Legal Advisory Group on Extreme Conformation in Dogs
Working towards a legal framework for responsible dog breeding.
Our vision is a world where every domestic dog is born free from extremes of conformation that harm their health and welfare.
Our aim is to use the law to promote the breeding, purchasing, ownership and advertising only of dogs with innate good health, thereby reducing or preventing the suffering that arises due to conformational extremes or inherited conditions at every stage of a dogs’ life.
Our intention is to promote both more effective use of existing UK law and regulation in relation to extreme conformations in dogs and to also propose options for reform, where appropriate.
Our aim is to inform developments in law and policy related to dog health and welfare specifically in relation to extreme conformations. We are not a campaigning organisation. None of the statements or publications by LAGECDogs should be taken as constituting legal advice in any form. Any views and comments on these pages are solely LAGECDogs and the individual authors’ opinions and beliefs and should not be regarded as being attributable to any other organisation to which they may belong or be affiliated.
We focus on extreme conformation in dogs specifically but also recognise and acknowledge the substantial suffering caused by extreme conformation in other companion animal species, notably cats, rabbits and equines.
We address the law of the UK but have a current focus on England.
We are a multi-disciplinary group comprised of lawyers, legal academics, veterinary professionals and animal welfare and behaviour scientists.
The Supreme Court in Norway hands down judgment in dog breeding case. Read more: ‘Important victory for the dogs in the Supreme Court.’
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has updated its advice about canine artificial insemination to confirm that it regards both legal types to be acts of veterinary surgery. Read more here.
Scottish Government launches a consultation on expanding the animal activities licensing regs, open until 26 September. Find more information here.
Scotland Call for Evidence. The Scottish Rural Affairs and Islands Committee has opened a call for evidence following the introduction of the Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill. The Bill proposes measures to encourage responsible ownership and breeding, including proposals for the Scottish Government to make a code of practice for people who are considering getting or selling a dog. The deadline for submissions is 11 August. The link to respond is here.
EFRA Inquiry update. EFRA Inquiry on Pet Welfare and Abuse hears oral evidence on 4 July 2023. Find out more here.
Brachy’s in the media. Dutch weigh law to ban cruelly overbred pets (msn.com) Article published on 22 June 2023 about a proposed ban on ‘possessing and advertising all pets with attributes proved to cause medical issues’.
Legal journal article. Journal of Animal Law publishes article about the legal issues around extreme conformations and breeding. Read here
Stakeholder meeting – breeding extreme conformations in dogs.
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is not fit for purpose in terms of safeguarding the welfare of dogs and their progeny; so was the unanimous conclusion of stakeholders attending a recent conference on the breeding and purchasing of dogs held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare (APGAW). The event, run in conjunction with the University of Advanced settings. Read full article.
Discover more about our approach
Written submissions to DEFRA (2023)
Read our written submissions to DEFRA about the effectiveness of The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 in relation to dog breeding.
Our open response to a student question about dog breeding
We were recently contacted by a student of further education who wrote ‘I’m struggling to find relevant court cases. Is it the case that very few people are taken to task about their breeding methods because it’s perhaps a relatively new problem, or is it just too difficult to get to that point?’ Read Dr Helena Howe’s open response.
Listen to Dr Helena Howe’s podcast series…episode 1 out now.
The English Bulldog is on trial in Norway. The future of the Bulldog hangs in the balance as the Norwegian Supreme Court decides whether breeding of this much-loved breed should be banned. The dogs have done nothing wrong; the fault lies with us. We may find extreme physical features like big eyes, very flat faces or deep skin folds on dogs cute but these traits can cause our dogs to suffer throughout their lives. In the UK we claim to be a nation of animal lovers. Yet we are breeding and buying dogs for their looks despite the evidence of harm. What is the cause of this problem and what should we do about it? Dr Helena Howe explores how the case for a ban reached the Norwegian Supreme Court and talks to leading experts in the field about how the law can help us to help dogs.
Meet the committee
Helena a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex. Her research lies at the intersection of Environmental Law, Animal Law and Agricultural Law and she has a research interest in the breeding and ownership of dogs.
Vanessa Barnes, Solicitor (non-practising), Animal Welfarist (PG Dip. Animal Welfare Science), Legal Advisor at APGAW
Vanessa worked for several years as a solicitor. She has a PG Dip in Animal Welfare Science, Policy and Legislation at Hartpury University and now works on behalf of APGAW (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare) as a legal advisor, helping to guide and support APGAW’s work to improve legislation and drive policy development in the field of animal welfare.
Dr Fiona Cooke: Head of Research (UK and Europe) Donkey Sanctuary
Fiona completed her PhD thesis on companion animal welfare. She is a member of the Dog Breeding Reform Group (DBRG).
Natalie Harney, Naturewatch Foundation, Campaign Manager (Companion Animal Breeding)
Natalie has worked in the animal welfare sector since 2018. She currently leads Naturewatch Foundation’s campaign to end low welfare and illegal companion animal breeding, and her interest in extreme conformation and the law stems from her work around canine fertility clinics. She is also a volunteer and Trustee for the UK Centre for Animal Law.
After completing an LLB and MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law, Tamara began a PhD at Queen Mary, University of London. She has experience with the rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals, mainly rescued from war zones and the illegal trade. Her interests lies with companion animals and her research focuses on breed-related health and welfare concerns and breeding to extreme conformation.
Dr Dan O'Neill, Associate Professor in Companion Animal Epidemiology at RVC
Dan has extensive knowledge of the issues around brachycephalic breeds. He is Chair of the UK Brachycephalic Working Group and co-editor of Health and Welfare of Brachycephalic (Flat-Faced) Companion Animals: A Complete Guide for Veterinary and Animal Professionals (Taylor & Francis Group 2021).
Rowena is a lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science, RVC and editor (with Dan O’Neill of Health and Welfare of Brachycephalic (Flat-Faced) Companion Animals: A Complete Guide for Veterinary and Animal Professionals (Taylor & Francis Group 2021)
Mike is a Reader at the University of Aberdeen with significant expertise in Animal Law. He is author of the legal textbook, Animal Welfare Law in Britain: Regulation and Responsibility (Oxford University Press).
Dr Helena Howe is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex. Her research lies at the intersection of Environmental Law, Animal Law and Agricultural Law. Her current work focuses on breeding and ownership of dogs with extreme conformations, farmed animal welfare and the development of Earth law.
Whilst the information on this website has been carefully prepared, it does not constitute legal advice. This publication should not be used or relied upon and you should not act or refrain from acting, upon the information contained within this publication.
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