Cute, tiny dogs are like kryptonite – we can’t help but love them.
But by buying them, we may actually be doing more harm than good.
The thing about little dogs with large heads is, well, they’re kinda fucked.
Vets call these squishy faced dogs brachycephalic breeds, basically meaning they have a short skull and a smushed face. Pugs and french bulldogs fall under this category, but crossbreeds can suffer from ‘smush face’ too.
Professor Paul McGreevy, who helped put together the study, explained to VICE why these pups have a hard time breathing:
In dogs with short skulls, the teeth get crowded and the soft palate tends to become too loose and floppy. The dog then struggles to acquire oxygen, and struggles to get rid of heat because it pants less efficiently.
And those cute little folds on their face? Well, not so cute. Paul added:
As for skin problems, the folds of facial skin can develop eczema, and the eyelid may roll onto the cornea, causing a great deal of pain and sometimes blindness.
Because of this, breeds like pugs and frenchies can live a whole four years less than their non-smushed-face counterparts.
But yet they’re extremely popular as pets. And as the number of these dogs being bred and traded grows, veterinarians are being warned by researchers that they need to be prepared for a significant increase in cases of diseased dogs.
So why do we keep buying them?
According to Max Zuber from the University of Sydney’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, it’s due to our downsize in homes, he told ABC.
In New York, the French Bulldog became the number one dog for city-dwellers – and that’s a problem. The upsurge in buying these bug-eyed pups is calling for more breeding, and in turn, more debilitating health problems.
The whole thing isn’t great news for anyone who wants a flat-faced dog.
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It surely won’t stop everyone from buying these aw-inducing pets, but before you buy one, think twice about its genetic health problems.
Sean Wensley, the British Veterinary Association’s president, told As It Happens host Carol Off: “We would liken it to us as humans having to spend our entire life breathing through a drinking straw.”
So while they may be cute, it may be best to coo at them from afar and set your sights on another breed.