Pets such as French bulldogs can suffer from a range of ailments caused by their breeding
The Scottish Government is being urged to ban the breeding of flat-faced animals such as French bulldogs ahead of next year’s election.
Animal welfare charity OneKind is calling for the move as part of a raft of proposals aimed at ending animal suffering in Scotland.
Flat-faced animals, known as brachycephalic, are far more prone to breathing difficulties than other breeds. They can also suffer from other ailments including deformed spines, skin infections and ulcerated eyeballs.
Despite campaigning from OneKind and other animal charities, the British Veterinary Association has reported that many owners of brachycephalic animals are unaware that their pet’s health issues have been caused by breeding.
OneKind director Bob Elliot said: “During the pandemic, there has been demand for brachycephalic, or ‘flat-faced’, dogs and the French Bulldog is now the most popular dog breed in the UK. OneKind has actively campaigned to raise awareness of the extensive and serious welfare concerns associated with these breeds and the high demand for them has prompted us to include an ask in our manifesto to end the breeding of these ‘flat-faced’ dogs, cats and rabbits.”
Dr Andy Cage, a recently-retired senior veterinary surgeon who worked with the PDSA for 40 years, said he had seen a “dramatic increase” in numbers of flat-faced animals requiring treatment in recent years.
“French bulldogs predominated, but we saw many pugs and bulldogs too,” he said.
“Most, if not all, were suffering from breathing difficulties and many had additional problems, such as ulcers on the surface of the eyeballs and spinal and limb deformities.
“Before Covid restrictions intervened we were having to carry out risky surgery on some of these pets every week to open up airways and attempt to save sight. Some of the spinal deformities resulted in paralysis and incontinence which meant the animal couldn’t be saved.
“The worst thing was that many owners weren’t aware of the suffering their pets were enduring and thought the bulging eyes and snorting were ‘cute’.”
Alongside calling for a brachycephalic breeding ban, OneKind is also demanding an end to the live export trade, an outright ban on the use of snares and the tightening of regulations to fully end fox hunting in Scotland.
Mr Elliot said: “OneKind’s vision is a world in which animals are recognised and respected as individuals and treated with kindness, empathy, dignity and compassion. That is why we’re asking parties and candidates to make decisions based on evidence and ethics and recognise animals as sentient, individual beings, through a series of animal welfare commitments.
“As an animal welfare charity, we are unique in that we cover all groups of animals in Scotland, including farmed animals, companion animals, and wild animals. Our manifesto contains nineteen asks to improve the lives of all these groups of animals and we look forward to working together with the Scottish Government to help implement these.”