The Evolution of Petface
You’ve probably heard of “baby face”—that dubiously complimentary term for someone who looks greener than their years, and which Merriam-Webster defines as “a face that looks young and innocent.” But you may not know the canine equivalent, “petface.” Similarly, it refers to the puppy-like features common to certain breeds of dogs: for instance, French and English bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and pugs. With their awkward shuffle-gait, adorably large heads and bulging eyes, they’re the quintessential fur babies.
Unlike youthful-looking humans, however, these dogs have juvenile traits are systematically built into their DNA through centuries of rigorous breeding. That’s a problem, because many of same traits that make these dogs “cute” also make them dangerously unhealthy. Along with their desirable features come higher than average predisposition to respiratory disorders, skin conditions, reproductive issues and eye injuries.
As the popularity of these dogs continues to skyrocket, it begs the question: is what’s good for us good for dogs? “People have been trying to educate people that these dogs have problems for a long time,” says Brenda Bonnett, a Canada-based canine epidemiologist and CEO of the nonprofit International Partnership for Dogs, which is dedicated to improving dog health and well-being. Yet so far, there’s no end to breeding in sight.
Read more at Smithsonian.com.