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Norway’s Oslo District Court has ruled that the current selective breeding of bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are violations of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act. This ruling was prompted by a case brought in November 2021 by Animal Protection Norway citing the health problems associated with these breeds (known for being brachycephalic, or flat-faced). In the case of British bulldogs, these include breathing difficulties, eyes conditions and a tendency to skin infections.

in July 2021, the Norwegian Parliament voted to amend the wording of the breeding clause in Norway’s Animal Welfare Act to say that the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK), breeder groups, and private breeders were responsible for breeding healthy animals.

Åshild Roaldset, the CEO of Animal Protection Norway, said: “The man-made health problems of the bulldog have been known since the early 20th century. This verdict is many years overdue…For several decades, sick dogs have been bred in violation of Norwegian law. Our dogs [have] been victims of systematic and organized betrayal of our four-legged friends. Today it has been confirmed that this is illegal.”

This is not a blanked breeding for these breeds, though. The judgement, handed down by a district court judge and two co-judges who were a veterinarian and a geneticist, states: “A conviction does not imply a ban on serious breeding of Bulldog or Cavalier, as serious and scientifically based cross-breeding could be a good alternative.” This has been interpreted as allowing breeders who want to end the animals’ health problems to continue breeding those individuals with different facial features that, after generations, may return the breed to “healthier” looks (which for the selfish breed purists this may imply losing the “authentic” look they want). 

The breeding of animals to achieve specific body shapes or behaviours for whatever human interests is a form of animal exploitation that goes against the basic principles of veganism. Most current dog breeds have deviated so much from the original dog forms that health problems are inevitable. Flat face breeds often suffer from breathing problems, Alsatians from hip dysplasia, Labradors from obesity, Beagles from epilepsy, Dachshunds from back problems, Cocker Spaniels from ear infections, Poodles from glaucoma, etc. Therefore, this Norwegian ruling only begins to address the very tip of the Iceberg.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.