Friday, 6 November 2015

BRACHY WEEK: none so blind (and deaf)

© 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... 


  1. He may never have recognized or acknowledged a Pug with breathing problems in the ring but that video proves that he most certainly has SEEN them.

  2. Fat black Pug in the sun, gasping and no one sees a damn thing wrong. That dog just wants to lie down because it's struggling...

  3. Addition to the translation:
    kortnosar, kortnäst = "short noses"(nickname for brac.breeds), short nosed
    arvsgång = inheritance pattern
    nedärva = inherit
    hundavel = dog breeding

  4. I was appalled the first time I saw this video, for an owner of a dog to allow somebody else to handle their dog in such a way was shocking. If it had been me, as soon as I realised he was heavy handed, I would have told him to stop, I'd have registered a complaint and would have paid money to make a formal objection. The poor little thing was already struggling, and he thought it was ok to cover it's mouth and nose for quite a long time, is unforgiveable. Horrible way of judging dogs and why didn't others complain at the time - because it has become the norm in the dog show world to abuse dogs for glory, some breeders and showers seemed to have switched off their morality and compassionate buttons.

  5. I got the initial impression he was assessing breathing by clamping the mops's mouth closed, listening to hear if it could breath through its nose. But no, watching again he was very momentarily deeply assessing jaw shape and alignment, signs of wry mouth etc and evidence of teeth and tongue protrusion.

    Fined the art to one very quick hard grasp and I guess he has to know given how quickly he does this that the pug is suffocating while he's doing it.

    Besides the obvious fact the pug isn't breathing through its nose, the fact he has to do this in the first place should also tell him of course that the little dog cannot breath sufficiently all on its own with its mouth closed. He has to force it closed to make that assessment. I expect this is normal practise when judging pugs and bulldogs etc, the "why" seemingly having escaped attention for the longest time.

    I would like a translation of what he is saying because he also seems to be alluding to the warm weather to explain, in fact even wave away the general state of this pug and it's breathing at start. I can't be sure, though.

    He's never seen a dog with breathing problems in the show ring!!! Right up there with the lot that claim only puppy mill pugs have breathing problems.

    A very very nice little black pug that can't breath. Excellent! Next!?

    Thing is for it to be considered nice and in this case "excellent" its breathing has to be compromised because you cant honestly get this small and typy in a "kortnasta" without compromising breathing and a few other things too.

    I often wonder if "hyper" pugs are in fact hyper or just desperate to breathe?
    How could you tell.

    When I see those moments, their little trusting eyes looking upwards to their owners it's truly heart breaking, as was learning of Cissy's death.

    The other little dogs that worry me and I have suddenly been noticing more of them in this part of the world are mini pinchers, whose hair has all fallen out, the skin dark and mottled and who have very, even grotesquely strange teeth arrangements, teeth jutting out of their mouths at all angles. I wonder if extreme pituitary dwarfism isn't causing this chronic alopecia etc. They are just so teeny in every way. Such a shame and still managing to be as charming and dog like as most dogs are of course.

    1. I thought he was trying to stop it gasping by covering its nose as you would for reverse sneezing,though that wasnt the problem....

  6. Georgina, please see for comparison the way in which the dogs are handled in the video at the end of Jemima´s post. Three people, two of them judges, besides being a vet and a doctor respectively, the third being also a vet, appraise the breathing of the dogs shown. See the respectful, gentle way in which these three people approach and handle a dog with obvious breathing difficulties? The dog plays the important part in this video. The dog is in the centre of attention. In the video showing mr Cronander judging, it´s the other way around.

    1. Yes, it is charming and really highlights that the judge of the black pug should be struck off because of his judging method, in fact his whole demeanor was wrong. Crowding the pug before it could settle, looking around, disinterested in the main. Not somebody I would give the privilege of handling one of my dogs EVER. However Mr Cronander is much more in tune with how to handle and clearly understands what makes dogs comfortable.

  7. Teaching dog show people about the dangers of pure and extreme breeding, is like teaching Creationists about evolution; they deny facts and refuse to see what's going on. They are fanatics who cannot be persuaded by reason. There is no arguing with them. There must be laws for them to obey, and consequences if they don't.

  8. I think an alternative registry where dogs are recorded not on "breed" but for "purpose" would soon render the K.Cs superfluous and redundant.

    AND assist to educate the public to their responsibilities as owners and breeders in order to maximize the value obtained from that purpose.

    From my own experience, breeding for purpose 1st can bring results that the K.Cs haven't a hope of trivializing or dismissing in comparison. The results can bring so much more value to owners they refuse to accept less anymore. But they need to see it for themselves before they can understand their are other possibilities. That they have been conditioned to accepting less under the pretense the K.Cs equal some sort of quality control.

    1. "I think an alternative registry where dogs are recorded not on "breed" but for "purpose" would soon render the K.Cs superfluous and redundant."

      What an excellent idea!!!!

  9. Bred for purpose lol, not only do dogs like this have a host of problems related to how they are bred but they are also kept in a condition that's life threatening, just look at these:

    My eyes were on stalks I've never seen such fat show dogs in my life, like living sausages. The champ stud looks like the an overweight Michelin dog. Its distressing seeing it walk round and round that cool aircon indoor kennel with it's own surgery. It obviously cannot breathe even in this assisted environment.

    So called "well set up" Bulldog kennels often have their own surgeries because whelping and concieving can involve and for whelping does almost always involve a surgical prosedure and so its easiest to be set up for it.

    The fat freak dog factory.

    Im just surprised they aren't canning bulldogs as well. Bulldog ragù.

  10. What Åke Cronander is saying in the video is : Little Lady Do not get so stressed....Not like that.
    Doesn´t this appeal to you ?
    After choking her..........?.... as a whole..... feminine, good neck enough high lifted, good body for the circumstances, Then telling the handler...Let her be... Nice bodied....Let her off the table and let her down into the shadow. Good angles..Yes I want to give it a chance, good legs and good paws...She needs to take it a bit more easy. To show her full potential....Moving the table to the shadow....moves with good steps....Excellent !

  11. Thanks at 17:46, Yes I thought he was concerned about the warm weather affecting the dogs behaviour.

    The poor little mopsie is in a frenzy because it's too hot, it cannot cool itself down because its cooling system is jammed up. I suppose at least he cares enough for their welfare that he moves the table into the shade.

    It's extremely alarming seeing its distressing desperation to get out of the sun, off the table. Hyperventilating and throwing itself down, from side to side.

    How in heavens name is it acceptable to breed a dog that cannot tolerate a brief moment in a little summer weather. That's in danger of heat stroke with the slightest bit of stress.

    Honestly just give it back its face, if nothing else let it breathe at least.

    1. Agree with you. But the Swedish KC initiative on brachycephalic dogs started a few years ago - and, as anyone can see in the judging video from last summer, nothing happens. So - what do we do to get breeders to listen to reason?

  12. Never thought much of that video the Sw. KC produced. It says very little, as people don't really know what they are talking about.

    Wonder how long time it will take before people realise that these breeds without muzzles have longer been in existence historically with a muzzle than without. So the only thing we can do is to give them back their noses that so rightly belong to them, so they can breath properly. It's not on for modern educated humans to breed animals so very deformed. I know that to get muzzles back it will probably be needed to get some blood from outside. But definitely nothing wrong with that because for example the Pugs, as we all know, are suffering from several serious medical conditions due to very little genetic variation.

    If dog breeders of the earlier generations have made such grave mistakes only for fashion and winning prizes, it is our responsibility to set things right again.

  13. Sorry to disappoint you all, but on Nov 10th the demfamed, Swedish Pug got a health certificate issued by a veterinarian. No breathing problems whatsoever were found...
    What now, Jemima Harrison? Will you defame the Swedish vet too?

    1. I wonder if the Swedish vet put the Swedish pug in the gentle Swedish sun for three minutes?
      You see simply by virtue of having such a typy lack of face its cooling system has been wrought completely redundant so its has to hyperventilate using its mouth instead of its naster. As the air flow through the tiny and completely squashed airways is not enough it cant get enough air to cool down effectively this way, its little head gets overheated and heat stroke can kill it.. So its likely to die unless put in the shade and cooled down by external means,
      So I would say the Swedish vet is wrong. There is definitely something very wrong with the mops's breathing apparatus. In fact the vet needs to go back to school and study canine anatomy and quite urgently before they continue practising.
      Maybe the vet needs to just look at the video too.

    2. I think it is perfectly possible that a vet has passed this dog recently - and wouldn't for one minute suggest any poor judgement by the vet.

      That doesn't mean that the dog was not in respiratory distress in the above video. It was. And every vet that I have shown it to thinks that.

      It was the summer so quite warm (although I checked the weather for the day and it was only 21 degrees, so not boiling) and the dog *was* stressed.

      Are the details of the vet check going to be released? It would be good to know if it was just a table-top exam, or a functional test. Even if the latter, it is now winter and, presumably, the dog would not have been as stressed as at the show.

      BOAS is progressive and this is a young dog - perhaps only showing distress under stress or in warm weather at the moment. But this is likely to get worse.

  14. At the show the pug was in clear respiratory distress and should not have been judged!

    1. Yes. Any dog that is oxygen deprived by 21%C has problems. Its perfectly possible this could've been exacerbated by even a mild pollen count in the air too, anything a normal dogs muzzle could sneeze away or pant out, this dog can't.

      The point is there are pugs suffering all over the world because of their conformation. I see pugs behaving exactly like this in 80%humidity and 37%C every day almost in Southern China. It's seen as normal as it is by this Swedish judge. Its too hot they protest, thats all. But the fact is normal faced dogs dont suffer this, not nearly to the same degree even give the fact that all dogs are susceptable to heat stroke as are we. For the pug its critical in even normal tolerable conditions.

      No vet in my oppinion should be able to declare this pug or any other show pug with an extreme flat face sound. By doing so they are fostering the culture of pedigree mutations. Sound on the day is just not accetable. Is a basset hound sound if it has gapping exposed haws that aren't red inflammed or weeping at the show? Drop of eye drops ten minutes before, a little sedative...even quite lot of sedative can so easily mask the delitrous affects of some of the more crippling conformation problems.

      Vets IMO are being complicit in the suffering of animals, everytime they take payment to perform AI on a bulldog bitch for example.

      They have a definate roll to play in all of this absolutely. If a vet can't see it what chances do these poor little dogs have!?

      I will say though that imo at least this particular little black pug is better than most in some obvious respects, even for a bitch she has a small head and a reasonably good thin neck extension. Maybe this is also because she is a black pug. You can't see the details like nares etc, they could of course be good too.