A huge landmark ruling has just taken place in Norway, making it now illegal to breed English Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
On the 31st January 2022, Oslo District Council ruled that it is a violation of the country’s animal welfare laws to breed English Bulldogs and Cavaliers. Why?
They determined that there were no dogs remaining in the country of either breed in good enough health to ethically breed from.
Is this the beginning of big changes to ethical breeding? Let’s discuss.
What triggered Norway’s new breeding ban?
Animal Protection Norway took the case to court, stating that there were no examples of either English Bulldogs or Cavalier King Charles Spaniels remaining in the country that were healthy enough to breed from.
They examined the animal welfare laws in Norway and determined that the continued breeding of these two dog breeds was detrimental to the dog’s welfare.
They did however determine that cross-breeding from English Bulldogs and Cavaliers was an alternative, for serious breeding based on science.
“A conviction does not imply a ban on serious breeding of Bulldog or Cavalier, as serious and scientifically based cross-breeding could be a good alternative,”
What the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance believe
NAPA’s vision is that no animal should suffer for profit, ignorance or traditions.
“It is a historic verdict that attracts international attention. The man-made health problems of the bulldog have been known since the early 20th century. Dogs have the right to be bred healthy.”
Åshild Roaldset – Animal Protection Norway
They want to see the development of a detailed database that includes data on each dogs health and temperament. Without this, they say it’s impossible to effectively oversee ethical dog breeding.
Is a blanket breeding ban a good idea?
For some dog breeders, this news is devastating and creates worry about whether similar laws will be rolled out across the world.
For breeders committed to improving their breed, who meticulously put health and temperament at the top of their breeding decisions, it’s perhaps a double-edged sword.
On one hand, it’s wonderful to see the health of these breeds being championed and brought to attention. But on the other hand, there are worries about the long term future of the breeds as a whole.
The dog breeding world will be filled with different opinions and feelings on this, but ultimately, the health of every dog we consider breeding from is of utmost importance.
Is crossbreeding the answer?
We know that high degrees of inbreeding can result in a significant risk of puppies inheriting genetic disorders and health issues.
Inbreeding coefficient calculators are one way of assessing this risk. But we should also be looking at the specific health issues on a breed by breed basis.
Different breeds have predispositions to certain health conditions, and special attention should be paid to this when pairing dogs for breeding.
The Dog Breeding Reform Group have a brilliant database that details specific health schemes and DNA tests that apply to many breeds, including crossbreeds.
The DBRG are informing prospective puppies owners on what to look out for in terms of testing, and at the same time informing breeders on ALL the available tests for their breed.
If the gene pool of a breed has become such that there are no healthy dogs to breed from, then crossbreeding based on scientific evidence and predictions could be the way to improve health in the long run.
With scientific evidence and research, breeding schemes could be established to proactively match dogs that would return these breeds to better health.
Is there something to be learned from this for ethical dog breeders?
Whatever your opinion on this recent ruling, it’s certainly opened up a healthy debate on ethical dog breeding.
It’s no secret that we believe health AND temperament testing are a vital component to breeding ethically and responsibly. And so it’s positive to see this topic being discussed in the mainstream media.
What will the future hold for dog breeders? Will there be stricter health and temperament testing measures put in place to ensure that dogs are being bred based on data and science?
Will we see more blanket bans on breeds known to suffer from serious health issues?
Will owners begin paying greater attention to the health testing performed prior to breeding?
We’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings on what impact this will have on the future of dog breeding.
Join us in our Facebook group for dog breeders, and let us know what you think.