Thursday 4 July 2019


The public response to a proposal from the Scottish government to effectively ban the breeding of ‘designer’ pets has been one of overwhelming support, with a resounding 96.8% voting in favour of the plan.

In recent years, the increased demand for popular breeds has led to unregulated and potentially harmful breeding practices, such as females being bred too frequently in order to keep up with the high demand.

The government’s proposal would see restrictions placed on the number of litters that a breeder can produce over a twelve month period. Currently, only dog breeders producing five or more litters a year in total are required to have a license, whilst the breeding of cats and rabbits is unregulated. The proposed restrictions would see this threshold lowered to three, and would be extended to cover both cats and rabbits as well. The proposal would also enforce a rule which would mean that individual female animals can only be bred to produce one litter per year, and cannot produce more than six litters in their lifetime. The new rules would apply to breeders of dogs, cats, and rabbits.

Another concern is that the breeds currently in such high demand are primarily those that suffer from a variety of health issues in later life. Animals with short noses and flattened heads (brachycephalic breeds) are incredibly popular at present, with one of the most well-known being the pug. These ‘cute’ characteristics, however, make them more susceptible to developing problems with their breathing - a condition known as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. Another ‘at risk’ breed is the Munchkin cat, whose short legs are the result of a genetic deformity which can lead to problems with their spines and internal organs as they grow.

There are concerns about the ethics of intentionally breeding animals with deformities, and the government’s proposal to place restrictions on the breeding of dogs, cats, and rabbits aims to reduce the number of animals suffering from these genetic conditions.

Read more about the Scottish government’s proposal and public response here

Find out about England’s dog breeding regulations and licensing here

Read more about Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome here

The proposal

Written by Natalie Redford

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