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Irish vets call for ban on advertising involving 'flat-faced' dogs

Brachycephalic animals – those with a reduced skull shape and flat nose – are among the top animal welfare concerns for the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

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FOR MANY DOG-LOVERS in Ireland, the ‘flat-faced’ cuteness of dogs like pugs and bulldogs is irresistible.

What is less well-known is that such animals frequently suffer from severe breathing difficulties, as a result of the shortness of their skull and muzzle, which can seriously limit their life expectancy.

Veterinary Ireland (VI) is to host a conference in Naas, Co Kildare, in just under two weeks which is set to see the issues facing these breeds put under the microscope.

The Veterinary Ireland Companion Animal Society (VICAS) conference, dubbed as being ‘back to basics’, will focus on the various senses of animals.

Last November, VI members ratified a policy document on brachycephalic dogs, and passed a motion at the group’s AGM calling for the cessation of the use of flat-faced dog and cat breeds in all forms of advertising here.

The vets involved have a stated goal of ensuring that by 2030 all flat-faced dogs born in Ireland can “breathe with ease”.

Dogs such as pugs have become increasingly popular in advertising campaigns in recent years due to their perceived ‘cuteness’, leading to a consequent heightened demand for them as domestic pets.

However, breeding such dogs (those with a short skull shape, short muzzle and flat nose) means that some of them may grow to suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This can lead to all manner of ailments, including eye and skin complaints, together with breathing difficulties.

BOAS is not just an issue in Ireland. Recently, president of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Walt Ingwersen described extreme brachycephalic conformation  as being one of the association’s top animal welfare concerns.

The VICAS conference, ‘The Senses’, will take place at the Killashee Hotel in Naas on 19 and 20 May. More details are available here

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