Landmark ruling against unethical dog breeding in Norway


Landmark ruling against unethical dog breeding in Norway

18 October 2023
Norway’s Supreme Court handed down a final verdict that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog breed is too sick and inbred for breeding to continue. They also ruled that the breeding of English bulldogs must fit with new frameworks, with breeding falling outside such frameworks to be illegal.

Extreme breeding has become a major animal welfare concern, especially with the surge in popularity of brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs and other companion animals showing extreme features.

Selecting for specific physical traits (e.g. flat nose, round skull, skin folds, droopy eyes) and unrestrained inbreeding has led to hereditary disorders impacting both the physical and mental health of the animals. 

In Norway, Section 25 of the Animal Welfare Act (2009) clearly states that “breeding shall encourage characteristics resulting in robust animals that function well and avail of good health”. It goes on to specify that breeding cannot happen if offspring will likely have natural behaviour affected or if it could lead to ethical issues.

The Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals sued the Kennel Club of Norway, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club and the English Bulldog Club, along with six individual breeders, claiming that the breeding of these specific breeds contravenes Section 25

The case was first brought to the Oslo District Court, then to the Oslo Court of Appeal and finally to the Supreme Court who concluded in an indisputable way that further breeding of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with the current genetic material is in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. 

Extreme breeding is a cause of unnecessary and widespread physical and mental suffering in dogs and many other animals. Norway’s verdict on unethical breeding will have major ripple effects in Europe. Eurogroup for Animals will continue working for EU-wide legislation stating that unethical breeding causing discomfort, pain and/or disease is illegal.