Norway Bans Breeding Of Brachycephalic Breeds

In a landmark ruling for dog breeding, a Norwegian court has essentially banned the breeding of two common flat-faced dog breeds due to issues with their propensity for brachycephalic issues.


An Oslo District Court ruled that breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and English Bulldogs was a breach of Norway’s animal welfare legislation due to the possibility of health issues with their flat faces. The ruling maintains that any purposed reproduction could be outcrossed with a different, non-flat-faced breed. The ruling was well-received by animal welfare groups across the globe.


The Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals (NSPA) brought the suit up, as they oppose the breeding of animals that have congenital health issues. The flattened face features of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and English Bulldogs can lead to brachycephalic issues for dogs. Dr. Åshild Roaldset is the Chief Executive of the NSPA. He said that the breeding of these animals is a systematic and organized betrayal of dogs, our four-legged friends. The ruling now makes that betrayal a crime.


The Norwegian Kennel Club opposed the NSPA’s lawsuit and said it was disappointed and surprised about the ruling. Tom Øystein Martinsen is the club chairman and he said that it was bad for animal welfare, as irresponsible people will take the market over and produce dogs that have no form of regulation. As such, the club is considering an appeal to the ruling.


Brachycephaly is not just limited to English Bulldogs or Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Over a dozen breeds, including pugs and Boston terriers, suffer from similar issues. Cats, rabbits and horses can also struggle with brachycephalic issues–some of which include difficulty breathing and reproducing, as well as dental, skin and eye problems. But, the NSPA chose to limit their concern to the two specific breeds in that doing so would provide a strong legal precedent for discontinuing breeding of other brachycephalic breeds in Norway. Their goal was to offer a legal framework for the humane treatment of those breeds.


They’re still working on what the judgment means for those other breeds, however, as the court stated that it could possibly have consequences for other breeds like the pug and French bulldog.


Advocates of the ruling believe this may have long-lasting impact around the globe. There may also be implications for imports as currently six dog breeds (including American Staffordshire Terriers and Pit Bull Terriers) are not allowed to be imported to Norway (as they’re considered dangerous) and this ruling may carry over into that mentality as well.


In 2019, the Dutch Kennel Club was the first to end the registration of 12 flat-faced breeds. These include English bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Boston Terriers and pugs. In that ruling, kennel clubs all over the country voiced their concerns and dismay.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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