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Extreme features in dogs can be costly

Extreme features seen in Brachycephalic dogs can lead to costly, long-term health issues. Dr. Lee discusses this issue and guidelines from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

Extreme features in dogs can be costly

Q: I wrote a short article for a pet magazine and submitted photos of my pug to accompany it. The editor accepted the article but said the magazine would not publish my photos because they no longer promote dogs with unhealthy physical characteristics. Is this for real?

A: Many media outlets and pet organizations, among them the [World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), have taken the position that dogs should be bred for good health and sound temperament, not for the exaggerated physical characteristics and genetic defects that many dog buyers prefer.

Pugs, French bulldogs, Pekingese and other flat-faced breeds are classified as brachycephalic, which means “short head.” These dogs have short skulls that predispose them to breathing difficulties, corneal abrasions and ulcers, and facial fold dermatitis.

Brachycephalic dogs often struggle to breath, overheat easily, suffer eye pain and experience irritated skin. But they aren’t the only victims. Their families face unexpectedly high veterinary bills, including surgery to improve breathing and repair eye damage.

Editor’s Note: Flat-faced dog breeds—like French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers—have unique breathing challenges when it comes to exercising. Fetchfind’s Jaime Migdal shares tips on safely exercising your flat-faced dog.

To decrease consumer demand for dogs with extreme physical features, the WSAVA and other organizations ask people not to post photos and videos that make light of their dogs’ snoring or other medical problems, to consult a veterinarian before purchasing another dog, and not to buy a dog with exaggerated physical characteristics.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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