Vets and animal welfare campaigners have voiced concerns about the health of dogs with exaggerated features at Crufts this year.
TV producer and journalist Jemima Harrison, who directed Pedigree Dogs Exposed in 2008, tweeted photographs showing the exaggerated features of best of breed winners for the pug, bulldog, French bulldog and Neapolitan mastiff categories.
A photo of the St Bernard best of breed showed a fractured upper right second incisor, among other issues.
Jemima also raised concerns about ‘brachy-creep’ in breeds such as St Bernard’s and even border terriers, whose muzzles appear shorter when compared to historical photographs.
Commenting on the show, which took place from 8-11 March, TV vet Mark Evans tweeted: ‘‘If you love dogs, don’t watch #Crufts’. Well said @deborahross It isn’t all bad but the freak show ‘beauty pageant’, and the perverted K9 eugenics that underpins it, is unforgivable in the 21stC. Surely we can come up with a better way to celebrate man’s best friend. #muttimesup’.
A number of vets also raised concerns about posters being displayed on the bulldog stand, particularly the claim that: ‘The biggest reason for bulldog caesarian sections is lack of out of hours veterinary care’.
In response, Cat The Vet tweeted: ‘ALL vets in the UK provide emergency cover for their patients, there is no ‘lack’ of out of hours here!’
Simon Doherty, junior vice president for the BVA, said he had contacted the Crufts vet on the evening of 10 March, ‘who took immediate action to see that this was removed’ before the following morning.
‘We will consider whether any further follow up is necessary. #AStrongVoice ForVets,’ he added in a tweet.
Once the poster was removed on Sunday morning (11 March), it was replaced by the following statement:
‘Many Bulldog Breeders can and do self whelp their pups. However [according to a 2017 survey] the number one reason for fear of having puppies out of their regular vets hours was that they would prefer to go to their normal vet rather than risk having to visit a vet with no history of their dogs if they needed an emergency c-section.’
The RSPCA also tweeted information on the numerous health issues affecting different breeds being showcased at Crufts. While it praised some elements of the show, such as the less exaggerated breeds being shown and positive advice given on neutering and buying puppies responsibly, the charity criticised Crufts for discussing exaggerated features in a positive way.
A tweet by the charity read: ‘Very disappointing to hear the #Crufts commentary talking about exaggerated features like short faces and twisted tails in a positive light. These features can cause pain and suffering to animals and should not be celebrated.’