Monday, 13 June 2016

Fraser Hale rocks

I laughed out loud today at a post by veterinary dentist Fraser Hale on Facebook which features the above pic. But it carries an important and serious message.

Fraser is a campaigner regarding brachycephalic mouths/teeth, pointing out that dogs with squished muzzles are suffering much more than we realise from the consequences of shoving the normal number of teeth into a mouth where they can't fit - i.e. misaligned teeth banging against gums and a way-above normal rate of periodontal disease

Here's his post:

We are prone to anthropomorphising (attaching human emotions/behaviours to non-human beings/objects). For instance, the geode pictured (above) looks super-happy. It is not happy. It is a rock. But it sure looks happy and it makes us smile to see it and we think "how cute, I want a happy rock like that in my life because I like to be around happy stuff". But it is a rock. It is neither happy, nor sad. It is a rock.

We do the same thing with animals whose anatomy makes it look (to us) as if they are smiling. Have you ever seen a dolphin that looks grumpy? Of course not, because their fixed craniofacial anatomy makes it look like they are smiling. 

Have you ever seen a happy bald eagle? Of course not, because their fixed craniofacial anatomy makes it look like they have a permanent scowl. So we assume all dolphins are happy and all bald eagles are noble and serious. That is anthropomorphism.
So what about the Boston terrier or French Bulldog, or other short-face breeds who have such distorted craniofacial anatomy that they often gasp for every breath they take? Their struggle to get enough oxygen causes them to breathe with an open mouth, lips pulled way back and this makes it look like they are super-happy, with a big, gape-mouthed smile. They are not super-happy. 

The very briefest of trawls will find a host of images of brachycephalics with the same drawn-back-and-up lips. It really does look like a smile so it's hardly surprising people think it is.  Of course sometimes it really is just a relaxed and happy dog - this, for instance, is my Irish Water Spaniel x, Curly.

The difference lies in the overall tension in the face - and very often a dog that is too hot and/or in respiratory distress will have half-closed, glazed eyes.

Another common sign is pinned-back, immobile ears.



  1. The pug just looks scared and desperate to me, with such bulging wide eyes it doesn't look happy at all - it's "smile" looks more like a grimace.

    The bulldog looks exhausted from drawing breath, and the frenchie looks overheated and fed up.

    The spaniel is the only dog that honestly looks happy in those photos.

  2. Very well done Fraser Hale!

  3. This is sickening. The short face dogs are in pain. Almost everything about them says so. What Iv'e noticed:

    1. Their glassy glazed over eyes that indicate pain
    2. Their tongue being curled up-overheating or breathing problem, or both I presume?
    3. Excessive skin- perfect for yeast and bacteria to accumulate (on the pug & bulldog).
    4. The pug's eyes are protruding too much from the skull. Ouch!
    5. That bulldog is obese and looks like he will have trouble, well -moving.
    6. Dwarfism, easily shown in the bulldog. You make this breed flat faced and prone to obesity, and then you give it dwarfism? I would bet this dog will have problems moving like a normal canine.

    Why can't people just breed mutts? *sigh*

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  5. The "Cephalic Index" and it's upward sweeping graph for Australian dogs registered with the ANKC over on Biomedcentral makes quite a dramatic statement of just how much exaggerations have crept in since 1986 - 2013 alone. I think this would be even more dramatic for the years 2013 - 16.

    Point of diminishing returns health wise at least. The only place for those flat faces to go is back out, surely!


    Jemima - time to contact and educate The Guardian via CRUFFA. Using a Pug to promote the empty nest syndrome felt when children leave home....

  7. Oh, look at this. How cute! A wee doggie crawls into the fridge to cool down. He's also smiling, so happy!

    That's pure sarcasm, btw.

    That poor pup.