Is Germany planning to ban dachshunds? New animal welfare legislation could impact beloved sausage dogs

Famous for their short legs and elongated bodies, breeding for 'extreme characteristics' has also lead to some sausage dogs suffering spinal issues
Germany's new law aims to end breeding for extreme features, which could impact breeds like the dachshund (Photo: PA Wire)Germany's new law aims to end breeding for extreme features, which could impact breeds like the dachshund (Photo: PA Wire)
Germany's new law aims to end breeding for extreme features, which could impact breeds like the dachshund (Photo: PA Wire)

New animal welfare legislation designed to stop "torture breeding" has lead to international concern that one European country might ban one of its most popular native dog breeds.

Germany is considering a draft law proposing changes to its Animal Protection Act, which would outlaw breeding practices which could cause long-term suffering to animals. Among the breeds which may be affected are a number of popular pets, including beagles, boxers, schnauzers and dachshunds - also known as sausage dogs.

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Dachshunds have long been bred to have short legs and elongated bodies, with their original purpose being to flush animals like badgers out of their burrows. But exaggerated breeding for their most characteristic features means many of the dogs can suffer health problems, with spinal issues of particular concern.

But would the law change actually see them banned? And are there any similar pushes to ban dog breeds for welfare reasons in the UK? Here's everything you need to know:

Is Germany planning to ban sausage dogs - what would the new legislation mean for the breed?

Germany's agriculture ministry told the BBC that no, despite concerns by interest groups like the German Kennel Association, the breed will not actually be banned.

A spokesperson told the BBC they simply wanted "to prevent breeders from deforming dogs so much, that they suffer". Breeding dogs for extreme characteristics (so-called "torture breeding") has already been illegal in Germany for decades, and the law change would simply outline specific, scientifically-backed criteria on which characteristics should not be bred for.

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Dogs with extreme characteristics which have already been born could stay with their owners, but could not be bred or compete in dog shows, the spokesperson continued. "There will always be sausage dogs... We will just never see any with legs one centimetre long."

Are any similar rules being considered in the UK?

As the government's full ban on breeding or owning American XL bully dogs - without a special exemption - came into force earlier this year, NationalWorld asked whether it was considering banning any other breeds. A Defra spokesperson said they were not - at least, not under the Dangerous Dogs Act legislation.

In terms of animal welfare, the RSPCA is currently running a campaign called 'born to suffer'. It's fighting against the normalisation and promotion of brachycephalic, or flat-faced, dog breeds like pugs, French and English bulldogs, which can suffer from obstructed airways and breeding difficulties due to their 'extreme' conformation.

In a bid to discourage extreme breeding, from next year the Kennel Club will require brachycephalic dog breeds to pass an array of health and breathing tests to compete in Crufts - the world's biggest dog show. But on Germany's new legislation, Kennel Club East Anglia spokesman Bill Lambert told SWNS there should be "education, not bans".

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"I don't think they've [thought] through the implications. Banning breeds simply doesn't work... People switch to similar breeds. Someone will still breed dachshunds. We have seen it in the UK during Covid - people simply looked overseas," he said.

Instead, he said buyers needed to do their research into ethical and responsible breeders who bred "perfectly healthy" dachshunds, to avoid health problems associated with poor breeding.

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