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Renewed Push To Stop Breeding Dogs For ‘Cuteness’

The Australia Veterinary Association (AVA), the country’s peak body for veterinarians, has updated its policy document to include warnings about selective breeding.

“Continued selection for a dramatically shortened face has resulted in multiple anatomic changes which cause brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome ... [which] affects the animal’s ability to breathe, exercise, thermoregulate, sleep, play and undertake other normal behaviours,” the new policy says.

The AVA is also pushing for an end to breeding dogs with a muzzle of less than one-third of their skull length and banning them from being displayed at dog shows.

The association is concerned about an increase in the number of brachycephalic dog breeds, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, which commonly have breathing issues.

Speaking to The Age, Dr David Neck said dog breeding laws around defects is not routinely enforced.

“We want the dog to have their best life, and that involves airway surgery so they can breathe later in life,” he said.

Surgery can cost between $1500 and $4000.

However, Dogs Australia believes a ban on certain breeds would push the industry “underground”, making it harder to regulate.

“Legitimate breeders are registered and regulated, so they can be easily identified,” the organisation’s ambassador, Dr Rob Zammit, told The Age.

“Illegal operators usually only have a mobile phone contact – they’re largely untraceable, so there’s no pressure on them to observe health and welfare issues.”