Dogs pay with their health, happiness, and lives for humans’ obsession with breeding and buying them based on their appearance. All “purebred” dogs suffer from genetic conditions that can cause pain, discomfort and weakness. Many face lifelong disabilities, illnesses and premature deaths because humans inbred them and bred them to have grotesquely deformed physical features, such as flattened faces.
French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Shih Tzus and other flat-faced dogs are Respiratory Impaired Breeds (BIB). They are afflicted with an uncomfortable, debilitating and sometimes fatal disease called brachycephalic syndrome. It leaves many dogs struggling just to breathe and is the leading cause of death in bulldogs. Walking, chasing a ball, running and playing – the things that make dogs’ lives joyful and fulfilling – are impossible for many BIB dogs.
The American Kennel Club, a registry for purebred dogs, publishes “breed standards” by which dogs are judged. These standards – which require bulldogs, pugs and other breeds to have extremely shortened noses and flat faces – are directly responsible for the suffering of these animals.
“All kennel clubs have to take responsibility for setting these standards of breeding, and these standards have become so insane that these dogs are struggling,” said veterinarian Dr Scott Miller. “They are in pain, they are uncomfortable and in many cases they need surgical correction to be normal.”
Recognizing how cruel it is to condemn dogs to suffer and die for nothing more than arbitrary human aesthetic preferences or the latest fad, Norway has banned the breeding of bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Austria, Germany and the Netherlands also restrict the breeding of dogs with deformities that cause pain or distress. (Appropriately, Germany calls these dogs “tortured breeds.”) All countries should follow suit, and people who care about dogs should never perpetuate their misery by buying them – or any—breeding or pet shop dogs.
Short nose, long list of problems
BIB dogs were bred to have muzzles shortened and pushed so far against their skull that there is not enough space to accommodate their normal anatomical features. This causes a series of distressing and painful symptoms in dogs, including labored breathing, snorting, snoring, coughing, nausea, retching, vomiting, easy fatigue, collapsing and fainting. . Over time, brachycephalic syndrome can lead to secondary problems, including inflammation of the airways and pressure on the heart from difficulty breathing.
Here is just one partiel list of the many health problems caused by breeding flat-faced dogs.
- Stenotic nostrils: Abnormally narrowed or small nostrils, which restrict airflow
- Extended nasopharyngeal turbinates: Tissue-covered bony ridges that extend into the pharynx, causing airway obstruction
- Elongated soft palate: This tissue can partially block the trachea (trachea), contributing to breathing difficulties.
- Hypoplastic trachea: A trachea with an abnormally small diameter, which may restrict airflow
- Everted laryngeal saccules: The sacs inside the larynx turn outward or are sucked into the airways due to the increased respiratory pressure resulting from the dogs difficulty in breathing.
- Laryngeal collapse: The larynx (voice box) cannot open as wide as it should due to chronic stress on the cartilage. This can happen in dogs under 6 months old and severe obstructions can even lead to death from suffocation.
- Sleep Apnea: Some dogs with this problem tend to sleep in a sitting position with their head up or with a ball between their teeth so they can breathe.
- Heat stress and heat stroke: Because flat-faced dogs cannot breathe well, they cannot cool themselves effectively. Physical exertion, stress or excitement can quickly escalate into crisis for these dogs, especially in hot or humid weather or if they are overweight, as are many pugs and bulldogs – these breeds are prone to ‘obesity. A study conducted by a pet insurance provider found that brachycephalic breeds are associated with a more than 100% increase in heatstroke claims. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, BIB dogs are more likely to die on airplanes, accounting for nearly half of dog deaths over a five-year period.
- Dental problems: Severe crowding of teeth, misalignment of bites, rotating teeth, chronic ulcers, and other issues cause pain and often require extractions. Dental disease causes chronic mouth pain, which makes eating even soft foods painful for dogs.
- Eye problems: Deformed skulls cause dogs’ eyes to bulge, which can lead to corneal infections and ulcers, an inability to fully close the eyes, and even the eye popping out of its socket. These dogs are also predisposed to fur or eyelashes growing towards the eye, rubbing it and irritating it. These conditions can lead to blindness.
- Skin issues: Excessively wrinkled skin is prone to infections and dermatitis.
- Gastroesophageal reflux: Chronic pressure caused by difficulty in breathing is thought to be a major cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Dogs with this condition regurgitate, gag, produce excessive saliva, and vomit, which can inflame the upper esophagus, pharynx, and larynx.
- Forced artificial insemination: Due to their narrow hips and abnormally large heads, an estimated 80% of bulldogs are bred by artificial insemination and delivered by caesarean section.
Greedy breeders profit while dogs pay dearly
In light of all the suffering caused by breeding flat-faced dogs, why do breeders keep doing it? Because people keep buying it– and because dog shows like the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show encourage breeders to produce litter after litter in hopes of having a prize-winning dog, they can then profit by breeding and selling the dog’s puppies. The breeding industry is big business, and as long as there is money to be made selling, showing, and breeding dogs, greedy breeders will continue to produce more, no matter how hard they make dogs suffer in the process. Advertisements, TV shows, movies, and other types of media that feature BIB dogs, as well as the celebrities and influencers who buy them, also increase demand.
People who buy BIB dogs often find themselves financially and emotionally overwhelmed trying to manage their many costly health problems. In one study, one-fifth of brachycephalic dog keepers said their dog had had at least one surgery related to deformed physical characteristics. These surgeries are not only expensive, they are dangerous, extremely painful, and traumatic for dogs and their human families.
Recovering from surgery is painful and stressful for any dog, but it also carries a high risk of complications for dogs who already have trouble breathing. This is because BIB dogs are at a higher risk of life-threatening complications from even simple routine procedures. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons notes, “Severe inflammation or bleeding can obstruct the airway, making it difficult or impossible to breathe.” Some dogs need a temporary or permanent tracheotomy – in which a hole is surgically cut into their trachea and a tube can be inserted – just so they can breathe.
Even after enduring the pain and distress of surgery and recovery, many brachycephalic dogs still struggle to breathe for the rest of their lives. According to a report from Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, “[A]Almost all animals will continue to show some degree of signs of upper airway obstruction.
When people can’t or won’t pay for surgery and other medical procedures, BIB dogs suffer even more, deprived of the veterinary care they desperately need. Some are abandoned at shelters, donated, sold online to unsuspecting and ill-equipped people, or abandoned.
Dogs need to breathe, not breed
Humans caused brachycephalic syndrome by breeding dogs – we can’t fix it by breeding more dogs. Studies have shown that bulldogs, for example, are so inbred that there is virtually no way to produce bulldogs that do not suffer from harmful traits. Even if breeding could solve the problem somehow, it is unethical to breed more dogs of all kinds as long as millions of homeless dogs are waiting in shelters and struggling to survive on the streets.
The solution is simple: Stop Breeding and Buying BIB Dogs– or any other dog. All Thoroughbreds (flat-faced or not) suffer from often painful congenital diseases. If you have the time, money, patience and love to care for an animal for life (which can last over 15 years), please adopt one from a shelter. If you already have a BIB dog, commit to making their life as fulfilling, healthy and comfortable as possible, but commit to never buying another one. Share this information with your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors. And always have your animal companions spayed or neutered and help others do the same.