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The growing popularity of flat-faced dogs is a disturbing trend


According to researchers, there’s a massive growth of number of people owning medium sized flat nosed dogs like Pug and French Bulldog. These dogs are called brachycephalic dogs – which means their skulls are compressed causing them more potential health problems particularly in breathing. These dogs also have shallow eye sockets which cause to have protruding eyes.


By looking at the number of dogs spanning 180 breeds registered over the past 28 years in Australia, researchers have been able to build up a picture of trends in dog ownership. What they found was a growing trend and popularity for shorter and smaller pedigree dogs with wider and shorter faces.

“Australians are favouring brachycephalic breeds, dogs with shorter and wider heads, such as the Pug and the French bulldog, more than those with longer and thinner heads,” explains Kendy Teng, who co-authored the research published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology. “Looking at data spanning 28 years, we found that the demand for smaller dogs has increased every year from 1986.”

Pugs, French bulldogs, and other breeds with such wide, flat snouts are what are known as brachycephalic dogs. This simply means that their skull looks like it has been compressed from front to back, and can lead to some severe health problems. The main issue to affect these dogs is difficulty breathing, as despite having shorter airways and narrower nasal slits, the dogs retain all the internal soft tissue making it harder for the animals to draw the air in. This is why the dogs are often heard wheezing and snoring.

The eye sockets of brachycephalic dogs are also shallower, causing their eyes to protrude and making the cornea more exposed. Not only that, but the excessive skin on the dog’s face also forms folds and crevices, giving bacteria and yeast the ideal environment in which to grow. This can ultimately lead to the micro-organisms invading the skin and causing infection and inflammation. Despite being able to treat the dogs with antibiotics and cleaning of the folds, this unfortunately only treats the symptoms, and not the cause.

“Veterinarians are concerned about brachycephalic dogs’ welfare, as these breeds commonly suffer from breathing difficulties, skin and eye conditions, and digestive disorders,” said Teng. “In New Zealand, brachycephalic breeds are number four of the top five dog breeds considered by veterinarians to be unsuitable for continued breeding due to compromised health and welfare. We expect to see vets in Australia treating more dogs with the conditions described.”

What is driving their popularity is still up for debate. The authors suggest that it could be a number of different reasons, such as city-living people downsizing their homes, or a shift towards more people now keeping dogs as companions rather than as work animals.

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 Should people be warned about adopting a flat-faced dog?  Should there be restrictions on breeding these dogs?  Let us know in the comments below.

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