I think we can all agree that pups like French bulldogs and pugs are cute. They're lovable, friendly, funny, and quite a few vets out there really don't want us to buy them.
That sounds harsh, but the reason why isn't because they want to rob us of companionship. As it turns out, those precious, squishy faces we all know and love are doing pooches more harm than good.
Because of genetic bottlenecking (which we'll get to in a second), purebred gene pools are teeming with defects and mutations that actually cause our four-legged friends pain. And you know where pain leads? Right to the vet's office, which eventually sends dog owners on the fast track to financial strain.
For that reason, organizations like the British Veterinary Association fear the worst for breeds like English bulldogs, pugs, and Frenchies. Their respective genetic mutations could very well lead to a rise in abandonment due to financial burden.
But before we get into all that, let's circle back around to the genetic bottleneck effect.
Here's a fun fact about purebred dogs. The breeding phenomenon as we know it today didn't really exist until about 100 years ago, and creepily enough, it developed alongside eugenics. Pretty telling, right? By artificially limiting canine gene pools and forcing dogs to meet arbitrary breed standards, humans went ahead and created a population bottleneck.
According to UCLA Professor Kirk E. Lohmueller, "As the same small gene pool is spread between more and more dogs, diseases that would normally be rare become inevitable."
In the case of our flat-faced friends, this is what genetic restriction has done in the name of made-up breed standards.
We've turned them into what vets call "brachycephalic breeds," which means that the vast majority of these dogs deal with respiratory and eyesight problems from a relatively young age. Speaking of age, such breeding has also cut their average lifespans alarmingly short.
Take English bulldogs, for example. These poor nuggets suffer from a multitude of issues that have genetics to blame. On average, they live about eight years (or 10 if they're lucky).
The sad part is that we could take away their pain by expanding the gene pool. Unfortunately, most breeders won't budge because they're more worried about their flat-faced dogs meeting standards that never should've existed in the first place.
But don't take my word for it. Check out what these veterinarians have to say.
Let's be clear about something. This isn't the fault of dog owners, but of breeders. If you're greeted every morning by a squishy face, love that squishy face with everything you have. Just keep this information in mind the next time you go to a breeder for a flat-faced dog. (Besides, there are plenty that need to be adopted!)