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Vets urge not to buy bulldogs, pugs or shih-tzus

Thursday September 22nd 2016

Vets are asking would-be dog owners to avoid buying flat-faced breeds such as bulldogs, pugs and shih-tzus, due to concerns over welfare.

The dogs, known properly as brachycephalic breeds, often experience severe health problems because of their characteristics.

The breeds have surged in popularity in the last few years.

Vets are warning people not to buy the dogs, however, as their shortened muzzles put them at risk of breathing and eating difficulties. The breeds are also known to experience eye problems.

Prospective dog owners are being advised by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to choose a healthier breed or a crossbreed.

"Vets are seeing concerning trends in dog health and welfare because of the rise in ownership of brachycephalic breeds," says Sean Wensley, president of the BVA.

"The surge in popularity of these dogs has increased animal suffering and resulted in unwell pets for owners, so we strongly encourage people to think about choosing a healthier breed or crossbreed instead."

Dr Rowena Packer, a researcher at the Royal Veterinary College, says the health issues faced by brachycephalic dogs are linked to their exaggerated features and body shapes which have been developed through years of selective breeding.

She said: "Basically, it's where we've been selecting for this face shape, but where nature isn't really compatible with that, so that not everything inside is reducing down how we want it to.

"They find it far more difficult to exercise, or even do normal things like eating. They actually sell specific diets for these dogs because they find it difficult to chew and swallow."

Copyright Press Association 2016