Vets fear that parents may soon be fielding more requests for pet pugs as Disney’s latest film, featuring flat-faced ‘hero’ Patrick hits screens. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urging parents to resist any pester power prompted by the film because the dogs are prone to painful breed-related deformities.
In an effort to dissuade families from adding a pug to their household, BVA has released new statistics showing that 98% of companion animal vets treated brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs for health issues last year. Overall 95% of practices treated at least one brachycephalic dog with eye problems, 93% treated breathing issues and 89% treated skin problems.
BVA president John Fishwick said: “We know from past films that when a dog takes a starring role their breed often experiences a surge in popularity for years afterwards. That’s why a film featuring a flat-faced pug is unhelpful at a time when vets and other welfare organisations are desperately trying to discourage ownership of these breeds.
“Filmgoers, including young children, may well be charmed by the antics of Patrick but the reality is that thousands of pugs and other flat-faced dogs such as French Bulldogs struggle with serious health problems, which often require invasive and costly surgery to correct. Patrick himself may be healthy, but we know from our survey that almost every vet in the country is seeing pugs in their practice who are not.
“We understand that kids watching this film may be convinced that they want a pug in their home but we’re asking parents to resist the pester power and choose a healthier breed, crossbreed or mongrel instead.”
Dr Rowena Packer, a research fellow from the Royal Veterinary College, added: “Films are potentially powerful events that can shape our preferences for many years after their viewing. Research has demonstrated that the release of films featuring dogs is often associated with 10-year surges in popularity of the featured breeds. In light of current efforts to curtail the popularity of pugs and other flat-faced breeds, the timing of Patrick’s release is of real concern.”
“Depictions of pugs as snoring, greedy, clothes-wearing mini people is potentially damaging to their welfare, with owners misinterpreting clinical signs of disease as ‘cute’ characteristics of the breed.”