The adorably ugly faces of pug dogs are a major consumer trend at the moment. They’re on pyjamas at Peter Alexander; available as stuffed toys from The Warehouse and Kmart; pictured on mugs at Briscoes; and in various guises appear on no less than 37 different items across the Cotton On Group. Now, Trade Me is saying “no more” to the sale of real-life pugs, plus British bulldogs and French bulldogs across the site.
Pugs, British bulldogs, French bulldogs and other breeds with short, pushed-in noses are part of a group of animals described as ‘brachycephalic’. This stubby, flat-faced look is currently trendy, but it also means health problems for these animals.
Trade Me says its decision to ban pugs, British bulldogs and French bulldogs from sale is because they suffer acutely from a condition called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, which “condemns these dogs to a life of ill health.”
In a statement about Trade Me’s decision put out by the New Zealand Veterinary Association, CEO Mark Ward welcomed the ban. The popularity of brachycephalic breeds has encouraged unscrupulous breeders who seek to cash in on the trend, he says, and buying puppies online rather than meeting the breeders face to face has limited shoppers’ ability to make sure they’re buying a healthy pup from an ethical trader before completing the purchase.
"The veterinary profession has long held concerns for many breeds of cats and dogs whose welfare is compromised from being bred to look a certain way. The rise in popularity of English bulldogs, French bulldogs and pugs has seen a marked increase in dogs presenting to veterinarians with serious health issues from airway disease and eye problems. High proportions of English bulldogs, French bulldogs and pugs require correctional surgery to provide them with the simple ability to breathe without difficulty and blink without pain," says Ward.
"Without correctional surgery, large numbers of these dogs live with chronic pain and distress, with many owners and breeders unaware that their dog is suffering."
"In addition, almost all of these dogs are no longer capable of mating or giving birth naturally. This means each litter requires the mother undertake a risky Caesarean section to produce puppies for sale".
The ban applies across purebreds and cross-breeds to prevent misrepresentation across the site. Trade Me says it should not be considered a reflection on those who already own these dogs, but an opportunity to educate them and potential owners. Those who still really want a brachycephalic dog, with all its associated guilt and healthcare costs, can still adopt one which needs rehoming on Trade Me.
“This is not a decision we’ve made lightly, as we know how popular and well-loved these breeds are, however we cannot in good conscience allow the sale of these animals any further,” Trade Me says.