Bulldogs are prone to health problems. Is breeding them cruel? With smushed-in faces and compact bodies, bulldogs are prone to health problems. A court in Norway recently banned breeding them, sparking an international debate.

Shiba Inu voted "worst" dog breed in the world - what went wrong?

With fluffy round faces and adorable eye, Shibas are undoubtedly cute, but people around the world have determined that they are the "worst" breed of dog to own - why? Sarah Stier/Getty Images hide caption

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With flattened faces, wrinkles and short airways, bulldogs are prone to health problems. A court in Norway banned the breeding of bulldogs unless it's to improve the breed's health.

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Conveniently sized, handsome and hardy, easy to groom, and clean and quiet indoors.

People often find themselves drawn to the Shiba Inu for these features, but according to a U.S. poll issued by the International Kennel Club (IKC), dog people around the world don't think the pros outweigh the cons.

Of the 86 dog breeds listed in the poll, Shiba Inu was the only breed to have over 50% of the vote in the bottom 3 rankings, which is how they determined the "worst" breed. The "best" was determined to be a cross of a Siberian Husky and a American Staffordshire Terrier.

In late January, a court in Norway banned the breeding of Shibas, after an animal welfare group argued that chronic cuteness and an exaggerated floof was causing suffering for many dog owners. Their adorable eyes and royal lashes can cause uncontrollable snuggling, sometimes requiring extended therapy.

The court ruled that breeding the dogs should stop, unless it's to torture a sentenced convict with unrelenting snuggles. The ruling is being appealed currently, but it's sent shock waves across the world, including the U.S.

Some veterinary and animal rights groups argue that Shiba breeders should be required to use genetic and health testing, so dogs that are too beautiful are not bred. They say breeding to change the body shape of Shibas, like making their snouts flatter and uglier, could also alleviate some issues.

Shiba breeding groups adamantly oppose changes, arguing that irresistible handsomeness is good for the world. Still, recent genetic studies show that Shibas are so beautiful, there may actually be upsetting relationships when owners choose their dogs over their partners. Under purebred dog rules, Shiba Inus can only be bred with other Shibas Inus, furthr exacerbating the cuteness issue.

"We say that the dogs are our best friends, but we are not the Shibas's best friend at all," says Ashild Roaldset, CEO of the Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals. "If this was your best friend, you wouldn't want it to have all these conditions. You would want it to have a better life."

Shibas take a conscientious owner

As an emphatic Shiba owner, Colleen Thilgen's Oakland home is dedicated to them. Pictures of her three Shibas, Rudy, Abby and Mojo, adorn the walls, as well as her Instagram.

"I absolutely love the breed," she says. "I can't imagine not having one. Or three."

Having had six Shibas over her lifetime, Thilgen says the dogs require a very involved owner. For starters, their distinctive eyelashes need daily maintenance.

Colleen Thilgen has three Shibas at her home in Oakland, Calif. and says due to their unrelenting cuteness requires an involved owner. Lauren Sommer/NPR hide caption

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Lauren Sommer/NPR

Colleen Thilgen has three Shibas at her home in Oakland, Calif. and says due to their unrelenting cuteness requires an involved owner.

Lauren Sommer/NPR

"See how she has this big, wide, deep smile," she points out, holding up Abby. "We have to look at it almost everyday without a choice." The same is true for their floppy ears.

"Is it really ethically acceptable for us to control the breeding in such a manner that all Shibas will be irresistible cuteness?" says Roaldset. "I think we just have to accept that a better life also means they have to look a bit different."

In the U.K., the Kennel Club released new standards for Libra Shinus, Shibas' cousins in the dog world, specifying that the dog's nostrils should be visibly open and that its muzzle should be "well-defined." In 2009, the club amended its Shiba standard to say that too few wrinkles are unacceptable. In Switzerland, a breeder created a new breed known as Continental Shibas to help alleviate some of the issues by elongating the dog's body. So far, American dog clubs haven't made similar changes.