A breed apart: Genetic issues in the illegal puppy trade

Designer dogs tend to cost a pretty penny. But for some, their extreme selective breeding can end up costing more than they had bargained for. 

12.7.2022

For over two centuries, dogs have been selectively bred for a variety of purposes.  

Be it for work, sport, showing or companionship, humans have had far too much of a role in designing their ultimate companion.  

In fact, there are some 360 dog breeds currently recognised by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale), the umbrella organisation overseeing canine breeding worldwide.  

Within this vast number of breeds, a massive, 757 genetic disorders have also been discovered, and at least one genetic disorder found in each of the top 50 dog breeds. 

Current ‘trends’ have led dogs like Pugs and French Bulldogs to surge in popularity, and with their overly designed large round eyes and flat faces, a number of health issues have arisen with them. 

Some common genetic problems in breeds such as French Bulldogs

Breathing issues 

Every French Bulldog (affectionately also known as Frenchies) suffers from something called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) to some degree.  

Their flattened snout means the soft palate is too long in length, which causes an obstruction to the windpipe.

Allergies

Just like us humans, all dog breeds are susceptible to allergies. Especially French Bulldogs. 

Eye problems

The ‘design’ of a flat face and bulging round eyes makes a Frenchie more susceptible to conjunctivitis, scratches and ulcers. 

Ear problems 

The recognisable flat face means that Frenchies have much smaller ear canals, which mean the dogs don’t have the ability to naturally clean their ears. 

Limb problems 

Hip Dysplasia is also very common in Frenchies and Labrador Retrievers, where the ball and socket hip joint doesn’t develop properly. 

Skin trouble 

Their face wrinkles may contribute to their much-loved appearance, but they’re also the cause of dermatitis and skin infections. 

The impact of the illegal puppy trade 

Animals bred on illegal puppy farms or imported illegally are often reared in low welfare conditions which can lead to health issues. 

Inbreeding and breeding between animals with known genetic disorders is common, resulting in puppies that suffer for their lifetime. 

If you are thinking of buying a new puppy now or in the future, please take note of our top tips in avoiding the illegal puppy trade, and potential heartbreak: 

Adopt don’t shop! - We always recommend contacting your local rescue first to see if there is a dog or puppy to suit your family and your lifestyle. Help them find their forever home! 

Find a reputable breeder – If adoption isn’t a possibility, then you should research and seek out a reputable breeder.  

It’s what’s inside that counts – it’s far more important to find a dog with the right temperament than it is the right appearance! A healthy, happy dog is a beautiful dog. 

Find out more about the illegal puppy trade and how you can avoid the tricks of the trade here

Sophie Miller

Press & Marketing Officer UK

sophie.miller@four-paws.org

Sophie works in the Communications Team at FOUR PAWS UK. She has a background in Marketing, PR and Communications across the charity sector. Sophie is passionate about animal welfare and utilises her skills and experience in PR to bring about change.

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