Dating site for pedigree pooches
Dog breeders will be able to access a "doggie dating website" to find the perfect match for their pedigree pooch under plans announced by the Kennel Club.
But the canine equivalent of an internet dating site has a serious aim - to improve the health and genetic diversity of pedigree dogs.
The Kennel Club, organisers of dog show Crufts, said that in the future the scheme would help breeders select mates for their dogs which maximise the chances of producing healthy puppies.
The move comes in the wake of concerns sparked by a BBC documentary which claimed pedigree dogs bred for shows were suffering a high degree of genetic illness.
The controversy prompted the Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust to jointly fund an independent inquiry, which last month made a number of recommendations to tackle inbreeding in pedigrees, puppy farming and other welfare issues for dogs.
The Mate Select programme will use health tests which accredited breeders have to carry out on their dogs and details of surgery dogs have undergone, along with details of the animal's pedigree, or ancestry, and genetic diversity of the breed.
The information will be put into a database that will initially be used to assess the impact a proposed mating would have on the breed's genetic diversity by checking how closely related the prospective pair are.
The Kennel Club has already banned matings between the closest relatives, parents and offspring and amongst siblings.
But the organisation does not want to bring in a blanket ban on certain matings across different breeds as the size of the gene pool and the potential for inherited disease varies between various types of dog.
The Mate Select programme will be developed in the future to use information on the health of prospective parents to also calculate which matings will produce healthy puppies.