The Oslo District Court ruled that breeding the dogs, both of which are prone to health problems due to selective breeding, contravened Norway’s Animal Welfare Act.
The case was brought to court by animals rights group Animal Protection Norway, who said the landmark ruling was “first and foremost a victory for our dogs”.
Ashild Roaldset, CEO of Animal Protection Norway, said: “The man-made health problems of the bulldog have been known since the early 20th century. This verdict is many years overdue.”
The organisation’s legal team argues successfully that the history of selective breeding meant that there are no animals from either breed that could be categorised as “healthy”, and therefore cannot be ethically used for breeding.
The judgement was handed down by a district court judge and two co-judges who were a veterinarian and geneticist.
It stated that the breeding ban would not extend to breeders who want to end the animals’ health problems, adding “serious and scientifically-based cross-breeding could be a good alternative”.
British Bulldogs are prone to conditions such as Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome, which is caused by a short, wide skull and short snout. It can lead to severe breathing problems that may require surgery to help the animal live better.
Other health issues like eye conditions, breathing difficulties, and skin infections in the folds of their skin are also common in this breed.
As for Cavalier King Charles spaniels, they are prone to heart conditions, eye problems such as cataracts and dry eye syndrome, and joint problems.
British Bulldogs are historically one of the most popular breeds among dog owners. In 2020, 11,594 dogs were registered to the Kennel Club in the UK, marking a ten-year high.
In contrast, the number of Cavalier King Charles spaniels registered has declined steadily since 2011, with just under 3,000 registered in 2020 compared to 7,443 registered 10 years earlier.
Animal Protection Norway also called for a detailed database that contains information on dogs’ temperaments, traits and health data to be developed so that the Norwegian Food Safety Authority can “conduct effective supervision of dog breeding”.