Brexit has been blamed for a fall in demand for some of the nation’s favourite breeds of dog. Vet Dr Anna Foreman pointed the finger at the landmark decision to leave the EU, as well as Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, for decreasing ownership of Pugs and other well-known breeds of canine.
The vet, who works for Everypaw Pet Insurance, said: “Brexit has limited movement of animals in and out of the country, Covid changed many people’s lifestyles for a short time, and the cost-of-living crisis has left many people short financially.
“All of these events have led to a change in dog ownership.”
Pugs have declined in popularity by 68 percent over the last five years, according to Everypaw’s analysis of The Kennel Club’s research data.
At the same time, French Bulldogs have seen their popularity explode with a 508 percent increase in ownership in the last decade.
Dr Anna believes that celebrity fans of the breed and social media trends celebrating the petite pups have also played a role in the popularity of French Bulldogs.
Actress Reese Witherspoon, the Beckhams as well as TV personality Holly Willoughby all own French Bulldogs.
At the same time, the TikTok hashtag #FrenchBulldog has garnered 9.4 billion views.
A French Bulldog even appeared in the hit US sitcom Modern Family.
Such exposure in popular culture Dr Anna believes explains the rapid rise in the breed’s popularity.
She said: “Exposure of [French Bulldogs] in the media, TV and film has then played a large part in their popularity – many celebrities own Frenchies (such as Lady Gaga) and they have been seen in many adverts, TV programmes (such as Modern Family) and movies (such as Titanic).
“With Covid occurring over the past few years, more of the population have changed their habits and turn to social media for social experiences.
“This means that people who have just purchased dogs, such as French Bulldogs, are more likely to post on the platform about them, and more viewers are going to be exposed to them.
However the vet warned that social media exposure for French Bulldogs threatened to mask the challenges of owning the breed, saying: “Only the positive features of French Bulldogs are going to be shown on TikTok, such as their cuddly cute appearance – videos about the negative aspects of their health etc. are less likely to get ‘likes’ or general attention, so many new French bulldog owners are unaware of their likelihood to need veterinary intervention, relatively short lifespan as a result, and the costs associated with the diagnosis and treatment of their many common health conditions.”
However, despite briefly taking top spot as Britain’s most popular dog in 2018, the French Bulldog, and all other breeds, cannot compete with the popularity of the Labrador.
According to the Kennel Club, in 2013 there were 35,021 Labrador owners, with a peak of more than 61,000 Lab parents in 2020.
Despite retaining the top spot as the nation’s favourite dog, Labradors saw a 28 per cent fall in popularity between 2021 and 2022.