The Borgarting Court of Appeal in Norway stated in its decision on 18th November 2022 that breeding of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is against the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act, whereas breeding of English Bulldog may continue. The Finnish Kennel Club sees that breed bans are not the best way to improve the health and well-being of dogs.

The decision made by the Court of Appeal follows legal proceedings that started in 2021 and to which Oslo District Court decided on 31st January 2022 that breeding of English Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is against the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act. The Norwegian Kennel Club, breed clubs for both breeds, as well as six breeders that were subject to the decision appealed against it to the court of appeals.

The Chair of the Finnish Kennel Club’s Board Harri Lehkonen emphasizes that dog breeding that is practised within the scope of the Finnish Kennel Club has the best prerequisites to promote breeding of dogs with better health. This kind of breeding has a lot of available screening data on hundreds of thousands canine individuals to support breeding of healthy dogs.

- We do not support breed bans. Whether a dog is suitable for breeding must be assessed individually, not breed by breed.

Finland is a pioneer in promoting health and well-being of dogs

- Promoting health and well-being of dogs has taken big steps forward over the past years in Finland, emphasizes Kirsi Sainio, Chair of the Finnish Kennel Club’s Scientific Committee. Examination methods are improving, and more and more information about diseases is constantly obtained. This facilitates exclusion of unhealthy individuals from breeding. We are also gaining more and more information on the results of breeding.

In comparison with many other countries, the Finnish Kennel Club is very progressive and Finnish dog enthusiasts are in general very conscious. Right now, 175 breeds or breed variants in total are included in the Finnish Kennel Club’s Programme for Combating Hereditary Diseases and Defects, PEVISA. PEVISA includes conditions that must be met by the sire and the dam so that their puppies can be registered with the Finnish Kennel Club. The conditions can for instance include health screening, limitation of number of offspring, or requirements on how distantly related the parents of the litter must be to each other.

The Finnish Kennel Club also encourages that crossbreeding is included alongside health screening to the selection of tools for dog breeding, especially for breeds with a narrower gene pool. Crossbreeding projects are always carried out in cooperation with the Finnish Kennel Club.

A crossbreeding project for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in the works

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have had a valid health programme in Finland for several years. According to it, a dog used for breeding is required to be screened for patellar luxation as well as have results from eye examination and cardiac auscultation. For a long time, several breeders have also chosen to screen their dogs for chiari malformation and syringomyelia.

The Finnish Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club monitors closely how health screening influences breeding and thereby, health of dogs. A slight change for the better can already be seen as regards cardiac health results.  The club aims to create an even closer health screening cooperation with different expert organs.

The Finnish Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club is launching a crossbreeding project. The breed club in the breed’s country of origin, England, has communicated in its statement that it follows the project with interest and is hoping to see good results. The project plan is sent for approval to the Finnish Kennel Club so that the project could be launched in early 2023. A preliminary survey to establish matings, breeders, and dogs included in the project has already been done. The goal is to have two crossbred litters born next year.

Strict measures taken in Finland to tackle health issues of short-muzzled breeds

As the first Nordic country, Finland has implemented extensive breeding regulations for several short-muzzled dog breeds. The Finnish Kennel Club encourages breed clubs of short-muzzled breeds to an open dialogue about long-term and thought-out crossbreeding projects.

The English Bulldog has a very extensive health programme in Finland. As of 1st June 2021, it has been required that English Bulldogs that are to be used for breeding have been screened for BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome), hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and eye diseases.

Health and well-being of dogs is best promoted through cooperation with different operators

- An open dialogue about problems and solutions to them is the best way to go when improving the overall health and well-being of dogs, Kirsi Sainio emphasizes. A lot of work remains to be done.

Breed clubs and breeders have a central role when it comes to promotion of health and well-being of dogs. Several breed clubs have actively participated in the work to improve health. Breeders see that breeding of dogs is more and more about breeding for better health, says Sainio.

Cooperation with veterinarians and researchers as well as international dialogue are also important. The Finnish Kennel Club works closely with different quarters and is active on international forums for kennel clubs to improve the health and well-being of dogs.

For further information

Chair of the Finnish Kennel Club’s Board
Harri Lehkonen
tel. +358 50 329 2188

Chair of the Finnish Kennel Club’s Scientific Committee
Ph.D., Docent Kirsi Sainio
tel. +358 44 218 4431