The Royal College of Surgeons in London has lashed out at the small dog community, notably newly-fashionable breeds such as the French Bulldog, blaming them for a rise in bite-related hospital admissions.
By Published on 12 Jun 2019
The College claim that these breeds are misunderstood by their rookie owners, who mistake them for weaklings and softies due to their diminutive stature.
More than a bit of Bullie
Over 36,000 French Bullies were registered in the UK in 2018, a 2400% increase since 2009 – when just 1,529 of the little aliens got their papers. The surgeons observed a 5% rise in admissions for dog bites between 2015 and 2018, during which time French Bulldog numbers in the UK more than doubled.
The French Bulldog is now the most popular dog in the UK, overtaking the Labrador.
“Over the past few years I have seen an increase in the number of dog-related injuries I deal with,” says consultant plastic surgeon Professor Vivien Lees. “The injuries range from fairly minor to life changing.
“It’s worth remembering that even smaller, less intimidating breeds, such as those that have become more popular are still capable of causing significant damage, particularly to babies.”
Won’t somebody think of the children
Around 20% of all dog bite surgeries and 38% of those involving the human face are suffered by small humans, according to the Royal College of Surgeons’ data.
“Children are more susceptible to facial dog bites because of their size and behaviour with pets,” said Kathy Fan, a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at King’s College Hospital. “The playfulness of a child may be misunderstood by a dog as aggression and [provoke them to] bite the closest part of the body, inevitably the lips, cheeks and nose.”
Meanwhile, dog-human interaction expert Dr Carri Westgarth of the University of Liverpool points out that dog bites are most often inflicted by a dog the victim knows: “The chance of being bitten by pet dogs is often underestimated because of the relationship that people have with their pets.
“Sometimes the assumption is that dogs only bite when provoked and this idea can lead to victim blaming. How people interact with dogs can be an influence, however bite risk can be increased by many other factors such as a dog’s environment or genetics.”
To reduce the chance of bringing a bitey pet into your home, Westgarth advises:
- Buy your dog from a reputable breeder.
- Test run the dog in its home environment and meet its parents to see how they behave.
- Take your dog to high-quality dog training classes.
- Never leave young children alone with a dog.
- Seek professional behaviour advice as soon as possible if your dog shows signs of nervousness or aggression.
The small dog community has yet to respond to the surgeons’ accusations.
Trauma surgeon urges the public to 'take extra care when interacting with dogs' as surgeons report seeing a spike in injuries sustained from dog bites https://t.co/lsb4mC0Yj5 pic.twitter.com/uDpf34E3hb— RCollege of Surgeons (@RCSnews) June 6, 2019