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Breed Type Under Attack

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies

Breed Type Under Attack: Radical New Hampshire Bill Criminalizing ‘Birth Deformities’ including Brachycephaly Could Threaten Breeding of Purebred Dogs

A bill scheduled for a hearing in a New Hampshire House Committee on March 5, 2024 is a stark caution for all dog breeders and enthusiasts about the lengths to which animal rights extremists will go to attack the breeding and exhibition of purebred dogs.

New Hampshire House Bill 1102 (HB 1102) is one of the most egregious antibreeding bills introduced in a state legislature over the past decade. It adds language to the state animal cruelty code that describes brachycephaly as a “birth deformity that causes suffering”—and would criminalize the sale and breeding of brachycephalic dogs and any dog that could be claimed to have a birth deformity.

Violators could be found guilty of a misdemeanor for a first offense, and of a class B felony for a second or subsequent offense.

While at first glance it appears the main target of the measure is brachycephalic breeds, and a subset of breeders, the bill’s expansive language actually targets breeders of all dogs. The bill does not define “birth deformity,” but instead only refers to vague characteristics that could potentially be interpreted to “cause suffering.”

HB 1102 is not the first radical attempt to use specific health issues to ban the breeding of certain dogs. A 2023 bill in Illinois (HB 2300) would have required vague and unspecified “genetic testing for all dogs owned by dog breeders,” further requiring that if a genetic defect or mutation were found that could cause physical impairment or early death, the animal must be sterilized immediately. Similar but less specific health testing requirements have also been proposed for federal breeder licensing. However, NH HB 1102 is one of the first of this type to gain traction in a state legislature.

Sadly, bills attacking the breeding of specific dogs have been a fixture of canine legislation in Europe for more than a decade. Despite inadequately demonstrated claims about overall health problems in some breeds, they have recently resulted in bans on the breeding of certain breeds. In 2020, the Dutch Kennel Club, under existential threats from government entities and animal rights groups, limited registration of certain brachycephalic breeds. In 2021, the Norwegian parliament passed a law making breeders legally liable for producing healthy dogs. That law became the basis for a 2022 court case that arbitrarily banned the breeding of all Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in Norway. The ban on the breeding of Bulldogs was subsequently rescinded, but the ban on breeding Cavaliers remains.

Animal rights activists have gained significantly more ground in Europe than the US, where many groups, including the American Kennel Club (AKC), are working hard to fight this extremism. Given this history, it shouldn’t be surprising that key testimony in support of the New Hampshire proposal is expected to come not from a resident of New Hampshire but from a British veterinarian flying in from the United Kingdom specifically to testify on this measure.

New Hampshire lawmakers must be left in no doubt that the proposal is unpopular among their residents and should be voted as inexpedient to legislate. AKC; the New Hampshire Dog Owners of the Granite State (NH DOGS), AKC’s state federation; the New Hampshire Veterinary Medical Association; and a coalition of sportsmen’s and animal welfare groups are working to oppose the measure.

AKC and NH DOGS are working to educate lawmakers and correct misinformation that necessarily equates a dog’s skull type (such as brachycephalic) or other structural attributes to poor health, and to educate about responsible and scientific approaches to canine health and breeding.

AKC and NH DOGS urge all New Hampshire residents—and especially dog breeders, owners, and AKC parent clubs and affiliated clubs in New Hampshire—to immediately express strong opposition to HB 1102, and if possible, to attend the hearing in opposition. If you are able to attend and would like to coordinate your testimony with others, please contact: [email protected].

Non-NH residents are also encouraged to share their opposition to the measure on a public portal, available at:

Now is the time to join the fight to protect the future of our breeds. The American Kennel Club and NH Dogs are working aggressively against this overt attempt to control breed type, but we can’t do it alone. Please take the time to educate lawmakers and those around you about responsible dog care and breeding practices—and the value of Breed Standards that are designed specifically to help breeders breed away from health issues and extremes while preserving the genetic diversity crucial for the health and well-being of each unique breed.

Brachycephalic breeds were identified in this bill, but the next bill could target your breed.

Talking Points: What Lawmakers and the Public Need to Know About HB 1102

  • HB 1102 will devastate New Hampshire’s ability to produce purebred dogs and will establish a dangerous precedent for radical legislative proposals around the country.
  • HB 1102 inaccurately concludes that all brachycephalic animals, including dogs, suffer from serious health issues. In reality, brachycephaly does not equal unhealthy. In fact, “brachycephaly” is an anatomical description, not a deformity.
  • Across all dog types, multiple factors can contribute to differences in dogs’ breathing, including physical condition, environment, and genetics. Nevertheless, all breeding of brachycephalic breeds—regardless of respiratory quality, breeder background, fancier status, or club affiliation—will be a criminal act under HB 1102, which will have a chilling effect on all responsible dog breeding.
  • By banning intentional breeding when a “birth deformity causes suffering,” HB 1102 targets all breeds, regardless of phenotype. Breeding dogs is part art and part science; and despite best efforts, chance plays a part when it comes to inherited disease or health conditions.
  • HB 1102 inaccurately implies that all who breed dogs do so without regard for the dogs’ welfare. Facts demonstrate that responsible purebred dog breeders are passionate about both preserving breed characteristics and producing healthier successive generations.
  • Protecting and promoting responsible breeders and the puppies they produce is a better solution than threatening them with criminal prosecution based on inaccurate information that creates a perverse incentive for New Hampshire residents to buy puppies online that are not protected by New Hampshire consumer protection laws.
  • HB 1102 is unconstitutionally vague. There is no way to know how the provisions of HB 1102 would be interpreted and enforced for each breed type or for the varied number of health concerns that are purely internal.
  • Proponents of HB 1102 have failed to provide direct evidence of a prevalent issue with brachycephalic canine reproduction in New Hampshire that results in suffering to justify further consideration of HB 1102.

Suggest an alternative: New Hampshire’s pet buyers would be better served through enforcement and strengthening of its consumer protection laws for pet purchasers.

HB 1102 will devastate New Hampshire’s ability to produce purebred dogs and will establish a dangerous precedent for radical legislative proposals around the country.