Veterinarian speaks out concerning Bulldog health problems

Many new Bulldog owners who love the unusual look of the English Bulldog often don’t know what they’re getting in for.

Now several vets have gotten into the argument that a dog that is so inbred that it cannot breed on it’s own (Bulldogs are artificially inseminated and give birth by c-section) and has become so popular that many back yard breeders are hoping to make a quick buck at the expense of the welfare of the breed, not to mention the heartbreak that newbie owners often feel when their beloved Bulldog has severe health problems.

That’s why I wrote my book on Bulldog Health – to educate owners and prospective owners on the many common health issues of bulldogs.

Here’s some more from the article:

It’s not that no one should own the breed, she says. It’s just that those thinking of acquiring a purebred Bulldog should know that a dog with such a flat, wrinkled face might have trouble breathing, particularly if it becomes overweight. Also, joint problems like arthritis are common as well as reproductive issues. It seems that English Bulldogs often cannot be bred without artificial assistance and surgical delivery of the puppies.

“Bulldog owners are sometimes shocked and dismayed at how high-maintenance these dogs are, and they are not prepared for the high cost of corrective surgeries and ongoing medication and health care,” Kennedy says.

The Bulldog, renowned for its quiet, affectionate disposition, has become hugely popular in recent years. In 1973, the Bulldog was the 41st most popular registered breed in the country, according to the American Kennel Club. But in 2007, it cracked the top 10 most popular breeds and last year, ranked No. 8.

In Los Angeles, the Bulldog is the second most popular breed, after the Labrador Retriever. In Boston, the Bulldog comes in third and No. 5 in Chicago. 

Kennedy says she thinks the breed has been debilitated by show standards that reward exaggerated features like the flat face and large head. She notes that Bulldogs can have such trouble breathing that many cannot exercise normally or even ride in a car that might get warm.

A Bulldog puppy can cost as much as $4,000, although general prices hover around $2,000, he says. 

Unfortunately, the people who buy these trendy puppies often do not know what a healthy Bulldog is, and they get taken in by disreputable breeders who mate dogs that never should have offspring.

Van Der Marliere says he attends the Bulldog Beauty Contest, which has been held in Long Beach for the past five years. The contest, which has no conformation standards, draws more than 300 competitors. He runs into many dogs that rasp and huff when they breathe and estimates that a quarter of those dog owners are unaware that the sound is abnormal and unhealthy. He sees a lot of uncorrected cherry eye as well.

He has to tell the owners these are problems and can be surgically corrected.

The surge in popularity and the prices the dogs sell for is drawing in many disreputable breeders, says Elizabeth Hugo-Milam, chair of the Bulldog Club of America’s health committee. Bulldogs are even being imported from breeders oversea.

“You have ridiculous people breeding dogs who shouldn’t even own one,” she says. “You have buyers who are not being careful and so the breeders are not careful. It’s just a mess.

“I am just heartbroken about the way things are going,” she adds.

Hugo-Milam says public education is critical. She believes that if the public can identify healthy Bulldogs, they will not buy unhealthy dogs and help drive the irresponsible breeders out of the market.

“It is a terrible cycle of a lot of ignorance,” she says.

Objective evidence of breed health generally is not extensive and the frequency of health problems in the breed is not known exactly. The Bulldog community gives different impressions concerning the prevalence of adverse health conditions.

According to the report from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), a survey by the United Kingdom Kennel Club found that the median life expectancy of a Bulldog is less than seven years, compared to 13 years for a Labrador Retriever. K9 Magazine reported in 2007, that annual veterinary costs for a Bulldog were twice that of a Labrador Retriever.

The report also says, “There is little doubt that the anatomy of the English Bulldog has considerable capacity to cause suffering.” 

original article here

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