British BulldogNik Taylor/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
British BulldogNik Taylor/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images© Provided by Salon

"People breed them because they're cute," began Florida veterinarian Dr. Doug Mader, author of "The Vet at Noah's Ark." Mader was speaking with Salon about brachycephalics, or dogs with squished faced: think English bulldogsFrench bulldogs, Boston terriers, boxers and pugs. Brachycephalics are widely adored for their goggle-eyes, wrinkled faces and waddling gaits.

"I hate to say it from a veterinarian's perspective — we love them because they're like hitting the lotto, you know — but the poor animals suffer from the day they're born."

"They say, 'Look at that face! And they've got little ears!'" Mader said, assuming the high-pitched, cooing tone that many dog owners take up when talking about their pets. "But that's not normal, you know. It's not normal at all. And it's the poor dogs that are so inbred suffer," Mader observed. 

Indeed, he warned that if brachycephalic dogs continue to be inbred at current rates, they may not exist in the near future. In other words, we appear to have hit a tipping point when it comes to inbreeding man's best friend. And other experts agree with him.

One can visually chart the devolution of these brachycephalic breeds simply by studying pictures of them from a century ago and comparing them to their present-day counterparts. English bulldogs, for example, used to have longer snouts and longer legs, with less of an inherently squat stance. Over time, however, demand for "cuter" English bulldogs rose, and the easiest way to meet the clamor was to breed dogs that shared the desired features. Photographs of the University of Georgia mascot bulldog Uga help illustrate the breed's de-evolution, as ten dogs from the same lineage gradually become more squish-faced and squat.