Bulldogs: what did old bulldogs used to look like?

Experts have advised that English bulldogs should be bred to have less extreme body traits or they risk being banned for animal welfare reasons.

English bulldogs are significantly less healthy than other dogs, according to a new study, and many of the ailments they suffer from are related to the traits they were bred for.

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The Royal Veterinary College used records from veterinary services across the UK to compare the risks of common diseases in 2,662 English bulldogs to 22,039 other breeds.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What Problems Are Bulldogs Prone To?

According to findings from the Royal Veterinary College, published in the journal Canine Medicine and Genetics, this breed is twice as likely to be diagnosed with at least one additional disease than other dogs.

According to the study, they were at higher risk of respiratory, eye and skin problems than other dogs and showed predispositions to more than 24 out of 43 specific medical conditions.

Study author Dan O’Neill said: “These results suggest that the general health of the English bulldog is much poorer than that of other dogs.

“Most worryingly, however, is that so many of the health issues English bulldogs suffer from, such as skinfold dermatitis and respiratory problems, are directly related to the extreme structure of their bodies, which has been selectively bred for.

A bulldog rests (Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

What did bulldogs look like in the past?

English bulldogs were originally developed as muscular and athletic bullfighting dogs.

This included betting dogs on a tethered bull after betting on each. The winner would be the dog, which grabbed the bull by the snout and pinned it to the ground. It was common for the bull to mutilate or kill several dogs by impaling, hurling, or stomping on them.

Bull decoy dogs developed the stocky bodies, huge heads, and jaws characteristic of the breed, as well as a wild and ferocious disposition.

Later, bulldogs were bred as show animals and pets, with exaggerated traits such as a short skull, prominent lower jaw, skin folds, and a squat, heavy build.

Today’s bulldogs may appear tough, but they are unable to do the job they were bred for and cannot withstand the rigors of chasing and tossing at the hands of bulls.

Bulldogs are known for their large heads and shoulders, thick brow creases, large, black, wide-set eyes, a short muzzle with prominent wrinkles, sagging skin under the neck, drooping lips and pointed teeth, and an underbite with an upturned jaw.

Although not as physically adept as their ancestors, modern bulldogs have a much calmer disposition due to their lower aggression.

For this reason – and despite the dogs’ physical characteristics that make them susceptible to major health problems – the breed has surged in popularity in the UK over the past decade.

In recent years, several countries, such as the Netherlands and Norway, have imposed restrictions on bulldog breeding.

what can be done

Experts behind the Royal Veterinary College suggested changing the English bulldog breed standards towards more moderate traits so the UK can avoid following other countries in banning the breed on welfare grounds.

Study author Dan O’Neill said: “Given the breed’s continued popularity, the body type of typical English bulldogs as pets should be redefined towards more moderate physical characteristics.

“Not only will this improve the health of the dogs, but it could also enable the UK to evade other countries in banning the English bulldog on animal welfare grounds.”