I have to confess to feeling a little uncomfortable about some aspects of the campaign myself.
I'm fine with the ad above as I feel really strongly that we should return pugs to an earlier version where they had longer muzzles. In fact, we've just returned from filming with world brachycephalic expert Professor Gerhard Oechtering in Leipzig who showed us the damage that has been done, internally, by breeding for such a flat face (see below). It is so much more than most people imagine - and it is heart-breaking to see what we've done to this characterful little dog that bears its fate with such cheerful stoicism.
I'm OK, too, with what the RSPCA's new campaign says on the main campaign page, although I know others will be hyperventilating at the singling out of pedigree dogs as opposed to those dreadful designer crossbreeds.
But I did wince at this page... which starts:
The way that dogs are bred today, in order to win shows, is having a huge impact on their health and welfare. This is why we’ve launched our Born to Suffer campaign which seeks an end to the breeding of dogs based on looks.
But it's not just show dogs that may be suffering. Many pedigree dogs never appear in shows, but many are bred by breeders who want to produce show-winning animals, and who sell their surplus dogs as pets.
And the reason I winced is that, although it's true to say that it's the show-scene that often stamps the current 'look' on a breed, there are loads of breeders breeding purely for the pet marked who are producing dogs that are no better (in fact in some instances worse - pet-bred Shar-pei, for instance, are usually much more wrinkled than their show-bred cousins). In other words, I think to single out show breeders in this instance is unfair. I know, I know, people will no doubt yelp that that is exactly what I do. But I wouldn't have done if I had been copywriting the RSPCA campaign.
Here, by the way, is a a 'grab' from the footage we shot of the inside of a pet-bred pug's mouth when we filmed in Leipzig. Pugs have the same number of teeth as a dog with a longer muzzle and this is nature's attempt at accommodating them.
Add 22/12: here's the Kennel Club's response to the RSPCA's new campaign - essentially an insistence that the breed standards are not to blame.