Norway Breed Ban – Is Your Breed At Risk?

Is YOUR Breed at Risk of Being Banned?  A recent court ruling in Norway is set to have repercussions for breeders around the world (and not just dog breeders either).

On the 31st of January, the Norwegian Court ruled that it was against the law now in Norway to breed Cavalier King Charles spaniels and British bulldogs. The Court advised the ban may be extended to other breeds on welfare grounds, including, for example, flat faced cats.

The Court ruling bans the breeding of purebred litters of these breeds and advocates strategic outcrossing designed to restore proper healthy functionality.  One example would be outcrossing a Pug to a Jack Russell Terrier to restore muzzle length in the breed.

The court ruling came about because the Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals took three kennel clubs and six individual breeders to court.  Their argument was that breeding these breeds contravened Norway’s welfare standards for animals, and they won.

What Next?

Even though it’s early days, the repercussions of this decision are already being felt around the world.

The Norway ruling is a precedent that is sure to encourage other animal protection groups worldwide to follow suit in their own countries.

Already as a result of this ruling, the UK Kennel Club has moved to change the breed standards for the Cavalier King Charles  (a matter of too little, too late and likely to be as useful for staving off litigation as arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic).

And only six days after the ruling, the Australian Veterinary Association said in a public statement that they are advocating to ban the breeding of a whole suite of dog breeds.  Currently they are targeting breeds whose muzzle length is less than a third of the length of their skull.   Specifically mentioned are Cavalier King Charles, pugs, British bulldogs, Boston terriers, and French Bulldogs.

It is being said that Australia might be used as a test case for extending the ban because we’ve got quite a small dog breeder population here.  So it wouldn’t be that hard for the animal protection agencies to win a similar Court case in Australia, particularly with the Australian Veterinary Association backing them up.

Look out for similar legal action in your country!

Which Breeds are at Risk?

Any breed (of any species) whose welfare has been negatively impacted through selective breeding is at risk.

Brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds are currently in the spot light due to reduced functionality of their upper respiratory system.  Dogs with short muzzles are at higher risk of exercise intolerance and heat stress (panting is the main way dogs cool themselves and brachycephalic breeds don’t have a large surface area for heat exchange other breeds do).

Really, any breeds whose welfare can be improved by banning purebred breeding is fair game.

That includes dogs with long backs, short legs, pendulous ears or excessive skin.  All of those diversions from the wolf ancestor phenotype can adversely affect the dog’s health and welfare.

It could also be argued that breeds with very small genetic pools suffer – as a result – a shortened lifespan and higher incidence of genetic and other health issues.  So even morphologically correct dogs, like my own breed – the Miniature Schnauzer – could be included in the ban, and forced to be outcrossed for welfare reasons.

What can Breeders do about it?

We’ve seen the rapid response by the UK Kennel Club to bring in more humane breed standards for the Cavalier King Charles.  That’s a good start, and shows at least they are trying to do something positive.  But it won’t be enough to satisfy requirements in the wake of similar rulings rolling out in the UK and elsewhere.

The rulings seek to force kennel clubs and other breed registries to open up their stud books and allow the outcrossing from their purebreds to other breeds.  They see this as the only way to rapidly improve welfare outcomes for our pets and prevent future animal suffering.

What do you think about this? I’d like to hear your comments on the Facebook group.

Is your breed affected? Do you think it might be? What do think should be done about it? I’d like to hear what you’ve got to say.

And if you like this video, then please follow my page for more updates on topics that matter to breeders.

6 Comments

  1. National Institute of Canine Education and Training said:

    it seems to me what you’re saying here is that when you are fully aware of the myriad of serious problems in many breeds, that unquestionably dramatically impacts their welfare, and you are also consistently encouraged and pushed to do something proactive to fix the problem, but in spite of all of that you decide to do virtually nothing, that when somebody else acts proactively you think it’s unfair!
    Anyone with any integrity would have to agree that the blame falls directly on the breeders, breed clubs and the canine organisations.
    Everybody, and I do mean everybody without exception, knows that the breeders, breed clubs and canine organisations could have, and should have acted a decade or more ago and the problem you are complaining about would not even exist.
    Interesting that your priority is to interfere with those trying to be proactive, rather than trying to address the welfare problems of the dogs.
    Also interesting how you grossly underplay the problems that many of these breeds have due to the grotesque breed standards and breeding practices. Very disappointing!

    February 16, 2022
    Reply
    • Dr. Meg Howe said:

      Hi there,
      You seem to have misunderstood me quite thoroughly!
      In this post I am simply reporting the facts. And actually agree with much you say.
      I have written on the topic of “munted” breeds previously. and called attention to the health implications of selective breeding for exaggerated physical traits.
      Regards
      Meg

      February 16, 2022
      Reply
  2. Barbara McAdam said:

    Have’nt we been saying for many a long year, that the Kennel Club should become more involved in breed standards? They have done very little in UK to reverse the health decline in flat faced breeds and others. It is very sad that Animal Rights and Welfare groups have become involved, as in Norway!
    As it is, welfare groups and more recent legislation has had a profound effect on many small hobby breeders in UK, putting them out of business and allowing puppy farms with plenty income to have Council Licencing. Again, the Kennel Club do not seem to have any say in the matter. It was a good idea in principal but local councils interperet their own rules, putting many small breeders out of pocket!

    February 15, 2022
    Reply
    • Dr. Meg Howe said:

      Hi Barbara

      It’s an unfortunate fact that many of the emerging restrictions over breeders actually penalize the truly ethical ones more than the puppy mills. The public has been groomed to think all breeders are bad and paint us all with the same brush, when nothing could be further from the truth. You and I know that how successful a dog becomes as a pet depends heavily on those first 8 weeks with its breeder, and of course whether it was bred with health in mind in the first place.

      And yes, the Kennel Clubs had plenty of opportunity to show leadership in helping breeders to improve health outcomes for our beloved canines. The UK Kennel Club is better than most to be honest Barbara! At least they make use of their pedigree database to help breeders improve COI, and therefore the chance of a healthy life for our puppies. But in general Kennel Clubs have been stuck in the dark ages, rewarding increasingly extreme body deformities with ribbons in the show ring. Instead they should have opened up the stud books and given guidance and support to breeders to breed out these deformities and restore healthy function to our dogs.

      Regards,
      Meg

      February 16, 2022
      Reply
  3. Kristy said:

    Not too shocking considering some breeds health challenges but why not mandate breeders to health test and get their breeding stock licensed or approved? Way too extreme, and what an uneducated decision all in the name of being humane. This does nothing to bring a corrective measure to any of their issues. Just another way yo “feel good” about a tough issue without actually helping anyone.

    February 14, 2022
    Reply
    • Dr. Meg Howe said:

      According to Carol Beachat of the Institute of Canine Biology there are two problems with health testing our way out of this Kristy:
      1. Health tests do not exist for most of the issue in many breeds (e.g. my breed, the Miniature Schnauzer).
      2. A small and ever-shrinking gene pool is behind worsening health outcomes for many breeds. Testing and removing “positve” dogs from the gene pool only shrinks it further (so the ones we can’t test for pop up more often). So as a long-term strategy it is only going to make the situation worse.

      February 14, 2022
      Reply

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