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Reducing the demand of Brachycephalic dog breeds

Aligned with the RSPCA’s mission, this campaign targeted the root cause of brachycephalic breed suffering by influencing prospective owners’ knowledge, empathy, and purchasing decisions.

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About the campaign

This campaign played a significant role in addressing several key issues:

Animal Welfare: Brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds like pugs, French bulldogs, and English bulldogs often suffer from severe health issues due to their breeding for aesthetics over health. These issues include breathing difficulties, skin problems, eye issues, overheating, and more. Reducing demand for these breeds is crucial for improving their welfare and preventing further propagation of these hereditary health problems.

Addressing Uninformed Demand: The demand for brachycephalic breeds is often driven by a lack of awareness about their health struggles, misperceptions that their features are “cute,” and the influence of celebrities/social media trends. This campaign aimed to counter these drivers by educating prospective owners and promoting more ethical breed choices.

Financial Burden: Owning a brachycephalic dog can result in significant veterinary costs due to their frequent medical needs and potential surgeries. The campaign highlighted these financial implications, which become even more critical in the context of the cost-of-living crisis.

Promoting Responsible Pet Ownership: By raising awareness about the challenges of caring for brachycephalic dogs, the campaign encouraged prospective owners to make informed decisions and prioritise the health and well-being of their pets over superficial aesthetic preferences.

Changing Societal Attitudes: The campaign aimed to shift societal attitudes towards breeding practices that prioritise appearance over health, promoting a more ethical and sustainable approach to dog breeding and ownership.

By addressing these critical issues, the campaign aligned with the RSPCA’s mission of ensuring animals have a good life and preventing suffering, making it a vital initiative for promoting animal welfare and responsible pet ownership.

November 2023


Scope of work

  • Behavioural diagnosis
  • Campaign development & activation

What we did

This project involved developing a behaviour change campaign to reduce the demand for brachycephalic dog breeds. This involved the Magpie team conducting research, developing messaging routes, creating digital assets, and running a pilot campaign targeting prospective buyers in Essex and Newcastle. The pilot utilised various digital platforms, interactive elements, and testimonials to raise awareness about the health and financial implications of owning these breeds. The campaign was evaluated through website analytics, ad performance, focus groups, and a randomised controlled trial, with the goal of providing recommendations for a national rollout.

Visit the campaign website

Key Impact

The campaign led to significant increases in empathy, interest in learning more, intentions to raise awareness, and reduced intentions to purchase brachycephalic breeds, with the pilot demonstrating the campaign’s potential to positively impact attitudes and knowledge.


Almost 80% of people who took the ‘willingness to change’ quiz said they were less likely to purchase a brachycephalic breed after being exposed to the campaign content.

1.7 million

The campaign generated over 1.7 million total impressions across all platforms.


It’s been absolutely fantastic working with the Magpie team and I appreciate everything they have done and the enthusiasm and energy they bring to our projects. At every step of our journey together, the different members of their multidisciplinary team have been there with a listening ear and sound advice and support

Kerry Postlewhite 
Assistant Director of Campaigns and Prevention RSPCA

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