Flat-faced dogs: Battersea carries out most ever operations

Dog having surgery Image copyright Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
Image caption Operations can help open up a dog's airway

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home carried out more operations to help flat-faced dogs breathe in 2018 than at any other time in its history, it has revealed.

The south-west London shelter performed 62 lifesaving operations on breeds such as bulldogs and pugs last year, compared to seven in 2015.

Brachycephalic dog breeds are increasingly popular but suffer from having short, obstructed airways.

Battersea called the breeds an "example of irresponsible, selective breeding".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Kennel Club found French bulldogs to be the UK's most popular dog breed in 2018

Brachycephalic dog breeds tend to have big eyes, snub noses, and are compact in size.

The British Veterinary Association has warned people against buying flat-faced breeds but Battersea has nonetheless taken in increasing numbers in recent years.

The shelter took in 40 French bulldogs and 47 pugs in 2018, compared to eight and 36 respectively in 2014.

According to Battersea vets, the way many are bred means they often have airways so narrow that it is "the equivalent of us breathing through a drinking straw".

"Over the years, breeders have chosen the flattest-faced dogs in the litter to breed, and this has created traits that are dangerous and damaging to the dog's health," head vet Shaun Opperman said.

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Media captionThe Today programme explains why pugs' tongues shouldn't actually stick out

Other dogs that can suffer from the problem, which makes it difficult for them to run or play, include English bulldogs, Boston terriers, shih tzus and boxers.

"The rising number of brachycephalic dogs is one of the biggest welfare issues that Battersea is facing right now," Mr Opperman said.

Image copyright Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
Image caption Battersea Dogs and Cats Home performed 62 operations on brachycephalic breeds last year

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