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Welfare crisis looms for 'flat faced' breeds commonly used in advertising

Dogs Trust - along with a group made up of members of the veterinary profession, animal welfare organisations, scientists and dog breed clubs - has penned a letter to UK companies who currently do, or who may be intending to use Brachycephalic (or flat faced breeds at risk of developing Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome) in advertising or marketing campaigns.

What is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)?

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome is caused by shortening of the bones in the dog's muzzle.

What is a Brachycephalic breed?

Breeds shown to be at high risk include French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs and Pugs, but, these issues can be relevant for any dog, including other breeds and crossbreeds with shortened muzzles. Breeds with short muzzles are an increasingly popular face shape in pet dogs, with flattened faces found to greatly increase the risk of debilitating lifelong respiratory conditions, leaving dogs chronically short of breath.

The Brachycephalic Working Group is warning that certain brachycephalic breeds have seen huge rises in popularity in recent years, fuelled by their increased prominence in advertising. These dogs are often considered to look appealing, cute or comical, but breeding primarily for their looks has led to health problems including breathing difficulties caused by anatomical defects in the upper airways, recurring skin infections as a result of skin folds, eye disease, inability to give birth naturally or properly regulate body temperature, and spinal disease.

Sudden boosts in popularity of certain breeds such as Pugs and French Bulldogs, can result in huge and profitable markets opening up. As found with Dogs Trust's investigations into Puppy Smuggling, puppies can be churned out with little or no regard for their health and welfare, solely for profit, because they are so easy to sell due to their looks. The use of these breeds to advertise products or services only perpetuates this appeal. It is widely believed by those with an interest in dog welfare, that ethical advertisers and companies have an important role to play in reducing the demand for breeds that can suffer from health problems

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