Putting dog welfare first

Hannu Huttu

The health and wellbeing of dogs is the primary concern in all of the Finnish Kennel Club's breeding-related rules and activities. Our rules are in harmony with the Animal Welfare Act and the Animal Welfare Decree as well as other official regulations that apply to the breeding of animals. The Finnish Kennel Club actively steers dog breeding in the direction the abovementioned regulations prescribe.  

First health programmes
Hip dysplasia the first condition to be focused on
1984 Golden and Labrador Retrievers
1986 German Shepherd

Working to promote the health of dogs 

The Finnish Kennel Club is active on many fronts to help breeders produce dogs that are as healthy as possible. The breeding of healthy and good-tempered dogs also calls for cooperation between different parties – when breeders, breed associations, the Finnish Kennel Club, veterinarians and researchers as well as puppy buyers pull together, the results are much more effective than the efforts of individual actors could ever be.   

The Finnish Kennel Club has:

  • A general breeding strategy that each joining member commits to folloving. The content of the breeding strategy has been shaped by a multifaceted working group and approved by the Council of the Finnish Kennel Club. The breeding strategy provides detailed recommendations on how to select dogs for breeding in order to produce optimally healthy and good-tempered pups.
  • Dog registration guidelines, which define the grounds on which dogs can be included in the Finnish Kennel Club's registers as well as impose requirements on breeding dogs that apply to all breeds with the aim of promoting the welfare of dogs. Our dog registration guidelines apply to all litters being registered, regardless of whether the breeder has a kennel prefix or has signed the Finnish Kennel Club breeder commitment. 
  • Breed-specific breeding programmes (JTO), in which breed associations set focal points for the breeding of their dog breeds as well as present recommendations for desirable characteristics in breeding dogs in order to make future generations as healthy as possible. Breeding programmes are inspected and approved by the Finnish Kennel Club's Scientific Commission.
  • Health programme for canine genetic diseases and defects (PEVISA), which enables the Finnish Kennel Club to, at the initiative of a breed association, monitor the health and welfare of dogs that are used for breeding. A breed can be included in the PEVISA programme on the basis of a decision by the breed association's general assembly. The PEVISA programme requires breeding dogs to be examined for specific hereditary diseases. PEVISA health examination protocols are created by working groups, which include the best specialist veterinarians for each disease. 
  • The public breeding database, which offers access to all official dog health examinations. The system accumulates data on 60,000-80,000 health examination results per year. New breeding tools and statistics are constantly being developed for the system. For example, the breeding database contains estimated breeding values (EBV) for hip and elbow dysplasia. The Finnish Kennel Club is a world pioneer in calculating EBVs as well as in the openness of health examination results.
  • Basic and advanced courses for breeders as well as courses for the breeding counsellors of breed associations. Our courses go over the basics of breeding, bitch and pup care as well as current news and research findings about dog health and the promotion of desirable characteristics in breeding. 
  • Guidelines for show judges regarding exaggerated features in breeds. According to the Finnish Kennel Club's breeding strategy, the structure and appearance of a dog, which is used for breeding, must not demonstrate welfare-reducing defects that are mentioned in this list of unhealthy features.  
  • Health research funds. The Finnish Kennel Club supports research, which provides information on hereditary diseases affecting dogs. The information helps identify diseases and select the right breeding methods.
  • Breeder commitment, where the breeder makes a commitment to, among other things, only use healthy dogs that are in good condition for breeding as well as to openly disclose information about the characteristics of his or her dogs. The breeding database shows whether a breeder has signed the commitment.  
  • Volunteer-based kennel counselling activities.
  • The fundamental statute for dog owners and keepers that binds all Finnish Kennel Club members. Among other things, it stipulates that the results of health examinations and information on hereditary diseases must be submitted to the Finnish Kennel Club, which is entitled to make this information public. Furthermore, if a dog is used in breeding, the dog must be healthy, good-tempered and breed-typical.

Please note that only breeders who register their pups with the Finnish Kennel Club have made a commitment to the breeding programmes and dog-health-promoting registration requirements of the Finnish Kennel Club. Pedigree dogs should always be registered to ensure, for example, that a bitch has not been used to produce litters too frequently or too many times and that the parents of a litter have been subjected to the breed-specific health examinations defined in the PEVISA programme before mating. There is no good reason to not register a pure-bred dog – the motivation is almost always avoidance of health regulations.

The Finnish Kennel Club also influences the international community through participation in the Nordic Kennel Union and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (World Canine Organisation FCI). The goal is to increase worldwide knowledge of and competence in dog breeding. The primary concern in all international activities must be the health and welfare of dogs.

If you wish to find out more about dog welfare and the upkeep of everyday health, visit on the page of our basic course for dog owners.