The increasing popularity of brachycephalic dogs has triggered a warning from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Hereditary Disease Committee (HDC).
Brachycephalic breeds, such as French bulldogs, English bulldogs, and pugs, can have exaggerated anatomical features that can seriously affect their health and well-being, with the most serious being Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).
The HDC has produced a video highlighting the problems that BOAS can cause in brachycephalic breeds and is calling on all stakeholders – breeders, owners, veterinarians, media, regulators, and others – to work together to improve the welfare of these breeds going forward.
Speaking during the video, Dr Peter Sandøe, Director of the Centre for Companion Animal Welfare at the University of Copenhagen, that with French bulldogs now being the most popular breed in many countries and with English bulldogs and pugs also very popular, the number of affected dogs is increasing dramatically.
“Selective breeding for an exaggerated short nose has created dogs whose health, in many cases, is compromised for the sake of perceived ‘cuteness’. It is simply unethical to breed dogs which struggle to breathe.”
The 17-minute long video features members of the WSAVA HDC and other experts explain how the appearance of brachycephalic dogs has been affected by breeding for extreme and exaggerated anatomical conformation.
Dr Jerold Bell, Chair of the WSAVA HDC, said that breeders did not purposefully select for dogs with impaired breathing but there is no doubt that breeding to create dogs with ever shorter muzzles has created serious health issues in these breeds.
“We hope our video will help educate breeders, owners, and all of those involved in or influencing the breeding and care of short-nosed dogs. We also hope it will give them useful advice on the steps they can take to help as we work together to resolve a serious welfare issue. All dogs deserve to live healthy lives. We must not let them down.”
The video is available here: www.wsava.org/boas