What can breeders do to avoid exaggerated physical features that compromise dog welfare?

Every breeder has an important responsibility to ensure their dogs live a healthy, happy and long life.

A number of dog breeds have exaggerated physical features that cause pain and suffering and compromise dog welfare, leading to a poor quality of life. Some examples of exaggerated physical features include flat faces, excessively wrinkled skin, disproportionately short legs and abnormally large heads and eyes. These features often prevent dogs from breathing, walking or giving birth normally. They also often result in painful and chronic eye, skin and ear problems.

Exaggerated features exist as a result of breeders conforming to the pedigree ‘breed standards’. A breed standard is a set of strict and narrow guidelines describing the way a particular breed must look. The breed standards focus primarily on appearance rather than requiring features that ensure good health and good welfare. Breeders use the breed standard when selecting breeding animals and they are also used as the basis for judging at dog shows. Unfortunately some breed standards require dogs to have exaggerated physical traits.

The positive news is that exaggerated features and the serious health problems they cause are preventable. If breeders avoid selecting for exaggerated features, they will avoid perpetuating the welfare problems caused by them.

If you’re a dog breeder who wants to proactively prevent health and welfare problems caused by exaggerated features, you can do this in a number of ways:

For more information please see these links:

Article ID: 671
Last updated: 01 Jul, 2016
Revision: 9
Companion animals -> Dogs -> What can breeders do to avoid exaggerated physical features that compromise dog welfare?