Come for the Looks, Stay for The Personality? A Mixed Methods Investigation of Reacquisition and Owner Recommendation of Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs

Scientific Journal Articles

Brachycephalic breeds are proliferating internationally, with dramatic rises in popularity juxtaposed with common and severe breed-related health problems. Physical appearance is as a dominant factor attracting owners to brachycephalic breeds; however, whether these owners will choose their current breed for future ownership and develop ‘breed-loyalty’ in the face of health problems is not yet known. The aims of this study were (1) to quantify levels of, and explore factors associated with, brachycephalic dog owners’ intentions to: (i) reacquire and/or (ii) recommend their current breed to potential first-time dog owners, and (2) to use qualitative methods to explore why brachycephalic dog owners would or would not recommend their current breed. This large mixed methods study reports on 2168 owners of brachycephalic breeds (Pugs: n = 789; French Bulldog: n = 741; Bulldogs: n = 638). Owners were highly likely to want to own their breed again in the future (93.0%) and recommend their breed to other owners (65.5%). Statistical modelling identified that first-time ownership and increased strength of the dog-owner relationship increased the likelihood of reacquisition and/or recommendation. In contrast, an increased number of health problems, positive perception of their dog’s health compared with the rest of their breed, and dog behaviour being worse than expected decreased the likelihood of reacquisition and/or recommendation. Thematic analyses constructed three themes describing why owners recommend their breed: positive behavioural attributes for a companion dog, breed suited to a sedentary lifestyle with limited space, and suitability for households with children. Five themes described why owners recommended against their breed: high prevalence of health problems, expense of ownership, ethical and welfare issues associated with breeding brachycephalic dogs, negative effects upon owner lifestyle and negative behavioural attributes. Understanding how breed-loyalty develops, and whether it can be attenuated, will be key to controlling the current population boom in brachycephalic breeds in the long-term.

Packer, R.M.A., O’Neill, D.G., Fletcher, F., Farnworth, M.J. (2020) Come for the looks, stay for the personality? A mixed methods investigation of reacquisition and owner recommendation of Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs. PLoS ONE 15(8), e0237276. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0237276

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Topic(s): Breeder Resource, Genetics, Health, How Genetics Impacts Welfare