Trust & Safety Blog

Trade Me ban on pugs, and English and French bulldogs

Trademe -ban -bulldogs -pugs

Today we’re announcing some additions to our animal welfare policy in relation to dogs, to promote better animal welfare.

Trade Me is banning the sale of three breeds of dog which suffer from a condition called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

From 1 March 2018, pugs, British bulldogs and French bulldogs will be banned for sale on Trade Me. This includes purebreds and cross breeds.

This is not a decision we’ve made lightly, as we know how popular and well loved these breeds are, however we cannot in good conscience allow the sale of these animals any further.

We understand that these animals will occasionally need to be rehomed, so their adoption will still be permitted.

Why ban these cute critters from being sold?

These brachycephalic breeds are at the far end of the spectrum when it comes to suffering. These three breeds have a stubby body and a flat face, and suffer their whole life because they can’t breathe properly. Pugs, for example, often cannot complete simple walking tests.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has described the life of these animals as like “spending your whole day trying to breathe through a pillow”.

Expensive surgery is often required to reconstruct the animal’s airway. And that only happens if the owner actually understands the suffering their pet is going through (and can afford it!).

Pugs in particular also have a propensity to lose an eye, as their skull is not shaped well enough to properly house the eyeball.

It’s also common for these animals to not give birth naturally, as the dogs’ heads are so misshapen they cannot travel safely out the birth canal. Often a pregnant bitch can only give birth by way of caesarean surgery – which means a number of unnecessary operations in the lifetime of a breeding dog.

There is also a distinct difference between trading goods and trading living things.

We operate under the mantra that Trade Me is for life, and we think that same consideration should be extended to man’s best friend.

We know this isn’t going to stop these dogs being bred, but we can’t in good conscience allow the sale of these animals to continue on our site.

If you’re thinking about buying a pug or French or British bulldog, be sure to educate yourself, and remember that decreased demand for these animals will result in less breeding and therefore less animal suffering.

We’re not making judgements – we know many responsible New Zealanders have these breeds and love and look after them, but we do urge owners to do their research. If your dog is exhibiting any signs of BOAS, take them to a vet and get them checked out.

Why are you only banning these three breeds? Many other breeds have brachycephalic symptoms?

We know there are plenty of other breeds with specific, and prevalent disorders (conformational or genetic), so how is a Bulldog with BOAS any worse than a German Shepherd with hip dysplasia?

Admittedly, both are examples of negative welfare outcomes.

The difference lies in the extent and the severity of the disorders associated with brachycephalic breeds compared to others, both in terms of incidence rate across breeds and the enduring lifetime effects.

Pugs and bulldogs represent some of the worst statistics among brachycephalic breeds, so we reckon it’s the best place to start making things better.

Stud services

Listings offering stud services or the semen of these breeds may not be made.

Why is Trade Me fronting this issue?

We’ve read the tea leaves. There’s now a worldwide trend to reduce the popularity of these breeds, and we think that tea pot needs to be swirled in New Zealand.

Isn’t this unfair to responsible breeders?

We estimate this will affect approximately 40 breeders from listing on site each month.

It would be almost impossible for them to claim their puppies are 100% healthy, given the rate at which BOAS occurs, so we don’t feel the sale of these breeds is responsible from any seller.

Won’t these animals just be sold elsewhere online?

In the short term that will likely occur. But let’s be clear – Trade Me does not want to contribute to this problem.

Shouldn’t Trade Me let people make informed purchasing decisions?

We expect that once Kiwis understand the health risks associated with the commercial trade of pugs and bulldogs, many potential owners will change their decision to buy these breeds.

We appreciate this will be a sensitive issue, and know that many of our members will already own these dogs. This policy change should not be considered a reflection on current owners, but rather an opportunity to educate potential buyers.

If this is an issue, why isn’t the Government doing something about it?

It turns out there’s nothing in the Animal Welfare Act which covers animals that are yet to be born with these defects, and it seems there are no plans to enact a change.

We think it’s time for the Government to consider regulatory intervention for these breeds.

Why are you banning cross breeds?

To prevent misrepresentation of animals across the site, which will allow this policy to be effectively managed.


Trust and Safety consulted with the following parties on this issue.

Image use of "Queen Sophie" Creative Commons care of halamoon.