Late last month, a woman brought a 5- to 6-week-old puppy to Marin Humane and said she found it outside a store in Novato. The poor little pup, likely an English bulldog or American bully, had clear deformities in its legs and couldn’t walk.
Our veterinarians quickly determined it had a congenital deformity in its front legs that would require round-the-clock care, multiple orthopedic surgeries and months of physical therapy to help it walk and live a happy life. Our staff further suspected the puppy was born to an unethical breeder and abandoned because it wouldn’t be profitable.
Ever since people began breeding animals for profit, babies born that are deemed unsellable — the “rejects” — have been abandoned, dropped off at shelters, or worse, simply killed. What makes it even worse is that it’s the bad breeding itself that caused the exact condition for which they’re now abandoning these innocent creatures.
According to an article in the Washington Post, ”More than 90% of bulldog puppies are delivered by caesarean section. That’s because the puppies have such enormous heads that they can’t fit through the mother’s birth canal — and that’s just the beginning of bulldog medical woes.”
That “funny snoring and smooshed faces” people seem to love in dogs like this can come at a big cost. Known as brachiocephalic, these dogs and others in this category, including French bulldogs, Boston terriers and pugs, have extremely shortened snouts and can suffer lifelong problems, sometimes requiring corrective surgery.
“The facial deformities in these dogs mean they have elongated soft palates, overly small nasal passages and narrow tracheas,” says Belinda Evans, director of veterinary medicine at Marin Humane. “These breeds can also suffer from lifelong issues related to their eyes, as well as serious joint issues. They need to be watched closely on hot days, as they’re not able to regulate their breathing as well as other dogs, which can lead to serious consequences.”
Ironically, dogs like “Frenchies” as they’re known, are some of the most expensive to buy and recently, have been stolen — sometimes in violent ways — to resell.
Buckey, the puppy dropped off at Marin Humane, is lucky. The shelter was able to bring in a specialist to perform his leg surgeries, but he is still facing a long road to recovery. He’ll be in a custom-made fiberglass splint for the next few weeks, followed by more surgery, and finally, more physical therapy. His future adopter will need to be prepared for possible health issues down the line, some of which can be costly.
If you’re set on having a brachiocephalic dog, please consider going to a breed-specific rescue before turning to a breeder. In our view, breeding a dog so irresponsibly that their offspring cannot walk or breathe properly is nothing short of animal cruelty. Please don’t contribute to such an inhumane practice by patronizing these breeders.