Pedigree dogs

Our position on the health of pedigree and purebred dogs

There's a wealth of scientific and other evidence demonstrating that the welfare and quality of life of many pedigree and purebred dogs are seriously compromised as a result of established selective breeding practices.

A pedigree dog skull that has been selected to be shortened from front to back

In 2008, a BBC documentary - Pedigree Dogs Exposed - investigated some of the serious health and welfare issues experienced by many pedigree dogs as a result of the way they are bred.

Three major reports were published following the documentary, including an independent report commissioned by us. They all concluded that the welfare issues associated with pedigree dog breeding are very serious, and that urgent action is needed to safeguard the welfare of pedigree dogs.

We're still concerned

Bulldog portrait © RSPCA photolibrary

Although there have been some changes we're still extremely concerned that the welfare of many dogs is compromised because of exaggerated features (PDF 76KB) and/or inherited diseases (PDF 72KB), in some cases for a large proportion or even all of their lives.

We believe that all those who breed dogs – whether pedigree, purebred or crossbreed – should prioritise health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed, in order to protect the welfare of both the parents and offspring.

Find out more about our position on pedigree dog welfare (PDF 52KB).

Ways forward

We want to help potential puppy buyers choose puppies that have been bred to have the best chance of being happy and healthy and well suited to the lives they will lead, mostly as family pets.

If you’re thinking of buying a puppy, avoid the pitfalls of buying from an irresponsible breeder, use the RSPCA/AWF puppy contract.

We're a member of the Brachycephalic Working Group, which was set-up to help improve the welfare of brachycephalic (flat-faced dogs).

Here are just some of the other actions we’ve taken since 2008.

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