Animal Welfare Groups Declare War on Pug Advertising

Everywhere you turn, there is a cute flat-faced dog being used to sell you something.

Now vets and animal welfare groups have said enough is enough. They claim that the marketing is increasing demand for dogs with deformities.

They have written a joint letter to the companies involved asking them to stop using these dogs, even cartoon versions, to prevent welfare crisis.

The animals’ faces have been so flattened and distorted by selective breeding that they suffer severe health problems, including breathing difficulties caused by restricted airways, eye disease and infections resulting from skin folds. Yet the popularity of brachycephalic, or flat-faced, breeds continues to rocket, aided by celebrity owners such by Lady Gaga, David Beckham and Holly Willoughby.
The number of French bulldogs registered with the Kennel Club has increased 30-fold in ten years — from 670 in 2007 to 21,470 last year. Pug numbers have trebled and bulldogs doubled.

The letter from the Brachycephalic Working Group (BWG), which includes the British Veterinary Association, Royal Veterinary College, University of Cambridge, Dogs Trust, PDSA, RSPCA and the Kennel Club, says the rise in ownership has been “fuelled by their increased prominence in advertising and the wider-media”.
It says this marketing is perpetuating “the appeal and desirability of these breeds” and that advertisers and companies “have an important role to play in promoting positive animal welfare and working with us to reduce the inappropriate promotion of flat-faced breeds”.

The images the group wants removed include Churchie, the animated nodding bulldog used by Churchill insurance since 1994.
Other companies being targeted include Amazon, which used French bulldogs to market its Echo speakers; Wall’s, which used French bulldogs to sell sausages; Virgin Media, which ran an ad featuring “Barry the pug”; and Halifax, which displays a pug on its banking app.
Halifax last night agreed to stop using the pug and to change its policy in line with the BWG’s request.
A spokesman said: “Since being made aware of the health issues associated with flat-faced dogs, we have reviewed our marketing and advertising materials and will be removing any use of these breeds from our imagery at the earliest opportunity.”

Churchill insurance, which has been represented by a British Bulldog for 23 years, said: “We have and continue to use his profile to advocate responsible pet ownership and animal welfare.”
Amazon and Virgin Media declined to comment.
Jemima Harrison, who runs the Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals, welcomed the Kennel Club’s participation in the BWG but said it should change its breed standards to require longer muzzles.
The Kennel Club said it may amend its breed standards depending on the outcome of research by Cambridge University, to which it has given £150,000 for research into brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome.

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