In January 2023, Minister Piet Adema of the Dutch government announced a plan to ban the breeding and sale of animals that suffer from health problems due to their physical appearance. This move looks to protect the welfare of common companion animal species via decreasing the perpetuation of intentional breeding of genetic defects for cosmetic purposes – which result in physical health issues.
This proposed ban would apply to two groups of pets:
- Brachycephalic (flat-nosed) dogs. Common examples are Pugs and French Bulldogs.
- Folded-ear cats. The most common example is the Scottish Fold.
These are very common breeds which are bred and kept for their unique appearances. However, the look comes at a price – and as a side-effect these breeds experience breathing, skin, eye and cartilage problems.
Ban Has Been in the Works for a Long Time
Animal welfare organizations have long called for action to address the suffering caused by these human-imposed genetic problems. The government’s proposed ban is a response to these concerns, as well as growing public awareness of the issue. In 2014 the Dutch government already passed legislation banning breeding of brachycephalic dogs under a certain snout-length.
The ban would certainly involve a significant shift in the breeding and sale of the affected breeds in the Netherlands. In addition to prohibition of breeding, it would also prohibit the import and sale of these breeds. Importantly, it would not affect people who already own the breeds – nobody would come and remove the dog! People who currently own these breeds would be allowed to keep them for their lifetime.
Supporters Rejoice, but Others Aren’t So Happy
The proposed ban has been met with both support and criticism. Animal welfare advocates have shown support, welcoming the move towards the ending of these preventable health issues. Meanwhile breeders and enthusiasts of the breeds have argued against the logic of the ban, and are worried about the impact on their livelihoods.
The Dutch government’s proposed ban on the breeding and sale of the affected breeds is a strong message, and a significant step towards improving animal welfare in the country. With the vast number of breeds available who do not suffer from intentionally imposed genetic defects, it is hard to argue why the perpetuation of these breeds is necessary.