Avoiding Use of Dog Breeds with Exaggerated Features in Marketing

Policy

AVA does not include dog breeds with exaggerated features, or images of these breeds in:   

  1. Any form of advertising in print and digital AVA products
  2. Exhibits at AVA conferences and events (either as ‘models’ or in photographic images)
  3. Any other form of marketing undertaken under the AVA brand

Background

Certain dog breeds have serious health and welfare problems because they’ve been bred with exaggerated features, to achieve a particular look. These exaggerated features include brachycephaly (shortened heads), dwarfism (shortened limbs), and excessive skin folds. This policy aims to remove the use of these animals from:

  1. All forms of advertising in print and digital AVA products
  2. Exhibits at AVA conferences and events (either as ‘models’ or in photographic images)
  3. Any other form of marketing undertaken under the AVA brand

This policy relates to the audiences of advertisers, exhibitors and sponsors.

In recent years there has been a rise in the popularity of certain breeds of dogs, especially the brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers, but also other breeds with exaggerated features such as dwarfism and excessive skin folds. With this rise in popularity, we’ve seen a parallel increase in the use of these breeds in advertising. Unfortunately, these exaggerated features lead to serious health and welfare problems, which the veterinary community are faced with managing, to try to give these animals a more comfortable life.  It is important that advertisers move away from using these breeds, as this drives their popularity without addressing the animal welfare and health implications.

In 2016, the AVA partnered with RSPCA Australia to develop the Love is Blind campaign which aims to raise awareness of the animal welfare issues associated with particular exaggerated features, and encourage breeders to change their breed standards to select for more normal, healthy features.

In keeping with this campaign, the AVA will no longer use certain breeds in marketing associated with the AVA brand. 

Guidelines

The following guidelines should be observed with regard to use of breeds with exaggerated features.

  • The dog breeds governed by this policy are:
    • Brachycephalic breeds: including Pugs, British Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekinese, Shih Tzu and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
    • Chondrodystrophic (dwarf) breeds: including Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, and Welsh Corgis
    • Breeds with excessive skin folds: in particular the Shar-pei breed
  • The above list is not exhaustive and may be amended from time to time.
  • Advertisers, exhibitors and sponsors should avoid use of breeds with the exaggerated features identified, and instead replace with a range of other healthy breeds.
  • There may be exceptions made where the intention of the use of the breeds listed is to raise awareness of the health and welfare issues associated with their exaggerated features.
  • The AVA will develop a library of images of accepted breeds for advertisers, exhibitors and sponsors to use should they need to access acceptable images.
  • The AVA will include in AVA Terms and Conditions for Rate Cards and Prospectuses’ that materials and ‘models’ that breach this policy will not be accepted.

Other Recommendations

  • The AVA seizes the opportunity to develop media and links to our Content Hub ‘Vet Voice’ to increases awareness of this issue with the key aim to encourage breeders to change their breed standards away from exaggerated features, and raise public awareness of the issue.
  • The AVA continues to enhance its relationship with RSPCA Australia to further the ‘Love is Blind’ messaging

Related policies

Genetic defects in domestic animals

Selective breeding based on genetic testing of companion animals

Surgical alteration to the natural state of animals

 

Date of ratification by the AVA Board: 
13 October 2017

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