People: David Church, David Brodbelt, Dan O'Neill

Dates: October 2013 - December 2016

Aims: To create an evidence-based prioritisation list of inherited health disorders to underpin reforms of canine health and welfare.boxer dog


  1. To estimate the frequency of major inherited diseases and the frequency of corrective veterinary procedures for extreme morphologies (where applicable) within VetCompass.
  2. To develop an inherited disorder prioritisation list based on estimates for disorder prevalence, severity and duration from analyses of the VetCompass database.
  3. To communicate the findings of the study to canine health stakeholders via direct presentations, peer reviewed articles and other media.    

Relevance of project:  Welfare problems resulting from artificial selection of dog breeds have been proposed and discussed for many years (McGreevy and Nicholas 1999). Three recent major UK reports examined in detail the available evidence on associations between dog breeding and welfare, concluding that pedigree dog breeding did impose substantial welfare costs (APGAW 2009, Bateson 2010, Rooney 2009). These reports were equally notable for the substantial knowledge gaps on the epidemiology of common inherited disorders in dogs that has constrained disorder prioritisation for effective reforms.
This project supported by Dogs Trust will generate evidence on the prevalence, severity and duration of common inherited disorders of dogs in the UK that will assist with prioritisation of research and reform efforts that aim to improve the welfare of dogs.

Funding body: Dogs Trust Canine Welfare Grant     Dog Trust Logo

Collaborators: Dr David Sargan (University of Cambridge), Dr Lisa Collins (University of Lincoln)



  1. APGAW (2009) A healthier future for pedigree dogs. The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, London
  2. Bateson, P. (2010) Independent inquiry into dog breeding. University of Cambridge, Cambridge
  3. McGreevy, P. D. & Nicholas, F. W. (1999) Some practical solutions to welfare problems in dog breeding. Animal Welfare 8, 329-341
  4. Rooney, N. J. (2009) The welfare of pedigree dogs: cause for concern. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 4, 180-186 

VetCompass: A new face for robust animal welfare research data [DG O’Neill, JF Summers, DC Brodbelt (Royal Veterinary College, UK)]

Vet Compass Project Type: Dog

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