With their scrunched up noses and sorrowful round eyes, pugs are adorable to look at.
However, all too often their doting owners are oblivious to the severe health concerns pugs – and other sweet ‘squashed-faced’ pooches such as French Bulldogs – often have to contend with.
‘Squashed-faced’ breeds – technically know as brachycephalic – are vulnerable to various health related issues; including skin and eye diseases, breathing difficulties, dental issues, along with the inability to mate or birth puppies.
Such problems arise from unethical breeding, where a cute, baby-faced appearance is prioritised over an animal’s health and wellbeing; with traits such as wide-set eyes and flat noses being bred to the extreme.
Horrifyingly, a new study has found how 75 per cent of brachycephalic dog owners are completely unaware of these health issues before purchasing their pet.
Only 10 per cent of owners were able to recognise health problems related to the brachycephalic dog breed, with many thinking breathing problems such as snorting were ‘normal’ for these dogs.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has now launched the campaign #breedtobreathe to shine a light on these issues, with the hope of raising awareness among potential owners.
According to BVA, 93 per cent of vets treated ‘Squashed-faced’ dogs for breathing problems last year alone.
According to The Guardian, President of the BVA, John Fishwick, said:
They are lovely breeds of dog, they are very friendly and they make good pets,
The problem is a lot of them are really struggling and we really want to make sure people understand this and encourage them to think about either going for another breed, or a healthier version of these breeds – ones which have been bred to have a longer snout … or possibly even cross breeds.
I adore my flat faced boy, but this is worth a read if you're a lover of brachycephalic breeds. Breeders need to take far more responsible, no one wants an unhealthy dog. https://t.co/d1DKn6OMAC
— Lucy Pinder (@LPinderOfficial) January 5, 2018
According to the BVA, there’s been a rise in the UK among brachycephalic breeds, resulting in a population-based surge of poor health and welfare.
Data from The Kennel Club notes a jaw dropping 3,104 per cent increase among French Bulldog registration over the last ten years.
In the same time period, there’s been a 193 per cent increase among Pug registrations and a 96 per cent increase among Bulldogs.
Celebrity ownership is one of the reasons attributed to the increased popularity of brachycephalic dog breeds, which has been taken advantage of by unscrupulous puppy farms.
Fashion and beauty vlogger Zoella often keeps fans updated about her pugs Nala and Buzz, whereas pop star Lady Gaga has often been photographed cuddling up with her French Bulldogs.
Advertising is also held partly to blame for this canine trend, with some big name brands having featured flat-faced animals in advertisements.
It’s important to remember how not all brachycephalic dogs suffer from such conditions, with many living contended, ordinary lives.
According to The Guardian, London-based veterinary surgeon Dr Crina Dragu said:
You see the ones that have happy lives, normal lives, and you see the ones that the minute they are born they spend their entire lives as though [they are being smothered] with a pillow all day, every day,
For more information about how you can help support this campaign, visit the BVA website.