Animal welfare activists are celebrating a long-awaited victory after a Norwegian court concluded that breeding British bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels was in breach of the country’s Animal Welfare Act.
In a 60-page ruling, the Oslo District court agreed with the claimant, Animal Protection Norway, that the selective breeding of two iconic British breeds has led to serious “man-made” health problems for the dogs. The judges, however, emphasized that their ruling, while effectively banning the commercial breeding of the two breeds in question, “does not mean that serious breeding of bulldogs or cavaliers is banned, as serious and scientifically based cross-breeding could be a well-suited alternative.”
Animal Protection Norway, which launched its first lawsuit against several breeding clubs in 2018, has branded the verdict a “full victory for the dogs” and “happy news.”
“The man-made health problems of the bulldog have been known since the early 20th century. This verdict is many years overdue,” the NGO’s CEO, Åshild Roaldset, said. She also expressed hope that this ruling could pertain to dogs “far beyond” the Norwegian borders.
Other animal welfare organizations around the world agree that selective breeding may result in long-term suffering for the flat-faced and short-nosed dogs. According to London’s Royal Veterinary College, the majority of owners are unaware of their pets’ issues, while the popularity of these breeds keeps growing.
Many bulldogs experience breathing difficulties, obesity issues, heat strokes, digestion, and birth problems. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known to have heart, eyes and joint problems, and sometimes even suffer from severe headaches.
The Norwegian Kennel Club, in turn, admitted it was “disappointed and surprised” by the court verdict.
“Since it’s still allowed to import and own the breeds, and these are very popular breeds, we believe people will continue to buy them – but from irresponsible breeders, and breeders from countries which [have] a lower health standard [than] the ones connected to the Norwegian Kennel Club and the breed clubs in Norway,” the club’s spokesperson, Kjetil Johansen, told Mail Online.