The health issues which affects pedigree dogs are so severe that a fifth of vets believe that a number of breeds should be banned completely.
The poll was carried out amongst delegates at a Royal Veterinary College (University of London Vet School) conference on welfare problems experienced by dogs bred for their distinctive “flat-faced” appearances. Such “brachycephalic” animals are afflicted by a variety of problems, from breathing issues, to problems with their eyes, skin and teeth.
Despite the fact that no breeds were particularly named in the survey, the issues have been especially linked to several popular breeds, including the pug, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Boxer, bulldog, Boston Terrier and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
An additional third of the vets who took the survey stated that such a ban ought to be introduced except if substantial health enhancements were seen in the animals over the following 10 years. Others said they should be bred with other breeds, to decrease the health issues.
The experts present for the event at the RVC’s campus, near Hatfield, Herts, likewise called for an overhaul in the “breed standards” – the physical characteristics for which pedigree dogs are bred – as a way to dissuade unhealthy breeding. They likewise said judges should penalise dogs showing these “unhealthy” characteristics at dog shows.
Dr Charlotte Burn, from the RVC, mentioned: “There was general agreement that the dog buying public need to put dog health above appearance, whether choosing pure- or crossbred dogs. Our desire for ever more baby-like flat faces and larger eyes is fuelling welfare problems in the very animals we love.”
Due to the fact this kind of animals are selectively bred to have a squashed-faced look, they have a tendency to have narrowed nostrils and windpipes and are susceptible to experience respiratory issues. It likewise usually means they may find it difficult to cool down in high temperatures, due to the fact they find it hard to pant.
They may also experience issues with their eyes, which have a tendency to stand out, since their sockets are so shallow. This may mean the animals are not able to close them appropriately and can actually result in their eyeballs popping out, in case the dog receives a blow to the back of the head, or pulls against its leash too much.
Furthermore, the dogs may experience teeth issues, since there is fewer space to fit them all in, together with infections in the folds of their skin. The conference, last month, was attended by over 50 experts.
The call for a ban by a lot of those present will boost the debate over whether enough is being done to solve health problems in pedigree dogs, which have been under examination since a television documentary in 2008, called Pedigree Dogs Exposed.
The show resulted in a few sponsors and trade exhibitors pulling out their participation from Crufts, the dog show organised by the Kennel Club, the UK’s major organisation for pedigree dogs. The BBC — which had broadcast Crufts for 42 years — ceased its coverage.
A spokesman for the Kennel Club mentioned: “We’re pleased that such an important issue has been given consideration at the RVC conference and the findings again raised the importance of better research, so that we can understand the extent of the problem that we are dealing with and then how best to resolve it.”