Breeders Are Retrobreeding Dogs To Prevent Breathing Problems
If you’ve been on Instagram then chances are you’re familiar with Brachycephalic dogs.
Brachycephalic means ‘shortened head’ and refers to the short nose and flat face of dogs like Pugs, Shih Tzus and Bulldogs, among other breeds.
These dogs are fashionable and popular, but they also have significant difficulties associated with how breeding standards have changed their faces, muzzles and throats over the years.
Some breeders have turned to ‘retro breeding’ or ‘outbreeding’ to improve conditions for the dogs.
Retro breeding is the act of breeding an animal to closer resemble previous iterations of that breed.
Many Brachycephalic dogs have, over time, been developed to have shorter snouts, giving them the breathing problems people associate with pugs and other short-snouted dogs.
Outbreeding is the act of mating individual animals from different populations, subspecies, or species to introduce specific traits or qualities. Outbreeding can form part of the retro breeding process, such as introducing a dog with a longer face into the mix.
On Reddit, users have begun sharing pictures of what this change in breeding can look like. Reddit user _m_e_p_ shared a picture of an English Bulldog with a longer snout, compared to one of the more traditional flat-faced dogs.
Hawbucks French Bulldogs in the Netherlands has also previously shared its French Bulldogs which are bred to have longer faces.
There’s also the ‘Retro Pug’ which is the result of breeding between a Pug and a Jack Russel.
The Feed spoke with Sharon Edmunds, a British Bulldog breeder who sadly lost her first ever Bulldog after just three months due to bad breeding.
She has since been adamant in her decision to breed dogs that are healthy, rather than ones that stick to a certain standard.
Alongside breathing problems, some of the purebred standard issues include eye issues and skin abnormalities.
The RSPCA says the best tip for potential buyers is to ‘not buy puppies with exaggerated features that compromise their welfare’.
“Ask to see the parents of the puppies, to get an idea of their appearance and whether their offspring might be prone to health problems associated with extreme looks,” the organisation says.
“You can ask the breeder directly whether they breed away from physical exaggerations to prevent health problems.”
In the last few years, the RSPCA and Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) have partnered on the ‘Love is Blind’ campaign that urges consumers to change the way they purchase dogs.
“The way many breeds such as the British bulldog and Pug look today is not how they always looked. Over time they have been bred to have increasingly exaggerated features, which are really deformities, causing suffering and a poor quality of life,” says the campaign.
“These exaggerated features have been created because of deliberate selective breeding for a particular physical type or trait in order to conform to a pedigree breed standard.
“A breed standard is a set of strict guidelines describing the way a particular breed must look, and they are used as the judging criteria in dog shows.
“The breed standards prioritise appearance above the long-term health and welfare of the dogs and may require dogs to have extreme physical traits such as a very flat face or very wrinkly skin.”
While the pressure is on for clubs to change their specifications, which are the guidelines many breeders work towards, they haven’t all been quick to welcome the change.