Opinion: Why it's s*** to own a shih tzu

Shellie Goldstein of Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA holds her Shih Tzu therapy dog Emma (Reuters)
Shellie Goldstein of Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA holds her Shih Tzu therapy dog Emma (Reuters)

The British Veterinary Association says people should think twice before buying a dog that can't breathe properly. RadioLIVE host Mitch Harris says it's time to stop buying bulldogs, pugs and other brachycephalic dogs.

Recently a study concluded that dolphins speak in sentences. They also have burial rituals.

We have also heard that birds are brainier than we think and that dogs have a much greater vocabulary than was previously thought. Dogs understand us better than we understand them and we have no idea to what extent animals can think.

What is becoming clear is that it's time for us to kick for touch the Darwinian "Origin of the Species" hierarchy which ranks everything in order of how its intelligence is perceived by white men.

I don't have any right to own, torture or carry out Mengele-like experiments on people, so why is it that we continue to abuse animals in socially acceptable ways?

There is no better example of the socially acceptable abuse of animals than the breeding of brachycephalic dogs. These include pugs, bulldogs, French bulldogs and shih tzus.

Every structure that should make up a nose has been squashed flat and these poor dogs spend their entire lives suffering from something akin to emphysema so that we can remark on how cute they look.

The British Veterinary Association has just issued a recommendation asking people to think twice before buying one of these dogs.

Finally the silence has been broken.

Take, for example the words of an anonymous vet who recently described their experience treating a bulldog in UK newspaper The Guardian.

"A bulldog comes in panting away with blue-tinged gums (normal for the breed)," the vet writes.

"I anaesthetise it and put the tube in and, as if by magic, it pinks up and breathes normally - presumably its body is overjoyed to actually be receiving enough oxygen for once."

Brachycephalic dogs are one of the most obvious example of breeding-induced suffering upon animals by humans.

There are countless other genetic abnormalities that we have selectively bred into the animals we often call our friends.

I guess it is a matter of perspective.

At cat and dog shows some people see a parade of beautifully turned-out creatures. I see something resembling a 19th century freak show.

I say we should leave those dogs alone.