Following on from the furore in Sweden and worldwide when Swedish judge Åke Cronander awarded a pug an Excellent rating at a show in Sweden in spite of the fact that it was evidently in respiratory distress (see Swedish Vets and SKK Lead The Way), Swedish vets have continued to take a lead in preventing further suffering in brachycephalic dogs.
Two Swedish veterinary ophthalmologists have make a public statement asking for a ban on breeding severely brachycephalic breeds (see Pedigree Dogs Exposed Blog for full details). This will no doubt provoke a storm of protest from owners and breeders who seem blind to the suffering of these dogs but it is an urgent consideration that has to be made because of the appalling breeding practices that have led to this situation. Of course, brachycephalic dogs are not the only breeds that are severely affected by heritable diseases – Cavalier King Charles spaniels with MVD and syringomyelia spring to mind for instance.
Should we seriously consider that some of the breeds with which we have become familiar over the last hundred years or so should be allowed to become extinct? Is it possible to outcross to eliminate most of the problems or will that just prolong the suffering of the resulting dogs? More and more genetic tests are being developed but they are not always a solution to a problem and only a tiny percentage of the dogs bred will have been tested anyway.
More urgently, we need to work to eliminate the mind set in some humans that sees bulging eyes, miniaturisation, obesity and gasping for breath as “cute” and “normal”.
All eyes will be on Sweden to see how this develops.