What do David Beckham, Zoella and Lady Gaga all have in common? They all have shared images, and own, a flat-faced pup on social media.
But the British Veterinary Association has now urged the public to stop buying increasingly popular dogs such as French bulldogs and pugs. Among the health issues they have, flat-faced dogs commonly encounter breathing struggles.
The BVA claims that almost 50% of vets believe clients who purchased flat-faced dogs were encouraged to do so by social media or celebrity idols. They claim that there has been a 3,104% increase in French Bulldog registrations, a 193% increase in Pug registrations and a 96% increase in Bulldog registrations over the past ten years.
These breeds have brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome and can suffer from breathing difficulties, skin problems, eye ulcers or dental problems. In fact, pugs, bulldogs and shih tzus are often bred so intensively they cannot pant, exercise, eat or sleep properly without corrective invasive surgery.
While 56% of flat-nosed dogs have to see the vet because of health problems caused by the way they look, 75% of owners had no idea the conditions existed in dog breeds.
British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said: "These dogs are more popular than ever with celebrities, and on social media, and vets fear that this is adding to their popularity with members of the public."
"There are thousands of pictures on Instagram of brachycephalic breeds tucked up alongside popular celebrities and bloggers, but these #puglife images don't show the full story.
"Many of these 'cute' pets will struggle with serious and often life-limiting health problems."
In December vets and animal welfare groups wrote a joint letter to marketing companies demanding they stop using flat-faced dogs – even in puppet form. Companies such as Churchill insurance have used bulldogs in their marketing for decades.
The letter's signatories include the Brachycephalic Working Group, the University of Cambridge, the Dogs Trust, the British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA.