KC or not KC? “I only want a pet” – does KC Registration matter?
As an active member of a number of Dachshund related Facebook groups, I regularly see passionate discussions about whether or not puppy buyers should insist on buying a Kennel Club registered dog. Inevitably, there are always responses from owners and breeders of non-KC dachshunds who are understandably defensive about much-loved pets. In one respect, they are right: there are plenty of lovely non-KC dachshunds and, as a general rule, they are cheaper than registered dogs (though not always), However, although buying a Kennel Club registered puppy is not a guarantee of buying a healthy dog that will enjoy a long and happy life, doing so can dramatically reduce the risk of ending up with a poorly dog, big vet bills and disappointment.
If you compare 100 KC registered dachshund pets with 100 non-KC registered dogs, there will be super dogs in both groups – but there will be far more in the KC registered group (Note 1) with no health or behavioural problems. Why?
Not KC registering an eligible puppy may suggest that the breeder is only interested in maximising profit. It costs only £16.00 to register a puppy, so if a dog is eligible, why wouldn’t they, other than to save a little cash? There are very few valid reasons, though plenty of excuses. The Kennel Club has strict rules on how many litters a bitch can whelp (maximum of 4). By not registering an eligible dog, it means a breeder may be producing many more litters from one mother than is healthy or fair.
You know you are getting a pure-bred dachshund of the variety you expect. A breeder can only KC register a puppy if the sire (father) and dam (mother) are also KC registered, where the mother is owned by the breeder. Even if both parents are KC registered, the puppy cannot be registered if they are from different dachshund varieties (e.g. breeding mini smooth to standard smooth, mini long to mini wire etc.). Dachshund owners who have bought non-KC pups have sometimes been surprised when their tiny miniature smooth dachshund grew … and grew … and grew, or their sleek coated little mini smooth started to sprout wiry spikes, long hair or Jack Russell ears.
You are more likely to get a dachshund that looks true to type. KC reg. is not a guarantee of quality, but people who take the trouble to register will tend to do their research and try to breed close to the Breed Standard – which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance to ensure it is truly fit for function, rather than a recipe for potential disaster, e.g. discouraging exaggerated length and short legs which increase the risk of back problems, and certain ‘rare’ colours can lead to severe alopaecia (baldness) later in life and not allowing double dapple pattern registration at all (two dapples mated together) due to the genetic combination resulting in vision and hearing issues including missing or ‘micro’ eyes (for more information, see this Dachshund Breed Council article).
Many non-KC dogs are not eligible for membership for very good reason. Well organised gangs and enthusiastic amateurs are both doing a roaring trade in importing pups reared in puppy farm type conditions from Eastern Europe, Ireland and elsewhere – but the unwitting buyers often have no idea until it is too late. The dogs are often sold on the internet from a third party’s home as if they have bred them themselves, or sold from one of the big puppy supermarkets. These pups are bred with little care or attention to health and may even have forged vaccination certificates. As many as 1 in 5 puppies from these sources are infected with parvovirus and may rapidly decline and die within days or require costly veterinary treatment.
Sales figures of puppies sold by pet shops and dealers: although only 2% of pet shops sell puppies (around 70 UK outlets), of the current dog population of around 9 million, 16% were sold via pet shops, equating to approximately 1.5 million dogs (2014 local authority survey and Kennel Club ‘Puppy Awareness Week’ (PAW) survey 2014). These dogs are most likely to have been bred by ‘puppy farmers’. In total 41% of people who bought a puppy in the last year did not see the puppy with its mother and 53% did not see its breeding environment, meaning those puppies are highly likely to have been bred by puppy farmers and sold by third parties (2014 Kennel Club PAW survey).
Health of puppies sold by puppy farmers: 20% of puppies (four times more than the average) bought from pet shops or directly from the internet suffer from parvovirus, an often fatal disease which can cost up to £4,000 to treat (2014 Kennel Club PAW survey).
The Kennel Club provide a range of online tools to assist with choosing healthy breeding combinations. Choosing a suitable mate shouldn’t simply be a case of using the nearest available, the most interesting colour or the one that is clear for PRA, as there are many other things to be taken into consideration. The DBC provides a useful checklist of what to look for, but the KC tools help too:
Mate Select. The first step towards checking a potential mate’s suitability. This free online service will give an indication of how closely related the two dogs are, as inbreeding can result in unhealthy genetic blips. The results of any Kennel Club required or recommended DNA test such as Cord 1 PRA or Lafora can also be found.
https://www.mykc.org.uk/ Anyone, whether they be breeder, prospective buyer or owner can set up an account which gives easy access to the Kennel Club database of registered pedigree dogs. This includes records of important DNA health tests, details of the parents, grandparents and earlier generations, details of their siblings and much more.
The Kennel Club is a not for profit charitable trust that puts cash back into health research. As dachshund owners, we should be particularly grateful for this. Some time ago, it was recognised that Miniature Wire Dachshunds were prone to be affected by Lafora, an inherited and particularly nasty form of epilepsy (in 2010, around 10% were affected, 40% were carriers). The Kennel Club’s generous financial contribution from their Charitable Trust was crucial in developing a Lafora DNA test, and their later support (through making it a recommended test and promoting it) helped enormously in encouraging breeders to use it. Today (2017), it is estimated that less than 5% pups are now born from unsafe combinations that might mean they inherit the condition (for more information about Lafora see http://www.laforadogs.com/).
In summary, if you are thinking about buying or breeding a dachshund of any variety, please take all this into consideration. In general terms, it might be more expensive to buy a pedigree KC registered dog, but the prices do vary, and some non-KC breeders selling ‘rare’ colours or patterns charge even more, despite all the associated health risks (see above)! It would be very unusual to find a Kennel Club registered dachshund for less than £1000 (though some standard varieties might be less), but given that the typical life expectancy of a dachshund is 12-14 years, that extra initial outlay could work out at less than £50 per year over the dog’s lifetime… far less than the additional veterinary costs you might be risking if you don’t know the true background of your pet.
Note 1: 98% of all Lafora tests for Mini Wires were KC registered dogs and 100% of all IVDD screening has been with KC registered dogs. See also research into behavioural issues with Puppy Farmed dogs.