Brachycephalic health concerns: BVA letter to The Times

13 March 2017

In their coverage of Crufts 2017, The Times (paywall access) highlighted what they say is known as “bad nose day” due to the number of Pugs, French and English bulldogs that are shown at the NEC arena in Birmingham during the toy and utility dog groups.

The Times article emphasised that the dog show’s competitors were under scrutiny after campaigners’ warnings of the breathing problems associated with the flat-nosed breeds.

Responding, British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz wrote a Letter to the Editor that featured on the newspaper’s letters page today:

Dear Editor - we, and many others, have been raising concerns for a long time and so we were pleased to see your report shine a spotlight on some of the serious health problems suffered by flat-faced dogs. Our members see brachycephalic breeds' health problems – from breathing difficulties to eye ulcers and painful spine abnormalities - in veterinary practices across the UK on a daily basis, and flag it as one of their top animal welfare concerns.

Despite increasing warnings from vets and animal welfare charities about the many health and welfare issues of flat-faced breeds such as French bulldogs and Pugs, they continue to rise in popularity and visibility, fuelled by their prominence in the media and at high profile events like Crufts.

We need to put a stop to these dogs' wrinkly faces, big eyes and curly tails - which can cause so many life limiting health problems - being seen as appealing characteristics. The British Veterinary Association strongly recommends potential owners do not buy brachycephalic breeds; instead we encourage potential owners to talk to their local vet before buying a dog to better understand what may be the best breed for them, learn more about responsible ownership and how to better understand a dog’s needs.

Potential dog owners can also use the Puppy Contract to ensure they buy a happy healthy breed or crossbreed that is right for them, rather than be swayed by the latest celebrity trend or what's been given prominence on prime time TV.

Yours sincerely,
Gudrun Ravetz
President, British Veterinary Association

BVA Media Office