The organiser of Crufts has defended its decision to allow flat-faced dogs to compete in the annual show despite concerns for their welfare.
Ahead of the tournament, which began on Thursday, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) called on the Kennel Club to ban brachycephalic dogs from the competition.
The RSCPA suggests that allowing breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs to compete will increase their popularity, leading people to buy them without appreciating the extra care they require.
Bred-in physical traits mean brachycephalic dogs find it harder to breathe and exercise. These breeds can also suffer from several health issues, and typically lead shorter lives.
Speaking to presenter Clare Balding on Channel 4, the Kennel Club’s Charlotte McNamara said the organisation has set strict guidelines about the kinds of dogs which should appear on Crufts.
Ms McNamara said: “We have an introductory paragraph to those breed standards and we make it very, very explicit that no level of exaggeration is acceptable.
“In addition, we’ve done a number of reviews of breed standards, including our collaborators, as part of the working groups that we’re involved in,” she added.
Ms McNamara suggested that factors outside of Crufts, such as Instagram, can impact the popularity of these breeds.
“Outside of that, we really need to understand how we tackle things like Instagram and the influences way beyond Crufts, way beyond the Kennel Club, and how we really reach people and make sure they’re aware of the same messages,” she said.
Ms Balding asked a representative from the British Veterinary Association about the kinds of problems short-headed dogs are more at risk of.
Highlighting that breathing issues are the most common, she added: “They’re also more susceptible to extremes of temperature, so heat stroke is very common, often some skin issues, trouble giving birth. There’s a whole suite of different problems, as well as things like eye issues as well.”
Crufts is taking place at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham until Sunday 12 March.
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