With their bulging eyes and cute looks, flat-faced dogs are in fashion.
But breeds like English and French bulldogs, pugs and boxers are going blind, and many can’t close their eyes, veterinarians have warned.
They said that over-breeding leads to changes in the shape of the skull, causing the eyes to protrude and leaving the surface too exposed.
Researchers said this causes ulcers and erosion of the eyeball, leading to vision loss. Many dogs have a condition called macroblepharon, which is an abnormally large opening of the eyelids. This, coupled with the way their eyes stick out, often makes it impossible to close them.
Breeds like English and French bulldogs, pugs and boxers go blind, and many can’t close their eyes, veterinarians have warned
It is also common for the breeds to have respiratory problems. The vets’ study examined flat-faced breeds up to age 16, which also included Shih-Tzus, Pekingese, and Boston terriers. Of the 93 dogs examined, nearly half had macroblepharon.
French bulldogs – the UK’s second-favorite breed after labradors – were the hardest hit. The research was compiled by veterinarians from the universities of Lisbon and Leipzig.
As these breeds become more popular, veterinary hospital teams are treating more and more dogs with brachycephaly [flat-faced] breeds with a wide variety of problems caused by breeding for a characteristically flat, short-nosed face, ”said the vets.
For their study, they examined a range of flat breeds, ranging in age from just a few months to 16 years.
The breeds brought to two veterinary clinics with eye problems were French Bulldogs, Shih-Tzus, Pugs, English Bulldogs, Boxers, Pekingese and Boston Terriers.
Of the 93 dogs examined, nearly half had macroblepharon. The French bulldogs – which are the UK’s second favorite dog according to Kennel Club figures – were the hardest hit by this condition.
They said over-breeding leads to changes in the shape of the skull, causing the eyes to protrude and leaving the surface exposed
Entropion, in which the eyelid turns inward so that the eyelashes rub the eyeball, was found in 20 of the dogs, especially pugs.
Ulcers on the surface of the eyeball – the cornea – were found in 41 of the pets, and five had them in both eyes, the vets at the University of Lisbon and the University of Leipzig found.
Corneal pigmentation affected 33 of the dogs, with pugs suffering the most. Vision loss occurs when the blackish-brown pigment gradually obscures the cornea.
Corneal fibrosis, or scarring, affected 23 dogs. Shih Tzus and French Bulldogs were the breeds most likely to have these problems.
The researchers, whose findings were published in the Irish Veterinary Journal, said: ‘The numbers of these patients are increasing in small animal practice.
Their personalities, wrinkly faces, and attractive large eyes have made them popular family pets.
“This popularity is thought to exist because people find the large and round eyes as well as the round face very attractive.”
Their research, the veterinarians said, has “emphasized the importance of responsible breeding, early diagnosis and regular ophthalmic checkups to correctly diagnose, treat, and if possible prevent situations of irreversible blindness in these patients.”
In addition to eye problems, these breeds often have breathing problems – a condition known as brachycephalic obstructive airways syndrome.