On Monday, a district court in Oslo, Norway, composed of a judge and two co-judges (one a veterinarian, the other a geneticist) unanimously concluded that it is contrary to the country’s Animal Welfare Act to breed Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and that breeding of both breeds in the country must stop immediately. The case was brought by the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals against the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK), the Norwegian Cavalier Club, the Norwegian Bulldog Club, and six breeders. It claimed that Bulldogs and Cavaliers have such major health challenges that the further breeding of them is in violation of Section 25 of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act:
Section 25. Breeding (Google translation)
Breeding must encourage characteristics which give robustness to animals that function well and have good health. Breeding, including through methods of gene technology, shall not be carried out in such that it:
a. Changes genes in such a way that they influence the animals’ physical or mental functions in a negative way, or passes on such genes;
b. Reduces the animals’ ability to practice natural behavior; or
c. Evokes general ethical reactions.
Animals with genetic constitution as cited in the second paragraph shall not be used for breeding.”
The ruling comes on the heels of a July 2021 vote by the Norwegian Parliament to amend the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act’s breeding clause to ensure that the NKK, breeder groups, and private breeders were all responsible for breeding healthy, fit animals. That change meant that breeders could be held legally liable for violations of the breeding clause.
Animal rights organizations, like Animal Protection Norway, championed the ruling as a victory for dogs, saying that the Oslo court’s ruling effectively requires that dogs must be bred healthily, and that failing to do so would be a crime. Animal Protection Norway has also proposed the introduction of ID marking and the systematic use of temperament, traits, health, and kinship data in breeding. It also advocates for the guidelines announced in 2020 by the European Union be used in Norway. Those guidelines include requiring veterinarians to approve the suitability of a dog for breeding, monitoring the degree of inbreeding, and that the justification for the selection of breeding animals be shared with future puppy buyers.
The NKK has criticized the ruling, saying that responsible breeding should be allowed to continue with welfare and health as priorities. The NKK is also concerned that irresponsible breeders will produce dogs from breedings that are not subject to any form of control; and that professional competence, health requirements, and information about the health status and history of breeding animals will disappear with such unregistered breeding.
The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which represents 98 countries and thousands of breeders worldwide, has reiterated its full support of the NKK; and notes that the Oslo court’s ruling does not ban the breeds themselves, so owning and showing them remains allowed. Click here for FCI’s full statement.
As expressed in June 2020 when the Dutch Kennel Club imposed registration limitations on certain brachycephalic breeds, the American Kennel Club believes that it is imperative that education and scientific discussion of thoughtful ways to address health issues within a breed continue, so that each breed’s essence is preserved. Overt attempts to control breed type by external efforts must be aggressively challenged.
AKC’s Government Relations team continues to vigilantly address anti-breeder legislative and regulatory efforts across the United States. To learn more about canine legislation and advocacy for our beloved purebred dogs, visit AKC’s Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org.