Why your vet doesn’t want you to buy a flat faced dog

Flat faced dogs such as pugs, bulldogs and shih-tzus have become increasingly popular choices for new dog owners, worldwide, in recent years. They are sought after for their adorable and cute looks but there are a host of reasons to consider not going in for a “pedigree” flat faced dog. They are notorious for their […]

Flat faced dogs such as pugs, bulldogs and shih-tzus have become increasingly popular choices for new dog owners, worldwide, in recent years. They are sought after for their adorable and cute looks but there are a host of reasons to consider not going in for a “pedigree” flat faced dog. They are notorious for their extreme susceptibility to early disease and are being discouraged, not in the least owing to high medical costs that come with them.

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While their trademark “squashed” looks are their main source of appeal, they are also the source of the problem, in flat faced dogs, or “brachycephalic” dogs, as they are known. These brachycephalic breeds were selected and bred in order to maximise the perceived cuteness of their faces, in turn compromising the structure and function of their respiratory tracts. Ergo, these dogs are much more prone to severe breathing difficulty and a host of related ailments, even at a relatively young age.

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This is due to the fact that due to the construction of their faces, brachiocephalic dogs have shorter airways and narrower nasal slits. This is especially dangerous considering they have nearly the same amount of tissue that needs to be oxygenated. Many of these dogs end up having severe respiratory failure at quite an early point in their lives. Additionally, the wrinkles on their noses make them very vulnerable to infections, from bacteria which thrive and multiply on the moist, warm folds of their noses. They also have large eyes which stick out from their sockets have less protection from scratches and disease.There has also been research linking short-muzzled dogs to increased rates of brain cancer.

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It is important to bear in mind that this is particularly a problem that was brought about by human standards of beauty and intervention. These dogs very specifically bred over centuries to match certain highly sought after characteristics, which has left the genetics in question, a bit shaky. It might also be worthwhile to name a societal craze for purebred, “pedigree” dogs as one of the culprits in this. Cross-bred dogs, on the large, tend to be much more disease resistant and much better equipped to survive the rigours of life. A cross-bred genetic background is definitely something to look for in your new dog and is something that will potentially save you a lot in vet fees.

It is also important to understand that sharing your life with a pet dog is a wonderful experience. And while each of us have our own preferences as to what we’re looking to find in a canine buddy, looks are not even close to being the important element, in the choice. It is appalling to see a trend of dogs being nothing more than status symbols, expected to match to human ideals of aesthetic flawlessness.

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Updated: August 29, 2017.

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