Half of flat-faced dogs require surgery to help them to breathe

Flat-faced dogs such as the French bulldog have brachycephalic skulls. Their muzzles are substantially shortened. This alters their internal anatomy. This, in turn, makes it harder to breathe. And it is so bad that Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (Battersea) have operated on 244 flat-faced dogs brought to them out of a total of 500. This represents nearly half of all the brachycephalic dogs brought to them requiring an operation called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome surgery.

Breathing difficulties with brachycephalic flat-faced dogs

Breathing difficulties with brachycephalic flat-faced dogs. Photo in public domain.

There are two other points in the story which come to my mind and which are equally shocking. The first is that recently the French bulldog is perhaps the most popular dog in Britain in terms of the number adopted. Perhaps the second most popular is the Dachshund which is also bred to extreme with a highly elongated body and short legs caused by dwarfism.

The second point worth noting is that 90% of the people who adopt the inherently unhealthy French bulldog don’t care about the health problems. They have either failed to research the problem because it doesn’t cross their mind or they know about it and still go ahead and adopt one of the dogs. This clearly tells us that appearance trumps health by a long way.

Update the next day: almost nobody is reading this article ?. This proves the point that I am making. People simply aren’t interested in the inherited health of their dogs. I find this really peculiar. The inherited health of a dog is of vital importance. It affects the well-being and welfare of the dog. It affects the dog’s owner in terms of the relationship and the cost of maintaining the dog. People need to get their minds around this.

And they pay some exorbitant prices as well because if demand is high for a certain dog breed you going to pay more, perhaps three times more than normal on occasions. The Covid pandemic drove this distorted marketplace.

On one occasion, Battersea had to perform the above-mentioned surgery to save the life of a flat-faced dog whose name is Max. When he arrived at Battersea vets found that he was struggling to breathe and was suffering with skin infections and eye ulcers because of his flat face. Max is now able to live a better life but Battersea say that these flat-faced dogs will never live as good a life in terms of activity levels as standard dogs with normal muzzles and normal skulls. As I understand it, I ulcers can develop because the eyeballs are two protruding which makes it harder for the eyelid to protect the eyeball.

The French bulldog is described as cute. Their appearance is aesthetically cute to some people but their health is distinctly ugly. Battersea say that:

“Many brachycephalic breeds have airway so narrow that even carrying out simple tasks can be a struggle, and many will never be able to live the life of a normal dog.”

I think that you will find that Lewis Hamilton’s British bulldog has a number of health problems which I believe he has talked about.

And it isn’t just the difficulty in breathing with these dogs. Irresponsible breeding of them results in a multitude of other health issues according to Battersea. They can have excess skin folds and eye infections. Battersea encourages people to think about the health issues but, as mentioned above, most adopters don’t bother. They are too enamoured of the appearance to do due diligence.

The price of these dog breeds is high but they will find that the cost is much higher when they’ve looked after the dog for a couple of years because of the need to take them to a veterinary clinic to perform surgery which is expensive.

No doubt many adopters are sometimes giving up their dog to animal shelters such as Battersea for these reasons. It’s shocking, it truly is.

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