Westminster Dog Show Faces Flack From PETA Over Flat-Faced Breeds

For Immediate Release:
June 17, 2022

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

New York

Ahead of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, PETA sent a letter today to Show Chair David Helming calling on the American Kennel Club (AKC) to disqualify pugs, Pekinese, French bulldogs, and other brachycephalic breeds from the competition. The group points out that the AKC’s grotesque standards encourage breeding for physical deformities for vulnerable flat-faced dogs and cites a veterinary study that found that some of these breeds can no longer be classified as “normal dogs” due to their health irregularities and a recent court ruling in Norway that established a precedent for the recognition that these dogs suffer severely and should no longer be bred for humans to accumulate accolades.

“The AKC needs to answer for its role in creating scores of dogs who can’t chase a ball without wheezing for air,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling on this organization to keep flat-faced breeds out of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and encourages everyone to avoid this superficial breeding fiasco and adopt animals from shelters.”

A pack of PETA supporters will also gather at a busy intersection in downtown Tarrytown, New York, on Wednesday, the final day of the event, to urge organizers to keep flat-faced dogs off the podium and out of future competitions.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Helming follows.

June 17, 2022

David A. Helming

Show Chair

Westminster Kennel Club

111 Broadway, Ste. 805

New York, NY 10006

Dear Mr. Helming:

I’m writing to request that you remove brachycephalic breeds, including but not limited to pugs, Pekingese, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels, from the 2022 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Many bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese, and other flat-faced breeds can barely breathe—let alone go for a walk or chase a ball—without gasping for air, because they have been bred to have unnaturally shortened airways. This unnatural process results in enormous suffering, hefty veterinary bills, and heartbreak for dog guardians, as you must know.

A recent study conducted by the Royal Veterinary College found that “the Pug has now diverged to such an extent from mainstream dog breeds that it can no longer be considered as a typical dog from a health perspective.” Dr. Dan G. O’Neill, lead author of the study, concluded, “It is time now that we focus on the health of the dog rather than the whims of the owner.”

Earlier this year, a court in Norway ruled that the breeding of brachycephalic dogs is cruel and results in human-created health problems. Following the ruling, veterinarian Dr. Scott Miller said, “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. They’re in pain, they’re uncomfortable and in a lot of cases, they need surgical correction to be normal.”

Of course, adopting a homeless dog is far more considerate than breeding a new dog. But removing breeds prone to deformity and suffering from this highly publicized event is the least that the Westminster Kennel Club could do. We ask for your consideration, for dogs’ sake.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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