© Per Sandelin
It's Brachy Week on the PDE blog - a week-long series of articles on flat-faced dogs that will culminate in a state-of-the-no-face-dog-nation piece on "where do we go from here?".
I am kicking off Brachy Week with this video because I can't think of anything that more exquisitely articulates the problem.
That problem is, of course, that there is none so blind as he who cannot see.
For those whose internet access doesn't allow them to see it, the footage shows Swedish judge Åke Cronander awarding "Excellent" to a black Pug in clear respiratory distress at a show in Sweden this summer.
While this dog literally fights for air, judge and handler have eyes only for the finer points of the breed standard.
It is as disturbing as witnessing a group of people watching a woman drown - seeing fit only to comment on the cut and colour of her swimming costume as she slips panic-stricken to the bottom of the ocean.
The reason it is causing such a fuss is that Cronander has recently appeared in a television debate on flat-faced dogs in Sweden.
In the debate, Cronander insisted that he had never seen a dog with breathing problems in the show-ring.
The second reason is that the SKK (the Swedish Kennel Club) has made a very big deal of pioneering education for judges designed to prevent them from rewarding dogs with obvious breathing problems (see below). Indeed, the SKK is considered something of a leader in dog health internationally so the video is bit of an embarrassment - as is Cronander's subsequent refusal to accept that the dog was struggling to breathe.
Cronander is a breeder of Pugs.
It has all helped fuel a debate triggered by a petition that has been signed by over 750 vets in Sweden calling for change in the way flat-faced dogs are bred. Thanks to social media, that debate is now snowballing internationally.
Norwegian vets and the Finnish Kennel Club (FKK) have also backed demands for action. Indeed, the FKK has even gone one step further than the SKK and openly criticised Cronander in a recent statement (see here).
Now, the British Veterinary Association has joined the fray. In a report in DogWorld , BVA president Sean Wensley said: “We share concerns about the health and welfare of brachycephalic breeds as voiced by the Swedish vets in their open letter, and are supportive of initiatives which seek to highlight and address these concerns."
Cronander, meanwhile, remains bullish. This is Facebook's translation of his response.. but you'll get the gist... which is that he's not sure what all the fuss is about given that many Dalmatians are deaf and, hey, humans have defects too.
("Kortnoser" = short nose)
More info on the Swedish Kennel Club's initiatives to prevent exaggerations in the showring here.
The Brachycephalic Issue is being curated by the International Partnership for Dogs via DogWellNet - see here.
More to come...