National Breed Clubs - Do They Matter?

It’s close to that time of year once again, when club memberships come up for renewal. When you belong to multiple clubs, memberships add up. Plus, our national club here in Canada has been suffering from - as one member has put it - a protracted case of “drama and discord.” It might be tempting to selectively not renew, to save a little money and walk away from the noise and turmoil, which has lately been clogging up my email and unnecessarily raising my eyebrows.

But, as the saying goes, “if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.”

Whether one agrees with this saying or not, now is a good time to reflect on the role and importance of a national breed club - in this case, the Canadian National Australian Shepherd Association (CNASA).

Does this club matter, and should you be a member or continue your membership? Unequivocally, yes to all questions. The next question is Why?

Our national breed club, in the words of the CNASA itself, is the “Caretaker of the Australian Shepherd for the Canadian Kennel Club since 2000.” As one member recently said, “This is our parent club and it holds our breed standard.” The breed standard is the very heart and core of our breed, and it does require careful stewardship in age of intense pressure from many groups, from animal welfare lobbyists to veterinarians.

Consider this statement from The Canadian Veterinary Journal:

“The wide array of genetic diseases found in purebred dogs reflects their unnatural development, by kennel club associations and breeders who are largely responsible for this welfare predicament …Hopefully, dog owners, responsible breeders, veterinarians, and animal welfare scientists can assert enough pressure to convince the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), and other breeder associations, to re-evaluate and redefine their breed standard regulations to end the inbreeding that causes so many genetic problems.”

At a minimum, membership keeps the club going.

Membership from long-time breeders is especially important. Again, in the words of the above member:

“There may be pressure…to change the standard to include tails. We need long time breeders, and people experienced with reading breed standards, to be part of the club…We will likely have the ROE's come up in the next 2 years, and again, we need experienced people to help spell out what an Aussie is in just a few sentences.”

If your time and interests permit, participating in the Board of a national breed club helps shape the future of the club and the breed by association.

I am not alone in hoping that the future Board returns to productivity and the poise and professionalism one expects from a national club. The future of our beloved breed in Canada is at stake. I will renew my membership for 2023 and hope you will support the club as well.