English Bulldogs have been found to be at a higher risk of respiratory, eye and skin conditions than other dog breeds
What did the study reveal?
RVC researchers found that the English Bulldog is twice as likely to be diagnosed with at least one other disorder than other dogs.
Dan O’Neill, author of the study, said the breed suffers from “skinfold dermatitis and respiratory problems” that are “directly related to the extreme structure of their bodies, which has been selectively bred.”
Researchers analyzed veterinarian records on 2,662 English bulldogs and 22,039 other breeds and found that the English bulldog showed predispositions to 24 out of 43 specific medical conditions and was at higher risk for respiratory, eye and skin conditions.
Only 9.7% of the English bulldogs in the study were over eight years old, compared to 25.4% of other breeds. This indicates a shorter lifespan associated with poorer overall health.
How has the English bulldog changed over time?
English bulldogs were originally developed as a muscular, athletic dog for bullfighting, but were later bred to be show animals and family pets.
The breed has grown in popularity over the past decade, with owners drawn to its exaggerated features, such as a short skull, prominent lower jaw, and heavy build.
dr O’Neill to Journal Canine Medicine and Genetics: “Most worryingly, 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.
“Given the breed’s continued popularity, the body shape of the typical English bulldog as a pet should be redefined towards more moderate physical characteristics.”
He added: “Not only will this improve the health of the dogs, but it could allow the UK to evade other countries in banning the English bulldog on animal welfare grounds.”
What other breeds have health concerns?
Experts have also warned that pugs are among the unhealthiest of dogs.
New research from the RVC found that pugs are almost twice as likely to develop health problems than other breeds each year.
The study used their VetCompass program to compare random samples of 4,308 Pugs and 21,835 non-Pugs and found that Pugs were 1.9 times more likely to develop one or more health conditions each year.
The most common problems have been found in the pugs’ airways – a common problem for flat-faced dog breeds.
dr O’Neill, lead author of the study, said: “Although they are very popular as pets, we now know that several serious health problems are linked to Pugs’ extreme body shape, which many people find so cute.
“It is now time that we focus on the dog’s health and not the whims of the owner when deciding what type of dog to own.”