Organisations with an interest in dog welfare have penned an open letter asking companies to stop using ‘flat faced’ (brachycephalic) dogs to sell products.
The Brachycephalic Working Group, made up of the veterinary profession, national animal welfare organisations, scientists, and dog breed clubs are calling for companies to stop using flat faced dog breeds, such as Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogs, to endorse and sell products.
Soaring demand for these breeds, fuelled by their prominence in advertising and marketing campaigns, is creating a health and welfare crisis. Experts believe demand for these dogs, which can suffer from health problems, must be reduced to protect them.
The Brachycephalic Working Group is warning that certain brachycephalic breeds have seen huge rises in popularity in recent years, fuelled by their increased prominence in advertising.
These dogs are often considered to look appealing, cute or comical, but breeding primarily for their looks has led to health problems associated with their body conformation in a substantial proportion of them. These problems include breathing difficulties caused by anatomical defects in the upper airways, recurring skin infections as a result of skin folds, eye disease, inability to give birth naturally or properly regulate body temperature, and spinal disease.
According to registration figures released by the Kennel Club, the French Bulldog has seen a staggering 3,104 per cent increase over the last 10 years, the Pug a 193 per cent increase and the Bulldog a 96 per cent increase in the same time period.
Dr Dan O’Neill, senior lecturer in companion animal epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College, and chairman of the Brachycephalic Working Group, said: “There is a real concern that the use of French Bulldogs, Bulldogs and Pugs in adverts is fuelling the popularity of these breeds, and is widening the market for those who simply wish to make money from these dogs with little or no regard for their health and wellbeing.
“These breeds can suffer from some horrible long-term health conditions. Reducing and ultimately eliminating these health problems is a goal shared by all those who care about the health and welfare of dogs, but we are currently fighting a losing battle while these dogs continue to be used needlessly in thoughtless advertising.”