The British Veterinary Association (BVA) are urging vets, veterinary nurses and members of the public to join their #BreedtoBreathe campaign which seeks to highlight growing concerns about the popularity of brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds. There is growing concern amongst companion animal vets that pet owners are being led to choose these breeds by the image usage of big commercial brands and their popularity amongst celebrities.
The most commonly found brachycephalic breeds are:
- English Bulldog
- French Bulldog
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Boston Terrier
- Shih Tzu
Their baby-like faces, with big round eyes and flat noses portray a very 'cute' image and generations of selective breeding to highlight these features has focused on appearance over health. The result being that these breeds are prone to skin disorders, eye ulcers and breathing difficulties.
A recent survey of 671 vets found that 75% of owners were unaware of the health problems of brachycephalic breeds before they purchased one. They also reported that the additional costs associated with owning one, such as corrective surgery and higher insurance came as a shock to nine out of ten owners.
Unfortunately, their popularity continues to be on the rise. The Kennel Club reported only 692 French Bulldogs registered in 2007 compared to an epic 21,470 in 2016. If the demand for them continues to grow then this selective breeding will continue, in order to meet that demand.
The BVA would like to not only educate owners about the health problems associated with these breeds but to also appeal to the general public to help discourage big brands from using these 'cute' breeds in their marketing. If consumers vote with their feet and don't buy promotional items, gift cards, home furnishings etc. with these images on then the popularity will wane.
If you are choosing a new puppy and were considering a brachycephalic breed please think very carefully about the associated health problems that many of the pure breeds have. It may be worth considering a cross breed instead or looking for a breeding line where the shorter snout has not been emphasised. For more information on the campaign please click here.