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Vets warning over buying certain dogs after Norway moves to ban flat-faced breeds

People have been urged to seriously consider whether they should buy ‘flat-faced’ dogs over warnings from vets that Norway could ban the breeds.

Animal charities and vets have long campaigned over dogs like pugs and bulldogs that have flat faces and are more properly known as brachycephalic, Wales Online reports.

These types of breeds often suffer serious health problems and now Norway looks to ban the selective breeding of British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

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This Morning star vet Dr Scott Miller this week explained that Oslo District Court has ruled the practice of breeding brachycephalic dogs is cruel and results in “man-made health problems” for the animals.

Dr Miller appeared on Friday’s edition of This Morning to explain the ruling and what it could mean for other dog breeds.

He said: “From a veterinary perspective, we do have serious concerns about what’s called brachycephalic dogs – flat-faced dogs – and the impact that it has on their welfare.

“For a dog like that [British Bulldog]very narrow nostrils and virtually no nose.

“So all the structures in the nasal passages are shunted back.

“King Charles Spaniels have such an abnormally shaped head, it can actually pressurize the brain stem and lead to a neurological condition called syringomyelia.

“Both of those conditions have been brought about because of breed standards.

“What Norway has done though – by banning the breeders, you can’t work through a problem unless you can have a discussion at the table.

“And by banning the breeders they’re allowing dodgy breeders to come in, infiltrate with even worse genetic lines. I think that that is problematic.”

When asked if other breeds could be banned in the future, Dr Scott replied: “So Pugs as well are very flat-faced, French Bulldogs.

french bulldog

“A lot of people do, and the reason people do is that we relate to animals that look like us, which is very simplistic.

“We like pandas, we like koalas, anything with a flat face and big eyes.”

A spokesman for Blue Cross animal charity said: “As these breeds grow in popularity, our Blue Cross veterinary hospital teams are treating more and more dogs of brachycephalic breeds who do have a wide variety of problems caused by breeding for a characteristic flat-face.

“Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) – also known as brachycephalic syndrome – is common in flat-faced dogs. The ability to breathe normally is commonly a struggle for dogs with this syndrome.”

They added that flat-faced dogs also often have heart problems, tooth problems, skin and ear problems, eye problems, neurological problems, and difficulty mating or giving birth.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “There’s been a lot of media coverage recently about ‘brachycephalic’ dogs (dogs with short, flat faces) because many of them suffer from serious health issues.

“In recent years the popularity and ownership of these dogs had grown drastically, fueled in part by their increased use in advertising and the media.

“Although their squishy faces and big eyes are often considered cute or comic, sadly these features can cause painful health problems and prevent dogs from being able to enjoy normal activities like playing and running.

“It can also be really distressing and expensive for owners.”

Dave Leicester of Vets Now said these breeds suffer more than others in hot weather.

He said: “Heatstroke can kill a dog within 15 minutes. Dogs who are overweight or suffer from brachycephalic syndrome — upper airway abnormalities typically affecting flat-faced breeds — are most likely to experience the condition.”

Abandoned Pugs and French Bulldogs with life-threatening breathing problems are the “biggest welfare issue” animal shelters face today.

In 2018, 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.

213 dogs of a classic brachycephalic breed were taken and the breeds include English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Shih Tzus, and Boxers that have fallen into the hands of “irresponsible selective breeding”.

But of the total 40 were French Bulldogs and 47 were Pugs.

Vets at the world-famous animal shelter performed more than 60 life-saving operations in 2018 to widen dogs’ airways which were so narrow, “it would be the equivalent of us breathing through a drinking straw.”

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.

“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.”

The shelter released heartbreaking images of a tiny French Bulldog undergoing the complex Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) surgery.

Mr Opperman continued: “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.”

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