When we consider the new Animal Welfare Act that has been in force since 1.1.2022 in Germany as an earthquake, now the resulting tsunami hit us with full force: international dog shows all over the country struggle with new regulations regarding “torture breeding”. While breeds like the Teckel need an extensive health certificate to be able to participate, others are not even allowed to enter the events at all – for example, hairless individuals from ancient breeds like the Xoloitzcuintle. Why we as working dog handlers and breeders should care? Because this can be the starting point of a ban of torture breeding in general – and therefore, also the extinction of many working breeds including the Teckel.
Demanding new regulations to enter dog shows
What exactly did happen in Germany? The new animal walfare act is dealing with the issue of torture breeding, or “Qualzucht”. It generally includes breeds of animals with features that causes pain or discomfort in the individual, and can be passed on to the next generation. Breeds that come into mind when thinking about “Qualzucht” are surely, first of all, extremely flat-faced dogs which struggle to breath and need costly operations to function like a healthy dog. But in reality, nearly all of today´s breeds are affected with visible or invisible features that can be interpreted as “torture breed characteristics”. Here, you can read the translation of the legal text:
§ 10 Prohibition of exhibition
It is prohibited to show dogs or to organize exhibitions with dogs,
- in which parts of the body, in particular ears or tail, have been completely or partially amputated in a manner contrary to animal protection laws, or
- in which hereditary
a) body parts or organs needed for species-appropriate behaviours are missing or are unsuitable or altered with pain, suffering or damage occuring as a result,
b) behavioral disorders associated with suffering occur,
c) any species-appropriate contact with other individuals from the same species leads to pain or avoidable suffering or damage to themselves or others, or
d) the keeping is only possible under pain or avoidable suffering or leads to damage.
1 applies accordingly to other events at which dogs are compared, tested or otherwise judged.
Link to a comparison between old and new act.
Official veterinarians needed to derive new rules for dog shows on the basis of these laws, and they overshot the mark mightily. The shows in Erfurt, Lingen, Dortmund (update: cancelled!) and Neumünster are the first major events to be affected by this new version of the Animal Welfare Act, and have been confronted with very different approaches. There is no uniform regulation, so the law is interpreted individually by the Veterinary offices on site. However, the tendency is clear: a very large amount of breeds must provide extensive health certificates, and many breed-typical characteristics, for example, hairless skin, very long ears or merle markings, even exclude dogs altogether from participating.
For one particular show, our beloved Teckel needs to be examined by a vet for 28 distinctive health issues, starting from the eyes right to its skeleton. Maybe some readers may think “I don´t care, my dog is healthy and vet-checked” – but beware: depending on the further curse of this nonsense, also the special form of dwarfism that is responsible for the short legs of our Teckels may be considered a torture breeding characteristic – what would mean a complete ban on showing Teckels on German shows. Maintaining a high quality exterior is crucial to any breed, as it is the basis of working functionality – a Teckel looks like a Teckel because it needs to look this way to be able to work underground on the badger. Shows are therefore not a fun event to pass the time, but a prerequisite for working dog breeding. Futhermore, the regulation could additionally also have an impact on working tests and competitions in the future.
Salami tactic of animal rights activists exposed
How things like that could even happen? Animal rights activists are pushing regulations like this act in a very intelligent way. They pick extreme examples to appeal to the masses on an emotional level. Hand on heart, who would not agree on banning torture breeds on the sight of a dersperate bulldog struggling for air? As a handler of a hunting dog, you would not even think of this ban affecting your breed at all. And this is the plan. This way, laws are put into place which, more and more, restrict the keeping and breeding of animals. So, no matter if you are a dog handler or breeder, hunter, horse rider, beekeeper, pet shop owner or livestock farmer – we have to stop finger pointing at each other and start working as a community to obtain any traditional animal-involving activities. Otherwise, we will be overrun by ridiciulous regulations making it impossible to live our passion. Dog breeds are a cultural heritage and dog breeding is the oldest form of shaping nature we know – so let´s fight for it!