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Non-breed Standard Colours Working Party – Actions and recommendations

The Kennel Club has announced a series of measures which have been approved by the Board as a result of recommendations made by the Non-Breed Standard Colours Working Party in its final report, following an in-depth review of the issues surrounding the registration of dogs of colours not recognised.

The measures include the separation of breed standard and non-breed standard (NBS) colours in the Breed Record Supplement; the implementation of a Colour Watch system, similar to Breed Watch, to provide clear guidance on breed standard and NBS colours in every breed; and the introduction of a process whereby the UK owners of imported dogs are asked to record their dog’s true colour from The Kennel Club’s current full list of both breed standard and NBS colours.

A further recommendation from the working party – the recognition of a DNA test for the dilute D locus for Labrador Retrievers – was introduced in January 2023, and was made mandatory for all imported Labrador Retrievers, the sires of puppies from bitches in whelp when imported and dogs born from imported semen in March 2023.

As a result of the Board’s approval of the working party’s recommendations, The Kennel Club is now scoping out the technological requirements to split the Breed Record Supplement, so that those dogs of a breed standard colour are listed first under an appropriate heading, and that dogs from mixed litters and litters solely of NBS colours are listed separately below these under appropriate headings.

The Colour Watch system will act as an early warning system to trigger actions where any trends in NBS registrations become a concern, and will provide a mechanism to support education of breeders and buyers. The details of the system will be announced ahead of its planned launch in due course.

The introduction of a process whereby the UK owners of imported dogs are asked to record their dog’s true colour is underway. Previously, The Kennel Club has only been able to record the colour of the dog which has been recorded by the original overseas registry. Anomalies arise where a registry does not recognise/record certain colours which The Kennel Club does record, particularly those which are NBS colours.

For example, a Labrador may not be recorded as ‘charcoal’ (which is dilute black) by the American Kennel Club as this colour is not recognised by the AKC and would be recorded as black. Under the new system, the importer of a charcoal Labrador, recorded as black, would therefore be expected to record the dog as charcoal by The Kennel Club, helping assist the breed, breeders and puppy buyers identify imported dogs which may be of NBS colour.

The Non-Breed Standard Colours Working Party, which was established to address concerns raised by a number of breeds about the registration of and rise in colours typically not recognised in breed standards, also made a recommendation of the adoption of a clearer approach to differentiate between breed standard and NBS colours within the registration system, and the promotion of breed standard colours, along with health test results. The Kennel Club Board has directed that this is to be put to the strategy design group which is looking to ‘Protect and enhance the pedigree ‘quality mark’’ and ‘Explore options to evolve the registration model’ as part of the wider strategic review which is underway.

The working party was chaired by Frank Kane and comprised Nicky Ackerley-Kemp, Jenny Campbell, Ian Seath and Dr Mike Tempest, supported by numerous members of Kennel Club staff. The working party met on 25 occasions across the course of a year, either in person or via Teams online, including 16 meetings with breed representatives across six breeds. The Working Party would like to acknowledge the input of the six breeds with which it met – Bulldogs, Chow Chows, Dachshunds, French Bulldogs, Labrador Retrievers and Pugs – whose commitment to the future wellbeing of their breeds and the amount of effort they put into preparing for meetings is commended.

In addition to the recommendations which were recently approved by The Kennel Club Board, the working party has already initiated a series of further actions:  

  • Revised breed standard colour clauses for Dachshunds, Labradors and Bulldogs
  • The Breed Standards and Stud Book Committee is conducting a review of the breed standard colour clause for all 222 recognised breeds
  • A review of the terminology used in breed standards, e.g. unacceptable, not permissible etc., is being conducted by the Breed Standards and Stud Book Committee
  • Revised registration colour lists for Dachshunds, Labradors and Chow Chows. Revisions to the registration colour lists for Bulldogs and French Bulldogs remain under discussion with the breeds
  • The introduction of a new reporting form for incorrect registrations and incorrect colours, which is available upon request from Health and Breeder Services (The Kennel Club)
  • The standardisation of the position of the term ‘(NBS)’ in front of all NBS colours across all breeds and all uses on its website
  • A pilot of a new educational Chow Chow colour chart to be available during the registration process and also on The Kennel Club’s Breed A-Z information pages is planned
  • The planned introduction of a new enhanced five-generation pedigree to include recorded colours of all five generations. Colours are already included on the three-generation pedigree

Frank Kane, Chairman of the Non-Breed Standard Colours Working Party said: “The working party is very pleased that The Kennel Club Board approved its various recommendations and that these are now being progressed by The Kennel Club. The working party has spent many hours reviewing the concerns and requests of the breeds with which it has met over the past year.

“On behalf of the working party, I would like to thank the representatives of the six breeds, whose passion for their breeds was clear throughout, for their engagement with this process and the detailed submissions which they provided as part of this review. We hope that the recommendations which have been approved, and the wider-reaching one which is being assessed as part of The Kennel Club’s strategic review, will help protect the heritage of these wonderful breeds.”

Following the working party’s review, The Kennel Club will offer guidance to other breeds which have concerns regarding NBS colours, using the framework of the recommendations and actions referenced above. Correspondence should be sent to James Skinner .

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