Celebrity dog culture is putting the health of pooches at risk

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman
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No one would describe my dog as a posh looking mutt.

He’s a mixed breed with hair that grows at all angles, he has crooked teeth, is of indeterminate breed and is the messiest eater imaginable.

This pooch is preened to perfection

This pooch is preened to perfection

On our daily walks we face proper posh dogs, groomed to perfection; some are real cuties particularly the two large black poodles which look like small ponies from a distance.

There are Alsatians, Labradors, terriers of all descriptions and one of my favourites a tan coloured male with long body and short legs who believes he was born to chase every living thing in the forest and doesn’t mind keeping the mistress waiting and calling for hours for his return.

I have a soft spot for all dogs yet it’s clear that most owners like pure breeds and are prepared to spend fortunes for them. The days of the good old fashioned mongrel are diminishing. Mine has spaniel and goodness knows what else in him.

He spent his early days with his sibling on a beach in Greece living off the scraps the sun bathers fed them. My son lived in Greece at the time and used this beach. When he returned to his apartment one afternoon after a stroll down at the water he heard something scratching the door.

He opened it and in walked the beach stray who promptly sat on his foot determined to stay. My soft-hearted son gave in. Four years later he was flown home to me. Getting a dog was the last thing on my mind at the time but this was one who after being top dog for nearly four years didn’t like children crawling over him and since he knew us already he settled immediately, quite happy not to have to compete with babies for attention. Needless to say I’m besotted especially as the hours spent walking him has been beneficial to my health. Every overweight, ageing, retired female should get herself a dog.

I took him to Carrickfergus one Sunday for a doggy stroll on the Marine Highway and beside all the smart, posh, highly bred dogs we encountered that day he looked a mess yet I’m convinced he is a darned sight happier than some of those over laundered and groomed dogs who are merely showpieces for their owners. Some of the breeds on display that day I didn’t even recognise.

In fact vets have never been happy with the way ‘over bred dogs’ are suffering. They’ve highlighted the latest celebrity craze for French bulldogs in which ‘dangerous over breeding’ is resulting in agonising deformities and birth defects.

These dogs, say leading British vets, struggle to breathe due to their exaggerated features and this is leading to respiratory problems. Irrespective of their suffering these dogs are about to overtake the Labrador as Britain’s favourite dog.

Celebrities like them and as a consequence their numbers are growing. Experts, including the British Veterinary Association and the Dogs Trust, expressed their concerns in the media this week suggesting that ``the huge demand for these breeds has also meant that puppy farms and unscrupulous breeders have stepped in often with poorly bred dogs, further exacerbating the problems these breeds suffer.’’

They warn the public not to be swayed by the celebrity dog culture.

In fact celebrities and dogs are a bad combination. We remember how everyone suddenly wanted to do a Paris Hilton and have a dog small enough to pop into a handbag. For years the Queen’s passion for little corgis meant their numbers soared. Today a corgi is a rare sight which makes me wonder has the breed now died out. Dogs should never be victims of a fad but sadly that is the case today with many of them suffering.