The domestic dog has forever been referred to as man’s best friend. However ‘best friend’ is more frequently replaced with ‘best fashion accessory’ due to an increased penchant for so called ‘designer breeds’.
It started in the 90’s when breeds that sat prettily in your Louis Vuitton handbag became en vogue thanks to the likes of a certain hotel chain heiress, who appeared to own enough of these particular pooches to match every pair of her extensive Louboutin collection. No harm in that, I hear you cry, apart from maybe a lack of actual exercise for the poor dog.
However this seasons ‘hot breed’ comes with far more worrying concerns. The dog ‘du jour’ is the French Bull dog – very chic indeed with their enormous eyes, pointy ears and flat little faces that ensure ‘like’ after ‘like’ on your Instagram page. Another favourite with the style crew, is the thickset Pug sporting a scrunched and wrinkled face from which dark eyes protrude.
The problem is that these breeds can barely breathe! So great is this problem that a new clinic focusing on these problems has been opened in a state-of-the-art building at the Royal Veterinary College in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.
Sadly, most of the ailments it deals with are a direct result of years of breeding intended to make the dogs more aesthetically pleasing. And by aesthetically pleasing, we mean smaller skulls and a flattened nose, which often results in the dog being unable to smell or breathe very well, while their small mouths are overcrowded with teeth. They can also be born deaf and can often go blind. But hey ho, at least they look the part!
The initial cost of the pup (circa £3000) is often dwarfed by the ongoing extortionate vets fees to combat these health problems. Sadly, due to this, owners who can’t afford to pay for their expensive medical treatment are abandoning many of these breeds.
‘We are seeing an increase particularly in pug rescues,’ says Ira Moss at North London dog rescue charity All Dogs Matter. ‘People buy them online, keep them for a few weeks, then sell them on because they can’t cope.’
These dogs are also difficult to re-home due to behavioural problems thanks to owners treating them more like pampered children than animals.
So, the verdict? A dog is not, and never will be a fashion accessory. A dog is your buddy for life – chose him wisely.