Whatever the breed, health can be a thorny issue. Some breeders may deny there is a problem while others strive to find a way of eradicating it from their breeding line and also from the breed. However, those with their heads in the sand are getting a rude awakening as recent television programmes and media reports have put pedigree dogs and breeders in the spotlight. The Kennel Club and breeders have had to face the fact that if they don’t take action then others will convince the government to pass laws with restrictions that may do more harm than good, and maybe even affect the survival of some breeds in the UK.
The Kennel Club started the Accredited Breeder Scheme, now renamed The Assured Breeder Scheme, some years ago. The scheme requires members to follow good breeding practice and also requires (if available) specified health screening for recognised health problems within any particular breed. Full details of the scheme and what is required of Assured Breeders are available on the Kennel Club website.
Norwich Terriers, like any other breed, have their own health issues, the seriousness of which, in the past, has not been openly admitted by many breeders. Some still struggle to come to terms with the fact that there are dogs that have seizures with some diagnosed as having epilepsy, and they refer to these as cramp or funny turns. However, the breed has now turned the corner on this matter and Kennel Club backed research is being carried out at the Animal Health Trust. Details can be found on the Norwich Terrier Club website under Breed Health:
The other health problem occurring in some Norwich Terriers is to do with breathing issues grouped together under the name Upper Airway Syndrome. The breathing problems could be due to the soft palate being either too long or too short, tonsils, improperly formed trachea or everted laryngeal saccules. The University of Berne has developed a grading scheme ( A1; A2, B1; B2, C1; C2, D1; D2, E1; E2) for UAS in the breed. Breeders who have their Norwich graded are then able to decide what course of action to take before breeding their dog. Currently, we do not have a scheme for similar screening in the UK.
Full details of UAS and other health matters are available on the Norwich Terrier Club of America website.
I have given very brief details above of the two major health issues occurring in Norwich Terriers. More complete information is available on the two breed club sites with links above and through the Links page of this site.
A look at the Kennel Club website for health screening requirements of KC Assured Breeders for the various breeds, will indicate the effort being made to breed healthy pedigree dogs. So considering the attack against pedigree dogs and breeders from certain quarters in the UK, it might be worth remembering that it is the Kennel Club, with breed clubs and breeders of the various breeds that support research, with funds, DNA samples etc., into the health problems in the breeds. What tends to be forgotten by the critics of pedigree dogs is that the results of the research will also benefit the much loved family pet who may be a mixed breed due to various crosses over generations, and with no breed club to help fund research into health problems.