Could the Churchill nodding dog be cancelled? Animal rights group PETA calls for English bulldog mascot to be ‘retired’ after 20 years over claims its ‘boosted popularity’ of flat-faced breeds

  • Churchill the nodding dog could be ‘retired’ after call from animal rights group
  • PETA have said it encourages people to own health-issue-prone -flat-faced dogs 

Churchill the dog could soon be cancelled after an animal rights group claimed it has ‘boosted the popularity’ of health-issue-prone flat-faced dogs.

PETA has called for the nodding English bulldog to be ‘retired’ after 20 years as the Churchill Insurance company mascot.

Flat-faced dogs, known as brachycephalic breeds, are known to face health issues such as overheating, breathing problems, bulging eyes, ulcer-prone skin folds and an inability to sleep.

Social media influencers have been blamed for a surge in popularity of these dogs, as official figures show ownership has increased by 488 per cent since 2000. 

A 2022 study found flat-faced dogs’ life expectancies can be up to three times shorter than other breeds.

Churchill the dog could soon be cancelled after an animal rights group claimed it has ‘boosted the popularity’ of health issue prone flat-faced dogs

PETA has called for the nodding dog to be ‘retired’ after 20 years as the Churchill Insurance company mascot

Vets are urging people not to buy pugs, as new research shows flat-faced dogs are up to 50 times more likely to suffer from skin fold dermatitis – a painful skin condition

The researchers, from the National Taiwan University, found French bulldogs are only expected to live four-and-a-half years, while English bulldogs reach an average of 7.4 years and pugs just 7.7 years. 

In a letter to the chief executive of Direct Line Group, the company that owns Churchill, PETA wrote that as a pet insurance provider, the company would be aware of the evidence finding that flat-faced dogs ‘suffer from painful and even fatal health conditions’, according to The Telegraph.

‘These dogs experience exercise intolerance, lack of oxygen, inflamed airways, vomiting, and collapse, among other symptoms,’ PETA added.

Brachycephalic dogs can have such difficulties breathing that they often need surgery.

Card company Moonpig this week agreed to remove flat-faced dogs from its products after PETA’s warning.

READ MORE: Moonpig is to stop selling cards featuring pugs and French bulldogs after being accused of fuelling the demand for ‘breathing-impaired’ breeds 

Of the decision, PETA wrote: ‘By banning images of pugs and French bulldogs, Moonpig is acting responsibly and helping to put an end to the promotion of dog breeds with painful, life-threatening deformities.’

Dr Dan O’Neill, associate professor in Companion Animal Epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), told The Telegraph: ‘The RVC strongly supports wider efforts encouraging brands and advertisers to avoid using promotional imagery of extreme flat faced dogs that only further fuel public demand for health-compromised types of dogs.’

Dr Justine Shotton, senior vice president of the British Veterinary Association, urged all retailers, businesses and organisations to ’embrace responsible depictions of animals in their marketing and help to reduce the visibility and normalisation of such health issues.’

Last year, vets studied the records of 900,000 dogs and found brachycephalic breeds are up to 50 times more likely to suffer painful skin conditions. 

At the time, Dr O’Neill, the lead study author, said it was more evidence of ‘the substantial harms that extreme body shapes can have on our dogs’ health, and will hopefully encourage prospective owners to ‘stop and think’ about avoiding extreme body shapes before choosing which breed to purchase.’ 

Pugs have been bred to have squashed noses and big eyes, while boxers have shorter faces with a larger mouth, and bull terriers have mutated to have a warped skull and thicker abdomen

Some flat-faced dogs are even going blind because they cannot close their eyes properly.

In 2021, vets said over-breeding is leading to changes in skull shapes, making eyes protrude and leaving the surface too exposed. 

Researchers from Lisbon and Leipzig universities said this is causing ulcers and erosion of the eyeball, leading to vision loss. 

A Churchill Pet Insurance spokesman said: ‘The computer-generated ‘Churchie’, created for our current advertising campaign, is an imaginary CGI character.’ 

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