A call to ban pugs and French bulldogs as part of a clampdown on ‘dangerous’ breeding has evoked a highly emotional response from Gloucestershire animal lovers and pet owners.
Animal charity Blue Cross is campaigning for an end to poor breeding of flat-faced dogs, which they claim causes breathing and other health problems, including heart murmurs.
One in five of the dogs in the UK are now flat-faced breeds as the pets become more popular, and Blue Cross vets claim to have treated more than 5,000 brachycephalic (short skull) pets in the last two years alone.
READ MORE: Call to ban pugs and French Bulldogs as part of crackdown on ‘dangerous’ breeding
Opinion among Gloucestershire Live readers was firmly split down the middle when we shared the story on Facebook, with many people owning such pets arguing their pooches had no health problems and were happy.
On the other side of the fence were those animal lovers who supported the call for a ban, saying selective breeding of certain dog types was cruel and unnecessary, and done for human desire with no thought for the animal itself.
Angela Vaughan shared a before and after picture of pugs, how they looked in the 1800s and how they look now, with the flat nose shape – and the difference is remarkable.
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Obviously not a fan of the selective breeding, she said: “Pugs are just one example of the insidious fashion over function that has driven the inbreeding of dogs.”
Joanne Gibbons agreed, saying: “It’s horrible what’s happened to the breed. This is the only way to try and get the lines back and try to get rid of some of the defects. Let’s hope they actually do this.”
Shar Millin, who speaks from experience as she owns a rescue frug – a cross between a pug and a French Bulldog – said surgery is often the only answer to relieve the dog’s suffering.
“Most people are missing the point; it doesn’t matter how healthy you claim your pugs, chugs, frugs, Frenchies are, they all have the same problems; they all have very narrow insides of their noses and all of them will struggle to breathe.
“My rescue frug is the same; a very healthy diet, plenty of exercise, but she’s still got the same problem and surgery to widen the narrowing is the only way it can be sorted.
“It doesn’t matter how well or bad the breeders have done the litters, the fact remains these breeds all struggle.”
However, other readers who own such dogs claim their pets have had no breathing or health problems and do not believe such a ban should be put in place.
But they also point out it was important to buy your pet from a responsible breeder, who has the best interests of the dog at heart, rather than just breeding for fashion and profit.
Frug owner Richard G England said: “She hasn’t any of the breathing problems and has been checked over. All breeds have their problems.”
In reply, Chantell Scheepers Mustoe, who owns two pugs, said: “I agree. My two pugglets are healthy and very much loved. I got them from responsible breeders.”
The Kennel Club came in for some stick as well. Rob Redridge said: “I blame the Kennel Club. Allowing any breed to be prized for its looks to suit the dogs’ fickle owners and to award the highest prizes to the most deformed of these poor dogs when they know it’s detrimental to the health of the animals, is a disgrace.”
And dog owner Trish Ashton said she hoped the ban went further to include more selective breeds. “They are bred to suffer and this is the only way to stop the selfish breeders. I have a rescue Shih Tzu and many problems came with her. It’s heart-breaking the way they suffer through breeding. This is fantastic news. If it saves any more from being born into suffering, then it is worth it all.”
However, some believed the answer was to educate the public rather than an outright ban, or there was a fear that pets could get dumped or euthanized.
Louise Mary Janet Emmerson said: “They need to educate the public about the health, welfare implications of the bad traits bred into these breeds, and the immense cost of vets when these traits impact the lives on these dogs.
“Also, breeders that sell pups should be regulated to prevent bad breeding and the Kennel Club also needs to get behind improving these breeds to breed out these traits. If they ban them from being owned, there will be mass dumping of pets and hundreds put to sleep.”
Some commentators went further, calling for tougher sentences for irresponsible breeders. Weyland Laurus demanded: “The breeders of deformed dogs should be jailed for the pain and suffering caused to these lovely dogs.”
However, pug and French Bulldog owner Rhiannon Francesca took a more measured approach, shared by others, when she said: “Whilst mine don’t have breathing issues, many others do and there are too few responsible breeders. Those that exist should be able to live their lives out in lovely homes but there shouldn’t be any more breeding of them or any brachycephalic dogs.”
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