In the December edition, Mr. Smarty Pants reported the British Veterinary Association has urged dog lovers to stop buying flat-faced breeds due to health problems. The study from which this recommendation arises specifically addresses the health traits and complications of the English bulldog. Other breeds are mentioned in passing, but the focus was the English bulldog and the extreme breeding modifications that have been driven by the human emotional response to the bulldog’s “cuteness.”
Breeders of brachycephalic dog varieties bear considerable responsibility in ensuring that the dogs they produce will be born without the conformational defects. “Breeders” without a scientific background and an understanding of possible congenital and hereditary disorders predictably produce inferior specimens for profit.
Irresponsible breeding often leaves dog owners facing serious health and behavioral problems in their new pets. The aim of responsible dog breeding is to produce healthy, well-socialized puppies. Yet we may still find shepherds with hip dysplasia, Labs that will tend toward obesity, boxers with cardiomyopathy, intervertebral disc disease in dachshunds, Dalmatians with urinary stones: Would the BVA have us not shop or adopt at all?
The average potential buyer or adopter of a brachycephalic dog (or any dog) may have little or no knowledge as to its true fitness. Every dog sold or given away is in need of a loving, compassionate home environment. To discourage purchases and adoptions of dogs based upon breed is offensive and unconscionable. Every dog bred, bought, sold, or traded is worthy of an owner willing to educate himself about the responsibilities involved with that particular breed. Even a Heinz 57 deserves as much.
Chris O’Connell, Alameda