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Protecting pups or punishing breeds? Dachshunds caught in legal crossfire

German draft law spells trouble for Dachshund fans

Source: The New York Times

Dachshunds, the German dog breed known for their distinctive long bodies and short legs, face an uncertain future if proposed changes to an animal protection law are approved, Germany’s kennel club said.

A draft of the bill, from the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture, was published in February and aims to combat “torture breeding,” or breeding to produce animals with characteristics that will cause them to suffer, and to regulate the online trade of animals.

However, the draft contains requirements that could end the breeding of certain dogs, such as the dachshund, according to a statement from the VDH, Germany’s kennel club.

The bill lists various disease characteristics, like anomalies of the skeletal system, that would be outlawed. That could be interpreted as a ban on breeding animals with any significant size deviation from the “original wolf type,” the VDH said.

The restrictions could be applied to the leg length of dachshunds. The breeding of beagles, Jack Russell terriers and miniature schnauzers could also be affected, as well as of dogs with short noses, such as the English bulldog, French bulldog and pug.

“Some of the disease characteristics listed in the draft law are too vague and undefined,” Leif Kopernik, the chief executive of the VDH, said in a statement Thursday. “Whether too small or too large, if the Animal Welfare Act were to be implemented in its current form, many popular and healthy dog breeds could be banned from breeding.”

Kopernik said that the VDH was calling for a clear and scientific catalog of disease characteristics that would provide legal certainty and more effectively combat torture breeding.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food said that the draft was in an early stage and was likely to be modified by the German parliament.

“The issue at hand pertains to the characteristics stemming from breeding for deformity and the overall welfare of animals, not, as erroneously asserted, to a blanket prohibition targeting specific breeds,” the spokesperson said.

The bill’s purpose, he said, was to complement established regulations governing breeding for deformity, which were introduced in 1986 and further enhanced in 2013, by appending an incomplete list of potential symptoms indicative of breeding for deformity, such as blindness, deafness or dental abnormalities.

“The focal point remains on averting breeding endeavors involving animals showcasing traits liable to cause anguish or distress,” he said.

Much of the discussion around the proposed changes has focused on Germany’s beloved dachshund, often called “dackel” by Germans, which has long been a national symbol. The breed’s history dates back several hundred years, when it was developed for digging and clawing into underground dens to hunt for badgers, according to the American Kennel Club.

Dachshunds have sharp teeth and claws, both of which come in handy when hunting. Today, the dogs are known for their sausage-like shapes, their cleverness and their tough attitudes.

Sandra Karthäuser, who has been breeding rough-haired dachshunds for 13 years in Münster, about 40 miles east of Germany’s border with the Netherlands, said Thursday that it was incomprehensible that officials were now starting to regulate the breed.

“Because there is no evidence that the dog is somehow ill due to its exterior,” she said of dachshunds. “Otherwise, it wouldn’t be able to survive the hunt.”

Karthäuser acknowledged that certain breed lines might be predisposed to herniated discs and other conditions.

“But to ban the whole breed because of this, that doesn’t make sense to me,” she said. “Then you can also ban labradors” because some suffer from hip dysplasia, she added, along with other breeds that might suffer from debilitating diseases and ailments.

[Source: The New York Times]

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