Position Statement: Companion animal selective breeding

Policy type: Position statement
Reference: 9l
: Current
Date ratified: November 2018

Position Statement

Companion animal breeders and veterinarians have moral, ethical and legal obligations to ensure the physical, health and behavioural needs of both the parents and the offspring are met (1) (2) (3).

Breeders of companion animals should produce progeny that are:

  • free from the clinical signs of inherited diseases
  • have a sound temperament
  • capable of normal bodily functions including being able to breathe without difficulty, ambulate without pain and have the ability to reproduce unassisted
  • bred and reared without compromising either the parent or offspring’s welfare
  • appropriately socialised.


Breeders of companion animals should take all reasonable steps prior to breeding to ensure the health of the offspring. This includes:

  • undertaking health testing and participation in recognised health schemes, to obtain results that inform the breeding decision
  • conducting genetic screening by DNA testing where it is available for known breed specific simple autosomal recessive DNA diseases
  • maintaining genetic diversity
  • ensuring they possess the skills and facilities to appropriately manage both the breeding animals and the offspring

Matings should never be undertaken where DNA testing has shown there is the potential to produce an affected offspring. It is not acceptable to breed an affected animal, to another affected or carrier animal, or a carrier to another carrier.

Breeders should only perform matings which promote conformational moderation. Extremes in ‘type’ should be strongly discouraged where they have the potential to affect the offspring’s ability to function and/or compromises their welfare.

Breeders who participate in health testing schemes should provide all the test results, including those that are unfavourable, to the relevant organisations. Such actions allow for a comprehensive picture of breed health to be made and provides the basis for sound decisions to be made that will ultimately improve the health and welfare of a breed over the long-term.

Artificial inseminations using frozen and chilled semen are important tools for improving genetic diversity and reducing health issues. Where these tools are widely employed in a breed, measures should be instituted to ensure that animals retain the ability to reproduce without assistance.

Veterinarians are expected under the Veterinary Council Code of Professional Conduct where animals are found to carry inherited defects that compromise their welfare, or that of their prospective progeny, to provide advice to clients which is in the best interests of the animal and its progeny (2). Information on genetic counselling can be found in the CAV dog breeding toolkit.

Veterinarians should decline to provide professional services to assist matings for breeders who have not met Minimum Standard No. 7 in the code of welfare for dogs 2010. This standard states that “breeders must make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the genetic make-up of both sire and dam will not result in an increase in the frequency or severity of known inherited disorders (3).”

These recommendations apply to both pure and cross-bred offspring.


  1. Animal Welfare Act Section 10, 1999. http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1999/0142/56.0/DLM50298.html
  2. Veterinary Council of New Zealand. Code of Professional Conduct. 2005. http://www.vetcouncil.org.nz/CPC/index.php
  3. National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. Animal welfare (dogs) code of welfare, 2010. http://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/animal-welfare/codes-of-welfare/

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