On Thursday 21 October, Blue Cross staff and vets campaigned outside London’s top stores to launch the charity’s new campaign #EndTheTrend – calling for brands to phase out the use of any brachycephalic (flat-faced) pets in their future advertising and marketing materials.
“Many brands currently use brachycephalic animals in their advertisements, even if their products are unrelated,” a Blue Cross statement says. “This contributes to the ever-growing popularisation of these pets, and in turn, over-breeding.
“Flat-faced (or ‘brachycephalic’) pets – such as pugs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Persian cats, and Lionhead rabbits – have soared in popularity in recent years and appear nationwide in advertising campaigns, due to the fashionable status of the breeds. As of 2021, brachycephalic breeds account for one fifth of the nation’s dogs.”
However, their rise in popularity turned out to be a disaster for the welfare of these dogs: badly bred with extreme but fashionable features for a quick buck and often bought by people unprepared to deal with the resulting health issues, they hardly resemble the far healthier animals their ancestors were a hundred years ago.
Blue Cross argues that the use of flat-faced dog breeds in advertising is adding the perception of these breed as ‘cute’ and ‘trendy’, exacerbating the issue of impulse purchases and further feeding this cycle. In the last two years alone, Blue Cross vets have treated over 5,000 brachy pets.
Common procedures include:
- Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (or ‘BOAS’) Surgery – a complicated and stressful surgery for any pet to have to undergo, but vital to widen their nasal passages and shorten their soft palate to improve their ability to breathe.
- Enucleation and eyelid surgery – surgery to repair or remove their eyes and modify their eyelids due to high rates of disease.
- Emergency Caesarean section – because many cannot give birth to litters naturally and need medical intervention.
Caroline Reay, Blue Cross Vet, says, “Brachycephalic pets, like Frenchies and Pugs, have soared in popularity in recent years. With their compelling big eyes and baby-like faces, our obsession with their appearance has created an animal welfare crisis.
“As these breeds grow in popularity, there is a rise in parallel of unscrupulous breeders looking to cash in on a trend. Our veterinary hospital teams are treating more and more very unwell pets who are experiencing health complications caused by breeding for a characteristic ‘flat face’.
“Frenchies, Pugs and Persians have become the poster pets for advertising, no matter the product, and behind those cute faces can lie horrifying health problems. We call on companies to find other ways to promote their wares and help us #EndTheTrend.”