British Bulldogs Face Breeding Ban Over Welfare Concerns.
British bulldogs could be facing a breeding ban in the UK as a result of their current poor health. A bulldog breeding ban would follow similar measures in Europe as a way to halt the critical situation with the breed’s health. Holidays4Dogs finds out more.
The British bulldog is a national icon, symbolizing the nation’s grit and determination. The ‘British Bulldog spirit’ evolved during the 19th Century and closely associated with Winston Churchill during WW2. Churchill was regarded as having the same tenacity found in the bulldog with that typical trademark scowl and sullen expression.
While this period in history, may have been the Bulldog’s finest hour, things are very different now. Many dogs suffer with long-term health conditions. This makes it difficult for them to breathe, let alone be the heroic creatures they once might have been. As a result, British bulldogs face a possible breeding ban.
Bulldog health risks.
Recent studies have found that bulldogs have twice the health risks of other breeds of dogs. The Royal Veterinary College has suggested the situation is now critical and urgent action is required. After all, it has been known for more than a century that bulldogs suffer serious health conditions because of their looks.
Bulldogs are one of the type of brachycephalic breeds. That is, they have flat faces which make it difficult for them to breathe and function normally. In addition, excessive skin folds promote chronic skin and eye conditions.
Few owners are aware of these problems in the breed. Many believe that this is just the way they look, or even that their ‘snuffly’ manner is just an endearing trait. However, veterinary practices are seeing increasing numbers of flat-faced breeds arriving in their surgeries, with very disturbing health issues.
The Royal Veterinary college study found that bulldogs are more than twice as likely as other breeds to have serious health issues. Such issues can seriously reduce their lifespans. This situation is purely down to breeding practices which result in un-healthy animals. Bulldogs bred with less exaggerated features have a much better quality of life.
Screening to improve bulldog health.
The Bulldog breed Council UK has been running a health scheme for the breed since 2007. This designed to encourage better breeding practices. The screening of dogs and puppies aims to improve the long term health of the breed.
The council also encourages DNA tests for Urate stones. In addition, an on-line health survey reports and discusses health concerns in the bulldog breed. Breeders can use the Kennel Club’s mate select tool when selecting a stud dog, in order to maintain genetic diversity within the breed.
However, the Bulldog breed council began their health scheme in 2007 and many would argue that these measures have not so far encouraged enough breeders to participate. Fifteen years later, the English bulldog is still in a critical condition.
While mate select tools have found to have sustained usage, this varies greatly among different breeds. Holidays4Dogs could not find any figures in relation to the use of databases as a basis for their breeder choices.
Experts in animal health and welfare are calling for action to stop the breeding of flat-faced breeds, including English Bulldogs. The Blue Cross pet charity wants to see legislative and non-legislative measures brought in to ensure that the suffering of these animals is finally brought to an end.
In addition, welfare and veterinary organizations are calling for flat-faced breeds to be excluded from marketing campaigns. The Blue Cross is again leading this initiative with their EndTheTrend petition.
The use of flat-faced dogs in advertisements by consumer brands is fuelling the demand for these breeds. Popularizing breeds with already poor health outcomes, contribute to over breeding, often by unscrupulous breeders simply looking to make money.
The EndTheTrend petition calls for all the UK’s leading consumer brands to commit to stop using flat-faced breeds in advertising by the end of 2022.
Campaigns for bulldog health.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) similarly regards pets in advertising as a social concern. Their document highlights the need for advertisers to consider how the depictions of animals in marketing material impacts on their health and welfare. Marketing is a powerful tool, and it strongly influences consumer choice and behaviour. The BVA urges marketers to consider the use of animals in advertising, as well as the context in which it is delivered.
In February 2022, the breeding of the British bulldog (and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) was banned in Norway. The district court in Oslo ruled that the breeding of British bulldogs contravened the Animal Welfare Act. The group who led the campaign, Animal Protection Norway, claimed that due to the history of poor selective breeding, there were currently no healthy dogs in the country which were suitable to breed.
The way forward for bulldog health.
However, there are provisions in the ban which could see exceptions if breeders are seeking to improve the health of the breed. This may include breeders who might out-cross to a different breed. Cross-breeding is one way to improve the welfare of both the British bulldog and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. However, this must be science-based.
Breeders will be need to participate in more databases. The British Bulldog Council paved the way with their scheme in the UK, but this needs to be embedded in dog breeding regulations. Not just for bulldogs, but all vulnerable breeds.
Every dog has a right to a healthy life, free from man-made deformities through selective breeding, which causes many dogs acute pain and suffering the whole of their lives.
The British bulldog mother is often unable to give birth naturally due to the large head proportions of puppies. Therefore, puppies already start life with an uphill battle, with many spending the rest of their lives in poor health. A situation which cannot continue. Along with many other bodies concerned with animal welfare, Holidays4Dogs hopes that the British bulldog will soon see a brighter, healthier future.