Writing in The Washington Post, veterinarian Michael W. Fox says that we have have to stop breeding and buying brachycephalic dogs:
In a recent study of dog trends, lead researcher Kendy Teng of the University of Sydney said, “Australians are favoring brachycephalic breeds, dogs with shorter and wider heads, such as the pug and the French bulldog, more than those with longer and thinner heads. Looking at data spanning 28 years, we found that the demand for smaller dogs has increased every year from 1986.
“Veterinarians are concerned about brachycephalic dogs’ welfare, as these breeds commonly suffer from breathing difficulties, skin and eye conditions, and digestive disorders. In New Zealand, brachycephalic breeds are number four of the top five dog breeds considered by veterinarians to be unsuitable for continued breeding, due to compromised health and welfare.
“This trend is also apparent in the U.K., where bulldogs, boxers and pugs have become increasingly popular in recent years. U.K. kennel club registrations of pugs and bulldogs have climbed from 2004 to 2013; the number of pugs has increased from 1,675 in 2004 to 8,071 in 2013; and French bulldogs also rose from 350 to 6,990. In the United States, numbers of bulldogs and French bulldogs registered with the American Kennel Club have increased by 69 percent and 476 percent, respectively, in the past decade.’’
Readers, in my opinion, breeding dogs with extreme forms of the brachycephalic deformity is unethical. Pups’ large heads can mean a Caesarean birth and a lifetime of partial asphyxiation, limited exercise tolerance and enjoyment of life, compounded by chronic eye, skin, respiratory and oral cavity infections.
They are also susceptible to a host of inherited diseases affecting the heart, joints and other organs and systems. Most airlines will not and should not allow such dogs in cargo holds, where they can suffocate.
Regardless of these dogs’ appeal and appealing dispositions, those who really love them should stop breeding them, and the informed should never consider buying a purpose-bred one, regardless of how adorable the puppies may seem. They make most people smile, but they make me sad and angry.