Bulldogs: a shrinking genetic pool of unhealthy animals?

This summer, there has been much discussion about the welfare issues affecting brachycephalic dogs, born without the ability to breathe properly.  A new angle to the debate was added recently, with the publication of research in California that analysed the genetic make up of the Bulldog breed.

Bulldogs are in trouble as a breed

The main problem is the that Bulldogs are too closely related: it’s now impossible for the breed’s health to be improved from within the breed. Further pedigree breeding of Bulldogs is only going to create even less healthy Bulldogs. This means that the bred is on the way to extinction. Even now, reproduction is often only possible with human help: artificial insemination instead of natural mating, and caesarian sections  instead of normal births.

What can be done to help bulldogs?

I’ve written more in my Telegraph blog on this topic (see the link below) but the obvious answer is to “out cross” i.e. to breed from dogs that are not Bulldogs in order to introduce new, healthier genes into the breed. Sadly, this sensible suggestion is sacrilege to most Bulldog breeders, who may have spent decades creating their own line of Bulldogs, and who don’t want to “contaminate” this line with non-Bulldog blood. It is difficult for most dog lovers to understand this attitude, but if we all genuinely want to improve the lot of these good-natured, distinctive dogs, it’s the only way to go.

the pat kenny show vet spot

We discussed Bulldogs on the Pat Kenny Show this week: you can listen to the podcast on the link below. We also answered a number of interesting questions about readers’ pets, including:

  • What causes halitosis in dogs, and what can be done about it?
  • Why might a German Shepherd have loose stools?
  • Do Chinchillas make good pets?
  • Should puppies’ nails be cut routinely?

live facebook streaming video q&a

From now on, after the show, I plan to do a live video session on the Newstalk Facebook Page to answer more queries from pet owners. To find out more, visit the page, and send in your questions.


Listen to the podcast:

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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