Celebrities, advertisers and the public must stop normalising flat-faced dogs’ health problems for the sake of animal welfare, said British Veterinary Association (BVA) President Gudrun Ravetz on BBC Radio 4’s Today.

Talking on the programme about the health and welfare issues faced by flat-faced or brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, French bulldogs and British bulldogs, the BVA President made it clear that what is seen as “normal” and cute for these dogs, such as snorting and snuffling, is in reality a result of debilitating respiratory problems due to the squashed faces that have made them the dogs du jour. The problems are so severe that many of these dogs suffer breathing difficulties even when doing day-to-day activities like walking or eating.

Today also outlined a recent Kennel Club report showed that all flat-faced breeds have experienced a huge boom in popularity recently, with the French bulldog soon set to be the most popular breed in the UK. They also highlighted that media, advertising and celebrity owners have helped drive the appeal of, and increase the demand for these breeds.

Following the interview Gudrun said:

“We shouldn’t be buying and breeding dogs on the way we want them to look - it should always be about prioritising welfare above appearance. These are breeds that can suffer just by walking around or eating, which is why we’re calling on the media and advertisers to stop using them in their adverts. It is also difficult to turn on the TV, check Instagram or see a celebrity photo without also seeing a brachycephalic breed so it’s not surprising that demand for these dogs is rising.

“And we would also encourage anyone considering getting a brachycephalic breed to speak to their local vet and think about choosing a healthier breed or crossbreed instead.”