King Charles spaniels are also another breed being restricted due to rising concerns about their health
TV vet Doctor Scott Miller has explained how welfare issues surrounding ‘flat faced’ dogs has lead to breeds such as British Bulldogs and King Charles spaniels to be banned in Norway.
The Oslo District Court in Norway has recently ruled against the breeding of British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles spaniels on the grounds of health concerns, calling the decision “first and foremost a victory for our dogs”.
The breeds, which are some of the most cherished and loved by Brits, have been banned due to prolonged concerns surrounding their health, primarily due to their ‘flat faces’ causing respiratory problems, according to vets.
Vet Dr Scott Miller, a regular on ITV’s This Morning, revealed to hosts Alison Hammond and Dermot O’leary exactly what the issue surrounding the dogs is and how breeders can pay more attention in future to improve quality of life for the breeds in the future:
“From a veterinary perspective, we do have grave concerns about what’s called brachycephalic dogs, or ‘flat faced’ dogs and the impact it has on their welfare.
“For a dog like that (British Bulldog), you can see very narrow nostrils and virtually no nose – all the structure of the nasal passages are shunted back.
“They have an elongated soft palate, which means they struggle to breathe, they overheat and also because of their shape, they also struggle with a lot of arthritis and tend to be overweight because you can’t exercise them too much.
“King Charles spaniels have such an abnormally shaped head, they can actually pressurise the brain stem and lead to a neuro condition called Syringomyelia – both of those conditions have been brought about because of breed standards.”
Dr Scott then went on to explain how the dog breeding industry can help these breeds have a better quality of life in generations to come:
“All kennel clubs around the world have to take responsibility for the fact they set the breed standards, the breed standards have become so extreme that these animals are struggling, they’re in pain, they’re uncomfortable – in a lot of cases, they need surgical correction to simply behave and act normal.”
Doctor Scott continued as Alison Hammond looked on with a concerned expression: “British Bulldogs used to be taller, not so tank like, they certainly didn’t have that flat nose, so it (breed standards) has become more and more extreme.”
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Dermot asked: “How do you go about rectifying that?”, to which Dr Scott added: “Well it has really got to start at grassroots, it has to be a real want from all breeders to go ‘what we want is for these dogs not to just look a certain way, but also to be healthy’, we need to breed them to at least breathe properly!”
“It sounds so cruel”, replied Alison.
However, Dr Scott reflected on how the ruling by Norway to ban the safe breeding of British Bulldogs and Charles spaniels could lead to rogue breeders filling in instead:
“What Norway has done by banning the breeders, what they’re doing is saying ‘well, we’re allowing dodgy breeders to come in’ and infiltrate with even worse genetic lines, so I think that is problematic – instead what we need to do is work with breeders, work with all The Kennel Clubs to take responsibility and actually breed the animals they love to be healthy.”
He then went on to say how he regularly has to give dogs with issues such as breathing difficulties surgery to fix their pallets and even plastic surgery on their noses to help them breathe better.
Crufts, the UK’s most popular dog show, now has a respiratory function scheme backed by The Kennel Club, which sees pets competing in the events undergo medical evaluation before the shows to see whether they’re fit to enter the show, something Dr Scott endorses.