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Animal Welfare

Minister calls on advertisers and media to stop using unnecessary images of flat-faced dogs

It’s believed that portrayals of pugs and bulldogs have increased demand for the breeds, which face an array of health and welfare issues.

THE MINISTER FOR Agriculture is calling for advertisers and media organisations to stop using images of flat-faced dog breeds unnecessarily to try to lower demand for the breeds, who experience numerous health and welfare problems.

Minister Charlie McConalogue has been advised by the Advisory Council on Companion Animal Welfare that images of dogs like pugs, bulldogs and French bulldogs in advertising and marketing has contributed to increased popularity of the breeds in Ireland.

The Council believes that advertisers, media organisations, social media influencers, manufacturers and retailers should refrain in future from using imagery of the dogs.  

“Brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs, French bulldogs and pugs have a high risk of severe, health and welfare issues, including difficulty breathing, eye ulceration, skin infections and spinal problems. In addition, many brachycephalic dogs have reduced life expectancy or require surgery to attain a tolerable quality of life,” ACCAW Chairperson Dr Sean O’Laoide told Minister McConalogue in a letter.

“Although these breeds are often portrayed as cute, ACCAW is of the opinion that widespread use of imagery of brachycephalic animals has helped to normalise the abnormal features (flat faces, protruding eyes and excessively folded skin) of brachycephalic dogs that can have a negative impact on both animal health and welfare,” Dr O’Laoide wrote.

“We therefore call on all responsible organisations and influencers to refrain from use of images of flat-faced dog breeds in publications, on merchandise, or to endorse or sell products and, instead, to use imagery of dogs that do not have brachycephalic characteristics, in order to help promote responsible ownership of dogs in Ireland with a high chance of excellent health.”

Minister McConalogue has backed the call, noting that “members of the public may not be aware of the significant health and welfare issues associated with brachycephalic breeds”.

“In addition to requesting that advertisers and news media prioritise dog welfare and refrain from unnecessary use of images of brachycephalic breeds, I also urge members of the public not to purchase merchandise bearing these images,” the minister said in a statement this morning.

The Advisory Council on Companion Animal Welfare was set up in 2021 to advise the Minister for Agriculture on animal welfare issues and includes representatives from the DSPCA, ISPCA, Irish Kennel Club, Dogs Trust, The Association of Pet Dog Trainers, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, The Irish Blue Cross, Veterinary Ireland and the department.

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