The Netherlands could soon ban the import of “designer” companion animals with inherently unhealthy features, such as flat-faced dogs or cats with folded ears. The breeding of “designer pets” was banned in the Netherlands in 2014, but now the government is looking to close a loophole to stop the import and trade of these breeds.

Piet Adema, the Minister of Culture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, is looking to ban the ownership of designer breeds as well as photos of them in advertising and on social media. He said, “We make life miserable for innocent animals, purely because we think they are ‘beautiful’ and ‘cute’. That is why today we are taking the big step towards a Netherlands where no pet has to suffer from his or her appearance.”

A 2020 study from the Royal Veterinary Society in the UK found that dogs bred to have a short snout frequently suffer from breathing problems and are generally less healthy than other breeds. Cats with folding ears have deviated cartilage that can cause them a lot of pain.

The ban includes a transition period where people who currently live with the animals included in the ban will be allowed to keep them until they die. In 2022, a court in Norway ruled that the breeding of English bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles spaniels breached the country’s 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, eye conditions and a tendency for skin infections. This resulted in a ban in Norway on breeding these flat-faced dogs but this ban does not include the ownership, sale or import of these breeds, as with the Dutch proposal.

Jordi Casamitjana
“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’.