Norway bans breeding British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

In a move that is certain to have global ramifications for the pedigree dog world, the Oslo District Court in Norway has unanimously ruled in favour of an action taken by the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA).  The NSPA claimed the breeding of British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels should be outlawed because there were no healthy examples in Norway fit for ethical pedigree-specific breeding.

02/02/2022 By Guy Hull
Norway bans breeding British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels image

This action has been coming for some time. In 2018 the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals took action against the Norwegian Kennel Club and certain British Bulldog and Cavalier breeders for allegedly violating the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act.


The judgement now prohibits the unethical breeding of the two breeds under Norway’s Animal Welfare Act (Section 25). The case was heard by a district court judge with a veterinarian and a geneticist acting as co-judges.


While fanciers of the affected breeds will probably see the ruling as draconian it is pertinent to note that the judgment stated, among other things, that “…(the ruling) does not imply a ban on serious (read: healthy) breeding of Bulldog or Cavalier, as serious and scientifically based cross-breeding could be a good alternative.”


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Photo: Ella & Friends Photography

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel - Photo Credit: Ella & Friends Photography


This obviously leaves the door open in Norway for attempts to breed healthier versions of both breeds by introducing other blood. How this option will be viewed by breed fanciers there and abroad, is yet to be seen.


The Court’s ruling has set a precedent that animal welfare groups worldwide will seize upon in an effort to seek similar bans on breeding brachycephalic dogs or other breeds with severe and unhealthy genetically engineered modifications. In regards to the regulation of dog breeding this ruling should be seen for what it is: the tip of a very large iceberg.


It is hard to imagine such actions being successful in Britain, the home of both breeds, and the United States – in the short term - both countries having powerful and influential Kennel Clubs. But Australia which has long outlawed ear-cropping and more recently tail-docking and which has only a small pedigree dog community with next to no political clout may be viewed as an ideal next test case by several influential global animal welfare groups.


These days what happens around the other side of the globe may as well happen next door. Now it's no longer a matter of if, but when. It will be interesting to see if the relevant breed clubs and national kennel bodies in other countries meet this on the front foot and avoid such actions by introducing programs that rapidly improve the health of their affected breeds. For instance British Bulldogs could be outcrossed with Staffordshire Bull Terriers, a not-too-dissimilar breed with which they have a shared ancestry, to produce a healthier but less dramatically constructed breed. The temperament would remain unchanged, but there is no need to maintain the ridiculously exaggerated conformation of an unhealthy breed that would not be capable of doing the (now prohibited) job its fitter ancestors were actually designed to do.


If you look at historic photos of pedigree dogs it is apparent that some breeds have become more exaggerated over the course of the last century, and not always for the better. That trend needs to change. Health (and temperament) now need to have priority over conformation.


Although Perfect Pets promotes pedigree dogs we do not support the genetic engineering that has resulted in inherently unhealthy breeds that make rather imperfect pets with short, painful lives. Even moderate genetic and conformational changes would greatly improve the health of those exaggerated breeds, and it would be an affordable price for a better deal for everyone. Because every dog is entitled to a healthy start to life.


For more information on the breeds and the health issues they can be affected by see - British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.