Torture Breeding

Can you torture a dog simply by making a breeding choice?

It is clearly torture to gouge out an animal’s eyes with a stick, to drill a hole through their backs into their spines, to hobble their legs and stunt their growth, to crush their faces and inhibit their breathing, or to bleach their hair with caustic chemicals with severe and permanent adverse side effects.

Doing such things repeatedly would surely land one in a mental institution for wanton and depraved acts.

But what if the implement is not a sharp stick, a fist, or a caustic solution?  What if the offending act was a simple choice?  What if the purpose was not to cause pain or harm, but to conform to a breed standard or participate in an aesthetic fad?  What if the suffering was incidental or a calculated risk?

The DACH countries {Germany, Austria, and Switzerland} have an answer to these questions. They call such breeding decisions torture and they have passed laws against practices which they call “Qualzucht:” literally ‘torture breeding.’

The qualzucht law in Austria enumerates a number of conditions (bold) which would identify a breed falling under the ban. I have added a list of breeds which would likely fall under each regulation in whole or in part:

Difficulty in Breathing
American Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Boxer, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, King Charles Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Pug, Shar-Pei, Shih Tzu, etc.

Motion Abnormalities
Stilted hind legs: Chow Chow, Norwegian Buhund, Swedish Lapphund, Finnish Spitz, etc.

Bowed legs: Basset Hound, Dachshund, English and French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Shi Tzu, Skye Terrier, Swedish Vallhund, etc.

: Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Pembroke Welsh Corgi,  Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, etc.

Kangaroo hocks: German Shepherd Dog

Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Luxating Patella; etc.

Panosteitis: Bernese Mountain Dog, Border Collie, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherds, Golden Retreiver, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Scottish Terrier

Wobbler Syndrome: Beagle, Bullmastiff, Borzoi, Doberman Pinscher, Fox Terrier, Great Dane, Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound, Old English Sheepdog, Rhodesian Ridgeback

Hemivertebra: Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, German Shepherd, German Shorthaired Pointer, Pug, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler

Inflammation of the Skin
Deep folds: Basset Hound, Bulldog, Bloodhound, Pug, Pekingese, Shar Pei
Shar Pei Fever: Shar Pei

Epidermal Dysplasia: West Highland White Terrier;

Dermoid Sinus: Rhodesian Ridgeback, Thai Ridgeback, Boxer, Shih Tzu, Kerry Blue Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier

: Doberman Pinscher, Jack Russel Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Golden Retriever

Hairlessness: American Hairless Terrier, Chinese Crested, Hairless Khala, Peruvian Inca Orchid, Xoloitzcuintle

Structural Follicular Dysplasia
: Curly Coated Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, Portuguese Water Dog

Atrophic Follicular Dysplasia
: Chihuahua, Dachshund, Greyhound, Miniature Pinscher

Cyclic Follicular Dysplasia
: Affenpinscher, Airedale Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, Staffordshire Terrier, Silver Labrador, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Follicular Lipidosis
: Rottweiler

Color Dilution Alopecia
:  Bernese Mountain Dog, Blue Lacey, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, Chihuahua, Chow Chow, Dachshund, Dobermann, German Shepherd Dog, Great Dane, Italian Greyhound, Miniature Pinscher, Newfoundland, Saluki, Schipperke, Shetland Sheepdog, Silky Terrier, Silver Labrador, Standard Poodle, Whippet, Yorkshire Terrier

Other Follicular Dysplasias: Alaskan Malamute, Bearded Collie, Dobermann Pinscher, Gordon Setter, Large Münsterländer, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Saluki, Siberian Husky

Hypotrichosis: Bichon Frise, Miniature Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, Toy Poodle

Inflammation of the Conjunctiva / Cornea
Ectropium: Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Cocker Spaniel, Newfoundland,  St. Bernard, Shar Pei

Entropium: Airedale Terrier, Appenzeller, Australian Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bull Terrier, Bloodhound, Chow Chow, English Toy Terier, Englebucher, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Jagdterrier, Newfoundland, Poodle, Shar Pei

Double Merle: Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, American Cocker Spaniel, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Australian Shapherd, Beauceron, Border Collie, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Chihuahua, Collie, Dachshund, Great Dane, Hungarian Mudi, Koolie, Norwegian Dunker Hound, Old English Sheepdog, Pyrenean Shepherd, Pomeranian, Shetland Sheepdog

Glaucoma: Alaskan Malamute, Basset Hound, Beagle, Boston Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres, Cairn Terrier, Chihuahua, Chow Chow, Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Great Dane,  Fox Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Norwegian Elkhound, Poodle, Samoyed, Siberian Huskey, Welsh Springer Spaniel, etc.

Boston Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Japanese Chin, King Charles Spaniel, Pug, Pekingese, Shi Tzu, Tibetan Terrier, etc.

Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Dalmatian, English Setter, Shetland Sheepdog, Australian Cattle Dog, Beagle, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bull Terrier, Collie, Dachshund, English Bulldog, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Greyhound, Miniature Pinscher, Old English Sheepdog, Poodle, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Samoyed, Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, Siberian Husky, West Highland White Terrier, Fox Terrier, German Shepherd, Ibizan Hound, Jack Russell Terrier, Kuvasz, Maltese, Papillon, English Pointer

Neurological symptoms
Aggressive Behavior: Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, Fila Brasiliero, Chow Chow, Cocker Spaniel, Jack Russell Terriers, Lhasa Apso, Papillon, Pekingese, Dachshund, Chihuahua, etc.

Idiopathic Epilepsy: Belgian Tervuren, Beagle, Bernese Mountain Dog, Border Collie, Brittany, Cocker Spaniel, Collie, Fox Terrier, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Keeshond, Labrador Retriever, Poodle, Saint Bernard, Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Boxer, Canaan Dog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dachshund, English Springer Spaniel, Harrier, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Pharaoh Hound, Shetland Sheepdog, Siberian Husky, Welsh Terrier

Malformations of the Teeth
Brachygnathia: Boxers, Bulldogs, Pugs, etc.

Tooth loss
: Chinese Crested, Chihuahua, Italian Greyhound, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, etc.

Malformations of the Skull
Persistent Fontelle/hydrocephalus: Boston Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Chihuahua, English Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Manchester Terrier, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Brussels Griffon, Chihuahua

Inability to Breed and Birth Naturally
Chihuahua, Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, toy breeds and brachycephalics.

Some qualzucht features are obvious, others very subjective.

Take a moment to appreciate what a radical concept this is and how significantly it changes the playing field in the conflict between dog breeders and restrictive legislation.  Unlike the majority of laws breeders face which deal with municipal codes such as limits on the number of animals that can be kept, noise ordinances, the condition of the property, how well the animals are cared for, and how the breeder interacts with a buyer, etc., a qualzucht law makes the breeding of certain animals a crime based upon the genetics of the animal itself.  Breeding one puppy with a genetic condition is prima facie evidence of torture: no need to provoke a legal action by offending a neighbor, defrauding a buyer, or failing to register an animal.

This takes breed specific legislation (laws enforced based upon the presumed genetics of the animal) and drastically increases the number of breeds that would provoke criminal charges.  Given the moral theory behind these torture breeding laws, surrender of the animal or removing it from the jurisdiction are likely insufficient resolutions: it’s not simply the illegal possession of a certain breed, the crime of torture has already been committed the moment puppies are on the ground.  If qualzucht laws are treated like animal cruelty laws, then infractions would include felony provisions as forty-two of the fifty states have felony animal cruelty laws that include steep fines and jail time.

The Neo is a cluster of Qualzucht breeding issues.

In future posts on Qualzucht, I’ll try and discover the motivation and lobby efforts behind these laws in the DACH countries and assess what impact if any they have had on breeders and breeds in those countries.

Hat Tip to Steve Bodio for enlightening me to this term and for the engaging discussion on Qualzucht and the motivation behind breeders to distort their animals to the extreme.

If you’re curious what genetic baggage comes along with your breed, check out the Canine Inherited Disorders Database.


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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.