Moonpig will no longer sell cards featuring images of pugs and French bulldogs after campaigners claimed it “normalises their suffering from respiratory ailments”.
Animal rights lobby group Peta had raised concerns the major online retailer was “promoting” the “breathing-impaired” dog breeds.
In response, Moonpig said it has removed or is in the process of pulling any such cards from its site, according to correspondence seen by the Press Association.
A spokesperson also told Peta that the retailer will not be designing or sourcing any card designs featuring these breeds in future.
A search for “pug” and “French bulldog” on Moonpig’s website on Friday did not find any cards showing either breed.
However, several cards adorned with images of English bulldogs, which are also flat-faced, were still on sale.
Moonpig previously sold Christmas cards featuring both breeds wearing festive hats.
The move comes after a Royal Veterinary College (RVC) study published in May 2022 suggested that “urgent action is needed as many health issues of pugs are associated with their extreme body shape”.
From a study population of 905,544 dogs, its analysis included random samples of 4,308 pugs and 21,835 non-pugs.
It concluded that the health of pugs in the UK is now substantially different and largely worse than other breeds, revealing they are almost twice as likely to experience one or more disorders annually compared with other dogs.
The RVC, the UK’s largest independent veterinary school, said at the time that a “pug can no longer be considered a ‘typical dog’ from a health perspective”.
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Peta director of corporate projects Yvonne Taylor said: “By banning images of pugs and French bulldogs, Moonpig is acting responsibly and helping put an end to the promotion of dog breeds with painful, life-threatening deformities.
“Peta is celebrating this compassionate first step and will keep working with Moonpig to extend this new policy to all breathing-impaired breeds, including Boston terriers, boxers, and shih tzus.”
Peta said the dogs are bred for a particular look, resulting in shortened airways that cause an array of symptoms, including: laboured breathing, snorting, gagging, and collapsing.
It also makes dogs more susceptible to vomiting, exercise intolerance, heatstroke, and even death, it added.
Restrictions have been imposed on breeding these dogs in Austria, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands, Peta noted.
In 2019, Moonpig pledged to stop selling cards depicting “captive great apes in unnatural situations”, following a similar intervention by Peta.
Moonpig has been approached for comment.