Great Debate: Is the planned Dutch ban on flat-faced dog ownership a step too far?

flat-faced pup

In our August 2019 issue, we reported on the Dutch government’s decision to enforce a ban on the breeding of severely brachycephalic, or ‘flat-faced’, dogs. Now, they’re looking to go one step further – banning their ownership altogether. The announcement was welcomed by Dutch animal welfare organisations, while some have said they feel this would be a step too far.

At the end of January 2023, Piet Adema, Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, announced that two bans are being considered: one on the keeping of pets with “harmful external characteristics”, and one on their display. The first ban, that on keeping animals, would automatically mean a ban on trade and import as well.

This would not only affect severely brachycephalic dog breeds: it would include any animal with characteristics that “can be objectively determined to cause permanent suffering”, such as Scottish Fold cats. Under the proposed legislation, owners of these animals will be allowed to keep any pet they already own until the end of their life – but won’t be able to have more.

“This subject affects me not only as a minister, but also as a person,” Mr. Adema said. “We make life miserable for innocent animals, purely because we think they are ‘beautiful’ and ‘cute’. That is why today we are taking a big step towards a Netherlands where no pet has to suffer from his or her appearance. The keeping and display bans with which I want to achieve this will require a lot of time to be carefully worked out. They are a complex pursuit, but also a right pursuit.”

Dutch animal welfare organisation Dier&Recht has welcomed the announcement as “fantastic news”. In the heated discussions that have followed, others were less enthusiastic – saying that legislation banning ownership would go too far, and expressing concern of what may become of flat-faced rescue dogs in need of homes.

What do you think – is the planned Dutch ban on flat-faced dog ownership a step too far?

Let us know what you think here, on Facebook, or by writing to with “Great Debate” in the subject line


  1. I don’t think that banning new ownership of shelter pets already in Dutch should be part of the ban. But I agree with a ban on trade and import.


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