A new book condensing knowledge of brachycephaly in companion animals, including contributions from 29 internationally recognised experts, has been published by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College.
The book, titled Health and Welfare of Brachycephalic Breeds: A Guide for Veterinary Professionals, has been compiled by Dr Rowena Packer and Dr Dan O’Neill to equip veterinary professionals, animal welfare scientists, breeders and owners with a fuller understanding of brachycephalic health and welfare.
Brachycephalic dog breeds are currently rising rapidly in popularity. Between 2000 and 2020, Kennel Club registrations for English bulldogs rose by 488 per cent, for pugs by 601 per cent and 17,198 per cent for French bulldogs.
RVC research has identified that brachycephalic dog breeds are highly predisposed to conditions including corneal ulceration, difficulty giving birth, slipping kneecap, dry eye, upper respiratory tract disorders and heatstroke.
Dr O’Neill, a senior lecturer in companion animal epidemiology at the RVC and editor of the book, commented: “Many humans love the flat-faced animal look. The popularity of flat-faced dogs, cats and rabbits is ever-increasing. But how many humans ever imagine how it feels to live a flat-faced life from the animal’s perspective. The flat-faced conformation increases the likelihood of these animals having a daily struggle to breathe, along with increased risks of skin fold infections and eye problems.
“This book provides the latest evidence and thinking on the many faces of living a flat-faced animal life and will challenge each of our perspectives on our human responsibilities to animals under our care.”
Dr Packer, a lecturer in companion animal behaviour and welfare Science at the RVC and editor of the book said: “Having joined the RVC twelve years ago to pursue a PhD exploring the impact of brachycephaly on dog health and welfare, it has been gratifying to see scientific interest as well as public concern in this important area grow during this period. We are extremely proud to have distilled much of this cutting-edge international work into one comprehensive text for the first time.
“We hope this book helps veterinary and animal professionals globally, who are faced with the often challenging task of protecting the welfare of brachycephalic animals. Most importantly, we hope this book is another step towards improving the lives of so many animals who have been impaired by the body shape they have been bred for.”