The NAWT is concerned about the rapid rise in popularity of the French Bulldog as the Kennel Club announces it has becomes Britain’s favourite pet dog.
French Bulldogs are at risk of health problems prevalent in the type of dog, commonly called brachycephalic.
Brachycephalic literally means ‘shortened head’ and is used to describe a short skull shape, which gives the appearance of a flattened face which you see in breeds like Pugs and Persian cats.
It can affect dogs, cats, rabbits and other animal species.
It is thought their appeal to humans lies in their cute 'baby-like' appearance with large heads and bulging eyes.
Yet it is exactly these traits which are creating significant health and welfare issues for these breeds.
NAWT CEO Clare Williams said: “While it is completely understandable why these animals are appealing, brachycephalic pets can come with all manner of health problems resulting in expensive vet bills.
"As a rehoming and rescue charity we are likely to see the darker side of this craze as some of these animals are given up due to the fact that people can longer afford to keep them due to their health problems. It’s heart-breaking all round.
“People need to do thorough research on any breed of pet before they consider having one in their family. We urge people to talk to their local rescue centre like NAWT before buying any pet.”
NAWT supports a drive for healthier standards amongst brachycephalic dogs and cats and an increase in awareness amongst current and prospective owners of the health and welfare issues associated with brachycephaly.
What are the health problems for brachycephalic pets?
A shortening of the skull over generations has resulted in a number of very serious health issues which include:
- Breathing difficulties including grunting, snoring and wheezing, overheating, pauses in breathing during sleep and fainting during exercise. This breathing disorder is known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome or BOAS, which may require surgery to enable the dog to breathe properly.
- Eye disease due to the eyes being so prominent, such as corneal ulcers from injury to the exposed bulging eyes or dry cornea as the animals are unable to blink normally
- Repeated skin infections due to the excessive wrinkles and skin folds, usually around the nose and mouth or tail
- Dental problems as the development of the shorter skull has resulted in a shorter upper jaw which still need to accommodate the same number of teeth
- Neurological problems due to the skull and therefore the brain being compressed.