Vets are Taking Action Against the Rise in Brachycephalic (Short-Nosed) Breeds…

Vets are Taking Action Against the Rise in Brachycephalic (Short-Nosed) Breeds…

Going to cause a row here with this one, and many of my friends have these breeds, but this is now becoming a hot topic of conversation…

There is growing rumblings among vets in Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, U.K. and Ireland regarding the rise in popularity of short-nosed breeds including pugs, French and English bulldogs.

In a move welcomed by the Dog Breeding Reform Group who provide “a voice for dogs”, some vets are no longer offering pre-mate tests, fertility assistance and will take steps to advise prospective pet parents against the purchase of such pups.

They are certainly the cool breed of late. There has been a five-fold increase in the number of Pugs registered by the UK Kennel Club in the past 11 years. Unfortunately, a “too significant proportion” of these dogs will suffer serious health issues during their lives. This combined means places like Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has seen a 288% increase in the number of French bulldogs handed in over the last two years.

These issues include breathing difficulties resulting from obstructional defects in the upper airway (the pug pup pictured has had a permanent tracheostomy to help him to breathe) as well as having to pant incessantly. There are many cases where if they run they will collapse gasping for breath. They are more prone to recurring skin infections in skin folds, eye disease and are largely unable to give birth naturally (requiring cesarean).

breathing difficulties in pug

Health issues are just one of the reasons these breeds are being handed into shelters in increasing numbers.

Many of us might remember the BBC recently dropping Crufts for supporting the practice of breeders “playing God” with some breeds, resulting in deformities that will cause great discomfort to the animal born with them. The issue came to a head following a BBC documentary focused on a prize-winning Cavalier King Charles spaniel that suffered from syringomyelia, a condition which occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain. Winning and breeding, winning and breeding, obviously how genetic issues get ingrained in a population when the owners should know better. The RSPCA pulled out in 2009 for the same reason.

The British Veterinary Association said the surge in popularity of these dogs had “increased animal suffering”.

This isn’t a witch hunt guys. A recent survey by the Royal Veterinary College suggests many owners of brachycephalic dogs are not aware of the common underlying health problems. Caroline Reay, chief vet at Bluecross Animal Hospital in Merton, said: most owners – and some vets – think airway noise, and consequently reduced activity, is normal. There are clearly lots of brilliant, loving, short-nosed dog owners out there but the question remains – while most breeds seem to have their own share of issues resulting from poor breeding and poorly managed genetic bottle necks, is it right for us to dick around with a breed so much that it could live a life of discomfort, just because we think it’s cute?

One thing that is not up for debate, it cannot be right for a vet to provide fertility assistance when their oath is “do no harm”. Those two things do not go together.

What are your thoughts?

Dr. Conor Brady

After a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals, five years with Guide Dogs as a trainer and supervisor, some success on Dragons Den with the finest raw dog food company and the last few years both writing and speaking on canine nutrition and health, I can say with some confidence that the pet food and drug industry cares not a jot for the health of your pet.