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Last Updated: Monday September 15 2008 14:47 GMT

RSPCA quits 'biggest' dog show

A pedigree dog being judged at Crufts in 2006

The RSPCA animal charity is pulling out of the world-famous Crufts dog show next year as it's worried about the health of pedigree pups.

It says it wants more to be done to stop show dogs suffering pain and disabilities because of the way they are bred for their looks.

So instead of its usual animal welfare stand in 2009, it's staying well away.

The organisers of Crufts say most dogs are healthy, but it recognises there are some problems with certain breeds.

And it insists it is working hard to improve the health of dogs.

A pedigree pug
Some pedigree pugs were found to have breathing problems
Last month, a BBC documentary showed how some pedigree dogs have serious health problems because of the way they are bred.

They found pugs that couldn't breathe properly, spaniels with brains too big for their skulls and boxers suffering from fits.

It also claimed unhealthy animals were still allowed to compete in dog shows and some even went on to be crowned the best in their breed.

'Must stop'

Now the RSPCA is doing its own research into the problem and says it wants dog shows to concentrate less on how a dog looks and more on their health and character.

The charity's chief vet, Mark Evans, said there was convincing evidence that the health of pedigree dogs was being seriously affected by purposefully breeding them to make them look better.

"Intentionally breeding deformed and disabled animals is morally unjustifiable and has to stop," he said.