Thursday 10 February 2022

Selective breeding of British Bulldogs and King Charles Spaniels is banned in Norway, recognising that it has caused health problems for the animals concerned

In a landmark ruling in January 2022, Norway has banned the selective breeding of two iconic British dog breeds, the British Bulldog and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Recognising that the 'practice is cruel and results in man-made health problems' in the reasons given for the ban, it states that breeding breaches the country's Animal Welfare act.

Both breeds are brachycephalic or flat-faced, which can result in respiratory problems. The popularity of flat-faced breeds has escalated hugely in recent years.

In 2018 the case was taken to court by Animal protection Norway, which sued the Norwegian Kennel Club, the Norwegian Cavalier Club, the Norwegian Bulldog Club and six breeders. Since then the Norwegian parliament voted to amend the wording of the breeding clause in the country's Animal Welfare act to say that the clubs, breeder groups and private breeders were responsible for breeding healthy animals, and the lawyers arguing for the ban said that because of historic selective breeding, none of the dogs living there could be considered 'healthy' and so could not be used for breeding.

      A British Bulldog

Opinions differ on whether this is a positive move, with breeders arguing that it will be difficult to enforce and will instead push people towards the 'black market' for puppies, whilst those in favour believe it is a victory for the dogs and their right to be healthy.

Selective breeding can cause a range of health problems for flat-faced dogs like Bulldogs, including 'BOAS' or brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome caused by their short skull and snout. This in turn can lead to other medical issues. Sadly, some owners do not recognise that their dogs are suffering or that they are having difficulty breathing.

The Norwegian ban does however allow breeders who are working to end the animal's health problems to continue, giving some hope for future improvements. 

     A King Charles Spaniel