The Code of Ethics is a mandatory part of the club, required under Kennel Club rules for a KC registered club. It sits alongside the Club constitution and spells out certain behaviours and practises that are incumbent on members. The Code of Ethics can only be amended following the laid down procedure of proposal, circulation and discussion and a vote at the club’s AGM, the committee are not in charge of any of its content, it is for the club membership and compiled by and with the agreement of the club membership using the democratic mechanism of the AGM. Following changes agreed at the club AGM these do not become part of club structure and applicable to members until approved by the Kennel Club.
The most crucial part of this this relates to reducing genetically influenced diseases. This is a vital area for all breed clubs and finding an acceptable balance between realistic, sensible advice and idealistic, utopian demands is an ever present conflict which rears it’s head at club AGMs from time to time with sometimes strong opinions on both sides of the discussions. In a perfect world we could all produce puppies bred from parents with absolutely no hereditary diseases and there would be no need to consider such things.
Another part of this ongoing debate for all clubs over many decades is how compulsory to make these practises. Are they mandatory or just recommendation? Do we make the criteria we set compulsory or just guidelines? Interpretation and discussion of this principle has been the source of many heated debates at many club AGMs and other meetings over the years. It is true that adherence to the Code of Ethics is mandatory for club members but it is also true that not all parts of the Code are mandatory and are “only” recommendations.
Some feel if things are not mandatory then they are meaningless, other feel that the club has no real power so such things can only ever be ideal guidelines that we hope members can follow. A factor in this school of thought is that the club has no power to enforce anything, if someone does something against the club’s rules and the club begin to take action against them they can just resign from the club and carry on doing exactly as they were before. The latest agreed feeling for each clause is therefore in the wording. Look for subtle differences and the choice of words such as ‘must’ instead of ‘should’ for example can be crucial.
Another factor coming increasingly into play in recent times is the background society we have to live and operate in. For example, the Animal Welfare Act revisions of 2018 place a higher legal obligation for welfare and breeding to avoid genetic issues on breeders and the club reflected this by updating it’s Code of Ethics accordingly at the AGM of that year. All clubs and organisations have to constantly evolve and change to reflect the environments they operate in or risk being caught out by the potential consequences. Scientific progress in tackling genetic disease can also be a cause for changes to the Code of Ethics and as a club and as individuals we cannot ignore progress and have to engage with and respond to all developments.
Points 1-14 of the Code of Ethics are given by the Kennel Club and all K.C. registered breed clubs were compelled introduce these, completely replacing their former Codes by November 2008. Following this many breed clubs felt they had to reintroduce breed specific clauses to reflect their purpose. The addition of breed specific points 15 onwards was agreed at our club AGM in April 2009 and these were closely derived from the previous Code of Ethics which had evolved over many years. The breed specific clauses in the Code of Ethics are often revised slightly at AGMs responding to changes in the issues affecting the breed, changes in legislation, feeling within the breed. The latest Code of Ethics is published below and has been approved by the Kennel Club.
Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Great Britain
General Code of Ethics
(including amendments passed at the AGM, March 2018)
All members of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Great Britain undertake to abide by its general Code of Ethics.
1] Will properly house, feed, water and exercise all dogs under their care and arrange for appropriate veterinary attention if and when required.
2] Will agree without reservation that any veterinary surgeon performing an operation on any of their dogs which alters the natural conformation of the animal, or who carries out a caesarean section on a bitch, may report such operations to the Kennel Club.
3] Will agree that no healthy puppy will be culled. Puppies which may not conform to the Breed Standard should be placed in suitable homes.
4] Will abide by all aspects of the Animal Welfare Act.
5] Will not create demand for, nor supply, puppies that have been docked illegally.
6] Will agree not to breed from a dog or bitch which could be in any way harmful to the dog or to the breed.
7] Will not allow any of their dogs to roam at large or to cause a nuisance to neighbours or those carrying out official duties.
8] Will ensure that their dogs wear properly tagged collars and will be kept leashed or under effective control when away from home.
9] Will clean up after their dogs in public places or anywhere their dogs are being exhibited.
10] Will only sell dogs where there is a reasonable expectation of a happy and healthy life and will help with the re-homing of a dog if the initial circumstances change.
11] Will supply written details of all dietary requirements and give guidance concerning responsible ownership when placing dogs in a new home.
12] Will ensure that all relevant Kennel Club documents are provided to the new owner when selling or transferring a dog, and will agree, in writing, to forward any relevant documents at the earliest opportunity, if not immediately available.
13] Will not sell any dog to commercial dog wholesalers, retail pet dealers or directly or indirectly allow dogs to be given as a prize or donation in a competition of any kind. Will not sell by sale or auction Kennel Club registration certificates as stand alone items (not accompanying a dog).
14] Will not knowingly misrepresent the characteristics of the breed nor falsely advertise dogs nor mislead any person regarding the health or quality of a dog.
15] Breeders will breed with due attention to general health issues and the most relevant aspects of the Bernese Mountain Dog. This is with particular emphasis to:
15.1] WELFARE AND PRACTICE
a] Endeavour to ensure all stock to be bred from is free from contagious disease.
b] Not allow puppies to go to their new homes before 8 weeks of age and microchip them prior to this.
c] Ensure that nervous or aggressive Bernese shall not be bred from. The club encourages all breeders to complete a Character Assessment on their Breeding Stock, and to seriously consider the merits of using an animal in their breeding programme who does not hold a grading of pass or above.
d] Refrain from whelping with a bitch until she is approximately 24 months of age, ensure no bitch shall be bred from in any way that is deleterious to the bitch or the breed and that the last litter shall be whelped before the bitch’s 7th birthday and the bitch’s first litter shall be before her 5th birthday
e] Ensure that stud dogs are over 12 months of age before being used at stud and not used excessively. The use of a stud dog shall be refused on any bitch considered to have poor health, temperament or quality.
f] Ensure that Bernese Mountain Dog puppies are only bred from Kennel Club, or other KC recognised Kennel Club, registered BMD parents.
15.2] DEALING WITH SPECIFIC HEREDITARY CONDITIONS
All breeding must be carefully planned in an attempt to reduce conditions known to be hereditary or have hereditary influences, in the Bernese Mountain Dog such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, Systemic Histiocytosis, DM, ectropian/entropian, ‘trembler’ and elongated soft palate.
a] All breeding stock must be x-rayed for evidence of hip dysplasia and the plates should ideally be submitted to the KC/BVA scoring scheme. Results from any other equivalent officially recognised Kennel Club overseas scheme will be acceptable for dogs born and reared overseas. Breeders shall treat mild cases as they would any other fault and exclude from their breeding programme dogs with more severe evidence of hip dysplasia or with a poor EBV rating for hips dysplasia.
b] All breeding stock must be x-rayed for evidence of elbow dysplasia and the plates should ideally be submitted to the KC/BVA scoring scheme. Results from any other equivalent officially recognised Kennel Club overseas scheme will be acceptable for dogs born and reared overseas. Breeders shall treat mild cases as they would any other fault and exclude from their breeding programme dogs with more severe evidence of elbow dysplasia or with a poor EBV rating for elbow dysplasia.
c] All breeding stock should be tested and awarded a Systemic Histiocytosis grading under the scheme developed by the University of Rennes and offered by Antagene. Breeders should follow official advice regarding breeding combinations.
d] All breeding stock should be tested, either directly or by parentage for Degenerative Myelopathy and mating choices should ensure not to create any affected dogs, i.e. each combination should include a clear dog.
e] Due consideration should be given to the KC Coefficient of Inbreeding when planning matings and ideally CoI ratings should not exceed twice the breed average.
15.3] It is accepted that in any single breeding it is virtually impossible to completely comply with all of the advice points following testing raised in 15.2. This makes the setting of meaningful standards of test results impractical. However, for each mating responsible breeders should assess and address their own priorities and needs, as well as those of the breed, and all of the above specific areas should be considered.
16] Breeders will supply comprehensive welfare information with all puppies sold. This to include information on inoculations, veterinary care they may have had or require and guidance on care, exercise and training of a Bernese. Registration documentation should include (at least) a 4 generation pedigree.
17] Breeders will guarantee the health of their stock subject to a veterinary examination within 2 working days of the sale or transfer and shall insure puppies for a minimum of 4 weeks against illness, loss or sudden death.
18] Breeders & stud dog owners will try and keep in touch with the progress of his or her breeding or progeny and the breeder be prepared to take back any dog of his or her breeding or to be instrumental in the rehoming of the dog at any time throughout the dog’s life.
19] Breeders will, when breeding dogs, adopt as a minimum standard the principles, requirements and recommendations as embodied in the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders’ Scheme.
20] Breeders shall not sell adults or puppies to any country not covered by club constitution paragraph 24 and will not sell stock for export unless the recipient is personally known to the breeder or approved by a local veterinary surgeon or local Bernese Mountain Dog Club.
21] Will at all times exhibit good sportsmanship at all events relating to the club and to dog shows.
22] Will not denigrate any other member or kennel
23] Serious or repeated breach of these provisions may result in expulsion from club membership, and/or disciplinary action by the Kennel Club and/or reporting to the relevant authorities for legal action, as appropriate.
24] The committee of the club shall deal with reported breaches of the Code of Ethics in a reasonable and proportionate manner and in more serious cases where expulsion is considered refer the incident to the membership via an SGM as per rule 18 of the Constitution. All cases to be appropriately reported to the membership as much as possible.
From the health section of this web site, Health and the Code of Ethics which discusses the effects of the Code of Ethics on breeders.