Norway will ban the breeding of English bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels because their “cuteness” is causing them suffering.
The Oslo district court said breeding these animals inflicts harm on them, which violates Norwegian animal protection laws. The ruling has not come into force yet, because it has been appealed.
Animal rights activists welcomed the ruling. Ashild Roaldset, head of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Society, who initiated the case against breeders, said the breeds are highly inbred and have many diseases.
Because of breeding, English bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have developed a “disease guarantee”, a long list of hereditary illnesses that affect almost all individuals.
English bulldogs have developed respiratory difficulties due to their flattened muzzle, as well as reproductive, dermatological, and orthopaedic problems.
Over the past ten years, more than half of all bulldogs born in Norway had to be delivered by Caesarean section. “The race’s genetic inability to give birth naturally is reason alone for bulldogs not to be used for breeding,” the court judges wrote in their ruling.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels often have heart and eye problems, and suffer headaches because their skull is too small.
Breed out diseases
Breeder Lise Gran-Henriksen said she didn’t understand the ruling: “They are happy dogs that run around and look very healthy, and that’s what I think they are.”
Professional breeders do admit that the two breeds do pose “challenges”, but say they can breed out the diseases.
They added that the court ruling only bans the breeding, not the sale, ownership, or import of English bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Anne Grethe Holen, who owns an English bulldog, fears a rise in dogs from “puppy factories” abroad: “Demand will not decline. And the dogs that are sold will be more sick. They won’t be subjected to any veterinary requirements, and you won’t know anything about their pedigree.”
The Animal Welfare Society said the future of English bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels lies in crossbreeding them with other types of dogs to get rid of their genetic flaws.
“If the cavalier gets a slightly larger skull to fit their brain, it’s still… going to be the cutest dog in the world,” Roaldset said.
“And if the bulldog gets a little bit less wrinkly, a little bit longer snout and a better skeleton, it’s not going to be a horrible dog. It’s going to look a little bit different, but you can still call it a bulldog,” she added.
The Animal Reader is a small independent animal news platform based in the Netherlands. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.