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Breeding controls in the Netherlands

Issue: 15/05/2020

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Following negotiations with the Dutch Government over the last year, the Raad van Beheer (Dutch Kennel Club) has issued guidelines for the breeding and registration of certain named breeds. As with many situations in the world of dogs nowadays, social media has gone into meltdown this week with people in Holland talking about relocating in other countries to avoid it.
Breeders and exhibitors online have been quick to ask a range of questions such as: Is this the thin end of the wedge for other countries? Can short nosed dogs be imported to Netherlands and be shown? Will there be crosses with other breeds to lengthen noses? What is the position of the FCI as the international parent body and will the FCI change international standards to allow longer noses?
 People in other breeds such as Boxers have also asked whether they will be next.
The breeds involved and shown on the list in Holland are the Affenpinscher, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, French Bulldog, Griffon Belge, Griffon Bruxellois, Petit Brabançon, Japanese Chin, King Charles Spaniel, Pug, Pekingese and the Shih Tzu.   

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The announcement makes it clear that these breeds have not actually been named by the Dutch Government. Its criteria for breeding restrictions are instead based entirely on appearance not on breed.  This does mean that dogs of other breeds not listed, but which fit the Government ban description, could have the short-nosed dog breeding restrictions applied to them. The Government’s criterion is for breeds where the distance from stop to tip of nose is equal to or less than 0.3 of the distance between the occiput and the stop.

Breeding plan

The Dutch Government introduced a decree in March 2019 and then, in August, the Raad van Beheer and affiliated breed clubs for the various short-nosed breeds submitted a breeding supervision plan, which contained a number of proposals on eye and respiratory health.
The Dutch Minister involved has this month given a response to the proposed breeding guidance plan. The Minister has said that she appreciates the efforts made by the Raad and the breed clubs, and she largely endorses the measures in the breeding guidance plan, but she has not adopted the plan in its entirety.
The Ministry has, however, temporarily allowed breeding where one of the parents does not meet the 0.3 criterion, provided that the other parent does. This combination can be achieved with agreement from the Board of the Raad van Beheer, either where both parents are of the same breed or where a dog of another breed is used.
So, from May 18, 2020, the Raad has introduced an adjusted procedure for the registration of litters of short-nosed dogs. For all registrations of the listed breeds it will be mandatory to submit a veterinary certificate for both parents. Both parent animals must also score well on another five health requirements. These include openness of nostrils, eye and eyelid conditions and over-nose wrinkle issues. Registration will only be granted if the vet declarations indicate that the enforcement criteria are met. When the parent animals do not meet the criteria, registration will not be possible

Proposal

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The Board of the Raad van Beheer is to propose to its next General Meeting that registrations can be made for combinations of parents that do not meet the criteria, but stating clearly that the combination does not meet the legal conditions. Until that General Meeting, litters that do not meet the criteria are to have their registration withheld until formal decision-making can be carried out for each respective litter.
The Dutch Kennel club told OUR DOGS, ‘We have no option but  to follow Dutch law and legislation, within the guidelines that are now given by the Dutch government.
‘We will investigate and negotiate with the Dutch short muzzled breed clubs about possible further action. The short muzzled breeds are not banned in the Netherlands, we can still breed them but we have to follow the six health criteria. Importing short muzzled breeds to the Netherlands and showing these breeds at our dog shows is also not forbidden.
‘The parents of the litter have to fulfil the criteria on the veterinary screenings form for short muzzled breeds. After a positive evaluation of the parents the offspring will receive an official FCI pedigree. If one of the parents does not fulfil the required minimum muzzle length and all the other five criteria are sufficient the litter will also get an official FCI pedigree.  If both parents are not fulfilling the requirement no FCI pedigree will be issued. 
‘The matter will be discussed  at our general assembly and hopefully our members will decide that litters that are born out of parents that do not follow the health requirements will be registered in a special addendum because the puppies that are born out of those parents can fulfil the requirements when they are adults. So we keep these dogs registered. If they fulfil the requirements, their puppies can go back into the FCI Dutch Kennel Club main studbook.
‘The Dutch Kennel club is not going to register crossbred dogs in the FCI full main studbook.
‘International help and support is needed urgently from the FCI. The Dutch government has a lot of contact with authorities in several countries and the problem of short muzzled breeds is an international issue. In middle and northern Europe this topic is high on the agenda of animal right and welfare organisations. But also the different national authorities are making guidelines and rules and regulations concerning breeding, keeping and showing short muzzled breeds in their countries. 
‘At the moment the Raad van Beheer, the Dutch Kennel club, is following the national law. And we do hope that Kennel clubs, breeders, judges and owners will come to the realization that we must modernise in our way of thinking and that the health and well-being of our breeds are our top priority and that some breeds will have to go more back to basic, with the breeds still being typical considering the breeds standard.’

FCI comments

OUR DOGS contacted the President of the FCI, Mr Tamas Jakkel, himself a well known breeder of Cocker Spaniels and Dachshunds and an all round judge. Mr Jakkel said, ‘The FCI is not in the situation to comment on Social Media. As long as we did not (yet) have ANY official communication from its members of the country involved, we initiate it asking their detailed report and plan related to the situation to understand it and establish a joint action, not creating news but solving problems with the help of all the countries involved. All these breeds are an important part of the National Heritage of the countries of origin. I am sure they have to have a word about this kind of “handling” of their history.”
OUR DOGS also spoke to Mr Edwin Meyer Viol in Holland, from the Dutch based organisation ‘Ras en Recht’ (Breed and Law) which has been working on behalf of the breeds in question. He told us: “Because of frequent actions of ‘Animal and Law’ to ban short-muzzled breeds, the Minister of agriculture had selection criteria drawn up by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Utrecht.  This was done with too little time and too little money.  
‘No research has been done but selective shopping in the work of British scientists instead. The muzzle length has been chosen as the criterion. This despite the fact that the same scientific work declares that there is no scientific connection known between muzzle length and BOAS. The fact that they often occur at the same time does not show a causal connection. 
‘Recent British scientific work even states that it is a poor indicator for the severity of BOAS. Nevertheless, breeding with more than 12 breeds with CFR<0.3 is now prohibited. Besides the extreme Brachycyphalic breeds we find breeds with very little or no suffering of BOAS such as the Affenpinchers and Brussels Griffons as collateral damage.  
‘British scientists use their knowledge to improve the breeds, in the Netherlands they are doing the opposite. The Dutch kennel club itself does now the unforgivable by no longer issuing a pedigree for these breeds.’
As people are worried about any impact on the UK scene, OUR DOGS also asked the Kennel Club for its comments, Bill Lambert, Head of Health and Welfare at the Kennel Club, commented: ‘The Kennel Club is pleased that there is growing and international awareness of the negative health impacts of extreme conformation in brachycephalic dogs.
‘However, we don’t agree that a simple ban on these breeds is the correct way forward. The ongoing crisis of irresponsible breeders, illegal puppy smuggling and uninformed puppy buyers fuels many of the health and welfare issues which a ban would aim to reduce. We know from our experience in the UK that attempting to ban a breed simply does not work, and while a full ban of these breeds hasn’t been accepted in the Netherlands, we do have some similar concerns about the approach of not issuing pedigrees to some dogs, as such laws can be hard to enforce and could encourage more irresponsible underground breeding.
‘Instead, we believe a more effective approach is to continue to work collaboratively with breeders, vets and welfare organisations to research, understand and take evidence-based action to reduce and ultimately eliminate the health problems that these breeds can face, and to educate both puppy buyers and breeders to this end. This is the remit of the Brachycephalic Working Group, formed by the Kennel Club in 2016 and made up of all of the major stakeholders in dog welfare in the UK, including the British Veterinary Association, Dogs Trust, academics which specialise in brachycephalic health and breed club representatives.
‘The Kennel Club continues to research brachycephalic health and we urge breeders of Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs to make use of the Kennel Club-funded Respiratory Function Grading Scheme which enables vets to identify dogs at risk of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), provides breeders and owners with the best available information and advice to make informed decisions, and informs ongoing research into the condition. This scheme is mandatory for Kennel Club Assured Breeders of Bulldogs, Pugs and French Bulldogs.’

Comment(s):
Name: Derek Pellowe
Comment: The FCI appears to be saying that dogs can still be shown in the Netherlands, Dutch or foreign registered, but will there be a compulsory health check there before awarding a CAC or CACIB to a dog which complies with the Breed Standard in its country of origin?


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