Dutch gov't targets puppy mills with stricter rules for breeding for appearance

Minister Carola Schouten of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is introducing new animal welfare criteria for dog breeding, primarily focused on external characteristics such as the shape of the skull, nose and eyes. In this way she wants to make dog breeding healthier for the animals involved, ANP reports.

Serious cranial and muzzle abnormalities are becoming increasingly common in dog breeding, partly due to the growing popularity of dogs with short snouts. Research by Utrecht University showed that due to the shape of the skull and snout, these dogs are more often confronted with harmful health and welfare problems such as bulging eyes, inability to close their eyes, trouble breathing, continuous headaches, and overheating.

Dutch law already prohibits passing on external characteristics through breeding that could have harmful consequences for the parent animal or offspring. The new criteria will enable the Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA and the national animal protection inspectorate LID to better enforce this existing legislation, according to the Minister. Veterinarians and breeders can also use these criteria to select healthy parent animals.

The government has been working with partners from dog breeding to make dogs healthier and more social since 2014. Certain breed associations are already breeding for healthier offspring, phasing out hereditary diseases through breeding, and inspectors are getting compulsory additional training. 

The Minister and breeders also agree that further work is needed to make breeding healthier. They will discuss what additional measures can be taken.

Last month the LID seized 100 dogs from a breeder in Deventer. The animals were being kept in horrible conditions and had multiple health problems.