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Come for the looks, stay for the personality? Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and Pugs

Brenda Bonnett

Viewed: 1,236 times

Come for the looks, stay for the personality? A mixed methods investigation of reacquisition and owner recommendation of Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and Pugs the latest analysis of data collected and reported on in a 2019 study - see - Great expectations, inconvenient truths, and the paradoxes of the dog-owner relationship for owners of brachycephalic dogs.  As we said in that blog: "Popularity of brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds is increasing internationally despite well-documented intrinsic health and welfare problems associated with their conformation."  The previous study looked at aspects of the dogs and people that lead to such an intense bond.

This 2020 article, based on the need for further understanding of the complexity of health and welfare of these flat-faced breeds, uses excellent scientific methods to explore data that explores emotions, beliefs, and feelings - i.e. human factors. They say: "Physical appearance is as a dominant factor attracting owners to brachycephalic breeds; however, whether these owners will choose their current breed for future ownership and develop ‘breed-loyalty’ in the face of health problems is not yet known."  It is well-known that these breeds suffer with numerous conditions that result in ongoing, costly veterinary interventions.  They may die young, and the whole situation is often heart-breaking for owners.  And yet... do they want to get another one?  Do they recommend the breed to friends and family members?  Investigating these questions was the aim of this study.

Study in a nutshell:

  • included 2168 owners:  (Pugs: n = 789; French Bulldog: n = 741; Bulldogs: n = 638)
  • 93% of owners were highly likely to own their breed again in the future
  • and 65.5% would recommend their breed to others
  • there analysis showed that there was a tendency for
    • increased attachment in first time owners, and that increased the likelihood of re-acquisition
      and/or recommendation
    • however, those actions were decrease when the dog experienced an increased number of health problems, and dog behaviour
      being worse than expected
    • people who thought their dog had better health than the average for the breed were less likely to get another or recommend
  • so, when people have a dog with a lot of health issues, AND they perceive that this could be even worse in other dogs of the breed... they are less likely to reacquire or recommend
  • of great concern was that owners say a great benefit of these breeds is their low requirement for exercise... that they have a sedentary nature

Chicago Pug crop.jpgUnfortunately, previous work by Dr. Packer, from years ago, and other studies since, show us that owners of flat-faced dogs tend not to recognize or admit that breed-typical characteristics like snorting, snoring, poor exercise and heat tolerance are truly indications of ill health, or of suffering.  And as evidenced in the results of this study, they do not understand that reluctance to move and exercise might stem from clinical problems, e.g. inability to breath, rather than having a 'lazy' personality.  Allowing dogs to become obese and not keeping them fit will only aggravate underlying problems.  Do owners accidentally love them to death?

The point of research like this it to learn about the people behind the breeds, so that we can develop educational resources and programs to help people understand the issues in the these incredibly population breeds.  Their incredible surge in popularity, combined with the welfare challenges in individual dogs, are leading to heightened legislative regulations in Europe that may impact entire breeds, and, of course owners.


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