Bred to Suffer: French Bulldogs Ranked as Nation’s Most AKC-Registered Breed in 2022

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4 min read

It seems that 2022 was an especially bad year for French bulldogs, who are purposely bred for debilitating anatomical defects. After a French bulldog named Winston won “best in show” at the 2022 National Dog Show, a new statistic by the American Kennel Club (AKC)—a “purebred” dog registry—reveals that these flat-faced dogs were the most registered breed in 2022.

Classified as a breathing-impaired breed (BIB), French bulldogs are purposely bred to have snouts that are shortened and pushed so far back against their skulls that there isn’t enough space to accommodate their normal anatomical features. They often experience a lifetime of suffering, simply because breeders manipulate them to look a certain way.

Sad looking french bulldog

French bulldogs (and other flat-faced breeds) typically suffer from brachycephalic syndrome. It leaves many of them struggling just to breathe while they engage in normal activities. Going for a walk, chasing a ball, running, and playing—the things that make dogs’ lives joyful and fulfilling—are impossible for many BIB dogs. They often suffer from an array of distressing and painful symptoms, including labored breathing, snorting, snoring, coughing, gagging, retching, vomiting, tiring easily, collapsing, and fainting.

French bulldogs and other BIBs also have such large heads compared to their small hips that they’re unable to mate or give birth naturally—that should be the first clue that we must stop breeding these chronically ill dogs.

BIBs: Purebred Dogs Doomed by the American Kennel Club

The American Kennel Club, a purebred-dog registry, issues “breed standards” by which dogs are judged. These standards—which mandate that bulldogs, pugs, and other breeds have extremely shortened noses and flat faces—are directly responsible for these animals’ suffering.

“All kennel clubs have to take responsibility that they set those breeding standards, and those standards have become so insane that these dogs are struggling,” veterinarian Dr. Scott Miller said. “They’re in pain, they’re uncomfortable, and in a lot of cases, they need surgical correction to be normal.”

Recognizing how cruel it is to doom dogs to suffer and die for nothing more than humans’ arbitrary aesthetic preferences or the latest fad, Norway has restricted the breeding of bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles spaniels. The Netherlands also restrict the breeding of dogs with deformities that cause pain or distress. (Appropriately, Germany calls these dogs “tortured breeds.”) All countries should follow suit, and people who care about dogs should never perpetuate their misery by buying these—or any—dogs from breeders or pet stores.

Breeding Profits Cause Dogs to Suffer

In light of all the suffering caused by breeding dogs for flat faces, why do breeders keep doing it? Because people keep buying them—and because events like the National Dog Show entice breeders to produce litter after litter in the hope of having a prizewinning dog they can then profit from by breeding and selling the dog’s puppies. The breeding industry is big business, and as long as there is money to be made by selling, showing, and breeding dogs, greedy breeders will keep on producing more—regardless of how much they cause dogs to suffer in the process.

Dog shows exploit dogs who are often “owned” by groups of people who are simply out for profit and prestige. For instance, NFL player Morgan Fox, who partly owns the group that handles Winston, noted that he gained exposure from this win, which was broadcast to an estimated 20 million viewers.

Dogs Need to Breathe, Not Breed

Humans caused brachycephalic syndrome by breeding dogs—and we can’t undo it by breeding more. Studies have shown that bulldogs are so inbred that there is virtually no way to produce ones who don’t suffer from harmful traits. Even if breeding could somehow fix the problem, it’s unethical to breed more dogs of any kind as long as millions of homeless dogs are waiting in shelters and struggling to survive on the streets.

The solution is simple: Stop breeding and buying French bulldogs, other BIB dogs—and any other dogs. All purebreds (flat-faced or not) suffer from congenital, often painful conditions. If you have the time, money, patience, and love to care for an animal for life (which could be for more than 15 years), please adopt one from a shelter. If you already have a BIB dog, please commit to making his or her life as fulfilling, healthy, and comfortable as you can—but pledge never to buy another one. Share this information with your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. And always have your animal companions spayed or neutered and help others do the same.

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