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Prioritise Health, Or Lose The Breed?

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

We can no longer ignore the dangerous health conditions of flat faced breeds - it is time to take action and be accountable for our dogs health

Recent research has sought to explain why new owners are being undeterred by the negative consequences of flat faced breeds.

Instead prioritising their health and welfare, a study focusing on English Bulldogs found owners appear to be choosing their English Bulldogs for their characteristic appearance, personality and perceived suitability for certain lifestyles, often based on their low exercise requirements/ability. With over 90% of current English Bulldog owners stating they would re-purchase this breed again the current popularity of the English Bulldog shows little signs of abating.

Evidence in a new study by VetCompass supports calls for urgent action to redefine the English Bulldog away from its current extreme conformation and instead to move the breed rapidly towards a moderate conformation on welfare grounds.

As more evidence mounts - we must act now

In assessing which predispositions and protections to disease particularly differentiate English Bulldogs from the remaining general canine population, the study authors believe it is helpful to focus particularly on ultra-predispositions by breed: i.e. those conditions which are seen at particularly high levels in English Bulldogs, with odds more than four times higher than in dogs that are not English Bulldogs. They found that the English Bulldog population in the study showed ultra-predispositions to nine recorded disorders.

Over recent years, The Kennel Club has made concerted efforts to alleviate drivers for extreme conformation from the show-ring. Since 2012, The Kennel Club has identified the English Bulldog as a breed at particularly high risk of conformation-related disease: the breed is currently grouped in Category 3 on The Kennel Club’s Breed Watch list, with show judges urged to prioritise health in their show-ring decisions. Sadly, this 'watch list' failed to see the judge pick a suitable candidate at Crufts this year - a disappointing backwards step.

Let us not hope for mere chance to change our story; let us summon the courage to change it ourselves.

Brendon Burchard

The study results suggest that the health of English Bulldogs is substantially lower than other dogs and that many predispositions in the breed are driven by the extreme conformation of these dogs.

Consequently, the study authors concluded that immediate redefinition of the breed towards a moderate conformation is strongly advocated to avoid the UK joining the growing list of countries where breeding of English Bulldogs is banned.

Want to save the breed? Stop breeding with poor conformation and low health and welfare.... it is time to act.

Let's see longer snouts, less skin folds, healthier, happier dogs.


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