The Canterbury Hub

Latest news from CCCU's Journalism course


The Health Crisis Behind Instagram’s Flat-Faced Dogs

Instagram has been filled with adorable pooches for years, but as popular toy dogs are being plastered around the internet, people are still ignorant as to the health effects of dogs with short noses.

Over the last couple of years, dogs with ‘squashed’ facial features have become fashionable. Breeders of French bulldogs can fetch up to £2,000 for a single puppy and the collective amount of posts on Instagram dedicated to pugs currently stands at a whopping, 19,536,716 since 2010 (that’s 6,691 photos on average posted daily).

Despite this, breeds like the bulldog, pug, Boston Terrier and the French bulldog are still some of the most popular dog breeds to own in the UK and US. With CBS reporting that in 2016, the 4th most popular dog was the bulldog, and at number 6 stands the French bulldog. In the UK however, the pug has been rated the ninth most popular dog according to The Kennel Club. However, the brachycephalic dog breeds mentioned above often face a range of common health problems.


Emily Smith, Canterbury Vet.
Emily Smith, Canterbury Vet.

Canterbury vet, Emily Smith, 31, said “I meet lots of people who have recently got […] French bulldogs or whatever, that wouldn’t have had them years ago, so I think they’re [brachycephalic dog breeds] becoming more popular […] social media is a huge part of people’s lives now with everything and I guess choosing your pet is one of the things it has played a part in”.

Although the pet breed could be becoming more popular, some are still unaware of the health implications that brachycephalic dogs harbour.

“Oh isn’t that cute – he snorts all the time”

Emily went on to state that some dogs “hate intervention” of being “pestered with photos and dressing up for social media, whereas “others love it, they love the attention, being part of the family and they thrive on it”.

The vet also said that the health problems that brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs, may be “improvable and changeable” through good selective breeding, as breeding standards of The Kennel Club are “starting to move in the right direction”.

Due to the increased popularity of the ‘squashy-nosed’ breeds, the awareness of the problems they face are definitely becoming more prevalent, but there are some people who do not understand the effect of the dog’s facial construction, “I’ve had lots of people, even my own family members that say “Oh, isn’t that cute – he snorts all the time” and I think it’s just important to remember that the noise they make is a sign of the difficulty of the air flow travelling through the respiratory system.

“It might be cute […] but its a case of trying to make sure they live long, healthy, happy lives”.


Listen to the full interview below: 

One Kentish social star pooch, has really taken off. With almost 400 followers, Lord Marlowe is the up-and-coming Instagram celebrity in the South East.

Tim Sivarajah, lives in Rochester with Lord Marlowe, a 2 year-old French bulldog with a thriving social media account. Lord currently has 383 followers and has been racking up the likes since mid-2016.

Tim said: “He does not currently have any health issues.

“In the future this could change and whilst skin conditions, breathing etc., can be common in French Bulldogs, Marlowe has been fortunate not to have suffered from these […] In the summer he does get hotter faster than other dogs, therefore he requires extra water and staying cool for longer periods”.

He continued: “Celebrities are able to self promote and those with animals often influence our perceptions of what we like or dislike.

“When I was a child, everyone wanted a golden labrador due to the Andrex adverts using Golden Lab puppies.  Manny the Frenchie became a huge internet sensation after his owners posted a video of him in the sink.

“I just wanted to have a history of his life and if anyone liked it they would comment, like his photos […] It was also a way to let the owners of his brothers and sisters, along with the breeders to watch him grow”.

“Since he has no tail, the ears are the key to his expressions”

Tim and his wife had been yearning after a French bulldog since 2008 and had researched the breed heavily to ensure that it was suited to their lifestyle, before committing and finally having their own 9- week-old Frenchie from registered Kennel Club breeders in 2016.

Although Lord Marlowe is a gentle soul, Tim explained: “He [Lord Marlowe] loves people and is excellent with children. He is actually very sensitive to emotions. He is a total character.

“When it’s bedtime, he will stop on the landing several times on the way downstairs. Since he has no tail, the ears are the key to his expressions”.


In early April this year, it was reported that ‘More animals die on United flights than any other’.

After closer inspection, it was discovered that when customers chose to fly their dogs abroad, the brachycephalic breeds, like those mentioned above, were more at risk of dying whilst in the aeroplane. This is due to the stress of travelling, the lack of oxygen in the luggage and animal holding sections, as well as the short-muzzle that the dogs have.

Many US airlines do not carry animals at all due to the risks involved, however companies are taking steps towards carrying brachycephalic breeds in the cabin, alongside other passengers.

Airline customers have been urged, however, to avoid flying with any of their animals, especially dogs with short noses. In 2011, many commercial airlines banned the transportation of brachycephalic breeds, this was after it was investigated that:

The Agriculture Department reports 189 animal deaths on commercial flights between June 2005 and June 2011The New York Times reports. “Of those animals, 98 — more than half — were brachycephalic breeds”.      – The Huffington Post

Unless it is a matter of life or death, don’t fly with your pugs or Frenchies, because the temperature of the plane could also be either too hot or too cold, causing more demand in oxygen and a lack of circulation. This has in many cases been the cause of death for short-nosed dogs.

If you wanted to take pictures of your pooch out in the sun or snow, your best bet is to invest in a green screen and photograph him or her, that way.

However, if you really do need to travel with your Instagram pet, make sure to call the airline before you travel to reserve a place for your dog, and also ensure that they will have enough space in a cabin bag to easy move about and remain stress-free. This is for a small dog, as medium to large breeds will not easily be able to travel in the cabin or luggage/ animal transportation areas.

Here are some approved bags for your flight if you wish to travel with your tiny hound. 

Please ensure that before getting any pets, you research and are able to fully provide enough room, food, shelter and interaction time for them.