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New Hampshire could limit breeding of certain dogs with health issues

Lawmakers say the state legislation targets animal cruelty. It's opposed by the American Kennel Club, which says it seeks to criminalize breeders.
French bull dog
Posted at 6:02 PM, Mar 28, 2024

Some of the most popular dog breeds in the country, including types of bulldogs like the Frenchie, have genetic features considered by experts to be disorders. A new billin New Hampshire wants to limit breeding of two individual animals with the same birth defects which are known to cause suffering. 

Groups including the American Kennel Club have expressed outrage at the legislation, saying it could be a slippery slope that would criminalize breeders. 

New Hampshire lawmakers state in House Bill 1102 that birth defects and deformities like brachycephaly, or intentional breeding of animals with these defects, causes hardships in dogs' lives. The legislation groups breeding of this kind in with cruelty or inhumane treatment of dogs by their owners. 

The American Kennel Club wrote in a press release in late February that the bill, considered by New Hampshire's House Environment and Agriculture Committee and called "Defining Animal Cruelty," would "criminalize the sale and breeding of brachycephalic dogs and any dog that could be claimed to have a birth deformity."

The group said, "While it may appear that this bill only targets a subset of breeders, its expansive language actually targets breeders of all dogs."

AKC was joined by the New Hampshire Dogs Owners of the Granite State in their opposition of the legislation. 

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If the bill is passed, New Hampshire would be the first U.S. state to limit the breeding of these types of dogs. Lawmakers were scheduled to votethis week on the bill. 

The animal rights group Four Paws says selective breeding is focused more on appearance than behavior, and that it disregards the effects breeding can have on a dog's behavior. The group says that selective breeding can lead to behavioral issues including aggression and anxiety. 

PETA lists French bulldogs as among the most unhealthy dog breeds, with many suffering from breathing troubles. Other breeds with similar issues are English bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, boxers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Pekingese, shih tzus and dogs described as "flat-faced." Together they are in a class of dogs known as BIB, or breathing-impaired breeds. 

In 2022, the AKC listed the top five most popular dog breeds as the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd Dog, the Poodle and the French Bulldog.

The group listed the least popular breeds that same year as including the Sloughi, the Norwegian Lundehund, and the English Foxhound.