NEWS AND COMMENT-NORWAY: We know that the British bulldog is selectively bred to extreme to have brachycephalic features, the side effect of which is to create an inherently unhealthy animal that can’t breathe freely. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is also inherently unhealthy for different reasons. This concerns animal welfare advocates. It might concern the dog breeders but not enough to do anything about it. And dog breeders are guided by the breed standards of the dog associations.
In this instance, the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK) could have amended the breed standard for the British bulldog years ago to create a healthier dog. Unfortunately, this would have resulted in an alteration of the appearance of the British bulldog to the point where could no longer be described as a British bulldog. This is the inherent conflict with these kennel clubs. They are choosing between health and appearance and appearance wins. And the public is either unaware of these issues or they don’t care. Lewis Hamilton has a British bulldog. I am surprised. He could have chosen more wisely.
And what has happened here is that an animal welfare organisation has challenged the breeders over the brachycephalic features of the British bulldog in the Oslo District Court. They claimed that it is impossible to breed a healthy bulldog under the current breed standard.
The Animal Protection Norway group sued the Norwegian Kennel Club, the Norwegian Cavalier Club, Norwegian bulldog Club and six breeders of English bulldog and King Charles spaniel. The Oslo District Court ruled that these two breeds violated the Animal Welfare Act.
I’ve not seen the actual ruling but it means that the breeding of the British bulldog in Norway is automatically in violation of the Animal Welfare Act of that Country. This effectively bans the British bulldog in Norway.
Of course, the position could be changed if the Norwegian Kennel Club decided to alter the breed standard. This would take time to filter through to the point where British bulldogs bred in Norway once again were acceptable under the Animal Welfare Act. It would mean crossbreeding with other dogs breeds or random-bred dogs and interfering with the bloodline. It goes against all breeders to dilute the appearance of a dog breed which is what is needed in this instance.
The Norwegian Kennel Club are disappointed because they say that they should be left alone to deal with the matter on their own and bring these two breeds into line with welfare obligations.
To effectively make the British bulldog illegal in Norway is to push the breed underground to the point where they are bred aboard and imported into Norway. The point is that it is very difficult to enforce this court declaration. Irresponsible breeders will circumvent this court judgement.
The NKK said:
“From our point of view it is far from obvious that this is a strengthening of the dogs’ welfare. The Norwegian Kennel Club, the breed clubs and the six breeders are of course aware of the health challenges in these breeds.
That’s why we have been working hard to improve the health situation. We have strict health requirements for the various breeds, and we work closely with specialists and research institutions to ensure that breeding goes in the right direction health-wise. The verdict from Oslo district court also recognizes that this party are the best practise among breeders in a health perspective.
Since it’s still allowed to import and own the breeds, and these are very popular breeds, we believe people will continue to buy them – but from irresponsible breeders, and breeders from countries which has a lower health standard then the ones connected to the Norwegian Kennel Club and the breed clubs in Norway.
For us, it is obvious that the answer to solving the health challenges lies in working with registered dogs. In this way, we can ensure that healthy animals are used in breeding, and that the sick are excluded.”
British bulldogs suffer from brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) because they are bred to have flat snouts and round heads. The feline version of this dog is the flat-faced Persian. It may be the case that Norway effectively bans the Persian cat in Norway. They should in fact do that because there is almost no difference between this cat and the British bulldog in terms of breathing problems for instance.