The dog's exercise tolerance is evaluated with a walk test

The walk test is intended for short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds, showing symptoms caused by upper airway stenosis. The dog's exercise tolerance and the ability to breathe normally are evaluated by means of the walk test and the clinical examination included in it.

Right to participate

Right to participate in a walk test is given to dogs which are at least 18 months of age and identified and vaccinated in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Finnish Kennel Club. Not allowed to participate in the walk test are

  • dogs with breathing problems or suggestive symptoms
  • dogs whose respiratory tracts have been surgically repaired
  • sick dogs
  • bitches less than 30 days before whelping or less than 75 days after whelping

The walk test is considered as an official health examination for the following breeds (The Finnish Kennel Club's Scientific Commission 10/2016):

  • Affenpinscher
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • Griffons
  • Japanese Chin
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu

Walk tests are organised by the breed associations for the above mentioned breeds in accordance with the Finnish Kennel Club's rules and regulations.

The Finnish Kennel Club's anti-doping regulations as well as the general rules regarding incompatibilities are followed in the tests.

Requirements for an official result

The Finnish Kennel Club approves as official tests which are carried out in accordance with the Finnish Kennel Club's Guideline for walk tests. The results of such tests are saved in the Finnish Kennel Club's Breeding Database.

As a general rule, only a result from a walk test accepted by the Finnish Kennel Club is considered as an official result for a dog living in Finland.

A supervising veterinarian must always be present

The Finnish Kennel Club appoints veterinarians familiar with the walk test. These veterinarians can supervise walk tests approved by the Finnish Kennel Club. At least one supervising veterinarian must always be present at the test.

As a supervising veterinarian can act a veterinarian licensed in Finland. The veterinarian must also be familiar with the walk test by participation in a theory training session organised by the Finnish Kennel Club (DVM Liisa Lilja-Maula) and by becoming acquainted with the test in practice.

The theory session includes information on the airway syndrome for short-nosed breeds and the evaluation of it, as well as information on conducting the walk test. Theory sessions are organised a few times per year. Details are published on the Finnish Kennel Club's website.

Becoming acquainted with the test in practice means that the veterinarian is present during one walk test session, and evaluates the dogs taking part in this test session together with the supervising veterinarian.

Test procedure

The supervising veterinarian decides on the basis of an initial clinical investigation whether the dog can take part in the test.  The veterinarian may also interrupt a dog’s test on humane grounds. The dog is however always tested at the owner's responsibility.

The dog's identification marking is checked just before the test.

Walk tests are conducted following the detailed test instructions approved by the Finnish Kennel Club's Scientific Commission. Test procedure in brief:

  • Measurement of the dog’s heart rate and body temperature, evaluation of general condition. The dog is examined by a veterinarian the Finnish Kennel Club has authorised to supervise walk tests.
  • A 1000 meter or 12 minute walk on a leash. The dog must walk or trot (not gallop/run). The person walking the dog may run if the dog's pace requires this.
  • The supervising veterinarian evaluates the dog immediately after the 15 minute recovery time: heart rate, body temperature, general condition.

The dog must spend the recovery time following the walk in the same room as where the walk was conducted. The dog should not be cooled down otherwise than by supplying it with water (except for humane reasons).

The walk test is conducted indoors in a temperature of 15 to 25 degrees. The dog may be walked by its owner or a person appointed by the owner. The dog is kept on the lead during the walk.

The dog's general condition and the grade of its upper respiratory sounds are observed during the whole test.

Clinical data related to the walk test, grade of nostril stenosis and the result of the actual test are recorded on a walk test form, issued by the Finnish Kennel Club for this purpose. The form is sent to the Finnish Kennel Club after the test.

The result of the walk test

The walk test result is based on the dog's performance and/or clinical exam. The supervising veterinarian decides on the result.

Test result

Explanation

Approved

  • The dog walks 1000 meters in 12 minutes or less, and recovers sufficiently from the walk within the recovery time.

Failed

  • The dog is, based on the veterinarian’s initial examination, showing signs of serious respiratory symptoms (including also severe hyperthermia).
  • The supervising veterinarian interrupts the test due to the dog’s serious respiratory symptoms.
  • The dog is not able to successfully complete the test and/or recover from it sufficiently within the required time.

Discontinued

  • The supervising veterinarian detects some other visible illness which completely prevents the dog from taking part in the test or prevents the continuation of the test.
  • The test is interrupted by the owner or the handler.

The walk test result (approved/failed/discontinued) and the possible reason for discontinuation are published in the Finnish Kennel Club's Breeding Database.

The test is interrupted and no result is recorded for the dog if the supervising veterinarian observes an excessive distraction at the test session.

A failed test can be re-taken once, not earlier than six months after the test.

A discontinued test can be re-taken twice. There is no time limit for re-taking a discontinued test.