Hamish German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog breeders UK

Some breeders say the crackdown could lead several to boycott the Kennel Club and set up rival shows.

Mr Honey said: “Things could get quite nasty. People will take the attitude that it’s their hobby with their dogs and now we’ve got people telling us what to do.

“A lot of people don’t want to be dictated to. Some shows are already being run outside of the Kennel Club because of their dictatorial attitude.”

One organisation – the German Shepherd Dog League of Great Britain – has already been suspended for 12 months by the Kennel Club for setting up its own awards system and is continuing to run rival regional shows.

The league is appealing against the suspension and says it has tough welfare standards.

The German Shepherd Dog League said: “Time will tell if the Kennel Club’s review of the German Shepherd and the measures introduced will have a positive and meaningful impact upon the health and welfare of the breed. We believe the link between handling and double handling practices and health and welfare is less direct and clear, but agree that some moderation of these is called for.”

The Kennel Club has defended its stance as vital to the future of breeding and showing, saying it had an obligation to take action for the sake of the health and welfare of dogs.

Caroline Kisko, the club’s secretary, said: “The Kennel Club was given no option but to address the issues which the breed itself seemed to be taking far too long to address and which came to a head at Crufts this year.

“This situation simply cannot continue as not only is the health and welfare of the breed at risk but this is having a detrimental effect on the reputation of all breeders, pedigree dogs, dog showing and the Kennel Club.”

What is double handling?

Double handling is the practice of placing a second trainer incognito in the audience at a show to make the dog appear more alert. The second trainer, or handler, attracts the animal’s attention using a squeaky toy, whistle or their voice.

Hearing the noise, the dog raises its head, pricks up its ears and appears more alert and attentive in front of the judges.

The Kennel Club has long banned double handling at its shows, arguing that they cause the dogs increased stress and that the presence of a second handler in the audience can create a disturbance for spectators. Supporters say it is a harmless technique that can add atmosphere to a show.

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