During the mid-1700s, development of the veterinary profession was largely focussed on equine medicine and surgery. Subsequently, rather erratic development encompassed other species and eventually led to specialization in different disciplines. Teaching of veterinary pathology was well established in Europe and North America by the late 19th century. Specialization in this discipline was boosted in the 1940s by the formation, in the USA, of the Register of Veterinary Pathology and American College of Veterinary Pathologists. National societies followed soon afterwards in Europe. The European Society of Veterinary Pathology evolved during this period and the European College of Veterinary Pathologists (ECVP) was created in 1995 to promote high standards in the discipline. As an accrediting body, its emphasis is on training and harmonization across Europe. There is an increasing demand for high-grade forensic veterinary pathology reports which address the requirements of the legal system, but so far only a few countries have defined protocols for these reports. In recognition of the need for a specific qualification that benchmarks the competences and experience expected of forensic veterinary pathologists, the ECVP recently launched the Certificate in Forensic Veterinary Pathology.