Walk along any chic inner-suburban street and it soon becomes clear that French bulldogs are very much the new black – but the decision to spend several thousand dollars acquiring the latest pet du jour may prove to be an unwise one.
A paper published in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology reports that the breed is uncommonly susceptible to a range of health problems. And the news from there gets worse.
The study was carried out by a team headed by Dan O’Neill of the UK Royal Veterinary College and used data gathered from 304 clinics concerning 2228 Frenchies treated during 2013.
The figures revealed that members of the breed – like other short-nosed dogs, such as pugs – are prone to breathing difficulties. Additional common problems included a wide range of ear infections, skin problems, eye diseases and diarrhoea.
The rampant popularity of French bulldogs means that most of the dogs treated in the cohort were very young, with a median age of just 1.3 years. The figures reflect the fact that demand for the breed is growing steeply. Frenchies comprised only 0.2 of registered puppies born in the UK in 2003, but 1.46% a decade late.
In 2017, O’Neill and his team note, they were the second most commonly registered dog in Britain.
The 2013 figures reflect a group of dogs which were generally young and vigorous. As the years roll by, that youth and vigour will fade, and the medical issues, therefore, are likely to worsen.
“The disorder profiles reported in this study reflect a current young UK population and are likely to shift as this cohort ages,” the researchers conclude.
In other words, just like a full-arm tattoo, this year’s must-have fashion statement may well end up as next year’s costly regret.
Andrew Masterson is a former editor of Cosmos.
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