Little Nose = Big Problems
Many of the snub nosed pedigree dogs are very popular and it is easy to see why. They are incredibly cute, especially as puppies and most have a relaxed and friendly nature perfectly suited to family life. I love seeing pugs, cavies, boxers and shih tzus in my clinic and they are usually just as pleased to see me!
However, although on the outside these dog’s faces have been shortened, on the inside they are just the same. There is the same number of teeth as a long muzzled dog, just all squished in together and the same amount of soft mucosal tissue at the back of the throat, hanging down around the airway, giving these dogs the most incredible snores (funny!) and potentially blocking the windpipe completely (not so funny). They also have noses which are shrunken backwards into their skull, causing the openings (nares) to narrow, making it harder to suck air in and out.
Basically, these breeds have been whacked in the face by a huge mallet in a cartoon-comedy fashion, everything is still there, just extremely squashed.
But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter how cute, cheerful or friendly these dogs are, they are suffering because of their extreme conformation and it is our fault.
Many, many breeders and owners will beg to differ but think of it this way;
Of COURSE it is easier to breath if your nose and throat are a normal length, of COURSE your teeth will be more comfortable if they are correctly aligned and not jammed up against each other and there is NO WAY you would suffer with sore and painful infections in the folds of skin around your face if you don’t have them in the first place.
Look at your darlings closely; at their eyes so bulging they can’t blink properly; at their mouths so crowded with teeth they suffer with horrible dental disease and notice that while their panting does make them look like they are smiling and laughing at the same time, what they are ACTUALLY doing is their very best to breath and not pass out.
And here I am only concentrating on the issues caused by their facial conformation, I am not going to mention the other horrors their genes throw at them; the heart disease, the allergic skin, the ear infections, the spinal problems or painful eye ulcers. All of which they face with equal equanimity and cheerfulness, not because they are ‘strong’ or ‘brave’ or any other of the anthropomorphisms we could use but because they simply don’t know any different and are even tempered enough to cope.
Dogs live in the moment and they don’t look at other breeds and think ‘Wow, look at the nose on THAT guy, I bet he can breath with no problems!” They just get on with their lives how they are and don’t complain. Many need surgery to be able to breath or see properly and although this is reprehensible, they are the lucky ones. At least afterwards they will have an easier time, unlike their less extreme cousins, who will continue to struggle at a lower level for their entire lives.
So if you care about these pedigrees at all; the bulldogs, the shar peis, the frenchies. Whether you are a breeder, an owner or just an admirer like me, join in and shout from the rooftops that the situation as it is cannot continue.
The changes don’t need to be huge to have a massive impact on our companions. Would it be so dreadful if a peke looked just a little more like a dog and less like a toupee or if a King Charles Spaniel didn’t have a head exactly a rugby ball?
It might to a judge in the ring but to the individual dogs and the breeds as a whole; to both their quality and quantity of life, it would make an immesurable difference.
For dog’s sake, we must make this change.
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