Thursday, 16 March 2017

CRUFTS 2017: Boxer noses

© CRUFFA

In January, I wrote to  the UK Boxer Breed Council Health Committee enclosing some pictures of Boxers taken at UK shows in the past couple of years. I pointed out that I felt that stenotic nostrils (nares) in the breed was a growing problem and that I hoped it could be nipped in the bud.

As some will know, I am currently on a bit of a mission re Pug, Frenchie and Bulldog noses via the CRUFFA Facebook page. Pinched nostrils are a huge problem in these breeds, particularly in Frenchies (a blog to come on that). 

We produced some nice stickers to help get the message across - and I even offered to let the French Bulldog club have the artwork without CRUFFA's name on it. Sadly, I wasn't taken up on the offer (we're the enemy...) and I was forbidden from distributing the stickers at Crufts. As it happens, just mentioning on CRUFFA that I wanted to, created a big and rather silly fuss in the dog press, so we managed to get the message across that way.



Anyway, I was delighted to get this reply from the Boxer Breed Council Health Committee.

"While the Boxer Breed Council’s Health Committee does not believe that pinched nostrils are a significant issue in Boxers we will take the opportunity of reminding Breed Clubs that open nostrils in the broad, black nose required by the Breed Standard are desirable. We will be doing this by circulating your original email together with this response."

I wrote back and thanked them.

Unfortunately, though, stenotic nares are now a major problem in this breed, as the picture above and those below show - all taken at Crufts last Sunday. 

© CRUFFA

It is astonishing that I even have to say it, but clearly I do:

While the show-ring continues to obsess about minor cosmetic points, completely ignoring basic necessities for life, it deserves all the crap it gets from campaigners like me. 

© CRUFFA

Dogs are obligate nose breathers. They exhale hot air through their mouths when panting, but all the air they draw into their lungs is through their nose, so a fully functioning nose is important.

© CRUFFA

Dogs don't sweat like we do, so their nose and airways are critical - and particularly in an active breed like the Boxer that suffers from heart problems. (NB we know that heart problems can be a consequence of the continual fight for air in the extreme brachycephalics).

As Professor Gerhard Oechtering wrote in the Guardian a few years ago:

"...the noses of wolves and dogs are not just for smell; they are an indispensable tool to control body temperature. Dogs are not able to sweat like humans or horses. They need the large mucosal surface of the nasal turbinate and a specific gland producing "water" in hot weather or when internal heat is produced after physical exercise. Vaporising this water on the large intranasal turbinate surface is the cooling principle; the tongue plays only a minor role in canine thermoregulation. This is the reason why dogs are obligatory nose breathers. No nose – no thermoregulation – no health – no animal welfare."

© CRUFFA

Meanwhile, the KC's Breed Watch has absolutely nothing listed as a health concern for the Boxer. 

© CRUFFA

Perhaps now the KC will add stenotic nares?  And while they're at it, the ectropion, too.

© CRUFFA

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Please don't breed if they cannot breathe

Fighting for air their whole lives

© Ralph Rückert

Take a good look into this French Bulldog's eyes. He has just woken up from an anaesthetic and the endotracheal that supported his breathing during the procedure is still in place. Dogs always fight it because it makes them gag. But not this dog - and many other brachycephalics.  The ET tube has opened his airways, enabling him to breathe properly - probably for the first time in his life.

His story was posted on Facebook last week by a German vet,  Ralph Rückert.



I was so moved that I asked Dr Rückert if we could translate it and post it here.

Here's what he wrote:

It might sound implausible, but the French Bulldog in the photo just woke up from anaesthesia. The eyes focus on me and see me. Seconds later we removed the pulse oximeter from the tongue, and the dog rolled itself upright. 
Every (every!) other dog will immediately try to dislodge the endotracheal tube at this moment, which is why we usually take it out much sooner. But with Frenchies (and other flat nosed dogs) we leave the tube in position as long as possible, dreading respiratory collapse during the home stretch of their anaesthesia. 
This frequently leads to the moment - a moment that regularly sends cold chills down my spine - when you realise that these dogs, while fully conscious, are enjoying the ability to breathe without effort (through a tube) for the first time in their life. I know that I am anthropomorphising unashamedly but nonetheless: when you pull the tube eventually, the wheezing starts up again and you see - I swear to high heaven - a glaze of resignation and disappointment fall over their eyes that were previously bright with fascination. 
This is a moment where the lifelong - and too often ignored – suffering of many brachycephalic dogs becomes crystal clear to see. Sadly it is a moment only vets witness. The first time I noticed this phenomenon, I was inclined to dismiss it as my own sentimental fabrication. But as time passed, I heard stories of the same curious and touching moment from several colleagues with a lot of experience with flat nosed breeds. You absolutely have to ask yourself honestly what it means when a dog prefers the discomfort of an endotracheal tube to its natural airway.

Meanwhile, the Kennel Club has just revealed that the French Bulldog is now the third most popular breed in the UK with over 21,000 registered in 2016; up from just 526 ten years ago.

In fact, one in six Kennel Club registered dogs today is an extreme brachycephalic - either a Frenchie, Bulldog or Pug - up from one in 50 ten years ago. Thousands more are being bred outside of the Kennel Club, feeding the obscene demand for flat-faced "cute". 

It is, frankly, the biggest explosion in suffering the purebred dog world has seen in modern times.