Sue Broom looks at the genetics and health of pedigree dogs and asks if modern science and an understanding of genetics can produce a solution to make them healthier.
A recent TV documentary highlighted some severe health problems in a number of pedigree dog breeds.
The breeds of most concern include Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with syringiomyelia, a neurological disorder thought to be caused by too small a skull squeezing the brain.
Also German shepherd dogs and Neapolitan mastiffs have a high incidence of hip dysplasia and Basset and Bloodhounds bred to be too heavy leaving them prone to arthritis and back problems.
However, as Sue discovers, there are changes being made to the way that pedigree dogs are being bred.
The Kennel Club has implemented its Fit for Function, Fit for Life campaign.
Also, Crufts will be introducing new breed standards, the blueprint for a show dog.
They are in the process of training judges to select dogs not only on their looks but also on their health.
These changes are welcomed by the RSPCA, but they do not believe that they go far enough and are concerned that the changes in the breed standards are too vague and open to too much interpretation by judges, many of whom are themselves breeders.
Certain breed groups do not like being dictated to and think that the problems are being overblown.
But some dog breeders are actively seeking out DNA tests for disorders that affect their breed and using this information to 'breed out' unhealthy genes from their stock.
Sue finds out what this shake-up of the pedigree dog breeding world will mean for future breeds and whether or not some breeds as we know them will even survive.