Controversy and Contention for Crossbreeding Plans
By Jessica Freni
Several breeds have been the target of criticism regarding overall health and breeding ethics, largely due to popularity and the large number of dogs of these breeds who are poorly bred, fad colors, hyper types, etc. Primary targets of bans and legislation have been brachycephalic breeds (especially French Bulldogs, Pugs and Bulldogs) and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (CKCS) (which is also brachycephalic). Norway was among the countries to ban the breeding of Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels entirely (though in Dec. 2022 courts overturned the ban on Bulldogs, but upheld it on CKCS and it’s still ongoing in courts there).
Yesterday, the Finnish KC approved a contentious and controversial outcrossing program aimed at both French Bulldogs and CKCS citing health concerns in both breeds. French Bulldogs regarding BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome) and spine in particular and CKCS with cardiac and risks of SM/CM (Syringomyelia (SM) and Chiari-like malformation (CM) are Neurological disorders). Germany, France, Austria and the Netherlands are among countries considering bans or limiting breeding to skull/snout ratio requirements and or out crossing projects.
The new Finnish Kennel Club proposal has outlined approved breeds for crossbreeding both French Bulldogs and CKCS saying, “cross breeding means mating two different breeds or individual dogs that represent two different breeds so that the offspring is registered as the original breed in the Finnish Kennel Club. The cross breeding programme is especially meant for breeds that do not have enough genetic variation to refine the important characteristics for the well-being of the dog.” (https://www.kennelliitto.fi/en/about-us/news/finnish-kennel-club-accepted-separate-cross-breeding-projects-cavalier-king-charles-spaniels-and-french-bulldogs?fbclid=IwAR0nTRCjgkueJI-l_H3xRZoWaLzw4VH5cT_yBGQbSFls6DfllPQ2uYCpLYU )
For the French Bulldog those breeds include:
“Accepted plan for cross breeding the French Bulldog is to use the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Jack Russell Terrier, the Mittel spitz and the Papillon/Phalene as the partner breeds. The Finnish Kennel Club’s breeding committee’s team for cross breeding suggested that the Danish-Swedish Farmdog and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier would be added to the breed club’s plan. However, there is a need for further health examinations and limitations for these two new breeds done by the breed club.” (https://www.kennelliitto.fi/en/about-us/news/finnish-kennel-club-accepted-separate-cross-breeding-projects-cavalier-king-charles-spaniels-and-french-bulldogs?fbclid=IwAR0nTRCjgkueJI-l_H3xRZoWaLzw4VH5cT_yBGQbSFls6DfllPQ2uYCpLYU )
For the CKCS approved breeds to crossbreed with include: Tibetan Terrier, Danish Swedish Farmdog, Beagle, Papillion with considering Moyen Poodles and Japanese Spitz (other breeds mentioned included Shiba Inu and Lhasa Apso).
It is at this time unknown how these resulting dogs will be, or even if they will be, recognized by foreign kennel clubs, including AKC. In the US there are not at this times plans to ban or drastically alter these breeds. Instead, the parent clubs and OFA are expanding health testing such as OFA has a “spine database is a pilot study maintained at the request of the French Bulldog Club of America but also applies to the Bulldog and Boston Terrier breeds” (https://ofa.org/diseases/other-phenotypic-evaluations/spine-database/ ) and recently began hosting BOAS testing/grading clinics.