French Bulldog is perfect example of problems facing ‘designer dogs’

French Bulldog Dobby was imported from Lithuania as part of the unscrupulous puppy trade and is a perfect example of problems facing ‘designer’ dogs.

Dobby was advertised online when his owners could no longer keep him and is now in RSPCA care and needs major corrective surgery to help with breathing problems, which are common in the breed.

The 19-month old French bulldog was bought by a concerned member of the public worried about what would happen to him and taken to the RSPCA, where he is now being cared for at RSPCA Mount Noddy Animal Centre in Chichester.

Animal centre manager Susan Botherway, said: “Dobby was bought off Gumtree by a member of the public who was worried he would end up in the wrong hands. He couldn’t keep him so brought him to us at the end of August. His passport shows he was born in Lithuania.”

RSPCA staff suspect that the little French Bulldog was bred in eastern Europe destined for the lucrative puppy trade in the UK where fashionable, designer breeds such as Pugs and Frenchies sell for hundreds of pounds.

Unfortunately for the young dog, when his owners could no longer keep him they too to the online classified sites to try to fund him a new home. But the lucky dog is now receiving the TLC he needs with staff and volunteers at the centre.

As with many puppies imported from abroad and sold online – particularly those brachycephalic or ‘flat-faced’ breeds such as French bulldogs – Dobby is plagued with health problems.

Susan added: “When he arrived he was really struggling to breath. He was rushed to the vets where he was given medication to ease his laboured breathing. He was also treated for ‘cherry-eye’ (a painful condition affecting the membrane or ‘third eyelid’ on a dog’s eye) and ear infections.

“He was also very underweight, lethargic and particularly weak. He wasn’t able to walk far and didn’t want to eat anything.”

Dedicated staff had to roll his food into small balls and hand feed him every two hours to build up his strength. He has since had surgery to tackle his breathing and eating problems caused by brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS).

“The operation was to open his nostrils and trim his soft palate, creating more space for the air to flow and make it easier for him to breath,” said Susan. “It’s cost £3000 in vet fees and means, in the future, he won’t be insurable for any of these health issues.

“It just goes to show the price of poor breeding – not only for the dog but also for the owner who is left to foot these extremely high bills.”

Dobby is currently in foster care with a staff member while he recovers from his surgery.

The RSPCA’s veterinary clinics are also seeing more dogs who require similar surgery due to BOAS.  Earlier this month, the charity’s Southall Clinic in London carried out the same operation on French Bulldog Mickey.

RSPCA dog welfare expert, Lisa Hens, said: “Sadly we’re seeing more and more dogs in veterinary clinics and surgeries across the country needing surgery to try to correct health problems which have been caused due to the way they’ve been selectively bred for exaggerated features.

“Dobby and Mickey are perfect examples of how the selective breeding of dogs has over the years, created dogs who can now no longer function as happy, healthy dogs.”

The RSPCA is part of the UK Brachycephalic Working Group – a coalition of animal welfare and veterinary organisations, researchers and breeder representatives working to improve the health and welfare of flat-faced dogs.

The charity is also urging members of the public to consider rescuing a dog instead of buying a puppy. If buying, the public should use the Puppy Contract to help them but a happy and healthy dog.