I’ve been focussing recently on the issue of pedigree animals that are bred to a particular conformation that results in serious health difficulties, with brachycephalic dogs like Pugs being the classic example. This is a global issue, and in the German-speaking DACH countries of Germany (D), Austria (A) and Switzerland (CH), it has been a crime for over a decade to carry out the deliberate breeding of such animals. The term that’s used to describe this action is “Qualzucht” which translates literally as “torture breeding”.
As well as “torture”, the word “qual” in German can also be translated as pain, anguish, torment, agony and ordeal.
While the legislation has been in place for some time, convictions have been sparse, but last week, two breeders of extreme flat faced pedigree cats were found guilty of Qualzucht. Could this be the first of a trend that could change the way that people breed pets?
Qualzucht does not only apply to conformation: it is equally appropriate for predictable inherited diseases.
Just as vendors are obligated to provide a basic commitment that physical goods are fundamentally sound (e.g. tvs, fridges, washing machines etc), then why should the same type of understanding apply to pets?
Obviously many illnesses happen randomly, and nobody could be expected to be liable for these. But when an animal develops a condition that is predictably related to its breeding, then it seems unfair that the purchaser of the pet should not be protected in some way.
I’ve written a longer piece on this topic at the Telegraph, but my main premise is this: the term “Qualzucht” should become as familiar a part of our daily language as Dachshund, Schnauzer and Rottweiler.