University of Tasmania

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The Role and Effectiveness of Regulation of Dog Breeding in Australia

posted on 2023-05-25, 14:00 authored by Blackman, SA

Despite the importance that a growing number of dog owners place on choosing a genetically, temperamentally and physically sound, long-lived and suitable companion animal, dog breeding in Australia is not thought of as an animal industry. On the contrary, most pure breed dogs are bred by owners who consider themselves to be hobby breeders. These breeders are actively discouraged from breeding their dogs commercially by the Australian National Kennel Club Ltd (ANKC) and the State and Territory canine associations that oversee the breeding of registered pure breed dogs.

Many stakeholders are opposed to the commercial breeding of all dogs, equating ‘commercial’ with ‘puppy farming’, something that continues to receive negative media and political attention. However, the concerns that are expressed in both the academic and popular literature about dog breeding extend beyond these commercial practices. It is known that some pure breed dogs are particularly prone to genetic and health issues. For some breeds, this manifests in traits that are seen to make them less suitable as companion animals.

State-based codes that attempt to regulate dog breeding by mandating standards of minimum best practice currently exist only in New South Wales and Victoria. There are also industry breeding codes aimed at regulating breeders within the pure breed framework. Yet breeding of dogs in compliance with these regulatory instruments accounts for less than twenty percent of all puppies born each year in Australia. The ANKC and State and Territory canine associations currently play limited supervisory roles in regulating the breeding practices of their members.

Through a case law analysis, a literature review and collection of data on stakeholder perceptions, this research identifies the major issues that stakeholders believe exist in dog breeding and considers the role regulation has in addressing them. It establishes that the stakeholders are concerned about the lack of an overarching effective regulatory framework, with both State and industry codes being poorly enforced and monitored, creating minimal breeder accountability for breeding practices or for the health and welfare of the dogs that they produce. The current framework also fails to address information asymmetry, with no mandatory disclosures around genetic testing or information on how puppies are being produced.

This research considers the effectiveness of existing regulation (in particular codes of practice) and regulatory actors. It considers what role regulation may play into the future with the adoption of some regulatory and non-regulatory changes. It considers an expanding role for the ANKC Ltd.

Scholarship that proposes ways that regulation can address the issues in dog breeding has high social relevance. This research confirms the need to embrace aspects of self-regulation and its role in making all breeders more accountable for the welfare of their breeding dogs and the quality of the puppies they produce.







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