A a new breed of dog has won the hearts of Americans. While Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular pedigreed dog for a record 31 years, French Bulldogs, or “Frenchies” as enthusiasts call them, took the top spot for the first time in 2022, according to the American Kennel Club. announced March 15th.
But the choice is not without controversy. Veterinarians have long warned that the popularity of the breed is adding to their suffering. Like other wrinkly-faced dog breeds such as pugs and bulldogs, Frenchies suffer from a number of health issues related to their distinctive shape. And as their popularity soared and the price of a puppy soared into the thousands of dollars, veterinarians warned that there was an incentive to breed more dogs at the expense of their health.
Compared to many other purebred dogs, French Bulldogs are unusually susceptible to certain diseases, including spinal problems, childbirth difficulties and skin problems. One of the most serious problems is “brachycephalic obstructive respiratory system syndrome (BOAS)”, which makes it difficult for dogs to breathe. While some dog owners may find it normal for French Bulldogs to snort and wheeze, veterinarians warn this condition is detrimental to the quality of life of dogs and is associated with health problems such as gastroesophageal reflux, sleep problems, and hypertension, and may require lifelong health maintenance, including surgery. In accordance with one studyFrench Bulldogs are about 31 times more likely to suffer from obstructive airway syndrome than other dog breeds.
Some airlines, including American ones, even have prohibited all bulldogs and other snub-nosed dog breeds from cargo bays due to respiratory problems in puppies.
As French bulldogs become more popular, the number of dogs with BOAS is also increasing, warned Dr. Peter Sandø, director of the Companion Animal Welfare Center at the University of Copenhagen. statements through the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) released in February. The WSAVA stated that the popularity of short-nosed dogs has led to a “canine welfare crisis”.
“Selective breeding of exaggeratedly short noses has resulted in dogs whose health is in many cases compromised for the sake of seeming ‘cuteness’. It’s just unethical to breed dogs that have difficulty breathing,” Sando said.
A man holds a French Bulldog during the Westminster Kennel Club’s 144th Annual Dog Show on February 10, 2020 in New York City.
Stephanie Keith – Getty Images
Some animal organizations and welfare advocates are pushing for improved breeding practices to protect the health of French Bulldogs and other puppies. In 2021 United Kingdom Kennel Club updated his standard for French Bulldogs encourages breeders to avoid exaggerated features that could be detrimental to their health and to breed dogs with “well-defined muzzles” with prominently open nostrils.
The WSAVA urged breeders to prioritize raising animals without health concerns, including by testing the animals to make sure they can breathe or checking if they can go for a three-minute walk without trying to breathe.
Following the announcement of new standards in 2021, Dr. Laura Hamilton, a UK veterinarian, said in a statement through the kennel club that pet owners should be aware of dog health issues.
“These days, social media can often influence how dogs are bred, so we encourage all potential owners to fully research the breed before making any decisions, talk to experts, and find a responsible breeder who looks out for their health. dogs, she said.
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