Julie Power |
Julie Saunderson sees her family’s pets, a pug and two French bulldogs, as members of the family. But two, including a much loved bulldog called Daisy, suffered such agonising pain from problems typical of their breeds that the Faulconbridge family had to put them down after expensive vet treatment failed to fix the problems.
“Losing Daisy the way we did was the hardest thing ever,” she said. “It was like losing a child.”
Rachel English, of Camden, also “loves her furbaby [a three-year-old French bulldog Benny] to pieces,” but she wouldn’t buy another short-headed dog after watching him struggle to breathe day to day.
Typical of his breed and many other short-headed or brachycephalic dogs, Benny can’t walk more than a few minutes at a time. He suffers from sleep apnoea and shakes with pain from cervical deformities.
“I don’t think how they have been bred is humane: It is so unnatural for a dog to be so out of breath all the time, and have these back issues because they are so compressed,” said Ms English.
Her decision coincides with a backlash against these cute dogs. Experts say their flat faces, big eyes, little noses and ears – bred by design to shorten their muzzles to make them appear non-threatening – appeal to us because they look like human babies.
Brachycephalic dogs include pugs, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and shih tzus – very commonly seen in the handbags of the rich and famous.