Joe Wicks backlash: Vets fury as exercise star praises sickly bulldog breed

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The fitness guru and YouTube favourite was urged not to promote breeds which suffer from breathing difficulties. The TV star tweeted photographs of his dad Gary’s blue-eyed pooch to his 425,000 followers. Joe, 34, wrote: “My dad just got this beautiful little Frenchie. He hasn’t named him yet and would like some ideas. Got any suggestions?”

But the British Veterinary Asso-ciation, which represents more than 18,000 UK vets, rounded on the body coach.

It said: “Celebrities – please think twice before promoting breeds like Frenchies that have numerous health problems such as difficulty breathing. Please choose health over looks.”

The BVA urged Joe – a well-known advocate of health and nutrition – to check out its campaign Health Over Looks #BreedtoBreathe.

It wants to stem the popularity of flat-faced, or brachycephalic, dogs in the UK.

The BVA said: “Flat-faced dogs find it difficult to breathe normally and overheat easily. They are more prone to eye problems and many are unable to mate or give birth naturally.”

They can also suffer with eye disease and skin and dental problems. Yet over the last decade demand for pugs and English and French bulldogs has risen.

In 2018, the French bulldog overtook the labrador retriever as the UK’s most popular breed.

The BVA said: “We’re concerned celebrity influence and social media have had a big role to play in this rise in popularity.”

Joe’s videos have got the nation exercising during lockdown, with his sessions inspiring parents and children to do morning workouts. He did not respond to a request for a comment.

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