“Marketing has fuelled the trend towards flat-faced dogs”

    Business Spotlight 3/2019
    Mops im Portraitbild
    Von Elisabeth Ribbans

    There’s an old joke that goes: “My dog has no nose.” “Really? How does he smell?” “Terrible!”

    Ah, the joys of wordplay. But these days, the dog with no nose is suddenly everywhere and it is no laughing matternichts zum Lachenno laughing matter.

    I don’t mean literallyim wörtlichen Sinneliterally no nose, of course; I mean noses so squashedzerquetschtsquashed that they are almost more ornamental than functional. I’m talking about pugMopspugs and French bulldogs and other “brachycephalicbrachyzephal, kurz-, rundköpfigbrachycephalic” (or flat-faced) pets, the majority of which have such inadequate noses that they cannot breathe properly. Those to snuffleschnüffeln; hier: schnaufensnuffling sounds are not sweet, they are not even normal — they’re a cry for help.

    Compare the skulls of bulldogs over the past 50 to 100 years and you will see how selective breedingZucht, Züchtungbreeding has pushed their noses back into their heads. The price of a “cute” or “comic” face is not only respiratoryAtem-respiratory difficulties but a high risk of heart, eye, teeth and skin problems.

    Driven by celebrity ownership, the number of French bulldogs has increased by 3,000 per cent in the UK in the past decade

    Yet, presumably unaware of the potential suffering, people are buying “brachys” in ever-greater numbers. Driven by celebrity ownership, the number of French bulldogs has increased by 3,000 per cent in the UK in the past decade, replacing Labradors as the most popular breed. Pugs are number three. The market has helped to fuel sth.etw. anheizenfuel the trend by using images of flat doggy faces to sell everything from T-shirts to table mat (UK)Set, Platzdeckchentable mats, banking services to baked beans.

    Now, vets and animal welfare organizations are pushing back. As part of its #breedtobreathe campaign, the British Veterinary Association is asking companies to stop using flat-faced dogs in their advertising and marketing. Similar campaigns have been launched in Ireland and Germany. The fashion for flat-faced breeds has seemed unstoppable, but there are signs that the message is starting to to bitehier: greifenbite, with Heinz, M&S and Halifax bank among the companies that have agreed to reconsider their use.

    At the start of this year, Moonpig, which claims around 70 per cent of the UK market for online greeting cards, was offering 36 cards showing pugs and 29 with bulldogs, compared to 13 with Labradors and just two with spaniels. So, I got in touch to ask if they thought this was OK.

    A spokesperson told me: “We’re taking steps to to review sth.etw. überprüfenreview our product line and create opportunities for more appropriate designs to surface in our shop. We take this matter seriously and it’s something we’re to navigatehier: für etw. eine wirksame Lösung findennavigating as we speak, so watch this space.”

    I hope Moonpug, I mean Moonpig, and others keep their promises. More importantly, I hope breeding returns a healthy nose to all these unfortunate animals because, until then, the sad punchlinePointepunchline to “How does your dog smell?” is most likely: “With difficulty.”


    Elizabeth Ribbans

    Elisabeth Ribbans is a British journalist and editorial consultant. She is also a former managing editor of The Guardian in London. Contact: 


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