The Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK) feels that journalists have insufficient knowledge about dog breeding, the NKK’s role, and the legal case between the NKK and the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals. This is having adverse effects in many areas and making media coverage somewhat one-sided.
The NKK has had an ongoing dialogue with TV2 since their televised debate on “God morgen, Norge” on Thursday 8 September, when NKK vet Renate Sjølie and leader of the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals Åshild Roaldset discussed the health and breeding of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and English Bulldogs. The appeal proceedings between the two parties start in Borgarting Court of Appeal on Monday. In connection with the debate about the case on “God morgen, Norge”, TV2 published the following information before and during the programme:
“In January, Oslo District Court ruled that breeding of English Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is illegal in Norway.”
'This is incorrect for two reasons. Firstly, the judgement only concerns the defendants, that is to say the six breeders, which means that anyone else can continuing breeding these dogs. In addition, the judgement has been appealed and is therefore not final. TV2 was notified about this error before “God morgen, Norge” was even aired, but they still chose to leave this information unchanged for the duration of the programme.
The NKK has asked that this error be corrected. Yesterday TV2 published a news story on their website based on remarks made during the programme last Thursday. At the bottom of the story they have published a correction of the inaccurate information. In other words, it has taken about a week for TV2 to react, despite being contacted by many committed dog lovers in Norway.
Serious, knowledgeable dog breeders and owners have clearly grown tired of biased and sloppy journalism, both from TV2 and other Norwegian media when it comes to dog breeding and the legal action involving the two parties.
However, even the published news story itself is somewhat unbalanced. The first version was both incorrect and biased. The NKK has contacted TV2 several times, and they have now published a more balanced version.
The NKK still feels it is necessary to stress some of our views, which don’t come across clearly enough in the article posted on TV2’s website. The NKK has spent several decades documenting and improving dogs’ health, and has systematically collected and registered data that is freely available in a database. Our breeders therefore have scientific and knowledge-based foundations to build on.
The Norwegian Kennel Club is the only organisation actively working to improve dogs’ health. We have made good progress, and the situation in a number of areas is much better now than it was 20 years ago. Even so, the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals has chosen to take the NKK to court over dog breeding.
There are certain requirements that dogs must meet in order to be entered in the NKK’s register or be used for breeding. However, it is important that people know that not all dogs in Norway are registered with the NKK, even though they are described as “pedigree dogs”. There are thousands of dogs that according to their owners are a particular breed, without anyone being able to document this. Vets keep records and collect statistics about these dogs, just as they do with those that are registered with the NKK. With no distinction made between registered and non-registered pedigree dogs, this means that the statistics that are published regarding the health of dogs in Norway are inaccurate.
If the judgement delivered by the District Court becomes final, it will be forbidden for six breeders to breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and English Bulldogs, and for the NKK to include puppies of these dogs in their register. All the breeders that don’t register their puppies with the NKK can continue as before. It will also be possible to import these breeds from abroad, just as is it today, without known health status being required. This means that the dogs that are currently registered, microchipped and given a health check prior to breeding will disappear. The remaining dogs will undergo no, or few, health checks, and their parentage and background cannot be documented. The NKK believes that this will produce the opposite result of what all the responsible parties wish to achieve.
The point of breeding registered, health-checked dogs is not to focus on their “appearance”, which is what the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals often claims. The point is to achieve predictability when it comes to physical and mental characteristics, so that the right dog ends up with the right owner, well suited to its lifestyle and role, for the benefit and enjoyment of society and the individual dog owner. Neither the unregistered breeding of what may be pedigree dogs, nor random crossbreeding, serves this purpose. Furthermore, such breeding does not automatically produce “healthy genes”.
After almost 125 years of responsible pedigree breeding, the Norwegian Kennel Club knows that there are no shortcuts or quick fixes as far as health issues or any other kind of challenges are concerned – contrary to what the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals claims. Responsible, documentable breeding requires knowledge, resources, time and patience. The large majority of our breeders are prepared to make such an investment, and they should be allowed to continue doing so.