The RSPCA has warned that flat-faced breeds of dogs, including bulldogs, are prone to breathing problems and other conditions due to their “extreme features”. The charity explained that excessive soft tissue can cause obstruction in a dog’s airways and that the pups’ abnormally narrowed nostrils and windpipes can leave them gasping for air.
The charity explained that these features cause the dogs to struggle to breathe and sleep.
Flat-faced breeds also face eye problems, skin concerns due to excessive wrinkles, and painful back conditions due to their corkscrew tails.
The animal charity has launched a campaign called ‘Save Our Breath’ to urge pet owners to “stop seeing these pets as cute and recognise the serious health issues they face”.
RSPCA chief vet Caroline Allen has explained that she understands the appeal of flat-faced pooches, but that breeding for these features can compromise a pup’s health and welfare.
She said: “Our desire for cuteness and the selection for shorter, flatter faces – known as brachycephaly – has resulted in dogs who struggle to breathe.
“We understand why there is so much love out there for these breeds.
“But it’s wrong that we’re knowingly breeding for features which compromise their basic health and welfare.”
It comes following a surge in demand for flat-faced breeds during Covid lockdowns.
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Branch chief executive Mary McSherry said: “Cleo is one of a growing number of brachycephalic dogs – or dogs with flat faces – coming into the RSPCA’s care with severe health problems due to the extreme features they’ve been bred for.
“Poor Cleo is only four but her life is being severely impacted by the health problems she’s plagued with.”
The charity noticed a significant boom in demand for the breed across a nine-year period.
The RSPCA said the number of British bulldog puppies being registered with the Kennel Club increased 149 percent, between 2011 and 2020.
Meanwhile, the number of French bulldogs registered soared by 1,317 percent across the same timeframe.
Another British bulldog, called Miss Pickles, also suffered similar health problems last month.
The pup experienced severe breathing difficulties so much so that even the lightest exercise could cause her to collapse and “turn blue”.
The charity added she was another dog that found it “impossible” to carry out normal activities such as walking, playing, or even sleeping.
The RSPCA fears flat-faced breeds will be abandoned or relinquished to the charity or other animal shelters as their owners struggle to cope with costly vet bills, particularly during a period when the cost of living is soaring.