Health tests will be required for the continued breeding of English Bulldogs. The requirements are identical with what the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK) already practises today, so the ruling will not have any practical consequences for the organised, responsible breeding of Bulldogs.

“This is an acknowledgement of the work the NKK has been doing for some time – with health examinations and controlled breeding to reduce the risks of disease and suffering. The ruling confirms that we can continue to breed English Bulldogs in the same conditions as today. This breeding is knowledge-based, responsible and organised. Our whole focus is on producing healthier dogs,” says Nils-Erik Haagenrud, chair of NKK’s executive board.

He is disappointed, however, that the Supreme Court has failed to uphold the NKK’s appeal when it comes to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Nevertheless, there were dissenting opinions in the Supreme Court, with 3-2 in favour of prohibiting the breeding of Cavaliers.

“We have been able to document that very many of the Norwegian population are healthy. The breeders have scanned almost a hundred dogs in the last year, and the results are better than in the international population. This work may now be a waste of time,” he says.

He says that the NKK must now consider the ruling carefully. They must also enter into a dialogue with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority about how it should be interpreted, and to find out if the dogs can still be used in a cross-breeding project that has already been planned. It is also important to emphasise that it isn’t forbidden to own or import Cavaliers.

The NKK finds it worrying that the courts assume the role of an expert authority in such questions. This is a new principle.

“We are concerned that in the future, short, narrow lawsuits will override professional expertise and the assessments made every day, all year round, concerning the breeding of animals – not just dogs. We believe that this responsibility should lie with the public administration via the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority. They have the veterinary and professional expertise to be able to consider these issues. The courts do not. This distortion of authority cannot possibly be good for animal health. We don’t know if we will find that the courts make will more decisions about what breeding combinations are possible from now on. It also directly interferes with the proposed regulation on dog breeding,” Haagenrud points out.

“If we are to learn anything from these rounds in court, it’s that we must be better at communicating externally about what we stand for and what we actually do with regard to serious dog breeding and health work. The people attacking us have been given too big a platform to deliver their simple, tabloid message, which both the press and the general public have believed. The reality is that responsible dog breeding is complex and involves a broad range. The press has basically only discussed the extremes. It’s also regrettable that innocent individuals, like the six breeders, have been unfairly denounced and stigmatised,” Nils-Erik Haagenrud concludes.