Qualzucht – Torture Breeding
“The most active discussion on adverse breeding effects in companion animals has been in the German speaking community” (The Welfare of Cats page 261 – a section written by A Steiger).
It is nice to venture into other areas and visit German websites to see what the Germans have to say about cats and in this case breeding of all animals that have characteristics which lead to unnecessary suffering and which restrict life.
I don’t know much about the attitudes of Germans to anything. It is time to change that. As you can see, they have a word for extreme breeding leading to health issues – Qualzucht. The word quoted by Mr Steiger is “Qualzuchten”.
If a country has a word for extreme breeding of animals it indicates a concern and a commitment to prevent it. This pleases me no end because we should be concerned with animal welfare whatever form it takes. Perhaps Germany leads the way in this area. Germany is the only country I know of which bans torture breeding through animal welfare law.
Several mainstream cat breeds come to mind that might fall under the heading of Qualzucht. These just come to my mind while writing. This is not necessarily a complete list. There are fringe breeds such as the Squitten – a cat with deformed forelimbs.
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- Modern flat-faced Persian – breathing (and other problems) – breeder defends her position – health.
- Exotic Shorthair – same as for Persian and overshot jaw problems
- American Burmese – rounded head causing severe brain problems and Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome (FOPS).
- Scottish Fold – thickening tail and swollen (thickened) feet
- Manx – Manx Syndrome – multiple health problems.
- Dwarf cats – controversial breeds (there are 14 dwarf cat breeds all hybrids of the Munchkin). The health issues however are quite moderate in truth although I am not arguing in favour of the dwarf breeds. Cat breeding for function and dwarf cat health.
- You might include a sixth, the Sphynx because hairlessness restricts natural behavior – cats can get sunburned and the cat lacks the protection of the coat which exists for a reason.
I have selected some links above. There are many more on PoC. Please search.
The Germans legislate against torture breeding. I believe the legislation is: § 11b of the Animal Welfare Act (prohibition of torture breeds). The law relates to many animals. In relation to cats these specific physical feature are listed:
- Kurzschwänzigkeit or taillessness (comment: Manx and Cymric – does this section include bobtailed cats?)
- Color lightening of the skin and the iris, numbness (my comment: right now I can’t think what this relates to except albino cats but there are no albino cat breeds)
- Folded and curled ears (comment: Scottish Fold and American Curl)
- Anomalies and variations of the coat (comment: there are many cat breeds i.e. hairless cats and rex cats which are often bald or semi-bald and the Peterbald for example).
- Chondrodysplasia – genetic skeletal disorder causing deformity (disproportionate dwarfism) which must refer to the dwarf cat breeds. These breeds are not accepted by mainstream cat associations in the USA and UK in any case.
- Polydactyly – extra toes (comment: there are no health problems associated with this condition as far as I am aware). I am surprised at this as polydactyly is fairly common in the Maine Coon although the CFA disqualifies polydactyl Maine Coons at cat shows.
- Brachycephalic head – rounded, short head. (comment: Persian and Exotic SH)
- Entropion – eyelid rubs eyeball. Affects Bengal and Persian. A weird inherited health condition affecting the Bengal is Bengal Nose (not listed) which is caused by inbreeding in my view.
In the UK, extreme breeding is not specifically banned. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 does not cover it (wrong? Please tell me in a comment). Germany is therefore ahead in this regard. Although, Britain tends to breed more moderately than North America. Indian breeders are fond of the “punch face Persian”.
Conclusion?: For me, I very much like the German approach. Breeding for appearance while turning a blind eye to health is a human self-indulgence which needs to be stopped and banned if necessary.
Update 26th Oct 2017: I have a new article on a new interpretation of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which is now deemed to cover torture breeding. The UK has caught up with Germany. Click on the link below:
Photo of fist by Elvert Barnes
I have to mention dogs briefly. Torture breeding affects dogs as well. Sadly, the most popular dog recently in the UK and one that was purchased more than any other breed during the Covid crisis, was the French bulldog; a breed which suffers from breathing problems due to extreme breeding. And it is sad to report that adopters are drawn in by the appearance because it’s cute but do not take cognizance of the health problems and indeed of the breeding of this dog which was frequently imported from puppy mills on the continent. Animal welfare laws need to protect people from themselves.
UK’s Kennel Club is aware of the breeds that are selectively bred to extreme and which would fall under the banner of torture breeding.
In Norway, the Oslo District Court has banned the breeding of two dog breeds: English bulldog and Cavalier King Charles spaniel. They both violate the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act Number 25.
In The Netherlands there is a general prohibition against breeding dogs with short noses i.e. a short muzzle, which causes breathing problems. The Pug was targeted by this policy in The Netherlands as were a dozen other dog breeds. The focus is on brachycephalic breeds because of the likelihood of respiratory syndrome (BAOS).
Flat-faced Persian cat can’t eat conventionally because the food goes all over their face
The extreme English bulldog face
Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) should revise breed standards as the Kennel Club has done for the French bulldog
Prize-winning blue Persian cat carried like a sack of potatoes by owner
Humans breed cats to extreme and change themselves to an extreme too
Torture breeding yes that’s a good word for what some breeders do to make a fortune out of cats with health problems.
I too hope other countries follow suit and this is stopped,too many cats are suffering.
This is nothing short of fantastic – that’s all there is to say really. GREAT – now lets make everybody else do it.
Yes, the idea and creation of a special word shows true concern and a “civilised” approach to animal welfare.
A new term “Torture Breeding”. India’s first cat club called “Indian Cat Federation ” is affiliated to the “World Cat Federation(WCF)” of Germany.The First cat show by this club was held in Bangalore in April 2013. The traditional Persian cat is common among cat owners but seems most Indian cat breeders are now fancying the “Ultra-Faced Persian”.I wonder if a few years down the cat shows in India, the “Traditional Persian Cat” makes a comeback in the “Show Ring”. The “Ultra-Faced” Persian cat is definitely unsuitable for some of India’s climatic conditions, especially in the warmer and humid city’s like Mumbai. I have seen the eyes of “Punch-Faced Persian” cats watering almost continuously in a few pet shops in Mumbai.Besides breeding cats with certain genetic disabilities its very important for breeders to breed and sell their livestock merchandise (Read cats)in City’s suitable for the climatic livability of the cats.Breeding of fancy and expensive cat breeds has become more of a business to the detriment of the cat and its health.
I’ve never heard the term ‘torture breeding’ but it does describe very well the cats bred especially deformed which often causes health problems.
Good for Germany leading the way in banning it and I hope other countries follow, I can’t believe the UK Animal Welfare Act doesn’t include it! It certainly should!
The phrase “torture breeding” is a literal translation of the German word. Germans tend to create words that describe something. It is a nice phrase because these cats are not infrequently tortured by their disabilities. They withstand them with dignity and silence most often.
Hi Michael. I agree that selective breeding for the purpose of producing cats that differ from the natural norm is questionable on various grounds. Nature has worked for millions of years to perfect or eliminate it’s creations, but humans step in an undermine this process. As you mentioned there are many examples of how this brings about health and survival issues. Natural conditions would normally eliminate useless or detrimental mutations but human interventions can actually perpetuate those non-beneficial changes. I think that is wrong and leads to the degeneration of any animal.
“” Color lightening of the skin and the iris, numbness (my comment: right now I can’t think what this relates to)””
I think the numbness refers to deafness. A bad translation, and this paragraph refers to white cats.
I am not sure about the white cat issue. In Turkey and Cyprus white cats occur naturally. IK, that may fall onto the category of non-beneficial mutation which would normally die out. But is that the case. Are white cats dying out here? This can also be regarded as a beneficial mutation since many humans like the colour, adopt them from the street, and take loving care of them However the first thing that most people then do is neuter or spay them, cutting them off from any future. This clearly works against the survival of the white cat mutation. (dominant white WW). I have a lot of entire white SLH’d cats in order to counter the spay mad habits of people. I have noticed that they seem to have a very good immune system. Suleiman my white odd-eyed Van sailed through an epidemic of panleucopenia whilst still a very young unvaccinated kitten, whereas 2 unrelated coloured kittens died. His descendants and other whites also seem to shrug off seasonal viral infections that sometimes affect my cats.
This would certainly be a beneficial mutation or genetically transmitted efficient immune system.
But back to the topic.
Polydactyl cats are most common in SW England and N America. English seafarers may have chosen them thinking they would be better able to keep steady on the deck of a heaving ship at sea, thus explaining the prevalence of this trait in Maine Coons.
However breeding for unusual and non-beneficial characteristics so as to make a cat different and desirable, obviously for commercial reasons, Is I believe immoral and even cruel-Qualzuchten!