John, what do you think of English bulldogs as a family dog? I’ve done some on-line research and learned a lot but I’d like to get your opinion.
With the Internet it’s for the most part easier to make make informed decisions regarding many of our purchases. However once you type the word “dog” into the search bar all bets are off. With respect to any particular dog breed you’ve as much chance of getting an arms length review from a breeder or a breed owner as you are going to get from a human mother about her newborn. That baby may cause everyone else to gulp, step back and wonder if newborns usually require shaving but for mothers, dog breeders and breed owners – love is blind.
British/English Bulldogs are the poster dog for all that is wrong in the show-only world and are a sore point for anyone interested in animal welfare. Regardless of breed, good breeders breed for strengths and avoid flaws. That means you don’t breed retrievers that won’t retrieve or dogs with bad hips or dogs that in spite of socialization and training are known biters. Good breeders value function. They research before they breed and they follow up after they breed. These breeders can be very hard to find. What’s easy to find are dogs from “champion” show-only stock. Ribbons on the wall but not necessarily anything in the dog’s head or soundness in its body. Bulldog breeders have taken it a step further and have bred for unsoundness on purpose.
At some point the majority of British/English Bulldog show breeders became interested in fashion as opposed to function and decided that it was “fashionable” to have oversized heads and impossibly narrow hips, squashed faces etc. This wasn’t accidental. This was purposeful. They wanted a look and they bred for it in spite of the damage it caused. They have long considered it normal for their dogs to require artificial insemination and C-sections to reproduce. The breed is plagued by breathing, heart, hips, eye, and skin problems. They are twice as likely to die of heart attack or cancer than old age.
What has been done to the breed defies reason. If someone were to take any off the street dog and were to order that it be surgically altered in a manner intended to create the issues that bulldogs have I would think that dog lovers the world round would be in an uproar. These Bulldog breeders have with immunity replaced the scalpel with “selective” breeding.
So my opinion is, if you or anyone is set on this breed, until the current manifestation of the breed has died out and been replaced with its original stalwartness of mind and body, rather than support a breeder get one from a rescue.
To be fair, bulldog breeders aren’t alone. Far too few breeders perform even the most basic due diligence. If you own a dog now and the person you purchased the dog from has not annually contacted you to ask even basic questions about physical and behaviour traits there is no way under the sun they can be breeding for function, health and temperament. Knowing the difference between a male and female dog isn’t breeding.
Just for fun I’m setting up a poll at www.askthedogguy.com to learn how many people hear from their dog’s breeder at least once a year. The results are live so vote and check. I’ll bet you’re going to be shocked. Results and more polls here: http://www.askthedogguy.com/pollsarchive/
– John Wade
I’ve been asked by a few bulldog “breeders” to provide evidence. (I have via a link below – the contents of which would be as accessible to any knowledgeable bulldog breeder as they are to me) To a certain extent a request to provide “proof” this pretty much proves my point. If they do not know what is known to every companion animal veterinarian on the planet they are either in denial or are aware and simply unethical. To be clear I’m not saying bulldogs are bad dogs or bulldog breeders are bad people (outside of their denial or ignorance in what they have done and continue to do). I’ve never met a bulldog I didn’t like. Felt bad for many of them. I have never met one that did not sooner or later suffer. One breeder comments below and makes carte blanche claims about her dogs that no real breeder (any breed) would make. All breeds have their issues. Reproducible perfection does not as yet exist. Good breeders work towards a physical and behaviour (functional) ideal. Bad breeders make claims such as the commenter that are easy to disprove when one is given an opportunity to examine veterinarian records, chat with people that have purchased dogs in the past etc.
Here is where I have posted a mere drop in the bucket of evidence readily available to any Bulldog breeder. However if they have to ask, they simply shouldn’t be breeding. It would have been far more encouraging to hear from those, (and I know they exist) that are working towards fixing. I had to use a separate post as even the little bit of evidence available would have made this post so long people would not likely scroll down and see where they can make comments.
Some resources: http://www.askthedogguy.com/bulldog-breeding-consequences