Norway became the first country to ban the breeding of Cavalier King Charles spaniels ( and bulldogs) in 2022 in an effort to protect the dogs from health problems caused by their breeding.
Owing to selective breeding of Cavaliers in Norway, it was ruled that none of the dogs currently alive are healthy and are therefore unfit for breeding purposes. Subsequently breeding from these unhealthy dogs would be unethical and would further aggravate the conditions that Cavaliers suffer from and, to do so would result in prosecution.
What are the conditions that Cavaliers suffer from as a result of this breeding?
Cavaliers are prone to a number of health problems as a result of their breeding, the most common of which are:
Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome – a condition that causes the soft palate to become elongated and obstruct the dog’s airway, resulting in difficulty breathing.
Mitral valve disease – a condition of the heart that leads to leaking of the mitral valve, causing congestive heart failure.
Syringomyelia – a condition where fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord, causing pain and neurological problems.
Cavalier King Charles spaniels also suffer from a number of other health problems, including eye disorders, ear infections and patellar luxation (dislocation of the kneecap).
Is it illegal to breed Cavaliers in Norway?
Yes, it is illegal to breed Cavaliers in Norway.
The Oslo District Court ruled that the irresponsible selective breeding of Cavaliers has led to a range of health problems and has contravened Norway’s Animal Welfare Act and subsequently banned the breeding of Cavaliers in Norway.
The ban on breeding Cavaliers in Norway will help to protect the dogs from suffering as a result of their breeding and will also help to improve the health and welfare of future generations of Cavaliers.
What is selective breeding and why is it a problem?
Selective breeding is the process of breeding animals or plants in order to produce offspring with desired characteristics.
In the case of Cavaliers, they have been bred specifically for their physical appearance, which has led to health problems as a result of inbreeding.
Inbreeding is when closely related animals are bred together and can lead to a number of health problems, including genetic defects, reduced fertility and an increased susceptibility to disease.
Why would breeders do this if it’s harmful to the dogs?
Cavaliers have been bred specifically for their physical appearance, which has made them popular as show dogs and companion animals.
Frequently the dog show world has rewarded the very exaggerated features that can cause these health problems and, in their efforts to produce dogs that conform to disputed ‘breed standards’ set down by kennel clubs, some breeders have inbred a variety of dog breeds, including Cavaliers.
By inbreeding, the ‘breeders’ of these dogs can often produce puppies that exaggerate the ‘breed standards’.
These dogs then go on to win awards at major dog shows which, in turn, leads to stud fees and increased interest in puppies from bitches, which can generate substantial income.
The breeders, fuelled by this, then go on to produce more puppies, from parents that have inherited problems, which are then passed onto the puppies.
And so the cycle continues. Again and again and again.
This is not just a problem that exists in Norway and it is also not restricted to Cavaliers.
Many dog breeds have suffered from irresponsible breeding practices and it is only through greater education and awareness that the health and welfare of all dogs can be improved.
What can be done to help improve the health and welfare of Cavaliers?
The best way to help improve the health and welfare of Cavalier King Charles spaniels is to ensure that they are bred responsibly.
This means breeding from healthy dogs that have been screened for inherited conditions and ensuring that puppies are well socialised and have a good quality of life.
It is also important to be aware of the health problems that Cavaliers can suffer from and to have your dog regularly checked by a vet.
If you are thinking about buying a Cavalier puppy, make sure you do your research and buy from a reputable breeder.
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a beautiful dog breed that has been bred for centuries.
However, due to irresponsible breeding practices, they have suffered from a range of health problems.
In Norway, the breeding of Cavaliers has been banned in an effort to protect the dogs from suffering and to improve the health and welfare of future generations.
By ensuring that Cavaliers are bred responsibly and by raising awareness of the health problems that they can suffer from, we can help to improve the lives of these dogs.