The Board of the Finnish Kennel Club accepted cross breeding projects for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and French Bulldogs in their meeting on 15 June. In the same meeting, a decision was made to start a new cross breed register where the crossbred dogs will be registered in.
The cross breeding projects have been well prepared in the breed clubs, and the cross breeding team, that works under the Finnish Kennel Club’s breeding committee, has read through the project proposals before they came for consideration of the Board of the Finnish Kennel Club.
“The cross breeding proposals have been carefully prepared. It is great that the Suomen Cavalier Kingcharlesinspanieliyhdistys ry association and the Suomen Ranskanbulldogit ry association have looked into this matter and are ready to launch these projects that will certainly be tightly followed also internationally and especially in the Nordic countries,” says Kirsi Sainio, the chairman of the Finnish Kennel Club’s breeding committee.
Cross breeding means mating two different breeds or individual dogs that represent two different breeds so that the offspring is registered as the original breed in the Finnish Kennel Club. The cross breeding programme is especially meant for breeds that do not have enough genetic variation to refine the important characteristics for the well-being of the dog. Also other reasons that are mentioned in the Finnish Kennel Club’s general breeding strategy may be used.
The Finnish Kennel Club accepts cross breeding for a specific breed based on an application made by the breed club. The breed club has to justify the application with clarity and propose a detailed project plan. A statement from the breed’s country of origin is needed for the cross breed application, but it does not have to be favourable. The Finnish Kennel Club has given guidelines on how to request for a cross breeding project and how to make a project plan.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a popular breed for a companion dog. The breed’s most common health issues are mitral valve disease (MVD) and syringomyelia (SM) that may cause the dog significant impediments and pain that influence their quality of life and may lead to premature death. For many years in Finland, efforts have been made to influence the occurrence of these diseases by obligatory heart examination for breeding dogs and by MRI recommended by the breed club’s breeding committee because the heredity of these issues has been recognised already for a long time.
The selected breeds for cross breeding the Cavalier are the Tibetan Terrier, the Danish-Swedish Farmdog, the Papillon/Phalene, the Beagle and possibly the Moyen poodle and the Japanese Spitz. These breeds are seen suitable based on their behaviour and character, and they are not known to have same or similar health issues than the Cavalier. The breed profile may still be changed during the project. It may be considered case-by-case how wide the health examinations should be for the mating partner.
“We are planning to have multiple crossbred litters and including more than one breed gives options also for choosing the individual dogs for the breeding. When we have more experience, some breeds may be taken out from the cross breeding or we may add some new breeds,” tells Jaakko Lehessaari, chairman of the Suomen Cavalier Kingcharlesinspanieliyhdistys association.
A cross breeding project for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is about to begin also in Sweden. The Suomen Cavalier Kingcharlesinspanieliyhdistys association collaborates with the Swedish breed club. Collaboration is important to share the experiences.
“We are content that the preparatory work done for over two years is finally bringing forth fruit in the form of an accepted project plan, and, at last, we get to proceed concretely with the combinations,” tells Toni Saira, chairman of the Suomen Ranskanbulldogit ry association.
French Bulldogs are also popular companion dogs. At the moment, the biggest health issues for this breed are brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome (BAOS) and issues with the back. Back issues are especially caused by the changes in the back vertebra and an extra copy of the FGF4 growth factor or the FGF4 retrogene in the chromosome 12 (12-FGF4RG), which causes early degeneration and sclerosis in the intervertebral discs. The brachycephalic phenotype is partly determined by another gene mutation that has become enriched in the breed.
The aim of the cross breeding project is to improve the breed’s health status and to decrease the exaggerated traits in the appearance of the breed. The plan has been made first of all for health improvements, however, not forgetting the character and intended use of the breed.
The accepted plan for cross breeding the French Bulldog is to use the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Jack Russell Terrier, the Mittel spitz and the Papillon/Phalene as the partner breeds. The Finnish Kennel Club’s breeding committee’s team for cross breeding suggested that the Danish-Swedish Farmdog and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier would be added to the breed club’s plan. However, there is a need for further health examinations and limitations for these two new breeds done by the breed club.
In Finland, cross breeding has been systematically done since 1997 when Pincher and Schnauzer, close relatives and breeds that were originally two different variants of the same breed, were crossbred with the permission of the Finnish Kennel Club. This project is still ongoing.
After the start of this first project, there have been other projects, like cross breeding the French water dog Barbet with the Spanish Water Dog and the Pont-Audemer Spaniel. An individual case of cross breeding has been done for the Brazil Terrier with the Danish-Swedish Farmdog. Multiple different breeds have been used for mating in the Kromfohrländer cross breed project. The most recent project is cross breeding the Dutch Kooikerhondje. More than one breed is also used in this project.
“In the recent years, we have recognised the possibilities of cross breeding for many breeds, and the Finnish Kennel Club’s breeding committee constantly receives new contacts,” says Kirsi Sainio.
The results of the cross breeding projects are carefully followed for years and only some of the offspring can be selected for further breeding based on various evaluation criteria.
In the future in Finland, crossbred offspring will be registered in the cross breed register which is not part of the International Canine Federation FCI. A register outside of the FCI enables cross breeding in breeds with which it is not done anywhere else.
The first generation (F1) offspring for cross breeding is always registered in the cross breed register. With the following generations, if requested, individual dogs or litters may be transferred to the Finnish Kennel Club’s ER register. The ER register is a special register for pedigree dogs that do not fit the conditions of the actual pedigree dog register (FI register). When there are three generations of ER registered dogs, the offspring will be directly registered to the FI register.
At first, only the dogs born after the start of the cross breed register will be added in it. So the litters from the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the French Bulldog breeding projects are added to this register. For other crossbred dogs, decisions for possible transitions to this register may be made later on a case-by-case basis.
The aim is to get the registered crossbred dogs a right to compete and participate shows on a national level, but not on the international level. A separate class for crossbred dogs could be considered to be requested for the special shows of breeds. The crossbred dogs’ right to participate will be added to the Finnish Kennel Club’s show, test and competition guidelines.
You can find more information (in Finnish) on cross breeding in n the Finnish Kennel Club’s cross breeding video on YouTube.
For further information, please contact:
Chair of the Finnish Kennel Club breeding committee
tel. +358 44 218 4431
Chair of the Suomen Cavalier Kingcharlesinspanieliyhdistys ry association
tel. +358 40 538 9376
Chair of the Suomen Ranskanbulldogit ry association
tel. +358 400 377 251