We are a nation of dog lovers, but some of our most popular breeds – including French Bulldogs, Pugs, British Bulldogs, Dachshunds and Shar Peis – are suffering serious health issues because they’ve been bred to look a certain way.
That’s the worrying message from the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and the RSPCA, who are running a joint campaign called Love Is Blind to raise awareness of the animal welfare problems for these dogs with exaggerated features.
Campaign spokesperson, Dr Rachele Lowe, says she sees a lot of dogs in her practice that require ongoing treatment, and in many cases surgery, to correct problems caused by exaggerated features.
“Some of the features that we’re particularly concerned about include the very short muzzle that we see in dogs like Pugs and French and British Bulldogs. This can lead to severe breathing problems, chronic sleep deprivation, heat stress and heat stroke”.
“Another feature that comprises the health and welfare of a dog are the excessive skin folds, which are common in dogs like Pugs and Shar Peis. Ongoing medical treatment and even surgical intervention in some cases is required to manage chronic skin infections caused by the excess skin.”
“There’s the stunted growth and short stature of Dachshunds, Corgis and Bassets. They frequently suffer from serious spinal and neurological problems causing severe pain and difficulty walking. These spinal problems often lead to paralysis, which usually means major surgery, which is very costly to an owner.”
RSPCA Australia’s Jane Speechley says that the aim of the campaign is to encourage the community to work together to address these welfare concerns in affected breeds.
“These breeds have adorable personalities, but we’d urge anyone who is thinking of adopting one of these dogs to carefully consider the risks and find out more before they make a decision that could end up being very expensive and heart-breaking.”
“We also want current owners to be aware that these dogs need extra love, attention and veterinary intervention to ensure the risks and any health issues they’re facing are properly managed.”
Dog lovers and owners who would like more information, or are keen to help create a healthier future for these breeds, are encouraged to sign the pledge at loveisblind.org.au