NEWS AND COMMENT: under pressure from PETA, Moonpig has withdrawn cards featuring pugs and French Bulldog from sale. In truth, there has been pressure for a long time against manufacturers exploiting the popular but unhealthy faces of pugs and French bulldogs and other similar dog breeds with brachycephalic heads and abnormally flat faces.
It is something we’ve known about for many years. The French bulldog has 21 inherited diseases which have been exacerbated by selective breeding.
Moonpig have made a promise to PETA, the powerful animal rights charity with strict policies and strong statements, that they will stop selling the cards. It follows a study which found that some flat-faced dog breeds could no longer be classified as normal dogs because of the health problems inherent in them.
In the future, a spokesman for Moonpig confirmed to PETA that they would not design or source any further cards featuring these breeds.
In preparing this page, I struggled to find the offending cards because they been removed from the Moonpig website and the only way you can find these cards now is in articles written by the news media on this story.
The Times journalist, Isobel Frodsham, wrote that in her search of the website it was stated that the cards were sold out or there were no results. When I searched there were zero results and substitute cards in their place.
Of course, PETA is delighted and a spokeswoman described the removal of the cards as a “victory”. PETA now wants to extend this new policy to all dogs with impaired breathing due to the flat face and shortened muzzle which will include breeds such as the English bulldog.
Of course, Moonpig’s new policy and PETA’s success will now put pressure on other card manufacturers and retailers to follow suit.
A research study published in May, 2022, by the Royal Veterinary College concluded that pugs were almost twice as likely to experience one or more disorders annually compared to other dog breeds because of their abnormal anatomy including bulging eyes, wrinkled skin, a tendency towards obesity and the defects mentioned above.
The research also concluded that pugs were almost 54 times more likely to suffer from brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome compared to other breeds. The study compared 4208 pugs’ health with 21,835 dogs from other breeds.
Egon Taylor, the director of corporate projects at PETA, said:
“By banning images of pugs and French bulldogs, Moonpig is acting responsibly and helping put an end to the promotion of dog breeds with painful, life-threatening deformities. PETA is celebrating this compassionate first step and will keep working with Moonpig to extend this policy to all breathing-impaired breeds, including Boston terriers, boxers and shih tzus.”
In the Netherlands, Norway, Germany and Austria, restrictions have been placed on the breeding of pugs. In Germany and perhaps in other European countries they have a category of companion animal created out of “torture breeding”. They are banned. These are the flat-faced animals and other cats and dogs selectively bred sometimes from spontaneous genetic mutations enhanced through selective breeding over many years. A cat example is the popular Scottish Fold.
Although the flat face Persian and pug are wholly due to many years of selective breeding to gradually mold the face and head until it’s flatter and rounder. The breeders think they are attractive. It is prioritising appearance over health and this has always been the case in the cat and dog fancy.
The Dutch agriculture minister, Piet Adema, has stated that Holland was planning to ban flat-based pugs and Bulldogs on the basis that their creation was cruel.
“We make life miserable for innocent animals, purely because we think they are beautiful and cute. That is why today we are taking a big step towards a Netherlands where no pet has to suffer from his or her appearance.”
What a great statement! I sense, having studied cat and dog breeds for many years, that the developed world is moving in the right direction on animal welfare vis-à-vis companion animals. It has been a long time coming.
The world-famous The Kennel Club in the UK has been very slow to get on board. They need to dramatically alter the breed standards of these dogs or basically ban the breeds entirely. The problem here is that if The Kennel Club altered the breed standard enough to make pugs healthy, they would no longer be pugs! Remove their flat faces and give them back their muzzle and you’ve lost a pug to the world.
The truth is that the pug should never have been created. Interestingly, The Times, tells me that it is believed that the pug is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. The point, though, is that in the past they did not have these extreme flat-faces. They had longer snouts, tails and legs. They were brought from China to Europe in the 16th century. Queen Victoria kept pugs but they were quite different to the pugs that we see today.
The International Retro Pug Club, based in Sweden and Germany has or is changing the breed standard to ensure that pugs revert to their original form. Under their policy, dogs are subjected to more rigorous standards such as CT scans and x-rays by vets to ensure that their health is up to scratch.