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Breeder fined for short-snouted bulldogs as Netherlands tackles overbreeding

FILE PHOTO: French bulldog Abby gets extra oxygen because of her breathing problems

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch dog breeder has been fined 3,000 euros ($3,200) for breeding bulldogs with too short a snout, which leads to breathing difficulties, as the Netherlands cracks down on overbreeding of pets.

The Dutch regulator NVWA, which is part of the agriculture ministry, said on Thursday that an inspection had shown that the French bulldogs used for breeding had abnormally short snouts and irregular respiration, even at rest.

"In order to prevent a repeat offence, NVWA will also impose on this breeder a 1,500 euro penalty each time an unsuitable parent animal is used for breeding," NVWA said. Total penalties could add up to 9,000 euros, it added.

The fine is the first of its kind and marks another step in Dutch authorities' crackdown on the selective breeding of pets for traits such as short snouts or folded ears that can cause discomfort or disease.

Dutch legislation already bans animal breeding that harms the health and wellbeing of the offspring, but agriculture minister Piet Adema is also preparing legislation that will ban the ownership and advertising of all pets with attributes proved to cause medical problems.

A ministry spokesperson said the ministry was working on specifying which traits cause animals to suffer, adding that she expected new legislation to be presented to parliament next year.

"Meanwhile, the application of existing legislation will be tightened," she added.

Utrecht University's animal health faculty has defined criteria for short-snouted dogs used for breeding, including normal respiration at rest, minimum nose length and nostril openings, and the ability to fully close their eyes.

The dogs that can suffer from overbreeding include pugs, boxers and chows. Since 2014, the Netherlands has banned the breeding of Scottish Fold cats, whose ears are bent forward due to a genetic mutation, and Bambino cats, which are short-legged and hairless.

($1 = 0.9350 euros)

(Writing by Geert De Clercq, Editing by William Maclean)