progress that has been made.

The first of the afternoon sessions was an “Update on the KC/BVA/ISDS Eye Testing Scheme” presented by Professor Sheila Crispin.  This was quite a technical presentation with numerous slides to illustrate the different eye conditions.

Dr Tom Lewis then delivered a paper  in which he used the concepts of Coefficient of Inbreeding and Estimated Breeding Value to illustrate the effects of “Inbreeding and Outcrossing”on genetic diversity.

The last session of the day was a paper presented by Dr Cathryn Mellersh, who delivered a very good exposition on “DNA Tests”.

Action - Copies of the papers, including the two toolkits, presented at the seminar have been sent to members of the BTHG.

The KC Health Coordinators Symposium - 2013.

The first paper of the morning session was presented by Philippa Robinson, the “founder” of the Karlton Index website, during which she gave an interesting and very informative resume of the rationale behind the development of her website and how she viewed “the way forward”  It was interesting to note the impact that her work seems to have had, to date, on the “apparent” health status of dogs, as highlighted by a comparison of the results obtained from the collation and analyses of the 2011 and 2013 breed health data.

This was followed by a “launch presentation” of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), a new KC Mate Select Tool the purpose of which is to provide a more efficient way of estimating the genetic risk associated with complex disorders.  Their use was illustrated by using EBVs calculated from data obtained from test results received from breeds of dogs in which hip and/or elbow dysplasia is a problem.  Currently, it would seem that this is the only condition for which sufficient data is available to calculate EBVs.

The morning session was concluded with a presentation about the “Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme”.  After outlining the aims and development of the scheme, the way in which the scheme currently operates was discussed with particular emphasis on the monitoring role of the inspectors.  The speaker then went on to outline the proposed changes to the scheme including an active marketing campaign to encourage greater participation.

The format of the afternoon sessions varied from that of previous Breed Health Coordinator’s symposia.  The first session was in the form of a “group workshop”.  Delegates were asked to discuss “Common Problems encountered by Breed Health Coordinators” and to report back at the end of the session.  The consensus was that the major problem was one of apathy, in various guises – reluctance to get involved, reluctance to disclose information and problems relating to confidentiality were reoccurring themes.

This workshop was followed by a presentation on the changes to Breed Watch which are to be introduced from November 2013  The aim is to enable judges to become more involved in health monitoring and thereby to alert the Kennel Club of any concerns relating to the breeds that they judge.  To achieve this breeds will be categorised into 3 categories and a more rigorous reporting system will be introduced for those breeds categorised as Category 2 (this includes Bedlington terriers) and Category 3 (the high profile breeds).

The final session was another workshop during which ways to overcome the problems highlighted in the first workshop were discussed and subsequently presented to the Kennel Club staff for their deliberation and action.

Action:   Copies of the symposium papers and draft copies of 2 further “Tool Kits” (Website Content and Website Enhancement) were circulated to the BTHG members.

Copies of the presented papers can be read/downloaded from the Kennel Club website - click Here for details.

The KC Health Coordinators Symposium - 2014.

The KC Breed Health Coordinator’s 2014 seminar was held at the KC building, Stoneleigh Park, on the 17th September.

The first of the three PowerPoint presentations, given by Dr Dan O’Neill, entitled “Vet Compass: how veterinary data can inform breed health” was an overview of the project whereby Vet Compass was using data provided by participating veterinary practices in order to establish trends in various aspects of canine health.

It is now over 10 years since the Kennel Club carried out its “Health Survey of Pedigree Breeds”, the results being published at the beginning of 2004, and it was felt that there was a need to carry out an “updating survey” in order to monitor/determine the current health status.

The second presentation, by Bonnie Wiles, was a comprehensive account of the new health survey which was to be launched in November.  One significant difference between the new survey compared to the earlier survey would be the method by which the survey questionnaires are to be distributed – on this occasion they will be sent directly to those breeders/owners for whom the Kennel Club have contact details rather than breed club secretaries being responsible for their distribution.  Additionally, the survey questionnaire could be completed online (via the Kennel Club website).

The final paper, “Breed Health: vision for the future, insight from the past” was presented by Philippa Robinson and linked closely with her presentation at the 2013 BHC seminar.

The paper was an excellent summary of how various initiatives have contributed, over time, to changes in canine health and welfare.  The need to review what has happened within each breed was stressed and serious consideration be given to establishing realistic breed “timelines” based on breed health strategies.

One of the sessions at the 2013 Breed Health Coordinators seminar was devoted to a “workshop” where delegates were asked to discuss “Common problems encountered by Breed Health Coordinators”.  A “toolkit” based on the findings of this workshop session was made available at the seminar.    

    Action:   Copies of the seminar presentations and the new toolkit have been made available to members of the        Bedlington Terrier Health Group.

Copies of the presented papers can be read/downloaded from the Kennel Club website - click Here for details.


The KC Health Coordinators Symposium - 2015.

Unfortunately, owing to ill-health, the Breed Coordinator was unable to attend the symposium.  However, copies of the presented papers can be read/downloaded from the Kennel Club website - click Here for details.

The KC Health Coordinators Symposium - 2016.


In previous years the venue for the Breed Health Coordinators Symposia was the Kennel Club building at Stoneleigh Park.  However, for this years symposium, held on the 23rd September, there was a change of venue - it was held at The Grange Hall, Southam, Coventry.

Three papers were presented.  The first two papers had the same “basic theme” - the collection, collation and analysis of data relating to canine health and welfare.  Both highlighted the range of sources from which the data was obtained.  The 3rd paper, from Dr Cathryn Mellersh (AHT), presented an overview of the “Give a Dog a Genome” project jointly funded by the Kennel Club and the Breed Organisations of the participating breeds.

Action:   Copies of the seminar presentations and the new toolkit have been made available to members of the Bedlington Terrier Health Group.  

Copies of the presented papers can be read/downloaded from the Kennel Club website - click Here for details.


Seminar Reports

KC Breed Health Coordinator Symposium Reports

Copies of Papers and Toolkits.

Copies of the papers presented at the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 symposia can be down loaded from the Kennel Club website at:


On the KC website Home page, click the “Health” tab, then scroll down the left-hand column.  Click “Breed Health Coordinators” and scroll down the page to view/download the appropriate document.


Copies of any of the toolkits can also be downloaded by scrolling down to “Toolkits” and then clicking on the relevant document title.

Unfortunately, copies of the papers presented in 2011 and 2012 are not now available for downloading from the Kennel Club website