Vets have warned would-be dog owners to think carefully before buying breeds with “flat faced” features, due to concerns over their welfare.
The flat-faced dogs, known as “brachycephalic breeds”, are genetically more liable to health problems, including deformities of the spine, difficulty breathing and chronic eye problems.
The breeds include; Pugs, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Shih tzus, Cavalier and King Charles spaniels.
Sean Wensley, president of the British Veterinary Association, said: “Vets are seeing concerning trends in dog health and welfare because of the rise in ownership of brachycephalic breeds.
“Prospective dog owners need to consider that these dogs can suffer a range of health issues throughout their lives from eye ulcers to painful spine abnormalities to severe breathing difficulties that can result in otherwise preventable surgery.
“The surge in popularity of these dogs has increased animal suffering and resulted in unwell pets for owners, so we strongly encourage people to think about choosing a healthier breed or crossbreed instead.”
The conditions that “squashed face” breeds suffer from include:
Brachycephalic Ocular Syndrome: Abnormalities of the eyes that tend to lead to chronic irritation and pain. They include abnormal protrusion of the eyes, inability to close the eyes completely and long term damage to the corneas.
Hemivertebrae: Deformities of the bones of the spine, which can lead to pain, wobbliness on hind legs and incontinence.
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca: Failure of tear production, resulting in painful damage to the surface of the eyes and infections.
Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome: Difficulties breathing due to short-nose shapes. Knock-on effects can cause chronic discomfort and prevent dogs from exercising normally.