New E.U. law could outlaw certain unhealthy characteristics of purebred dogs

DachshundA proposed law in Scotland could outlaw certain characteristics considered ‘standard’ by breeders of purebred dogs. Scotsman.com is reporting that, under legislation already in place in certain European Union countries, breeders are responsible for the ‘anatomical, physiological and behavioural characteristics which are likely to put at risk the health and welfare of either the offspring or the female parent,’ and that such characteristics as the dachshund’s long, sausage-like body constitute such a risk. Kennel club afficionados are already complaining about the restrictions, but the bottom line is that this legislation will help prevent people from breeding animals for a distinct appearance, regardless of whether that appearance might in fact be a health hazard to the animal. Dachshunds, for example, often suffer from back problems as a result of their super-long bodies. Here’s an excerpt from scotsman.com’s article:

Dog breeders fear that the treaty’s terms are so broad that it would effectively forbid the breeding of distinctive types of dog because their defining characteristics could be seen as risking their welfare.

According to the Scottish Kennel Club, ratifying the treaty would mean that anywhere between 30 and 40 breeds would effectively be outlawed. Some distinctive breeds of cat including the Siamese and Persian could also be affected.

“Many breeds would have so many restrictions put on them that they would effectively cease to exist,” said Jean Fairlie, parliamentary liaison officer for the Scottish Kennel Club.

“The convention is too broad, too sweeping – it fails to take account of scientific developments, and the work the Kennel Club and breeders have done since it was drawn up to eliminate some mutations and health problems while maintaining the consistency of the breeds.”

Among the convention’s most enthusiastic supporters is Advocates for Animals, an Edinburgh-based campaign group.

“Pedigree dogs are bred for their appearance rather than for their good health, which often suffers as a result. They are being ‘designed’ to conform to ideal ‘breed standards’ which often involve exaggerated and unnatural physical characteristics that are detrimental to the dogs’ health and welfare,” said Ross Minnett, the group’s director.

Ratifying the convention would “substantially modify extreme breed standards and limit the degree to which pedigree dogs are bred to be intentionally deformed in a quest to produce ‘the perfect dog’,” he said. “But any claims that this convention would lead to the end of pedigree breeds are scaremongering nonsense.”

Beverley Cuddy, the editor of Dogs Today magazine, said she thought breeders were exaggerating the impact ratification would have. “All it means is that breeders would have to put the health of the dogs first instead of their appearance,” she said.

“The Kennel Clubs say they’re setting up new rules and breed standards that mean [ratification] wouldn’t be needed, but it’s too little, too late – judges at shows are still rewarding breeders for producing animals with unhealthy features – bulldogs with bigger heads, things like that.”

The fact is that these breeders and kennel club members have ignored for too long the simple fact that they are creating genetically inbred, weak animals that are susceptible to numerous fatal conditions and who have a much shorter life expectancy than their mixed breed counterparts. Now, they choose to cry foul when legislation is put in place that prevents them from breeding pugs that can barely breathe, since their noses are so squished, or prepetuating other grotesquely unnatural features that have somehow become ‘desirable’ in a particular breed. This law doesn’t seem to be about constricting freedom–it seems to be about stopping a primitive and outmoded practice that we now know creates unhealthy animals.

dogs, purebred dog, breeding, dog breeding, european union, European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, dog breeder, breed characteristics

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