Published: 02 Mar 2021 | Last Updated: 02 Mar 2021 11:15:02

APDAWG Meeting on Feb 23 2021

The popularity of brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs is at an all-time high. These breeds are the darlings of the popular press, social media & advertisers. The public have fallen in love with these breeds & are choosing to own them in ever-increasing numbers.

But these ownership decisions by humans risk life-long suffering for many thousands of individual brachycephalic dogs. High proportions of these dogs are diagnosed with disorders with potentially severe welfare consequences such as difficulty breathing, eye ulcers, infected skin folds, spinal problems & difficulty giving birth.

These intrinsic health issues are compounded by further welfare problems related to the need to breed these dogs in large numbers to meet the spike in public demand; there is a lot of money to be made from breeding brachycephalic dogs.

Breeding bitches are often kept in poor conditions & puppies are often transported both legally & illegally over long distances to get to their final selling location. The issues here are so worrying that, in 2016, the UK set up a national body of experts to explore opportunities to reduce the welfare impact on dogs of these breeds: The UK Brachycephalic Working Group.

However, despite these collaborative efforts & over a decade of scientific research focused on brachycephalic health & welfare, consensus on the way forward for brachycephalic breeds still remains elusive & meaningful changes to improve the welfare of brachycephalic dogs appear increasingly challenging to achieve.

With international developments such as the introduction of legislation to limit the breeding of brachycephalic animals arising across Europe, multidisciplinary discussions of these issues in the UK are urgently needed.

This APDAWG meeting explored these brachycephalic welfare issues & the challenges we face when trying to improve the ‘wicked problem’ of brachycephalic dog welfare. The meeting aimed to promote positive actions that improve the overall welfare of brachycephalic dogs.

RVC's Dr Dan O'Neill and Dr Rowena Packer joined a line-up of expert international speakers who shared their unique perspectives & offered insights on possible solutions.

Initial short presentations:

Carol Fowler (Dog Breeding Reform Group)
Jacob Lloyd (Animal Protection Services)

Main speakers included:

Alison Skipper (King's College London)
Dan O’Neill (Royal Vet College)
Rowena Packer (Royal Vet College)
Tamzin Furtado (University of Liverpool)
Marjan Van Hagen (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht)
Teresa Cargill (Phoenix French Bulldog Rescue)

The full meeting is available to watch on YouTube:

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