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Facial morphology of brachycephalic breeds: evolution since the end of the XIXth century and current perspectives

    Facial morphology of brachycephalic breeds: evolution since the end of the XIXth century and current perspectives

    Authors, Claude Guintard1 and  Hélène Denis2 offer insights into today's increasing attention on brachycephalic conformation related to health 'issues'. The short article "aims, from archival images, to try to objectify the changes in cephalic profile that may have occurred in the main brachycephalic breeds since the late 19th century." A focus on selection and development of the Bulldog, Dogue de Bordeaux and Pug breeds from the 1800's through today is illuminating in terms of how cranio-facial characteristics existed from the breeds' formation and how different breed's conformation has evolved. The article is to be published in the Société Centrale Canine's Newsletter soon.

    Many thanks to Hélène Denis who has graciously provided an English translation of this article for posting on DogWellNet.


    Table of Contents


    NOTE from IPFD:  Here we are describing the basics of Dr. Guintard's article, and, as that study was prompted by other events and wider influences, we will direct you to other relevant content.  This is a very basic overview and summary of the work.  Dr. Bonnett (IPFD's CEO) will provide further comments and interpretation in her blog:  Facial Morphology of Brachycephalic Dogs - A Novel, Quantitative Approach (to be posted soon). 

    We highly recommend that you download and read the article as it is a novel approach to provide evidence about the complex challenges surrounding brachycephalic dogs.  Dr. Guintard who is a specialist in anatomy, a veterinarian and internationally recognized expert, who serves on the Standards commissions of the French Kennel Club (SCC) and the Federation Cynologique International (FCI).  Hélène Denis is also active with the SCC, is president of the English Bulldog Club in France, and is a respected collaborator with IPFD, producing excellent education material.

    Download the Article   

    In English:   Facial morphology of brachycephalic breeds.pdf

    In French:   Morphologie faciale des races brachycéphales.pdf

    Overview and Take Home Messages

    Why was this study done?  

    •  Brachycephalic breed health and welfare are under intense focus internationally 
    • There remains a need for more evidence on the breed-level prevalence of BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome) and on possible ways to improve the situation through breeding.
    • The government of the Netherlands has enacted legislation which essentially prevents or restricts the breeding of 12 breeds, based on several criteria, one of which is the  Cranial Facial Ratio (CFR).
    • Integral to these discussions is the degree to which breeds have changed in facial conformation due to selection within pedigreed populations.
    • Although there is a large body of literature on breeds, standards and breeding, there is little quantitative characterization.

    Objectives adenis-guintard-brachy2020.pngnd Results

    • The main goal was to apply the measurement of the CFR to archival images of award-winning show dogs from the 19th century until today.
    • The authors provide a description of the definition, measurement and use of the CFR, as well as possible limitations.
    • Within the practical limitations of the study parameters, the authors have used objective sample selection and measurement criteria, and provide a clear description of their work.
    • Graphs and explanations highlight the changes over time for three breeds, and further breeds will be studied in the future.
    • Results show "enormous morphological diversity" across the breeds and the authors state that "The craniofacial ratio towards which a current breed must strive to get out of the hypertype zone is a function of the breed and cannot be decreed unilaterally for all breeds. "
    • The authors are members of the pedigree dog, show community and suggest that the long history of this community - and of the breeds - be considered and respected as part of collaborative change.
    • They contend that BOAS, while a definite problem in individual dogs, should not be considered a permanent characteristic of the breeds and that unilateral actions as being undertaken in the Netherlands will serve to eliminate many healthy animals and breeds.

    Also mentioned in this article

    Related content on DogWellNet

    • Challenges for Pedigree Dogs: Regulatory Enforcement of Brachycephalic Dogs in the NetherlandsThis article is a summary we (IPFD) have created describing the issues, the dialogue and challenges around regulatory actions in the Netherlands as of June 2020.  The issue is having a polarizing effect across stakeholder groups, and it is our belief that the best results for all dogs are to be achieved by collaborative efforts.  IPFD also promotes the considerations of impacts on dogs, breeds, and people when programs are put in place, given the complex nature of issues of health and welfare. This article is a compilation of resources for those who are exploring the situation.
    • Standards, health and hypertypes in dogs, by Pr. José Luis Payró Dueñas (Mexico) Here we feature a text entitled Standards, health and hypertypes in dogs, by Pr. José Luis Payró Dueñas (Mexico) from the book,  Standards, Health and Genetics in the Dog. (Read more about the book here.)
    • Metrics, Process and CULTURE! Impacts on discussions on health and welfare of dogs : A blog by Dr. Bonnett, linking to work by Ian Seath, describing wider influences on strategies to improve health and welfare.
    • IDHWs 1-4 - Extremes Theme, A Summary The Extremes of Conformation Theme has been discussed at the Dog Health Workshops held in 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019. During the past decade a great deal has been accomplished to address health and welfare issues that relate to conformation extremes across breeds.  Particular focus has been paid to health challenges present in the short muzzled breeds, several of which have become exceedingly popular in recent years. This document provides a timeline-based group of resources available on DogWellNet including articles, blogs and links to plenary presentations from the workshops.

    See more on Breeds covered in the article in DogWellNet's Pedigreed Dogs Database


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