Our History

Philippa RobinsonCompromised dog health

Looking into the trusting eyes of a dog, be they those of a Chihuahua or an Irish Wolfhound, a Whippet or a Mastiff, a deliberately bred cross or accidental “mutt”, it would be hard to figure out just why the issue of choosing, getting and owning a dog has become so fraught and contentious.

Sadly the truth is that there are many ways in which the health and welfare of dogs can be compromised through the way they look, the way they’re bred, and the ways they’re sold. Many of the health and welfare problems are very serious.

Origins of the project

When Philippa Robinson picked up her puppy, Alfie (Kimmax Karlton) back in November 2002, having done years of research into what breed and which breeder, she had absolutely no idea just how that decision would change her life. Her experience of finally getting the dog of her dreams only to have it shattered by ill-health, familial disease and heartbreak, is the motivation behind all of her campaigning.

Launched in 2011

Set-up in Alfie’s memory, The Karlton Index was launched in March 2011 with the hope of bringing something constructive and helpful to the heated debates around dog welfare. Philippa brought tried and tested tools from the world of business, a world in which she had excelled for three decades, and applied them to activities related to dog health. The framework is designed to explore how people can engage with, collaborate on, and discuss dog health more objectively. A full explanation of it can be found here.

Five years on

The Karlton Index measured all UK breeds against that benchmark for the first time in 2011, then again in 2013. 2016 sees the third assessment, giving each breed-community insight into how much progress they are making on health improvement. With each assessment, came increased engagement with breed communities.

In collaborating with them, Philippa quickly learned that most breeds are blessed with breeders of passion and commitment, individuals who make it their life’s work to develop and nurture the best for their dogs. Working alongside breed ambassadors like that and ensuring that those individuals receive the credit, the support and the encouragement they deserve has now become a central pillar to The Karlton Index. Giving due recognition for the hard work achieved in many breeds, culminated in the inaugural Breed Health Awards 2013, with the generous support of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

The independent dog health index

The Index generates relevant information for breed clubs, breeders and owners yet remains completely independent of other organisations. So whether the dog of your dreams is a Bichon, a Border terrier or a Boxer, The Karlton Index offers you a guide to understanding what questions you should be asking about breed health, and what confidence you can have in the answers you may get from those involved in it.

If you are already actively engaged in the health of your cherished breed you will find invaluable feedback here on what your breed community is doing well and where it could focus next. If you are a breeder in your cherished breed, you will find this a unique resource for breed related information. If you are a pet owner just starting out on the journey of acquiring a puppy of your cherished breed The Karlton Index gives you a strong sense of the risks attached to that breed.

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