Dog welfare experts concerned about rising demand for flat-faced puppies

Dog eating bone treat

Vets, responsible breeders and welfare organisations are urging caution over buying a puppy in the run up to Christmas, particularly flat-faced (‘brachycephalic’) breeds.

In-demand brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs, Pugs and English Bulldogs can face a number of health problems such as poor breathing, eye and skin-fold issues.

French Bulldog

Last year, the French Bulldog and English Bulldog recorded their highest ever puppy registration figures with the Kennel Club and online searches for French Bulldog and Bulldog puppies peaked in November, ahead of the Christmas season.

The Brachycephalic Working Group — whose members include the Kennel Club, PDSA, Dogs Trust, RSPCA, the Royal Veterinary College, the University of Cambridge, the British Veterinary Association (BVA), Defra, and breed clubs for the Bulldog, French Bulldog and Pug — says that prospective owners should think carefully about the specific health issues of these breeds before making a decision to purchase a flat-faced dog.

“Puppies are living, sentient creatures and must not be bought on a whim,” said Dr Dan O’Neill, chairman of the Brachycephalic Working Group.

“We are particularly worried about rising demand for flat-faced puppies who often suffer from painful health conditions. This demand, spurred in part by the pandemic, coupled with rife puppy farming, rogue breeding and international smuggling of these dogs by profiteering cruel traders, means it’s incredibly difficult to responsibly source one of these dogs at any time of the year.

“Dog welfare concerns only grow at Christmas due to impulsive puppy buying decisions and gift-giving.”

“We’d advise owners against getting a dog of any breed around Christmas time, as it’s a big commitment that extends far beyond the festive period and requires very clear and careful consideration,” added BVA president Justine Shotton. “But given the surge in searches around this time of year, we’d recommend that anyone who chooses to buy rather than rescue a dog can ask their local vet for pre-purchase advice, and follow the steps set out in the free Puppy Contract to ensure that they’re getting a happy, healthy dog from a responsible breeder.”

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