Pug “Edda”, now renamed “Wilma”, is pictured on March 4, 2019 in Wülfrath, West Germany, spiraling into a possible case for the courts. The pug named Edda, now renamed “Wilma”, was confiscated by Ahlen municipal officials from a family who could not pay their debts to the city administration. An employee of the city put it on a private account on eBay and sold it for 690 euros, the proceeds going to the city treasury. The ad described the pug as healthy, vaccinated, and dewormed, but the buyer said the animal was suffering from several problems, including an eye injury that would require surgery. (Photo by Guido Kirchner / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT (picture credits should read GUIDO KIRCHNER / DPA / AFP via Getty Images) – GUIDO KIRCHNER / AFP via Getty Images
Bulldogs and pugs, popular for their flat faces but notorious for their health problems, are the most likely breeds of dogs to struggle to reach old age, new research suggests.
Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) analyzed data from nearly a million dogs in the UK and rated the number of times a dog was euthanized.
A total of 18 breeds were included in the study and all were compared to a Labrador. The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that Rottweilers are 76 percent more likely to be euthanized than a laboratory.
However, the likelihood of a bulldog or pug being euthanized is one-third and half that of a Labrador.
“We have put forward some ideas and theories about it, but it’s difficult to be conclusive,” said Dr. Camilla Peygrem, RVC pet epidemiologist and lead study author, told The Telegraph.
One possible explanation, however, is that the small, snorting lap dogs known as brachycephalic breeds form particularly strong bonds with their owners, which can make it difficult for them to fall asleep.
This is made worse, according to experts, by the fact that any debilitating health problems are easier for owners to overcome than with a larger dog.
“When you have a large dog, it is much more difficult as an owner than when you have a Chihuahua,” Dr. Daniella Dos Santos, senior vice president of the British Veterinary Association and a veterinarian for small and exotic animals, who was not involved in the research, told The Telegraph.
“Rottweilers were high on the chart for the risk of death, but that’s not because it’s a Rotty, it’s because it’s a bigger dog and it’s harder for owners to deal with as they get older.
A tartan-clad French Bulldog stands in front of a booth at the 10th Thailand International Pet Variety Exhibition in Bangkok on March 26, 2021. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP via Getty Images) – Mladen ANTONOV / AFP via Getty Images
“If you imagine a dog with a spinal cord disorder, it is much more difficult to move a 30kg dog than a 2kg dog when he needs help moving.”
Dr. O’Neill, co-author of the study who is also senior lecturer in pet epidemiology at the RVC and chair of the Brachycephalic Working Group, said the UK is in the midst of a “flat dog crisis.”
The story goes on
Dr. O’Neill adds that work in progress shows that English bulldogs and pugs have different common causes of death from other breeds, and this may partly explain the statistics.
“The bottom line here is that English bulldogs and pugs are different from other breeds in the way they normally die.
Official figures show that the number of registered French bulldog pups, another brachycephalic breed, has increased by 17,198 percent since 2000.
Bulldogs and Pugs have increased in popularity by 488 and 601 percent, respectively, in 20 years.
“The surge in numbers has been influenced by social media and celebrity influence,” said Dr. Dos Santos.
“We see flat faces as cute and normalize protruding eyes and skin folds that need cleaning. We consider it normal to snore and for them to make noises when breathing, but it is not normal at all.
“For example, we shouldn’t normalize obesity or go for walks. It’s an emotional issue, people have these dogs, they love these dogs, and they are treasured family pets.
“But if you love these breeds, you shouldn’t get them. As the demand continues, there will be unscrupulous breeders exploiting these dogs and this will lead to a disaster for their health and wellbeing.
“As their popularity grows, we are seeing these dogs more often and we as veterinarians see the harsh reality of their health problems.
“We treat dogs when they cannot breathe, when they develop heat stroke, and when they lose an eye due to a corneal ulcer.
“They are prone to heat stroke and have difficulty breathing, and dogs give off heat through panting. Heat stroke is very serious and can be fatal and is worse in brachycephalic dogs. “