The challenge of flat-faced dogs: skyrocketing popularity amid health concerns

Márton Attila

2023. June 19 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

When it comes to brachycephalic breeds, news coverage usually falls into two camps: one that raises health concerns and another that discusses their growing popularity. What steps can be taken to tackle and resolve this issue?


There has been increasing public awareness regarding the health problems faced by flat-faced dogs, also known as brachycephalic breeds. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) can harm overall well-being, resulting in respiratory issues, decreased physical activity, and other health-related complications. – can be read in the press release issued by Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

A new way to tackle the problem

Animal welfare organisations and veterinarian associations have been running awareness campaigns to discourage the popularity of brachy breeds. But despite their efforts, the demand for these breeds continues to rise. This surge in demand may come as a shock to those who have been campaigning against them. Current statistics show that the popularity of brachy breeds remains high.

“There are many reasons why people love these breeds and, in the era where the majority keeps dogs as companions, this tendency will probably not change for a while. Breed-specific regulations aiming at banning as well as restrictions on the length of the nose of these breeds, for instance, will not bring a solid solution. It should be obvious to everyone. They will not overrule human preferences or impulsive purchases. These breeds keep on being popular. What the FCI can do is to improve and maintain the quality of pedigree dogs.” – states Dr. Tamás Jakkel, president of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

The most typical heath issue for flat-faced dogs can be solved!

Making the ultimate solution more complicated, BOAS is not exclusively based on the length of the snout of these breeds. According to the available scientific literature, many factors contribute to breathing difficulties, including obesity. Furthermore, the causes differ in each breed. To tackle the issue and let these dogs breathe, Dr. Jane Ladlow from Cambridge University, a specialist in small animal surgery with a focus on upper respiratory diseases in dogs, along with The Kennel Club in the UK, developed the BOAS Functional Grading System some years ago.

The grading system is a non-invasive assessment of airway function that has proven effective in managing BOAS. This breakthrough approach has already delivered promising results, and it is time to become part of the breeding protocols worldwide. For this purpose, the FCI—the biggest worldwide organisation dedicated to registered dog breeding—is initiating an exclusive seminar and workshop in collaboration with Norsk Kennel Klub and Dr. Jane Ladlow. Scheduled to take place in Oslo at the end of June, the event is set to bring together national canine organisations’ representatives and veterinarians worldwide to learn about the grading system, its implementation, and its benefits.

One of the most common health issues of the flat-faced dogs not just the consequence of the short nose.

We have to protect these dogs

This seminar is our call to action. We are committed to promoting healthy breeding practices and ensuring our cherished and highly popular brachycephalic breeds enjoy a quality life. We need to find solutions which are indeed effective instead of repeating loud and hollow propaganda which will bear no benefits eventually. These breeds are popular, and this will not change for a long while. And please also note that the majority of any popular breed comes from the illegal trade and puppy farms. These dogs are not submitted to any health control at all. The registered population with pedigree is not significant. But we do our best to ensure the wellbeing of pedigree dogs.” – says Dr. Jakkel.

BOAS brachycephalic syndrome Disease English bulldog fci French bulldog German boxer Life mops tamás jakkel

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