Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds are increasingly popular despite asignificantly shortened lifespan and severe breed-related health problemsincluding brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), eye, skin andspinal problems, difficulty giving birth and high risk of heat relatedillness. The tendency to prioritise aesthetics over health is a concerninganimal welfare trend. This study investigated ‘breed loyalty’, that ispositive attitudes towards a specific breed leading an owner to want to buythat breed again in the future and recommend others do the same.

Owners of pugs (n= 789), French bulldogs (n=741) and bulldogs (n =638),predominantly from the UK, USA and Canada, were sampled via online forums andsocial media. Despite many of the dogs having severe health problems, themajority of owners would still buy the breed again. The majority (93%) ofparticipants would choose to own their current breed again (reacquisitiondesire) in the future and 65.5% would recommend their current breed to afirst-time dog owner. Breed loyalty was associated with beliefs about positivebehavioural traits, entertainment value, lifestyle factors and emotionalcloseness. Very low proportions of owners appeared concerned by breedingpractices and health problems. The authors suggest that brachycephalic dogowners’ understanding of what is normal dog function may be skewed. Forexample, increased breathing noise was perceived as ‘funny’ or ‘cute’ ratherthan indicative of BOAS, a significant health problem.

Odds of reacquisition decreased with expense of ownership, maintenancerequirements, undesirable behaviours, increasing awareness of BOAS and numberof conformation-related surgeries. The authors recommend that informationabout the drivers and barriers to brachycephalic dog acquisition and breedloyalty be incorporated in behavioural change programs.

Packer RMA, O’Neill DG, Fletcher F et al (2020) Come for the looks, stay forthe personality? A mixed methods investigation of reacquisition and ownerrecommendation of Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs. PLoS ONE 15(8),e0237276.

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