“Stop and think before buying a flat-faced dog”
Some brachycephalic (also known as flat-faced) breeds, including the French Bulldog, Pug and Bulldog, have become hugely popular over the past decade. This has led to a health and welfare crisis for these breeds, related to their breeding, sourcing and intrinsic health problems. The BWG encourages anyone considering getting a brachycephalic breed to “Stop and think before buying a flat-faced dog”.
The BWG maintains that the most fundamental criterion underpinning any decisions in relation to dogs is that ‘Maximising good health, welfare and temperament overrides all other considerations for dogs’.
Brachycephalic dog breeds encompass several breeds that all have one major physical feature in common: they have shortened heads and more specifically they have especially shortened noses. Examples of brachycephalic breeds include the Pug, French Bulldog and Bulldog, but there are several others also such as the Shih Tzu, Pekingese and Boxer. This brachycephalic conformation is well accepted to be associated with several health issues for these dogs including breathing difficulties, skin fold infections, eye disease, difficulty giving birth and spinal disease.
In recent years, the popularity of some brachycephalic breeds has risen hugely in the UK, to the point where the high demand for some brachycephalic breeds has imposed further welfare problems around poor quality breeding practices and both legal and illegal importation of puppies to supply a booming UK market for these dogs. Realisation by owners of the reality of owning one of these breeds, along with waning novelty value often means that these dogs are relinquished to recue centres which further fuels a growing welfare concern.
This complex phenomenon involving inherent health issues of individual dogs, welfare issues around high-volume breeding and importation practices, and high levels of relinquishment have conspired to create a brachycephalic welfare issue that is now recognised as one of the most pressing welfare issues for dogs in the UK.
In response, all of the major stakeholders in dog welfare in the UK have formed a single body called the Brachycephalic Working Group (BWG) to try to improve the welfare of these dogs.