Exclusive Interview with The Kennel Club on New Health Group for Cavaliers

Crufts, the world’s biggest dog show, kicks off next week, but in recent years it has been dogged by controversy ranging from alleged poisoning of a dog to ‘deformed’ or unhealthy dogs winning trophies.

One such breed that has attracted attention is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a breed that has sadly become a victim of its own success. Increasing numbers of these dogs are suffering from heart problems and another painful condition caused when the dog’s skull is too small to accommodate its brain causing fluid-filled cavities that destroy the spinal cord.

Campaigners say Cruft’s organiser The Kennel Club has failed to take a strong stance, despite outrage after the TV documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed that showed Cavaliers screaming in pain. This resulted in the BBC ditching its coverage of Crufts in 2008. They claim The Kennel Club is not doing enough to ensure that Cavaliers are screened for Mitral Valve Disease and Syringomyelia before they are bred from.

“The Cavalier is in serious trouble and the Kennel Club needs to do much more. Mandatory testing for both these conditions is the bare minimum,” says Jemima Harrison, the documentary’s director.

Some positive steps in the right direction are however now being taken.

Last week, The Kennel Club announced the establishment of a new working group to review and improve the heart screening of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels within the UK. We speak exclusively to The Kennel Club’s Caroline Kisko.


Q: What prompted the Kennel Club to set up the new working group?

CK: “The Kennel Club decided to set up a working group to make sure the most effective scheme possible evolves from the breed club initiatives that already exist, following consultation with the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society and the Cavalier breed clubs. We did this to ensure that data gathered via screening programmes is collated centrally so it can be better used to draw inferences about aspects of the disease and its genetic parameters.

“The working group is being set up following consultations between The Kennel Club and representatives of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed clubs and the Veterinary Cardiology Society. It will review the current breed club scheme within the UK and ways in which it can collect information more robustly to a stage where it meets criteria where the results may be recorded on the Kennel Club database and be published on the Health Tests Result Finder, alleviating the need to submit echocardiograms to Denmark.”


Q: Who will be members of this group?

CK: “The group is being led by the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society (VCS) and will involve several members of the VCS, as well as the Breed Health Co-ordinator for the breed and representatives from the Kennel Club – Dr Katy Evans, Kennel Club Health Research Manager who leads the Breed Health & Conservation Plans project and Dr Tom Lewis, Kennel Club Genetics & Research Manager.”

“The Kennel Club believes that only healthy dogs should be winning prizes at Crufts and any other show.”


Q: Is there a timescale for decisions to be made?

CK: “The group has a very clear aim and unlike other working groups has a sole focus of developing a protocol for a heart scheme for Cavaliers, therefore no other factors are being tabled for consideration and only those essential to progress have been invited to attend.”


Q: Is there a future for breeds like the Cavalier that are so beset by genetic health issues or as many people think, shouldn’t real action have been taken long ago?

CK: “The health concerns which affect Cavaliers are extremely complex and the Kennel Club and other organisations are working to progress with the situation, which does take time particularly as the complexities of certain conditions, such as syringomyelia,  mean that new research is still emerging and in order to make genuine improvements in the breed any action taken needs to be evidence based.  

“When existing screening schemes are proven to work we will aim to make them available in the UK, as we did recently with the Danish heart testing scheme developed by the University of Copenhagen and Danish Kennel Club.  The Kennel Club will continue to monitor research, potentially fund new research and seek to provide additional support through the development of new health screening schemes. Our breed health & conservation plans project is key to this and the Cavalier has been identified as a key priority breed for the project.

“It is likely that there will always be a demand for Cavalier puppies, even by those who are aware of the health concerns that can affect the breed, both inside and outside of the Kennel Club’s umbrella of influence and therefore we must continue to endeavour to work with all stakeholders to improve the health of this breed.”


Q: What about Crufts….has health screening improved? Do we still see dogs that look deformed or are beset by health issues winning?

CK: “The Kennel Club believes that only healthy dogs should be winning prizes at Crufts and any other show.  Breeds identified as Category Three under the Breed Watch system can have visible health conditions or physical exaggerations that can be detrimental to their health and welfare and as such each of these breeds have to complete a veterinary check before any Best of Breed award can be confirmed at general and group championship shows licensed by the Kennel Club, which includes Crufts.

“In Professor Patrick Bateson’s well respected independent inquiry into dog breeding, he said that dog showing and judging can be a powerful lever for change, which the Kennel Club is still intent on ensuring is the case and we have already seen vast improvements in certain breeds because of the united efforts of both breeders and judges working to improve the health of the dogs that compete in shows.”

The Kennel Club has agreed to record the results of the Danish heart scheme, so for any dogs that have participated in the scheme their results will be recorded on the Kennel Club system and published on the Health Test Results Finder.




MVD is a degenerative disease of the heart valves that leads to congestive heart failure. In 2009 a report by a leading veterinary cardiologist stated that 50 per cent of Cavaliers develop MVD heart murmurs by their fifth birthday. It is the biggest killer of Cavaliers under 10.


Syringomyelia is a painful neurological condition most often seen in Cavaliers, although other breeds like their close relations the Brussels Griffon are also seriously affected. It is often attributed to Chiari-like malformation (CM) of the skull. Put in lay man’s terms, the skull is too small for the brain causing severe pain and forming fluid-filled that cavities that destroy the spinal cord.

Campaigners started a petition, now signed by over 30,000, to call for the ending of the registration by The Kennel Club of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies unless their parents are MRI scanned and heart tested.

View the petition at https://www.change.org/p/the-uk-kennel-club-stop-registerin-g-cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-puppies-unless-their-parents-are-mri-scanned-and-heart-tested

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The Best Horsecare Advice For Beginners

Horses make fantastic pets, and they’re gorgeous creatures. Having said that, there’s a lot you need to know about looking after a horse if you’ve never owned one before. Don’t worry, all the best advice you need can be found in the points below:

Find A Large Open Field For Your Horse To Live

Horses aren’t going to live in your house or in your garden like most other pets. Instead, you need to find a large open field for them to live in. This is because horses are big animals that like to walk around a lot and stretch their legs. They need a sense of freedom, and a field is the easiest way to provide it. Plus, horses eat grass which means they’ll essentially be living in a giant buffet at all times as they can graze on the grass as they please. It’s important that you find a field that’s big enough and doesn’t include too many other horses as well. An overcrowded field will soon be a big problem as your horse will struggle for space. Lastly, try and find somewhere that’s close to where you live as it makes visiting your horse so much easier.

Make Sure You Provide Your Horse With Shelter

Depending on where your horse lives, there may or may not be stables by the field. Ideally, you want to find somewhere that does provide stables that you can use. However, don’t fret if there isn’t, as you can easily get your hands on field shelters for horses that they can live in when the weather gets rough. It’s much better if you can provide shelter for your horse on the field they’re in as it makes everything easier. It’s easier for you to move them to the shelter and groom them, and it’s easy for them to just trot in there if they’re getting too cold outside.


Groom Your Horse Regularly

Horses are truly beautiful animals, but their beauty comes with a cost. The cost is that it will cost you hours of your time grooming your horse regularly. While it may take long, the benefits of it are easily seen. Your horse will look much better and be more healthy too. Grooming includes lots of things, most notably brushing their coat, checking their teeth, and making sure their hooves are in good condition too. To do all of this you’ll need to purchase a horse grooming kit, but it will end up lasting you a long time.

Buy A Horse Trailer For Your Car

Finally, you need to get your hands on a little trailer for your car that can be used to transport your horse. There are many reasons you may need to do this, perhaps you’re riding your horse at an event and need to take it to that event? Or, you just want to go for a ride somewhere that’s far away. Of course, you may need to move your horse if you’re switching fields or taking them to a vet. Regardless, you need a horse trailer for transportation.

Use this advice if you’re a first-time horse owner and life will be a lot easier for both you and your horse.

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Top Tips for Holidaying in the UK with Pets

By Sophie Orr, SEO Executive, Sykes Cottages

At Sykes Cottages, we understand what an integral part of the family your four legged friends can be. We also know that pets enjoy holidays as much as people do and more holidaymakers than ever are choosing to take pet friendly breaks in the UK rather than jetting off to sunnier climes.

It can be really difficult to arrange care for your pets whilst you go on holiday. Looking after someone else’s pet can be a huge responsibility and the alternatives, such as placing your dog in kennels, aren’t always the right choice for everyone. With this in mind, we thought it would be extremely useful to offer our top tips for holidaying with pets, from choosing the perfect location to packing and commuting.

Choosing the location

There are several factors to take into consideration when choosing the location of your pet friendly holiday. Most importantly, you want to rest assured that there will be plenty of pet inclusive activities and facilities to visit and take advantage of. Dog friendly beaches, parks, walking tracks and pubs are some of the most popular searches potential holidaymakers research when deliberating destinations.

Some of our favourite pet paradises include North Wales, with its award winning beaches, stunning coastal path, the Snowdonia mountain range which will leave you spoilt for choice when it comes to taking long, brisk walks amidst a spectacular backdrop, plus it’s interspersed with luscious green countryside. Yorkshire is another great choice for its true rural beauty, its charming hamlets, a stunning Heritage coast and the delightful Yorkshire Dales National Park. Lastly, Cornwall has some truly exceptional and idyllic sandy beaches, rolling green hills and quaint villages.

Packing for pets

It may seem like an obvious one, but packing the necessities that you use as part of your day to day routine would be the first place to begin. Don’t forget to pack essentials like pet food, bedding, a collar and tags, any medication (where applicable) and plenty of water as your pet will surely get very thirsty during a long car journey. Pack a favourite toy or two as this will keep your pet engaged, entertained and calm due to the reminder of familiar surroundings.

Comfortable travel

Some pets relish jumping in the car alongside you, but others may feel unnerved taking long journeys that break their normal routine. It’s therefore very important to make sure that your pets are comfortable during a prolonged journey, to make the trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible. First and foremost, a secure carrier which offers enough space for them to move around a little is integral. Perhaps you can test out the carrier with your pet ahead of your trip? Placing their food inside it or just leaving it available to them so that if they are curious they can explore it. This could help take some of the fear of the unknown away. Plan in regular stops along the way to allow them to get some exercise and have toilet breaks. It is also a good idea to feed your pets a good few hours before travelling, as they will travel better when they do not have full stomachs.

If you would like to find your perfect pet friendly holiday cottage, Sykes Cottages has an extensive range of over 4000 properties to choose from. Find out more here.

This is a sponsored blog post. Please contact us for rates.

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Dog Eats Chew Chew Train!

Cyril with vet David Jones and Lesley and Cameron Mellor

A Plymouth pooch who swallowed a toy train has survived thanks to emergency surgery by vet charity PDSA.

Nine-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Cyril, got his paws on a ‘Clarabel’ toy – the famous character from Thomas the Tank Engine at the family home in Torpoint.

The family realised something was wrong when their beloved pet stopped eating and started vomiting. Worried owner Lesley Mellor (40) rushed him in to Plymouth PDSA Pet Hospital, where x-rays revealed the cause of poor Cyril’s plight.

He was taken straight to the operating theatre, where PDSA vet David Jones carried out the life-saving surgery.

David said: “Whenever a dog swallows a foreign object, there is a very real risk of a blockage in the intestines, which could be fatal. So once we’d x-rayed Cyril we took him straight into theatre to operate. Surgery like this is very risky, because you never know what you might find, or what damage the object might have caused.”

Once the toy train carriage was removed, Cyril quickly recovered and was well enough to return home to Lesley and her son, Cameron, the next day.

Lesley added: “We were really worried about Cyril because he was so poorly, and needed a big operation. But I knew he was in the best place and would be taken care of. We were all relieved when we received the phone call to say the operation had gone well. I can’t thank PDSA enough for getting Cyril back home to his family.”

Every year, PDSA vets see hundreds of dogs who have eaten things they shouldn’t, including golf balls, tent pegs, rubber ducks and even knives, as vet David explained:

“As well as using their mouths to eat, dogs also use them to investigate objects. But in doing so they can swallow an item by mistake. This behaviour is known as ‘pica’ and can have disastrous consequences, which is why it’s important to keep small items away from hungry dogs.

“Cyril is just one of the lucky pets to benefit from PDSA’s emergency service which has received generous funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Thanks to their support we’re able to provide thousands of life-saving treatments across the UK.”

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COMPETITION: WIN A Bespoke Pet Coat featuring the UN-endorsed Blueheart Tartan – Worth £129!

One lucky Pets Magazine reader is in with the chance of winning a bespoke pet coat featuring the striking Blueheart tartan by stylish and ethical pet clothing company Lulu & Robbie!

Lulu & Robbie is a pet clothing company that designs garments that put your pet’s welfare first and foremost. Made in the UK, Lulu & Robbie’s Blueheart coat features a unique tartan design, the UN’s endorsed tartan for its campaign against human trafficking.

The tartan fabric is made of 100% pure new wool woven in Scotland and lined with British corduroy from Brisbane Moss based in West Yorkshire. The Blueheart is one of Lulu & Robbie’s warmest and smartest coats, designed with the guidance of veterinarians to maximise your pet’s welfare!

20% of profits from the sale of the Blueheart coat are donated to a trust set up by the UN to support organisations working to put an end to human trafficking. Find out more about Lulu & Robbie here: www.luluandrobbie.co.uk


TO ENTER THIS COMPETITION, PLEASE VISIT THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE TO ANSWER A SIMPLE QUESTION: http://www.competitionshub.co.uk/competition/win-a-bespoke-pet-coat-featuring-the-un-endorsed-blueheart-tartan-worth-129-21/

The closing date for entries is Tuesday 7 March at 12 midnight.


Ts&Cs apply.

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Love is…A Wet Nose & Waggy Tail

Love might not be in the air this Valentine’s Day, as over three-quarters of pet owners say their four-legged friends are more loyal than their partners.

New research from PDSA Pet Insurance also found that owners value the unconditional devotion shown by pets over attention from their human partner. In fact, with a whopping 86 per cent of pet owners prefer to curl up on the sofa with their pet, rather than their other half.

Tina Sleigh, PDSA Pet Insurance Manager, said: “The loyalty and devotion that our pets show towards us is unwavering and it’s heart-warming to see so many owners want to repay some of that friendship to their pets; even though they might end up in their partner’s bad book!”

The survey also found that 90 per cent of owners were more likely to buy a treat for their pet than for their significant other.

The reciprocated love for their pets sees owners going to great lengths to keep them happy: three per cent of owners say they have even cancelled or changed their holiday plans because their pet was unwell.

Meanwhile, one-in-ten pet owners say that providing vet treatment has been their biggest commitment to their pet, sometimes shelling out thousands of pounds for treatment when their pet became seriously ill.

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Top 10 Dog-friendly Hotels

For dog lovers, no holiday is complete without four-legged friends. So with gardens and woodland, cliff top peninsulas and coastal paths these are the hotels that will not only keep furry guests entertained, but that welcome their presence as well. Hunting lodges, country hotels and popular local pubs all provide an opportune place to rest and play – and you thought this was a holiday all about you.  Here are the Good Hotel Guide’s top 10 dog-friendly hotels…


1. The Peacock at Rowsley, Derbyshire

A 17th century manor house with beautiful gardens that reach to the River Derwent, The Peacock at Rowsley is a charming holiday location where the presence of your family dog completes the experience.  Warm and welcoming, it’s about sophisticated pub food and a cosy environment.  Dogs are welcomed with treats and a bowl, and even a biscuit at turn-down.



2. Prince Hall, Devon

An 18th century mansion on Dartmoor, Prince Hall is the stuff that dreams are made of in the most spectacular surroundings.  It’s said that Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired to write The Hound of the Baskervilles while staying at the house; today, better-behaved dogs are made very welcome, with all manner of treats.



3. The Pear Tree at Purton, Wiltshire










A charming country house in a very special garden filled with wild flowers, The Pear Tree at Purton really is a treasure trove of a hotel.  Choose between characterful vicarage rooms in the older part of the building or more spacious executive rooms surrounded by 7.5 acres for four-legged friends to roam in.  Dogs are provided with a bowl, welcome chews, a bottle of mineral water, and even a bath towel per dog in case they find the lily pond or wetlands and go swimming.



4. Overwater Hall, Cumbria

An 18th century hotel with a friendly atmosphere, Overwater Hall enjoys lavish praise for its hospitality and for its superb food.  Dogs are spoiled with a good doggie welcome and the run of the grounds, including a woodland boardwalk.  Cumbria is a walker’s paradise at any time of the year, with its spectacular scenery, fells, lakes and gardens, and for all of these reasons, your dog will love it, too.



5. Trigony House, Scotland

Surrounded by rolling hills and farmland, Trigony House is a cheerful hotel where canine companions are welcomed with treats and allowed everywhere but the dining room. With relaxed access for dogs, a pretty garden, and good walking country all around, the hotel is well suited for dog owners, they may even be permitted to devour a sausage with their owners in the bar.



6. Holbeck Ghyll, Windermere

An ivy-clad Victorian hunting lodge overlooking Lake Windermere, Holbeck Ghyll is a relaxed and happy hotel prized for its location, its food and its locally distilled damson gin.  Dogs are welcome in lodge rooms, and of course this beautiful setting is the perfect place to get out and explore with canine friends at your side.



7. Mullion Cove Hotel, Cornwall

Just steps from the coastal path, Mullion Cove Hotel is a cliff-top hotel with views over the historic harbour.  National Trust land stretches out to the south, and walks are easy in the dramatic scenery.  Meanwhile, dogs are allowed in most rooms and one of the lounges in the hotel.



8. Briarfields, Norfolk

Walkers, birdwatchers and dog owners flock to Briarfields, a family-friendly hotel on the north Norfolk coast, with its vista stretching across salt marshes and the sea.  Summertime calls for Pimm’s in the suntrap courtyard or on the decked terrace, while children scramble in the playground; when the wind picks up, take refuge by the wood-burners inside – there are books, board games, real ales, local sea buckthorn gin – it is the stuff that good books are made of.



9. The Master Builder’s House, Hampshire

With beautiful views over the Beaulieu River and set at the end of the grassy street that is Buckler’s Hard village, The Master Builder’s House in the New Forest National Park is an idyllic spot for a holiday for both you and the dog.  There’s a dog menu available, and you can also arrange for a comfy dog bed, bowls and special treats to be in situ when you arrive.



10. The Sun Inn, Lake District

In a historic market town, on the border of North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire, The Sun Inn is Nestled between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.  A 17th century inn with multiple awards to its name, and welcomes dogs with a complimentary ‘pooch pack’ on arrival including a towel, a dog bowl and a special doggy treat and a dog trail map provided, including a short walk immediately from the door.


From a selection of hotels featured on the Good Hotel Guide: http://www.goodhotelguide.com

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Dog Owners Left Baffled By Green Labrador Puppy

A dog owner got the shock of her life when her chocolate Labrador gave birth to a GREEN puppy.

Two-year-old mother Milly had four male puppies and one girl during her first litter on January 26.

But gender wasn’t the only difference that marked the female puppy from her brothers because she emerged not golden like the others – but green.

The green tinge is down to over exposure to a substance called biliverdin, which can be found in the placenta.

It’s a rare condition and owner Elaine Cooper believes their pup – could be just the third case in the world.

Elaine and husband Mark have now nicknamed the pup Fifi after the famous green ogre Princess Fiona from Shrek.

Elaine, of Chorley, Lancs., said: “She came out in the sack so we thought that it was the placenta that made her look very dark. We thought she was a black Labrador.

“But when Milly started to lick the placenta off she actually had a green tinge.  We were laughing and saying no, this can’t be green.

“All the others are golden and this one’s green. It’s to do with the placenta, so it’s a phenomenon, it’s just very rare in dogs.

“We were a bit shocked, then laughed and thought, ‘Oh my, is it ok’.”

Elaine, 56, and 46-year-old Mark are planning to sell the puppies once they’re old enough.

She added: “The colour’s faded now and she’s doing well even though she was the smallest of the litter, she’s so sweet.”

Elaine, who owns a motorhome business, has researched the condition online and has found just two other cases of Labradors born green – on in Spain and the other Clayton-le-Moors, Lancs., in 2012.

While it stains, Fifi’s green tinge is only temporary and she will soon resemble her boisterous brothers.

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Three-Month-Old Puppy Dumped After Couple Break Up

Little Ella was taken in by the Mayhew Animal Home when her owners abandoned her

A three-month-old puppy, who was purchased as a present, but no longer wanted, has finally found her happily ever after thanks to The Mayhew Animal Home.

A young woman originally bought the Jack Russell Terrier cross, named Ella by Mayhew staff, for her boyfriend. But when they suddenly broke up, poor Ella was no longer wanted and she was later brought into the centre’s care.

The Mayhew’s Head of Animal Welfare, Zoe Edwards, explained: “At first, the boyfriend was undecided whether to keep Ella or not, but eventually turned up at The Mayhew to sign her over. After speaking with our Adoption Officers and Animal Welfare Officers, we informed him that at the time we were overwhelmed with a surge of dogs and puppies being left in our care before Christmas and that we were struggling with room. We suggested that he try another rescue shelter, however, he proceeded to pass Ella to members of the public outside instead, so we made the decision to take her in our care straight away even though we were stretched for space.

She added: “It is completely irresponsible to sell a puppy outside on the streets, but unfortunately we see this kind of situation all too often.

“Sadly, there are lots of unwanted animals in rescue centres like ours that have come in from people who have bought pets on a whim without taking into consideration the responsibilities and needs of looking after them. When getting a new pet you should always consider whether you will be able to look after them correctly. Unfortunately, irresponsible breeders won’t be thinking or asking whether the buyer is able to care and provide for the animal for the rest of its life, both financially and physically.”

The Mayhew has been inundated with the number of dogs and puppies being abandoned at the end of last year and beginning of this year. The situation, caused by owners no longer able to keep or look after their pets, has meant there is no space for serious welfare cases to come in.

“This is an example of the impact that irresponsible owners have on our rescue centre. When owners dump perfectly healthy dogs and cats on us without seeking help from us first, it means we cannot rescue dogs and cats that are in urgent need.”

“If owners called us in the first instance, we can help in many other ways rather than the last resort of them dumping their pet on us. We are here to assist and advise pet owners on the best course of action for their pet.”

The Mayhew’s Vet Team thoroughly checked Ella over and our Kennels staff helped her settle in and made her feel more comfortable.

As soon as she was showing off her friendly and affectionate character, Ella found a new home straight away. She has since been renamed Pippa and is enjoying her new life in her loving home, and particularly enjoys cuddles!

Her new owner, Trina Harris, said: “She is a fun, loving, excited and playful puppy. She has settled into her new home very well.”

“She just loves to jump onto your lap for a cuddle and if she is really happy will roll onto her back for you to tickle her tummy. It is hard work having a new puppy family member, but very rewarding and a lovely way to start 2017. Thank you to The Mayhew for allowing us to adopt her. She’s the perfect pet for our family home.”

The Mayhew’s Vet Team give all of the dogs that come into their care a thorough health check, including vaccinating, neutering, and treating them for fleas and worms. Their experienced Kennels Team spend hours feeding them and making them feel comfortable, and the Adoption Team works tirelessly to find them new forever homes.

Find out more about their work by visiting www.themayhew.org and please consider a donation at www.themayhew.org/donate to help them help even more animals like Ella.

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London-based Company Creates 3D Sculpture of Facebook Founder’s Dog

‘Beast’ in 3D by Arty Lobster.

Arty Lobster, the London-based 3D modeling and printing experts, has created a 3D printed sculpture of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s dog Beast, a Hungarian Sheepdog.

It comes after Zuckerberg revealed a 3D sculpture created using Virtual Reality (VR). The miniature Beast came into being using Oculus Medium, which was then 3D printed at Facebook’s hardware lab.

Arty Lobster is now offering to send its UK-created sculpture, which was modelled using traditional photos alone, to Facebook’s founder.

Lars B Andersen, Founder and MD of Arty Lobster, said: “We were intrigued and surprised when Mark Zuckerberg announced the creation of a 3D sculpture of his pet dog Beast. The finished version looked like a good likeness of Beast, however VR is not needed to create 3D sculpture, as it can be done with ‘old-fashioned’ photos alone! I wonder if Facebook knows that we create sculptures of peoples’ pets using snaps they send us?

“We’d love to send our 3D sculpture to Mark, and then maybe he can give one to Beast and keep one for himself?”

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