Little French Bulldog Piccalilli could barely breathe or walk when she arrived at Battersea Dogs Home.
Gasping for air, with sore ears, infected skin and frequent vomiting, Piccalilli underwent hours of operations.
But she’d not been abused or neglected.
The sweet six-year-old is a purebred French Bulldog, favoured by celebs like Holly Willoughby and Lady Gaga.
Her owner handed her in as she required intricate surgery on her airways and ears which could continue for life.
Thankfully she’s recovered and has a loving new home.
Piccalilli following her surgery
Vet Danielle Kelsey-Foreman operating on Piccalilli
The number of Frenchies handed in to Battersea has almost quadrupled in two years.
In 2017, the home has already taken in 29 French Bulldogs. In 2014, it took in just eight.
French Bulldogs are set to overtake Labradors as the most popular dog breed in the UK with the number of litters increasing from 229 in 2000 to 21,475 now.
What owners don’t realise is most of these dogs require weeks of intense veterinary treatment.
Many, like Piccalilli, need specialist surgery to widen their airways and shorten their soft palate to help them breathe.
Other flat-faced, or what is known as brachycephalic, dogs like Pugs and Bulldogs often also require this surgery.
While the average length of stay for all dogs at Battersea last year was 35 days, French Bulldogs stay on average for 59 – usually due to the weeks of medical treatment and recovery they require.
Shaun Opperman, head vet at the centre said: “In the first half of last year, we carried out just six of these surgeries
“So far this year, we’ve already done 28. This operation is not without its risks and the recovery can be uncomfortable for the dog.
“Of course, in many cases, especially with younger dogs, it ends up really paying off – Battersea will always do all we can to help the animals in our care and it’s wonderful to see when they’re able to play and run without collapsing in a heap.
“However, you can’t help feeling that if owners knew the true cost to their health this breed pays, they’d be horrified. The soaring demand for these dogs encourages unscrupulous breeding, which means generation after generation of Frenchies and other designer dogs are being born with terrible medical problems.
“It’s one of the biggest welfare issues that Battersea is facing. We have long campaigned for better regulations around the breeding and sale of puppies – dogs like Piccalilli are counting on us.”
Teresa Cargill of Phoenix French Bulldog Rescue agrees.
She dedicates her life to rescuing Frenchies, many from websites like Gumtree and puppy farms.
“They are becoming so disposable and it’s heartbreaking,” she said. “They’re not toys.
“Educating people about the breed is key.”
See Teresa’s ‘Expert advice to consider before getting a Frenchie’ to find out more.
If you are thinking of a Frenchie as a pet, please consider a rescue.
Visit www.battersea.org.uk or www.phoenixfrenchbulldogrescue.org