First-of-its-kind bill could limit bulldog, pug breeding

New Hampshire could become the first state in the country to limit the breeding of certain flat-faced dogs, as well as any other animals that are bred with extreme physical deformities. 

Dogs with flat snouts such as the French bulldog have become wildly popular in the past few years due to their cute faces, playful personalities and smart nature, according to the American Kennel Club. 

However, these types of animals that are bred to look the way that they do, can have severe health issues and some believe it is almost cruel to continue breeding them, which is why New Hampshire Rep. Ellen Read is backing this new bill. 

After introducing the bill in September, Read told FOX TV Stations she originally got the inspiration before she became a public servant. 

"This story goes back about 20 years ago when I was watching a TV news piece about a woman who was breeding cats and the cats had a deformity with paws that were short and twisted in. She bred the cat and petitioned to have them declared as a new breed of cat called ‘twisty cats.’ So I began to think, ‘What do we consider to be a breed?’ and I found out, it’s whatever we say it is," Read said. 


FILE - Freddie, a two-year-old French bulldog dog, poses for a photograph on the second day of Crufts Dog Show at the NEC Arena on March 10, 2017 in Birmingham, England.

The bill, which has been tabled since this report, would essentially charge people with animal cruelty if they continue intentionally breeding dogs with extreme deformities, should it get passed. 

Read wanted to emphasize that she is not necessarily asking for a complete ban on these types of animals, but rather, she wanted breeders to adopt better breeding practices. 

"The intentional breeding of any two animals that have identical physical deformities that cause suffering accounts as animal cruelty," Read said. "Physical standards become so extreme, and it becomes hard for the animals to live." 

Read claimed that while breeds such as the English and French bulldog and pugs were around for over 100 years, their snouts were not nearly as short as they are today. 

"It’s changed over the years. It has changed in ways that really are not healthy and not even pain free for the animal," Read continued. "I know breeders tout the short snout breeding as cute, but any basic understanding of physics shows they can’t breathe. They are sucking air through a crumpled straw." 

"Those cute wrinkles get chronic infections, they have ocular problems and often have bad teeth problems," she added. 

Other countries trying to ban flat-faced breeds

The concept of stopping breeding certain types of animals due to their cute looks is not new. 

The Netherlands proposed an outright ban on dogs and cats with flat faces or animals that suffer from major health issues in general due to their appearance. 

"We make life miserable for innocent animals, purely because we think they are 'beautiful' and 'cute,'" Dutch Agriculture Minister Piet Adema said in a statement in 2023. 

Health issues with flat-faced dogs

Dogs with flat faces are described as being brachycephalic, according to the Humane Society website. 

"With shortened skulls and bulging eyes, brachycephalic dogs look the most like human infants and are therefore popular with human owners," the website states. 

These types of pets often include breeds such as French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Boston terriers, pugs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, shih tzus and boxers. 

While there are many dogs with shorter snouts that have no health issues, many more do suffer various conditions due to their cute appearance. 

Many dogs that are brachycephalic often have problems with breathing, heart health, teeth, skin and ear infections, eye infections, and can have trouble breeding. They can also suffer from neurological issues. 

Dogs that are brachycephalic can also suffer from BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome), which is an upper respiratory disorder. 

In 2020, a study by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) found that flat-faced dogs are 1.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with at least one disorder during a single year compared with crossbreeds. 

The Humane Society also noted that dogs with extreme BOAS typically have shorter lifespans (8.6 years) as opposed to all other dog breeds (12.7 years). 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.