1. ITV Report

Flat-faced dogs warning: Is your pet affected?

Pugs are one of the more popular breeds affected. Credit: PA

People are being urged to stop buying 'fashionable' flat-faced dogs after a rise in them being abandoned due to health problems.

Here's what to look out for if you are thinking of buying a pet:

Lady Gaga with her french bulldog Asia. Credit: PA

What are flat-faced dogs?

  • Flat-faced dogs are Brachycephalic breeds - which mean their skulls are abnormally short for their species.
  • In recent years it has become a fashionable trait in dogs such as pugs.
  • They can often be seen on the arms of celebrities which has added to the trend.
A Shi Tzu being primped at a dog show. Credit: PA

What breeds of dog are affected?

  • Pugs
  • Bulldogs
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Shi Tzus
  • Pekingese
  • Bullmastiff
A King Charles Spaniel. Credit: Reuters

What health problems can they suffer from?

  • Severe breathing difficulties
  • Paralysis
  • Heart problems
  • Spine abnormnalities
  • Eye ulcers
  • Overheating
This Pekingese dog won several awards. Credit: Reuters

Why are they getting such health problems?

  • Breathing problems occur as they have short necks and airways.
  • Dogs such as pugs now have a double curled tail which is essentially a genetic defect and can cause paralysis.
  • Flat-faced dogs often have to undergo surgery and can suffer health issues all their lives.
  • Pet owners often end up spending thousands on treatment for them.
A Bullmastiff. Credit: PA

What do vets say?

  • Vets say the creation of flat-faced breeds has "increased animal suffering".
  • Sean Wensley, President of the British Veterinary Association called it a "worrying trend" and urged would-be pet owners against buying them.
  • He said: "We strongly encourage people to think about choosing a healthier breed or crossbreed instead."