News Release: The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Calls On Regulators, Breeders, and the Public to End Extreme Breeding in Animals

July 29, 2020

Ottawa, Ont. – The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) would like to inform advertisers, brokers, sellers, breeders, potential dog owners, and air transporters of a serious animal welfare issue that has been highlighted by the recent events involving the deaths of a large number of brachycephalic (snub nosed) puppies imported into Canada from the Ukraine and promote a call to action.

“In general, animals are bred for multiple positive characteristics, including physical appearance and behavioural traits,” says Dr. Enid Stiles, CVMA President. “When breeding programs focus on specific exaggerated conformational changes, sometimes referred to as extreme breeding, there can be unintended negative consequences which could affect the health and welfare of offspring.”

An example of extreme breeding can be seen in some brachycephalic dogs which have been increasingly bred to have muzzles that are shortened to such a degree as to render their airways partially obstructed. They also have a higher than average incidence of other medical issues. While they are pleasant companions in most cases, some of these animals experience compounding cardio-respiratory (heart and breathing) issues, as well as many other health risks. 

The unique appearance of brachycephalic animals has made them desirable for advertisers and those in the public eye. Their use in marketing and as pets to celebrities has increased public interest, resulting in excessive and often less selective breeding to meet market demand. Much of this is occurring internationally, with puppies being purchased outside of Canada, then transported and resold here, as was the case with the puppies recently flown in from the Ukraine. The resultant increase in extreme anatomical distortions and associated health complications has led to a reduced capacity for the animals to withstand the consequences of heat and poor ventilation; a serious issue, particularly when brachycephalic animals are transported by air.   

In response, some countries have imposed constraints on the breeding and/or selling of these animals and some carriers have imposed significant transport restrictions including the requirement for a pre-flight fitness assessment by a veterinarian immediately prior to air transport, the restriction or complete prohibition of air transport of brachycephalic breeds, veterinary approval prior to breeding of brachycephalic animals, and even prohibitions on the breeding of extreme cases. 

The CVMA holds that animals with extreme conformational deviations, such as in some brachycephalic animals, are at risk of long-term health issues which may require significant medical care. As such, the CVMA is advocating for a call to action:

  • The CVMA is calling on advertisers to stop using these animals for marketing purposes.
  • The CVMA urges all breeders of brachycephalic dogs to select only the healthiest animals as breeding stock, including those with longer muzzles, with the goal of reaching a muzzle length of half the head length over time.
  • Prospective owners are called upon to educate themselves on the potential health risks, to speak to their veterinarians for advice, and to source pets from local breeders who are committed to breed health.
  • Dog brokers are urged to select puppies from reputable local sources that have a clear plan to breed responsibly.
  • Airlines are implored to ban the air transport of all brachycephalic breeds for commercial purposes. 
  • The Government of Canada is urged to consistently and actively enforce the federal animal transport Regulations and ensure that importers and carriers are aware of the applicable requirements within those regulations including those for pre-transport assessment of fitness for the intended transport as well as the additional requirements for animals that are compromised. 

The CVMA is committed to working with stakeholders to improve the health outcomes for these well-loved and popular pets over time.

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The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is the national and international voice for Canada’s veterinarians, providing leadership and advocacy for veterinary medicine. Visit to learn more about the CVMA.

Lori Tarbett, Manager of Public Relations and Communications
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association