Monday 28 March 2016

CRUFFA writes to the AKC

I was shocked to be forwarded this image, currently embedded in emails being sent out by the American Kennel Club to those registering a new pup.

You really would never see the Kennel Club in the UK using a Pug like this in their marketing these days because of greater awareness about exaggerations. So... some small progress.

As some of you will know, I have started a new initiative called CRUFFA, currently in soft-launch mode (essentially waiting for me to be find the time to develop it/build a website).

CRUFFA stands for the Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals (in media/marketing/advertising) and I ping off emails/messages to companies that have used poor examples of brachycephalic dogs to make them aware of the issues. The aim is for the emails to be a gentle nudge, rather than a sledgehammer.

It was a little hard to know how to approach the AKC re this one - but I felt strongly enough to want to try.  Let me know how you think I did.

Here's what I wrote to Brandi Hunter, the AKC's Director of PR.

Dear Brandi Hunter 
I am writing in response to this image, which the AKC is currently using on registration emails.

The Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals (CRUFFA) was born out of  concern over the increasing use of Pugs, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and other 'brachycephalic' breeds used in advertising, marketing and the media - especially the use of more exaggerated examples of these breeds.  This of course reflects their current popularity - but also helps fuel demand. 
While many people find flat-faced breeds cute,  you will be aware they can suffer from health problems as a direct result of having been bred with a very short muzzle/wrinkling.  
CRUFFA does not seek to ban the use of images of Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogs in the media; preferring to educate, suggest alternatives and to promote the use of a healthier phenotype - e.g Pugs, Frenchies and Bulldogs that have good eyes, less wrinkling, wide-open nostrils and are not overweight.   
We believe that the use of more moderate dogs in the media/advertising/marketing will help influence the popular “template” for the breed, increasing the demand for less-exaggerated dogs.  Our sincere hope is that this will lead to improved quality of life for these breeds. 
This Pug, for instance, has much more moderate features than the one in your image while still being undeniably a Pug. 

We would appreciate greatly if this is something you could bear in mind in the future. 
Please feel free to pass this on to anyone within the AKC responsible for marketing/advertising/media. 
Yours sincerely 
Jemima Harrison
(Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals) 
 And I got a near-instant response, which is very nice.

Click to enlarge

I'm sure they think I'm being cheeky. But,hopefully, it will be something they will take into consideration in future.


  1. A "Huh, I see your point, will make sure someone looks into it" would have been a bit less brusque, but okay. Would be nice if it actually got somewhere...

  2. not only have they used a pug it's clearly grossly overweight, someone deserves a slap.

  3. it's probably the computer generated response sent out to all the emails she receives. I doubt you'll hear anything else.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to write this, even though it's not a KC issue. I hope they listen! Signed: an American fan of PDE.

  5. Bravo! I think your message is extremely polite and to the point...but unfortunately I think that there is no one to read it...

  6. Thank you - on behalf of all malbred deformed breeds. A small point - to state that "We believe that the use of more moderate dogs in the media/advertising/marketing will help influence the popular “template” for the breed, increasing the demand for less-exaggerated dogs" - seems to imply that the public demand for more extreme breeding drives the current standard of points(?). This of course is not so - the kennel club (of wherever) doesn't give a rat's arse what the public want. The SOP is designed by the breed groups and human nature tends to extremes, so the breeders get rewarded by the judges for breeding extremes of "typey" animals. Then the PR machine kicks in with the cutesy adverts and the public does the rest.

    Yes yes - I know - 100% for tact and diplomacy. I might have been a little more blunt "If the kennel club really had the interests of the animals at heart and were dedicated to "bettering the breed" (if this is possible by mere humans), you would be amending the show standards to penalise extremes of type and force judges to reward moderation instead of the other way round. Maybe you can find it in your heart (and pocket book) to put the animals first for a change, and design a more humane breed standard so that there are no losers in the show ring."

    And of course - you're right. Nobody would pay any attention to my approach...

  7. Jemima
    Why not extend your campaign by encouraging Breeders of Flat Faced Dogs to join you?
    There are breeders out there who are sympathetic although most of them are breeding Pet dogs and so come under fire from all sides - for breeding "backyard" unregistered dogs and for breeding "for Profit" (since of course they aren't showing their dogs as a hobby)
    If you can get together enough CRUFFA Breeders then market forces may at last come in to play.
    The huge popularity of Oodles - at least in Australia - is not only because they are really appropriate pets for most urban families, but also because they are seen as a perfectly respectable and even responsible choice of dog. Designer dogs are putting huge pressure on show breeders to breed healthier animals.
    The Aussie Bulldog has been a success here and is a much healthier dog (although still with their problems)
    I'd be happy to start a CRUFFA community forum going among breeders in our organisation (the Australian Association of Pet Dog Breeders).
    I have been thinking that the AAPDB (which is currently seen as an organisation for cross breeders) need an Heirloom Breeders Group - for breeders keen to return to the original types of the early 1900s and not afraid to introduce new blood from unregistered dogs or even dogs of different breeds.

  8. Your letter was well-written, polite, concise, and made sense. One of the problems is that you made too much sense. I believe the AKC is a logic free zone. I'm surprised they did not refer you to the Pug Club of America as a generic response. A few months ago, I contacted the AKC about their health description of the Bulldog and they referred me to the BCA.
    The bottom line is that the national breed clubs in the United States do not care about the health of the breed. They care about the looks of their breed, not if it works.
    Keep up the fight Jemima