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Vets Ask Prospective Dog Owners To Avoid Pugs and Other Flat-Faced Breeds

Vets Ask Prospective Dog Owners To Avoid Pugs and Other Flat-Faced Breeds

Wednesday 21 September 2016  17.52 BST  Last modified on Thursday 22 September 2016 14.25 BST
the Guardian


Apparently Veterinarians in the UK are urging prospective dog owners to steer clear of flat-faced breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Shih-Tzus, which can experience debilitating health problems related to their characteristics.

These types of dogs, known properly as brachycephalic breeds, have surged in popularity after a rise in celebrity ownership, but their shortened muzzles put them at risk of breathing and eating difficulties, as well as eye problems.

The British Veterinary Association, which represents vets across the UK, has encouraged prospective dog owners to choose a healthier breed or a crossbreed.

“Vets are seeing concerning trends in dog health and welfare because of the rise in ownership of brachycephalic breeds,” said Sean Wensley, president of the BVA.

“Prospective dog owners need to consider that these dogs can suffer a range of health issues throughout their lives, from eye ulcers to painful spine abnormalities and severe breathing difficulties that can result in otherwise preventable surgery.

“The surge in popularity of these dogs has increased animal suffering and resulted in unwell pets for owners, so we strongly urge people to think about choosing a healthier breed or crossbreed instead.”

Dr Rowena Packer, a researcher at the Royal Veterinary College, said the health issues faced by brachycephalic dogs are to body shapes developed through years of selective breeding. “Basically, it’s where we’ve been selecting for this face shape, but where nature isn’t really compatible with that, so that not everything inside is reducing down how we want it to.

“They find it far more difficult to exercise, or even do normal things like eating. They actually sell specific diets for these dogs because they find it difficult to chew and swallow,” Packer added.

“If you’re breeding dogs with extreme body shapes, no matter how good a breeder you are, you are still putting the puppies at very, very high risk of a long list of conditions.”

Wensley’s warning is at least the third statement this year by the BVA warning of serious health problems faced by brachycephalic dogs. The Kennel Club said the problem is caused by breeders deliberately breeding dogs with exaggerated features.

Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, said: “Breeds such as the French bulldog and pug have seen a sudden increase in popularity in recent years, leading to a huge demand for them. This has provided a ready market for unscrupulous breeders to effectively churn out puppies for profit, outside of any regulation or umbrella of influence, with no regard for their health and welfare.”

Kisko added that anyone who wanted to buy a brachycephalic breed should speak to the relevant owners’ club for advice.

But the secretary of one brachycephalic breed owners’ club, who preferred not to be named, criticised the Kennel Club, saying the organisation registered puppies despite their diverging from recognised breed standards. This exacerbated the problem, she said.

The number of registrations of the breed her club represented had skyrocketed in the past decade, she said.


Tell us what you think about this. Do you steer clear of flat-faced breeds? If not, why not. Leave your comment below. And don't forget to rate this article.

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10 thoughts on “Vets Ask Prospective Dog Owners To Avoid Pugs and Other Flat-Faced Breeds

  1. For me when I choose a dog as my companion I am always fully prepared for any of the health problems that may be associated with that breed. Flat-faced or not they all get the best care possible from me.

  2. I believe that if you get a dog for a companion you have done your homework. I don’t believe that it is a good idea to get a dog without knowing what to expect in terms of care and health of the animal.

  3. I think that the vet’s reasoning here is the cost of treating these breeds when they have something wrong with their breathing. Today many people still don’t have their pets insured so they can’t afford the medical expense and the dog ends up being euthanized. My recommendation is to have your pet insured no matter which breed you get.

  4. I tend to think of myself as an informed pet owner. I don’t shy away from animals because of potential problems. I do my research. After that I decide on what needs to be done to ensure that the animals has the best possible care. If I can’t provide that care I’ll stay away. No vet is going to advise me to stay away from a breed because of potential health risks. If I can’t provide the care needed I’ll stay away from that breed. I will not take an animal that will eventually suffer from my short-fall. Too bad that about 80% of the people who have animals haven’t done their research.

  5. I used to stay away from these types of dogs until I worked on a farm and the farmer had a dozen of them. Mostly pugs. That’s when I fell in love with them. Today, if I had the opportunity, I would definitely have a flat-faced dog knowing the possible consequences.

  6. I’ve often wondered if there was any truth to the extent of the breathing problems that these types of dogs can suffer from. This post answers some of the questions I had but there are still many more that go unanswered.

  7. I really don’t understand what the problem is with these dogs. Shouldn’t the dog owners take full responsibility in knowing what possible medical conditions a particular breed might have? Just because you like the look of a particular breed doesn’t mean that you should get it. Do some research first. Find out about the breed you are interested in. And then buy it ONLY from a reputable dog breeder for that kind of dog.

  8. For me, I wouldn’t stay away from these types of dogs. I find them to be absolutely adorable. I would advise people that if they plan on getting one that they should learn all they can about them and their special needs. And also be prepared on the possible increased visits to the vet as they get older because of an increase in breathing problems.

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