The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme (previously called the Accredited Breeder Scheme) was launched in 2005.
This has created a two tier system of KC registered breeders.
A breeder who wishes to become an Assured Breeder may join the scheme at a cost of £15 for the first year and £10 for following years. To apply for membership, prospective Assured Breeders must have bred and KC registered at least one previous litter.
The KC strongly promotes the scheme to puppy seekers, suggesting that a puppy from an Assured breeder will be ‘better’ than one from a breeder who is not. The KC suggests that Assured breeders will have higher standards of husbandry and that puppies produced by them will be genetically healthier.
Assured Breeders benefit by having their puppies prioritised on the KC’s ‘Find a Puppy’ website: a rosette symbol is placed alongside their name and they are positioned top of the list. The KC website states, ‘We strongly recommend that new owners select a Kennel Club Assured Breeder from the puppy lists on the Find a Puppy service to help ensure the best chance of finding a healthy puppy and having a rewarding dog owning experience.’
Accolades are awarded to ABs and shown next to their ‘Find a Puppy’ listing if they have: 1) bred at least 5 litters (B), 2) are a member of a breed club (BC), 3) bred three or more dogs listed in the KC stud book (to do with show success) (SB), 4) are nominated by breed clubs, have bred five British title holders and, have had a successful visit from a Breeder Advisor (Accolade of Excellence) (E)
It’s important to note that these accolades relate to breeding and show success and not directly to puppy health.
What are the responsibilities of Assured Breeders?
Assured Breeders have both ‘Requirements’ (must be followed) and ‘Recommendations’ (suggested to follow but not required)
The Requirements include that all dogs bred by Assured breeders must be permanently identified; and
Dogs bred by ABs must be properly socialised when young puppies to ensure their suitability as pets and advice given to owners on the continuation of socialisation, exercise and future training.
The Kennel Club publishes a list of Breed Specific Requirements and Recommendations for ABs. These include the official health screening schemes (Hip dysplasia, Elbow dysplasia, Eye testing, Chiari malformation Syringomyelia; DNA tests; BAER testing (for deafness); Breed club (unofficial schemes) relevant to their breed. The full list of Recommendations and Requirements may be found by clicking here.
Where health testing is ‘required’ compliance is checked by the KC when litters are registered. There are no checks on health tests which are ‘recommended’.
It’s important to note that even when health testing is ‘required’ a bad result does not prevent a dog from being bred. So even if a dog has a poor hip score or is found to be affected by a disease from DNA testing, it can still be bred.
Regulations for owners of stud dogs
Owners of stud dogs may now be included in the AB Scheme if the dog’s required health tests under the ABS have been carried out and the dogs are permanently identified.
Assuring the Assured Breeders
Applicants wishing to be become Assured Breeders have their previous KC records checked. Their names are published in the Kennel Gazette to allow breed clubs the opportunity to report inappropriate applicants. Dam and sire health checks are verified when puppies are registered and feedback is requested from puppy buyers on the service that they have received. Breeder Advisors may visit and assess ABs. Despite these checks, it is important for prospective puppy purchasers to be aware that there is no guarantee that Assured Breeders do comply with their requirements.
In summary: buying a puppy from a KC Assured Breeder may mean that the parents and offspring have experienced a better standard of welfare; may have been health screened or DNA tested; may mean that the puppies will have better temperaments and have been well socialised; the breeder may have used the results of health tests to ensure that her puppies are at the lowest risk of genetic disease. However, not all ABs will meet those high standards and not all non-ABs will fail to meet these standards. As always, good judgement and common sense are important to ensure the purchase of the best puppy for your family.