Experts are discouraging prospective pet owners from buying French Bulldogs after a new study has revealed the breed has a much higher risk of health problems.
Researchers discovered the flat-faced - also known as the brachycephalic - breed is more likely to suffer from conditions linked with its defining features including a shortened muzzle, large head, skin folds, and shortened spine and tail.
The research was published in the Canine Medicine and Genetics journal and was carried out by the Royal Veterinary College UK.
The study compared the health of random samples of 2,781 French Bulldogs and 21,850 non-French Bulldogs.
It compiled a list of the 43 most common disorders across both groups of dogs and found that many of the differences between the groups were a result of the French Bulldog’s “extreme” body shape.
The study found that French Bulldogs have a higher risk of 20 out of the 43 common disorders and a lower risk of 11 out of the 43 disorders.
Narrowed nostrils, known as stenotic nares, was the disorder with the highest risk in French Bulldogs, with the breed more than 42 times more likely to have the condition, helping explain the high frequency of breathing problems they experience.
Other conditions with the highest risk in French Bulldogs included brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, ear discharge, skin fold dermatitis and difficulty giving birth.
Social media influencers and celebrities have been cited as the reason for the breed’s rise in popularity and experts have warned that owners should “stop and think” before purchasing a French Bulldog.
Justine Shotton, British Veterinary Association (BVA) president, said: “Social media and celebrity influence have really propelled the popularity of French Bulldogs in recent years, but sadly their ‘cute’ features can mask a whole host of health issues, which can require costly treatment.
“There’s a growing concern across the veterinary profession that many owners aren’t aware of these problems when they decide to bring a Frenchie into the family.”
Bill Lambert, from The Kennel Club, said the organisation “urges” owners to “think carefully” about any breeding or buying decisions when it comes to French Bulldogs.
The lead author of the paper, Dr Dan O’Neill, said: “There is no doubt that many humans love the feeling of owning their special French Bulldog. But sadly, this study helps us to grasp the full extent of the serious health issues affecting these dogs.”
O’Neill, who is also a senior lecturer in companion animal epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) added: “Especially in the lead-up to Christmas, we should give dogs a special present by putting the needs of the dog before the desires of the human. Stop and think before buying a flat-face dog.”
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