China's crackdown on pet dogs

The National Companion Animal Standardisation Committee has issued strict guidelines categorising dog breeds

It seems there is little the state can’t control – Chinese bureaucrats have created strict national guidelines determining which animal breeds are suitable as house pets.

The National Companion Animal Standardisation Committee was established in Beijing on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported, citing state news wire Xinhua.

Its standards will be forwarded to China’s National Standardisation Management Committee, which is already responsible for standardising everything from electrical transmission grids to Velcro.

It is bad news for the country’s dogs. Once venerated in China, pooches have been the sore losers of the Cultural Revolution. Beginning in 1966, the movement saw people banned from keeping dogs as pets and they were eradicated by the tens of thousands.

“Dogs were seen as a symbol of the bourgeois, therefore they were involved in the class struggle,” Marina Shafir said in an interview with gbtimes.

“There was a mass extirpation of dogs, and many of the original Chinese dog breeds almost became extinct.”

In recent years, it has become more common for people to own dogs as pets, particularly among the middles classes, but the battle is not yet over.

According to China Daily, last year the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau announced a crackdown on dogs. It said animals that exceeded a height of 35cm, or were one of 41 breeds identified as violent - such as bulldogs and collies - would be banned in designated areas, including central districts and some rural regions across the capital.

But records from 2012 showed that Beijing is home to more than 1 million registered dogs, leaving owners with suddenly outlawed pets in a bit of a pickle. The Public Security Bureau suggested that the pets be given away to shelters. Unsurprisingly, few owners obliged.

The public forgot about the issue but the regulators did not – on 2 April the National Companion Animal Standardisation Committee explained its plans to test various breeds to ascertain how they measure up in specific categories, including “body-type, disposition, disease resistance, and ease of training,” Bloomberg reported.

Following these tests, an analysis will take place and the various breeds will be slotted into categories that include “aggressive dogs, working dogs, active dogs, hunting dogs, sheep dogs”, to help families and governments choose pets.

“New standards are more scientific and meet actual demands of family dog owners,” said Wei Haitao, Secretary General of the Committee.

Apparently China is not yet prepared to let sleeping dogs lie.