Loved by celebrities but abandoned by the public: Flat-faced dogs scandal as Battersea reveals it took in more breeds such as pugs and bulldogs last year than ever before in its 159-year history
- Celebrities David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Miley Cyrus all own flat-faced dogs
- Breeds including pugs and French bulldogs have become a fashion accessory
- Last year Battersea Dogs Home took in 40 French Bulldogs, up from 8 in 2014
Record numbers of Pugs and French Bulldogs are being abandoned in animal shelters with life-threatening breathing problems.
Celebrity owners including David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Miley Cyrus have sparked a surge in demand for flat-faced dogs in recent years.
But vets are performing increasing numbers of operations on the dogs which have airways so narrow it ‘would be like breathing through a drinking straw.’
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in south London last year took in the highest number of abandoned flat-faced, or brachycephalic, breeds in its 159-year history – including almost 50 Pugs.
Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman pictured with his beloved French bulldog, Dali and Allegra, a caramel-coloured poodle-terrier hybrid
A surge in demand for pugs (left) and French bulldogs (right) means animal shelters are now seeing an increase in the number of abandoned dogs
Brachycephalic breeds include all flat-faced dogs such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Brachycephalic breeds include all flat-faced dogs such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Shih Tzus English Bulldogs and Boxers that have fallen into the hands of ‘irresponsible selective breeding’.
In 2018 Battersea took in 47 Pugs compared to 36 in 2014 and 40 French Bulldogs compared to eight in 2014.
Vets at the world-famous animal shelter performed more than 60 life-saving operations in 2018 to widen dogs’ airways.
Shaun Opperman, head vet at Battersea Dogs and Cats Shelter, said: ‘While breeds like Pugs and French Bulldogs are undoubtedly cute, they’re also a classic example of irresponsible, selective breeding.
In 2018 Battersea took in 40 French Bulldogs compared to eight in 2014 and 47 Pugs compared to 36 in 2014
Vets at the shelter performed 62 BOAS operations last year – an increase from the seven surgeries conducted three years earlier. Pictured, Shih Tzus
‘Over the years, breeders have chosen the flattest-faced dogs in the litter to breed, and this has created traits that are dangerous and damaging to the dog’s health.
‘Many French Bulldogs and Pugs now have airways that are so narrow, it would be the equivalent of us breathing through a drinking straw.
‘The corrective surgery massively improves their quality of life, but it’s a risky, invasive operation and recovery can be very complicated.’
Vets at the shelter performed 62 BOAS operations last year – an increase from the seven surgeries conducted three years earlier.
While vets are working hard to carry out the complex BOAS surgery to open their airways, the majority of dogs will struggle to exercise even after the procedure.
Mr Opperman added: ‘The dogs Battersea takes in really holds a mirror up to society and reflects what breeds are the most popular in that moment.
‘Sadly, that mirror also shows the ugly side of dog ownership, and for these dogs, looks literally can kill.
‘The rising number of Brachycephalic dogs is one of the biggest welfare issues that Battersea is facing right now, which is heartbreaking to see.’