Before purchasing an English bulldog, individuals should “pause and reflect” until the breed has recovered from decades of reckless breeding. That’s the latest warning from the Royal Veterinary College, which has now released a fresh study linking this breed’s characteristic “ugly-cute” qualities to a variety of health issues. The study, which was published this week in the journal Canine Medicine and Genetics, found that English Bulldogs, also known as British Bulldogs, are less healthy than other dogs and are substantially more likely to suffer from specific health issues.
They discovered that English Bulldogs were more than twice as likely to develop one or more health conditions in a single year as other dogs in a study of 2,662 English Bulldogs and 22,039 other dogs. Skin fold dermatitis (an x38.1 greater risk), cherry eye (an x26.8), projecting lower jaw (x24.3), brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (x19.2), cyst between the toes (an x13.0 higher risk), and many more were among the top ailments with the highest risk in English Bulldogs. In comparison to the other dogs, they discovered that only a small percentage of English Bulldogs lived to be past the age of eight.
“By 1900, some Bulldog breeders were worried that exaggerating ‘certain characteristic points’ was ‘intensifying predispositions to illnesses and resulting in ‘cripples and deformities’ with a’sadly reduced lifespan.’ In a statement, Dr Alison Skipper, co-author of the study and veterinary historian at King’s College London, said, “This new research provides strong evidence that modern Bulldogs remain troubled by many diseases linked to their body shapes, most of which have been recognized for more than a century.”
The flat face, short nose, projecting lower jaw, skin folds, and stocky body type of the English bulldog are all characteristics of the breed. Unfortunately, people have created dogs with “extreme conformations” as a result of rigorous selective breeding that prioritizes appearances above health in order to achieve these “cute” qualities.
The researchers feel that the public’s perception of the English bulldog has to shift, moving away from exaggerated traits and toward a more natural look. People should be hesitant of buying a flat-faced dog until the breed’s overall health improves via good breeding procedures, according to the study. “The public has a huge role to play in demanding dogs with moderate and healthier conformations for breeds like English Bulldogs, where many dogs still have extreme conformations with poor innate health,” said Dr Dan O’Neill, lead author of the paper and Associate Professor in Companion Animal Epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College.
“Until then, potential owners should ‘think twice before getting a flat-faced dog,'” he advised. While this study focused on English Bulldogs, experts have previously expressed concerns about other flat-faced dog breeds. The French bulldog, a smaller relative of the English bulldog, can have comparable health issues, including allergy-related skin diseases, digestive issues, and respiratory blockage. Pugs, the minuscule dog species famed for their compressed face and wrinkles, are also causing concern. Due to the overwhelming health difficulties that pugs suffer, experts concluded earlier this year that they should no longer be called a “normal dog.”