The Netherlands wants to ban dogs with short snouts, such as pugs, and cats with folded ears, which look cute but suffer extreme health problems, the Dutch government said on Friday.
Even though their looks make them popular with celebrities and influencers, the animals suffer from various health conditions. Recent studies have found that pugs and other dogs with noses, such as French and English bulldogs, are more prone to health problems; they particularly have problems with breathing.
“Dogs with snouts that are too short are constantly out of breath, making them gasp throughout their life,” Dutch Agriculture Minister Piet Adema said in a letter to parliament describing the proposal. “Dogs with distorted skull shape may suffer from a permanent headache.”
When getting a pet, many people choose cute features, such as short-snouted dogs or furry-eared cats. “They have the best intentions but often don’t know that animals can suffer permanently from these characteristics,” Adema said.
He wants to take extra measures to prevent the keeping of cats and dogs that suffer physically due to their appearance. He added that the subject affects him not only as a minister “but also as a person”. “We make life miserable for innocent animals just because we think they’re ‘beautiful’ and ‘cute’.”
Adema plans to ban owning these types of dogs and cats and prohibit photos of them on social media and advertising. “Seeing a particular species frequently or prominently increases demand for it.” According to the minister, a so-called “holding ban” also automatically means a trade and import ban.
In 2014, the Netherlands banned breeding pets like pugs with health issues because of their appearance, but people still traded the animals illegally or bought them from abroad. The proposed new rules that will make it illegal to own them will close these loopholes.
The government will work on a list of breeds of dogs and cats that would be forbidden, Adema said, adding that creating the list could take some time. The list includes pugs and cats with folded ears.
The government asked experts in veterinary genetics at the University of Utrecht for advice. Veterinarians still see many dogs in their practice suffering from respiratory problems and other conditions due to their short muzzles.
Any ban would start after a transition period. People who currently own one of the pets would be allowed to keep them until the animal dies.