The reality tv star has two Frenchies called Reggie and Winnie, who she shares with husband Alex – and is asking dog owners to ‘take a stand’ against bad breeding of the popular bulldogs
A former Love Island star has called for French bulldog owners to ‘do better’ after sharing a series of shocking Instagram stories with her followers.
Olivia Bowen, who came second on the 2016 series with now-husband Alex, owns two Frenchies herself – but is asking people to “stand together against the mutation of the breed”.
She warned her 2.6million followers of some graphic content on her social media stories, showing images of a French bulldog having surgery to remove excess skin above their nose in order to breathe better.
She wrote: “This is what you would be buying into. These breeders make themselves look like they care, make themselves look professional and make us think they are reputable.
“If they are breeding Frenchies with excess skin, they are donating to this.”
In another image displaying a French bulldog with a surgical scar on their face, she implored dog lovers to “do better”.
The 27-year-old wrote: “This is NOT cute. We need to do better.
“A wrinkly snout may be ‘cute’ when they’re a puppy, but surgery and scars isn’t.”
Olivia advised those looking to buy a French bulldog to look out for “nice wide nostrils” and “least excess skin”.
She added: “I know these are things sometimes we miss and never think about, but we know now and need to stand together against this mutilation of the breed.”
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The reality show star has often been vocal in educating people about the breed and their health issues – particularly when Reggie needed Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) surgery in 2019.
Following Reggie’s trip to the vets, she told her Twitter followers: “I’m so shocked at how many bulldog/pug owners don’t know anything about the breed they own or in particular BOAS. It actually baffles me. We knew this day may come Reggie and we knew what it may cost. Brachycephalic breeds are not easy. Educate.”
The warnings come as French bulldogs have rapidly grown in popularity over the course of the pandemic, and are one of the most common flat-faced brachycephalic breeds – which now account for a fifth of the UK’s dogs.
But public demand for Frenchies, and other flat-faced breeds – such as pugs, Boston terriers and English bulldogs – has led to a vicious cycle of overbreeding, causing many of them to be born with countless painful and life-limiting conditions.
Leading pet charity Blue Cross revealed that in the last two years alone, their vets have treated over 5,000 flat-faced pets, many of which were French bulldogs.
Becky Thwaites, head of public affairs at Blue Cross, said: “Blue Cross are delighted to see Olivia Bowen using her platform to raise awareness of the countless health issues that many flat-faced breeds like French bulldogs are suffering from, as a result of overbreeding due to public demand.
“French bulldogs, alongside other flat-faced breeds like pugs and Persian cats – are highly sought after due to their quirky look and flat noses which are considered cute. Due to their fashionable status, prospective pet owners and breeders strive to attain an unnatural beauty standard, leading to a whole host of health issues, from breathing problems to eye disease, skin disease, heart conditions, spinal abnormalities and joint disease.
“At Blue Cross, we hope that by educating owners about the health issues associated with these pets the popularity and unrealistic beauty ideals these innocent pets face will be reduced, in favour of healthier breeding practices where the welfare of the animal, and not it’s appearance, will be front of mind. We never want anyone to feel blamed or shamed for sharing their lives with one of these pets – but we as a society must start doing what is best for the welfare of our four-legged friends.”
Earlier this year, the charity launched their #EndTheTrend campaign, which asked brands to pledge to phase out the use of brachycephalic breeds in marketing material by 2022.
They installed mock advertisements in 10 high-profile train stations in London, including Charing Cross, London Bridge, St Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo, and launched a petition which members of the public can sign to urge their favourite brands to commit to this pledge. The petition can be found here: www.bluecross.org.uk/endthetrend
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.