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Short-muzzled dog owners are unconcerned about their dog’s health problems

French bulldog

A study concluded that 66% owners of brachycephalic (round-headed short-muzzled) dogs would recommend their dog breed to others and 93% would adopt another despite the fact that these flat-faced breeds are inherently unhealthy. It seems that they don’t think they are unhealthy or have normalised the health issues. This attitude will perpetuate the breeding of these dogs when people who are concerned about dog welfare want them to be phased out.

French Bulldog at vets

Colorado State University postdoctoral fellow Willana Busuki examines Caroline Dennington’s French bulldog puppy Bruce in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Dentistry and Oral Surgery section, June 11, 2015.

The sort of dog breeds that are being referred to are for example: pugs, French Bulldog and Bulldogs. The French Bulldog is currently extremely popular and the cornonavirus pandemic has enhanced their popularity as there has been a surge in purchases during the lockdowns in the UK. People thought it was a good time to adopt a pet as they had more time on their hands.

The researchers considered it paradoxical that owners of brachycephalic dogs liked and wanted to own a dog that was inherently less healthy than it should be because of the flat-face. Comment: clearly people can put aside the difficulties that health problems pose and are willing to accept them as the appearance of a dog is more important. It is a defect in the breed which is the price they pay for a dog breed that looks cute and desirable.

French bulldog

French bulldog. Photo in public domain.

For me it is the same as buying a Range Rover because it looks good while ignoring the fact that these cars are less reliable than many other SUVs.

It seems that there needs to be a marketing programme to promote more healthy dog breeds running in parallel with a program of education to get people to have a better attitude towards dog welfare.

One fifth of brachycephalic dog owners reported that their dog had undergone surgery to modify their anatomy presumably to overcome such health issues as breathing problems due to the flat-face. The same issue is present in Persian cats incidentally. Heat regulation problems were reported in 36.5% of the dogs in the study and 17.9% had breathing problems.

Owners thought that their dog was very healthy despite the health issues. There is a pereception or expectation error it seems. It bodes badly for gog health as these trendy breeds are likely to be around for years to come.

The study: Great expectations, inconvenient truths, and the paradoxes of the dog-owner relationship for owners of brachycephalic dogs.