Is it ethical to breed and sell dogs?

Torture breeding in dogs

Humans often accept the genetic damage caused by torture breeding and let the animals pay with their health. The main thing is that the dog stands out, or looks cute or beautiful. Sometimes there is fading out, insensitivity, but also ignorance.

How dogs suffer from torture breeding

Until the middle of the 19th century, dogs were kept for specific purposes, for example for hunting, as herding or sled dogs or to track down avalanche victims. It wasn't until 170 years ago that we started breeding dogs for extravagant looks or beauty alone. The dog suddenly no longer had a work function, it was kept as a status symbol or to keep us humans company.

After decades of breeding, bulldogs and pugs have only a tiny snub nose left of the long wolf snout. She should look cute and childlike! But these dogs cannot sweat because they have to use their noses to cool their bodies. If the nose is too short, they overheat quickly and suffer from constant shortness of breath - a torture.

In addition, the tissue that was spread over a long snout in the wolf is squeezed together in a narrow space in the pug and the French bulldog. Because there is hardly any space, the air does not flow through the airways, the dog has to force it through.

Short-headed dog breeds such as pug, French bulldog and English bulldog often suffer from serious health problems due to their breed-related breeding goals, i.e. short noses and cute bulging eyes Brachycephalic airway syndrome.

The individual components are malformations, which, depending on their severity, can be more or less severe: nostrils that are too small, altered nasal concha, long soft palate, too small larynx and too narrow trachea and larynx collapse. For the Federal Veterinary Association, pugs and "Bullys" are torture breeding.

Your dog has "pug"!

The brachycephalic races suffer from serious health problems: extreme breathing disorders, sensitivity to heat and heat, attacks of suffocation, collapse, heart attacks, and eye damage.

Signs of shortness of breath are particularly meaningful and worrying, i.e. loud breathing noises such as rattling, snoring and when the dog panted heavily with every movement. The reason is a soft palate that is too long, which partially closes the larynx. Every fourth extremely bred "short-nosed dog" sleeps sitting down because they fear that they will suffocate in their sleep.

For Boston Terriers, English and French Bulldogs, breeders say that a third to 90 percent of puppies are born by caesarean section. The reason for this is the animal's head, which is extremely large in relation to its body size.

These breeds are so popular because the dogs are bred to have a human-like appearance in the manner of a child. The pug is a prime example here. Unfortunately, the veterinarian's diagnosis is more and more often: "Your dog has a pug, he can no longer breathe!".

Often the dogs have to undergo expensive corrective surgery so that they can breathe at all. In an operating theater, skin is then removed from the pharynx, the soft palate shortened and the nostrils widened - a cost factor of up to 3500 €! Many owners do not understand that their pet has been sick for a long time.

Prof. Achim Gruber, veterinarian and animal pathologist at the Institute for Animal Pathology at the Free University of Berlin, avoids the usual term "torture breeding" because "tormenting" contains an intention that he does not assume. He uses the term "defect breeding" for this.

How can it be, despite the Animal Welfare Act § 11 b, that torture breeding continues to occur in Germany?

According to the Animal Welfare Act § 11 b, the breeding of many breeds would be prohibited in our country. The animals are bred anyway. Why? The Animal Welfare Act is actually well formulated, but unfortunately it is not implemented, nor is the "State Objective of Animal Welfare". Achim Gruber is convincing. Because animal welfare has been anchored in our constitution in the Basic Law as a state goal since 2002.

The problem lies with the implementation of the Animal Welfare Act. The control of compliance is the responsibility of the veterinary offices, which usually have far too little time and opportunities. In addition, the veterinary offices lack a basic approach. Because at the moment, offices and courts can only make individual decisions, but cannot rule out certain breeding lines in general.

In order to change that, the agony breeding report from 1999 should urgently be revised. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for this. So far, the law has been purely a matter of interpretation, process preparation is very time-consuming and labor-intensive, and the staffing levels in the veterinary offices are far too thin, complains Diana Plange, veterinarian specializing in animal welfare and animal welfare ethics.

Everyone has to act: dog buyers, breed associations and breeders

And the breeding world is very divided. Some are very responsible with the animals, other breeders unfortunately place more value on self-interest than on the health of their animals. Some breeders are too in love with their breed standards and traditions. But love is often blind! The breed associations in particular can change something because they set the guidelines.

Professor Dr. Achim Gruber is convinced that a big jolt has to go through the breeders and large breeding associations in order to breed these defective bred animals healthy again. Some breeds are bred back again, for example the pug (retro and sport pug) with a longer nose, but that takes years.

The veterinary profession strongly advises against buying short-nosed (brachycephalic) dog breeds such as pug and bulldog at all until more healthy animals are bred again. Because only if such dogs are bought, i.e. if there is a demand, they are also bred. Therefore Gruber relies on a broad public education and a rethink - for the sake of the animals!