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: https://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: https://www.askthedogguy.com/bulldog-breeding-consequences
53 thoughts on “English Bulldog Breeding is Animal Cruelty and Abuse”
I am a breeder responding to your article about contacting puppy buyers annually. I have always kept in touch with my puppy owners, since they frequently return to me for another pup after their dog has lived a long healthy life and has passed on to doggy heaven, or they just want a second dog. However it is impossible to keep in touch when people move and do not give us forwarding addresses or give a fake address to begin with. On behalf of all good breeders, I would like to give you our point of view when reading your numerous articles slamming us for providing the public with loving, healthy, happy, well-adjusted four-legged friends and family members. Our job is hard and thankless enough as it is. Luckily for us we have many happy buyers sending us letters, emails, pictures and often stop in for visits.
If you have ever had the pleasure of welcoming a new litter to the world you would know all the hard work, extremely long hours and love and devotion that goes into caring for the parents and pups. Anyone who is foolish enough to believe that good breeders make money selling pups obviously has never raised a litter themselves. Not only do we not profit from breeding, but we have to work long hours to pay for all the necessary medical, food, training and everyday life necessities for our dogs. We spend countless hours and dollars so people we don’t even know can have the pleasure of owning a great dog. We routinely pay many thousands of dollars purchasing, traveling, showing and advertising our dogs. Money which we don’t get back when we screen our dogs(which is also very costly) and find out that mother nature has outwitted us, no matter how hard we screened for health and temperment issues. Not to mention all the missed family vacations and weekends spent interviewing prospective buyers.
Puppy buyers expect to see lots of big, beautiful ribbons showcasing generations of champion dogs. So we spend many thousands of dollars obtaining championship titles(which are subjective depending on who judges your dog and what professional handler you used), as well as obedience titles, only to find out after all this time and effort(as most tests are done on 2yr old to 4yr old dogs) that our beloved dog is not suitable for breeding. Also, it should be noted that no matter how much screening you do there are some medical conditions and temperment issues that prop up after many generations of screening and eliminating dogs from breeding programs. Mother nature calls the shots – we can only do our best to avoid health problems, we can’t entirely eliminate them. Just ask a knowledgeable vet.
Calling a person who has a pet that they bred a breeder is like calling me a journalist. Just because I am writing a letter to you, it does not make me a writer. These people are pet owners with puppies – not breeders. Please stop lumping us all together. We, as responsible breeders find it extremely offensive. I also take offense to trainers who think they know it all when it comes to all breeds and figure every dog matures at the same time and is ready for the same kind of training and socialization at exactly the same time.
My breed is extremely slow to mature, both mentally and physically. They also don’t respond to typical training methods. I, as with many other breeders feel it is in the puppy’s best interest to keep them with their dams a little longer. Just because they are with us does not mean they are not receiving any socialization and to assume this without finding out how the pups are being cared for is irresponsible. I have seen too many dogs who left too early become fear aggressive. I put in the many extra hours and money required to keep my pups with us to make sure they are properly socialized before they leave. This means potty-training, time spent around other animals, having people come over to see them, getting them out and about, more food, and more shots and less so-called profit. As for the misguided notion that a dog can only bond at a certain age – this is horsepucky. I have taken in many senior dogs who bonded with me just as fast or faster than some 8wk old pups I have purchased. They loved me just as much, if not more than any other dog I have raised.
I agree with you and regularly recommend people purchase pets from rescues and shelters when I do not have pups available (which is most of the time) or when I feel that my breed is not the right breed for a prospective buyer. However, most good breeders have a “take back” policy, so they may also have older pups which is often much better for people who think they can provide the proper care for an 8wk old pup. But when it comes down to it, (especially for many puppies who may need to go potty every 4hrs for as many as 8 months or more depending on the breed) they often tire of the responsibility and look to give up their dog. I would like to urge people to contact their breeders – no matter how guilty you feel – we desperately do not want our dogs in rescues or shelters, so please contact us before you drop them off. No good breeder would make you feel bad about returning a pup who was much loved and very dearly missed. All of our puppies remember us, so it is much easier for them than going to a unknown, impersonal shelter or rescue.
We always keep a pup from each litter since they are the reason we bred their parents in the first place, so we do in fact have some idea of what we are producing even if in our extremely busy lives we are not able to devote every waking minute trying to get in contact with every puppy buyer who was lucky enough to take one of our pups home. Please give us a break and stop making us all sound as irresponsible as people who just wanted their kids to see how puppies are born. Most pups are born in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping anyway. Everyone except the bleary-eyed breeders who can’t bear to lose their dams in the birthing process that is!
My message to dog owners is this: Please spay or neuter your dogs. Before you get a dog make sure you have time for it. It’s not fair to the poor unwanted dogs locked up in shelters because you were too lazy to put in the time to teach them what they needed to know in order for you to love them. They still love you and don’t know why you didn’t come back for them. If you just want your kids to see a litter being born – turn on the TV – there’s lots of shows for that. Unless you are willing to spend many, many hours training your pup for the next 2 yrs – get an older dog. They will love you to bits and you won’t have to devote time you don’t have. They also won’t go through the teething/chewing phase.
I don’t expect to get a response from you, Mr. Wade, since this letter goes against pretty much everything I have ever read in your articles, but please keep these things in mind the next time you decide to take a poll.
Thanks for writing Kelli. Much of what you say is true and contrary to your belief much of it has in fact appeared in more than one of my columns over the years.
The bits about me slamming breeders is unfair. I’ve never done anything of the kind. Bad breeding practices – yes. The poll results so far indicate that almost 70% of “breeders” (90% of the designer breeders) never bothered to follow up once, let alone annually with people that purchased dogs. It seems there is much to write about as that is simply unethical.
I don’t know where you got the idea that the public cares about how many ribbons you have on your wall. That may be the case with some but not many. Even so what’s the matter with showing obedience ribbons instead. If you thinking getting beauty ribbons is hard try obedience titles instead. In what way do beauty pageant ribbons benefit anyone other than breeders? Certainly not dog owners let alone the dogs themselves. If all a breeder has to show me is “show ribbons”, they’re not a breeder in my mind. Function and fashion do not need to be separate but show only breeders have to the detriment of dogs and dog owners made them diametrically opposed without exception.
A few things you wrote puzzle me. The bit about selling dogs to people with fake addresses. How could a discriminating breeder have that happen? Another is the bit about bonding. Are you using that word in the context of critical socialization periods? If so, also seem to confuse bonding with socialization. Are you aware of the difference? If you believe they are one and the same there is some recommended reading for you.
You didn’t mention the type of dog you breed.
You may not be aware of the tone you are using in your columns. I have seen very little positive information about breeders and alot of bad press. You mention that it is difficult to find a good breeder. Are you only looking on kijiji? I suggest you spend some time at a local dog show or beauty pageant as you like to call them. You will find numerous good breeders. You could also spend some time at obedience matches, because we also spend alot of time there as well, which I did mention. I have earned many obedience titles and know exactly how hard they are to obtain. Especially when competing with a breed not know to excel in this type of rigid sport. I have been breeding a long time, so I do know that people want to see championships and ribbons, as well as obedience titles. How long have you been breeding? How many prospective buyers have you interviewed?Where in the world did you get the idea that all we have to do is show ribbons? We spend many countless hours determining if people are suited for our type of breed – this is not something you can figure out just by showing ribbons. We turn away many more people than we allow to have one of our dogs. Yes there are alot of unethical breeders, but there are just as many good breeders. However, reporting on the good ones doesn’t sell newspapers does it?
How many breeders have you polled to find out if they were unable to contact puppy owners due to divorce, separations, moving or just getting new phone numbers?
Obedience does not prove a working dog can do what is was bred for either. For that you must compete in matches for what dogs where originally bred for, but unfortunately not all types of working dogs have an actual sport available for them to compete in.
As for the beauty pageants – these are intended to reveal structural faults and other major faults that would eliminate dogs from a breeding program. These faults are not health issues, but are in fact something that would affect the dog’s quality of life – ie: missing teeth, under or overshot. It appears that you are not aware of what dogs are actually being judged on. Alot of dogs now differ from what they where first bred to look like not only because of dog shows, but also what the general public wants in a dog. How many breeds are now much larger or much smaller than they used to be? It is ridiculous to think that puppy buyers have no influence on what breeders try to have available. The general public is as much to blame as dog shows, uninformed judges, or breeders with kennel blindness.
About people with fake addresses – some people can be very devious when purchasing puppies. Especially the ones looking to crossbreed with other powerful dogs, not caring about the unwitting people who bring potential killing machines into their homes – the so-called designer dogs. Are these the breeders you are talking about? If so, then yes there are many of them out there. However it is not fair to include trusting breeders who thought their dog was going to be a pet only. Then became horrified to find out their cute little puppy is facing a lifetime of breeding one litter after another. Since you ask how it can happen, I ask you how do you expect us to stop it? People can bring old ID with them when they come, there are many ways to fool someone and we are far too busy looking after our dogs to drive all over the place to check everyone’s house. Do you suggest breeders stop shipping dogs to foreign countries, provinces, etc. , just so they can make sure that they are not being lied to? You must be realistic – and realize that some people will fool you from time to time no matter how diligent you are.
Yes, I do know what bonding is. I am not confused, however you may have misread what I wrote. I did not mention my breed because it is irrelevant to this discussion.
For a person who has many show ribbons you seem oddly naive about what shows look for in dogs. I fully admit I don’t know what show judges look for in many breeds but I do know that with Shelties one of the features that are looked for is that the ears are on top of the head with the points tipped. This is supposedly the way the breed is supposed to look, but in reality few shelties get this look naturaly, therefore most show shelties spend a great deal of time with their ears glued together with the tips glued down. Tell me how does this prosses in any way ensure in any way that the puppies produced by these dogs will have a good quality of life? The items that John mentioned in his piece on English bulldogs were bred in for appeance only, not for function or quality of life. And they, as Mr Wade mentioned, are not the only ones, take German Shepherds for example, show quality German Shepherds and working German Shepherds look nothing alike because show Shepherds have been bred so aggresively for the iconic stance that they can barely walk properly any more. Not only does this structural selection not add to the quality of life for the dogs, it takes away from it. And you cannot blame any of this on the puplic because, in my opinion, no ethical breeder would allow the buyers whims to influence them into selecting appearance traits that are detrimental to the dog. I am glad that you are a breeder who ranks the heath and well being of your puppies highly but Mr Wade has raised some very legitimate issues that do exist in the breeding and show world. If they did not exist, and to an alarming degree, then the English bulldog of today would not exist. Nature would have made sure of that since they can’t even breed without human intervention anymore. If you had simply pointed out to Mr Wade the good breeding practices that you and many breeders do follow you would have done a lot more for your side than you have now with your blind and naive rantings agaist his highlighting of issues that are very real.
I read your responce to the question about English Bull dogs in the Saturday Edmonton Sun. It is a sad confirmation to a documentary I saw on dos breeding in Europe, I had kind of been hoping the documentary was slanted, the way many are, and that things were not quite as bad as they were portrayed to be. Personaly I think that breeders who breed for certain traits that result in, often painful, medical deficancies should be charged with animal cruelty. Any way as for the second part of your responce about breeders who don’t even check up on their puppies afterwards, I just thought it might cheer you up to hear that not only does the breeder of my purebred Sheltie check on her frequently, she also offers free grooming for all dogs bought from her, partialy as a way to see and handle the dogs for herself. Also she had both her bitch and the stud she was bred to checked for medical ailments common to Shelties and provided certification that they were both clear. Unfortunately this prossess has not given her puppies much success as “show” quality dogs. My own came in just 1/2 inch to short for show. But I would recomend to the lady who was asking, that if she does want a purebred dog to look for breeders at obedience and rally shows where the dogs are proven in mind and body rather than just appearance.
I have to say that there are some parts of your Saturday column on Bulldogs that I can agree with, although I do not believe that there are no good breeders out there. You actually met our boy Taiter when you came to our home to asses our Boxer. We bought a dog from our breeder and so did our duaghter some 3 years later. Our breeder breeds for health and personality. She will not breed either a male or female until they are past the age of 2 so that she can see what the mature personality is. She also limits the litters on her females to keep them healthy at which point they become her “couch potatoes” . She breeds for a longer back woder hip and longerstop, smaller nose roll. I speak to her and so does my daughter at least 4 times a year and she insists that we return the dogs to her for boarding when we go on holiday. If someone is looking for a quality English Bull Dog they should check out http://ausabullkennel.blogspot.ca . But good luck getting through the interview, because she is brutely honest and very picky!
There are breeders in the English Bulldog world that are working to repair the damage done. They’re up against a majority that are in denial and they have a very tough row to hoe. I hope they succeed though as I love all the Bull Dog types. The English can have really tough lives as can their owners and it’s so unnecessary. It really bothers me (can you tell 🙂 ) what has been done to this breed and the lack of accountability in the breeding world for this bizarre preference of fashion over function. I’ve been handsome all my life and it only took me so far. 🙂
It is sad to think there is such little information on things like that. I am a groomer and see so many “designer” breeds or dogs that were breed and bought for the wrong reasons. I have a minature schnauzer and my breeder and I talk constantly. She has also refused many sales to people she felt didn’t understand what having this breed required. I tell everyone looking for a puppy to research not only the breed but the breeder. Talk to others who have purchased from them.
After reading the question, and your answer, I feel that you didn’t answer fully answer question, which was what do you think about English Bulldogs as a family dog? You did state your opinion – get one from a rescue, not a breeder. That doesn’t say much for even getting the breed from a rescue.
Obviously the breeding (overbreeding, perhaps?) of any dogs is something that hits a sore spot. And I think that overshadowed your answer.
May I rephrase the question? To: What DO you think of a rescued bulldog as a family dog?
I re-read that column the other day and thought the same thing. I had actually talked to the fellow that wrote and answered his question and somehow just continued the conversation in the column. Thanks for pointing it out. Were it not for the fact that bulldogs in need of rescue would lose their lives I would be vigorously opposed to any person, family or not doing anything whatsoever that would provide english bulldog breeders with an iota of encouragement, including taking in a rescue dog. In spite of the reality of what goes on “behind the scenes” in the breeding of these dogs, the layperson is going still see the dog’s physical distortion as an appealing oddity and seek out what they see on the street. The more that are out and about, the more people will ask about them. Whereas if the “market” entirely dried up due to “Out of sight, out of mind” the breeders might stop, change their ways or go on to wreck another breed I suppose.
However, as I say if no one takes the cast offs they die and that’s not easily ignored no matter the long-term good. Assuming someone were to insist on purchasing a rescue the same rules apply as with any rescue dog, they often come with baggage. Some baggage you can carry, some you cannot. Each rescue regardless of breed is case by case.
Hope it’s ok to “chime in,” preferring to adopt “rescued” dogs, I can say it takes a long time to find the right fit. And it’s HARD, so many dogs in need, so few willing to give them a chance! I suppose that sort of supports John’s comment about being judged on a case by case basis… knowing a dog’s breed only gives a very rough outline for some behaviors, it can’t really tell you much about their personality. Case in point, my mother once had a Pekingnese that played fetch. No one taught the dog that behavior, she just did it on her own! Pretty sure most Peke’s don’t naturally retrieve.
Our last two rescue adoptions, Zoey in 2004 and Emmett a few weeks ago, took a minimum of 6 weeks a piece! Meaning it took ME 6 weeks to find them. Like John said, one might as well plan for baggage, so know yourself and your skill set well before you go onto Petfinder or contact a rescue. Assume the rescue folks are looking at these dogs through “rose colored glasses,” after all, they’ve probably seen the worst of the worst. So what doesn’t seem like a big deal to them, could be insurmountable for YOU! Be honest with yourself about the time and resources you have to committ to helping them overcome their issues. Be ready to pass on some dogs because you don’t have the skill set to manage a behavior.
I see an article full of opinion. Mr. Wade please provide references for the stats and claims outlined in your article. Anyone with a college or university education knows that any claims made in a paper such as yours need to be referenced. You mention that breeders are not doing their due dilligence- follow your own advice and do your own due dilligence.
I could provide more but a simple google search, chat with a veterinarian or almost anyone that has ever owned a bulldog of this type will result in further corroboration. Every breed has issues. This one is a train wreck. What has been done and what is not being done can not be rationally defended.
I would suggest that you do your own research, starting with Bulldog Rescues. My own personal experience with looking into Bulldog Rescues is one of sadness and dismay. the conditions that these helpless beautiful animals are brutally forced to exist in leaving this animal in a disabled and disfigured state. Female Bulldogs forced to stay in cage’s to consecutively have litter after litter of puppies, leaving her crippled from just simply not having the ability or the space to walk or move around.
Lillian, I don’t think you mean Bulldog Rescues. You must be referring to a puppy mill or back yard breeder. I’ve never heard of any rescue forcing dogs to have litters.
I really resent those unsubstantiated words you wrote……..” or go on to wreck another breed I suppose”
First of all where are you getting your knowledge and stats from???
Secondly, ALL my Bulldogs are soooo healthy, they RUN through our white pines ( 5 acres out back)
and ATV trails throughout, over 5,000 beautiful pines!!!!! NOT ONE of my Bulldogs have a breathing problem doing this, and we do this exercise 3 times per day!!!!! all have excellent hips, no cherry eye, no patella problems, no skin issues, no trachea issues, EXCELLENT temperments!!!!
And all my Bulldogs are totally healthy and no heavy breathing!!! AND my Bulldogs have been commented on by so many people as excellent in health, and by my Vet also, as extremely healthy and NEVER ANY HEART ISSUES EITHER!!! So…….where are you coming from…just what you hear??????
Oh and by the way, they are also shown , and my one male from a past litter…was No. 2 Bulldog in Canada for 2010!!!
SOOOO ….they not only can be shown, and pass with flying colours, but can pass their health testing also!!!!
These words are extremely hurtful , cutting , like a two edged sword, and totally NOT TRUE, with the breeders that are breeding for health and temperment!!!
So ………may I also ask you about the Bulldogs who fly through agility and do surfing and skateboarding???? Are they too so unhealthy????
HMMMMMMMM ….I think you had better go and talk with some REPUTABLE BULLDOG BREEDERS!!!!!
When a bulldog breeder cries “unsubstantiated” and then list some of the most common bulldog problems a credibility flag pops up. I am sorry that you find my comments hurtful but they are the verifiable truth.
Yes, you may ask me about bulldogs that fly through agility, surf and skateboard. I’ve seen them. My answer is a few of questions. What is your point and what does that prove? Would you consider that the exception or the norm and can those dogs reproduce or give birth naturally or make it through life without any of the penalties that the breed is rife with? You ask me where I get my information and then neatly list a bunch or ailments commonly attributed to bulldogs. I suppose I am getting my information from wherever you are getting yours.
I am happy that you love your dogs. However, your claim that “all my Bulldogs are totally healthy” is not one any breeder of any breed on the planet can claim. (You did not mention whether your dogs require artificial seminarian and/or caesarean sections). Either way, you must surely be aware that this is a horrible byproduct of focusing on “beauty/fashion” “my one male from a past litter…was No. 2 Bulldog in Canada for 2010!!!”rather than at the very least functional reproduction ability. If anyone shows and wins any dog that does not function at a base level that person is a bad breeder. End of story.
For me the most disturbing part of your comment and a confirmation in my mind as to what I have written about bulldog breeders is the bit about, “And all my Bulldogs are totally healthy” That is a wild claim that would never be made by a reputable, ethical breeder. No one has bred anything (dog, goat, horse, chicken) that are reproducibly healthy in each and every case. All breeds have genetic flaws that ethical breeders or as you consider yourself a “REPUTABLE BULLDOG BREEDERS!!!!!” acknowledge and work toward extinguishing.
If you are truly interested in learning more about the breed and contributing to its repair you will need to wake up and smell the coffee. Here is something to read while you are drinking it. http://www.askthedogguy.com/bulldog-breeding-consequences
I know they can breed naturally. However they often don’t. So much so that AI and c-sections have come to be considered inconsequential and simply characteristics of the breed as if it were on par with coat colour and type. It doesn’t seem right to me that a breeder of any sort believes that a c-section is best advised for a dog owned by an inexperienced breeder. A dog in that position is with someone that is breeding dogs but isn’t a breeder. At least in the sense of ethical breeding practices as I understand them. Should the ability to naturally whelp be even up for discussion for any breed? I truly don’t understand this perspective. If “Whelping naturally is better for an experienced breeder” means a surgical procedure has become better for the dog, don’t you think something has gone horribly wrong that needs to be addressed?
Perhaps breeders en masse are addressing all these issues, perhaps not, but either way don’t we have to ask ourselves who were the breeders that purposefully selectively bred for all these negative inheritable traits?
I get you are proud of your dogs but are you proud of the breed in the sense that the breed in its current manifestation is something to be used as an example of the best that dog breeding has to offer? I may be misinterpreting but your pride seems to stem from your dogs not suffering from the ailments so many do. If so you’re missing the point. I don’t think these things should even be up for discussion. Dogs should be able to whelp whether their breeder is experienced or not. The litany of bulldog ailments should be far less daunting.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to stick to my guns. The breed is a mess and we as a species should be ashamed to have put our sense of “fashion” ahead of an entire breed’s health to the extent that they suffer so much more so from other breeds in so many areas.
I’m a bit confused! I read your reply to Frank’s question and 10 paragraphs later I couldn’t locate the answer! Was your reply actually to his question of English bulldogs being a good family pet or did the computer mix something up?
A little help please
“A good family pet” means different things to different people so without knowing more about current lifestyle of the prospective owner and extrapolating forward as to how that lifestyle might change as the dog mature it’s hard to say. Each breed has pros and cons. Different people have different activity levels, budgets, handling abilities etc.
Generally speaking, from a playing the odds perspective when considering the physical problems and the associated costs I would say that the cons outweigh the pros for this breed when compared to the plethora of other options. Less generally speaking, I’m loathe to recommend supporting any breeder producing a breed of dog almost guaranteed to inherit painful ailments and infirmities that for reasons beyond my ken they have at some point have deemed cute and more important then the well being of the animal. While there may be breeders attempting through selective breeding to repair the damage that a preference for “fashion” as opposed to function has caused, I can’t see having this process financed by puppy buyers looking for family pets.
Thanks for posting the link to this on FB so I could see the crazy firsthand. The only people on the planet defending the English Bulldog and its current wretched state are the “greeders” who profit from producing them. It’s very telling.
Isn’t it funny (sad, really) how trolls always demand evidence be posted, but then they don’t read it? The internet is full of fools.
Thanks for this post. The word needs to be spread, despite how angry it makes the ignorant.
Part of the irony is that the concern (mine anyway) is not based on a lack of compassion or any dislike I have for individual representatives of the breed (it’s rare for me to run across one with a disagreeable character – almost always quite the opposite) it’s for the unnecessary suffering caused by people that should know better (those that have and continue to breed for physical characteristics that impact the quality of life of so many of the breed.)
I must agree with John on his opinion of *”Breeders” destroying the breed. Yes, I have an English Bulldog from a college mascot bloodline. He is perfect, nothing is wrong with him, he was 1 of 8 puppies in the litter. I didn’t go through a *”Breeder” it was through someone who just loves the breed and wanted to continue the bloodline, which in turn we will be doing this spring. Unfortunately I know a person who is a so called “Breeder” each of her 5 bitches, have had no less then 4 litters in the past 3 years. At this moment, they have 26 puppies only a few weeks old. they are “breeding” for the money, not because of the love for the breed. It makes me sick. It is very hard to find a “breeder” who doesn’t do this. I refuse to go through breeders. 1 it’s not fair to the bitches, but also not far to the puppies. When we found our big boys, girlfriend, we didn’t look for physical qualities, she has a clean bill of health from her vet, she very pretty, and the owners wanted another dog just like her. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s “animal cruelty” but it is definitely not right to change the breed, just because you want them to look a different way. God made them the way he wanted them to look, who are we to say we want them different. Now there are “miniature” English bulldogs. It’s just not right.
John – very well written and accurate article ! Due to them being the “in ” breed right now the English bulldogs are being breed in astounding numbers , most without the reguards to the already health issues of the breed and if anything the “breeders ” should be breeding to eliminate the health issues.But don’t see that happening anytime soon. As a person who recently worked in a animal shelter , I seen first hand the damage that has been done to this beloved breed. In my time of when I worked there we had a number of the English bulldogs come in and they were in bad shape, untreated allergies and skin issues( yes neglect of the owner but as a “responsible ” breeder shouldn’t they warn the person about what health problems occur ?) also cherry eyes, digestive troubles the list goes on and on. We never put them on the adoption floor due to them being so popular that we did not want them in the hands of adopters who really were not able to care for their needs properly. We networked around and found people who were active in bulldogs and understood the health issues and the issues the current dog had.The ones commenting that the breed has no health problems are oblivious or in complete denial . They are walking vet bills. We rescued a old English bulldogge 5 years ago after researching the breed , thou she doesn’t have the extent of health issues the English bulldog has , she does suffer from allergies and war infections that our vet has to help control. I absolutely love the bulldog breed (Pitts are #2 on my heart) and it kills me to see where the breed is going and how many people I know spend thousands of dollars in puppies and then later on spend even more in vet care ( if they care for them properly) and heartbreak down the road. I believe if a lot of these” breeders” looked in breed rescues and shelters they would change their minds about breeding the breed . But again thank you for your article and stating the facts that us that have adopted or worked in animal welfare have been trying to pound into people’s heads . Jennifer
I am actually experencing the same thing you mentioned above. We have a year old bulldog, that my vet called a genetic mess. I’ve contacted the breeder numerous times, but of course nothing. I am an experienced bulldog owner it’s just crazy and sad how these dogs turn out.
hi i stumbled on this page tring to find out things about my new dog she showed up at my door christmas day with a broken jaw and severly underweight shes a english bulldog and lookes like she might be pruebred she has a really hard time breathing when shes asleep and seems to have to keep her head and neck propped up to sleep and she snores worse than my husband also i dont really know how to care for some of her issues she has a horrible smell that bathing dousnt help all of my animals are rescues for some reason they find me i dont go looking for them and i dont really socalize with people much but the few people ive tried to ask about how to care for her (we named her bertha) seem to want to use her to breed or something cuz they ask me strange questiions i know this isnt the point of your webpage but i need some help to figure out how to better take care of this sweet dog thanks for your time
I am the owner, of two male English Bulldogs. We received them about 1 year ago. Both males.
First let me tell you, that I love them both too much, and I do anything to keep them happy and healthy. Prior, I have never owned this breed of dog, and did not know much about them. (my ignorance).
Anyhow, since we have owned them, there have been tons of health problems with both “Bobby” and “Cookie”. Skin fungus, Eye infections and breathing problems. We have spend a fortune on Vet bills, medication, special diet and shampoos for them. It is really frustrating to see them suffering. They are the most gentle and beautiful dogs we have ever owned. When they look at you with those sad brown eyes, everyone’s heart just melts.
I believe, that there should be a ban, on breeding these dogs. They have been completely designed and interbred by human beings, and lack immune systems for everyday life.
Sincerely Olaf Jass
I don’t know anything about breeding or showing dogs, but my advice to anyone who is looking for a dog is to adopt. I once had a purebred husky who was the love of my life, but extremely stubborn, as huskies are. I now have an absolutely gorgeous mutt (so much of a mutt that we have never been able to find out even her dominant breed) who I got from a rescue. About a year after getting her as a puppy, she went completely blind due to genetic problems. So even rescued mutts have their health problems! But she is as sweet as can be and was still easier to train that my husky. There are so many adorable and good natured puppies and adult dogs that need homes, and especially after all the bad press breeders get, it boggles my mind as to why average pet owners even consider buying their dogs from breeders anymore. I volunteer with the SPCA, and the workers there are very good at separating playful dogs that would be good to take home to a family from aggressive dogs that need a lot of extra care. They tend to spend their entire work days with them, after all! The only thing about rescues is that no amount of internet research will prepare you for what that dog is like. Unless they were rescued from a puppy mill or an abusive/neglectful owner that paid thousands for the dog and has all of its papers, there’s no way to know of its purebred or not, so its temperament and behaviors may or may not match a specific breed’s. But isn’t that almost more special? And possibly more reliable? You go and you get to know the dog, spend time with it, bring your family to meet it. You find out information from the volunteers who interact with the dog every day and who will get nothing out of you taking the dog home except to see that dog get a loving home. They aren’t trying to sell you the dog, so they will want to see that its a good match (or else that dog may end up coming back to them).
To Kelli the breeder with annoyingly long responses that I was never able to finish: why do you breed if its such a thankless job and you don’t make a profit from it? You must be getting more out of it than just bringing another unnecessary litter into the world, so I call bullsh*t.
Anna: AMEN!!! I do rescue, but my friend puts a litter of Rotties on the ground maybe once every 2-4 yrs & she follows her dogs to their DEATH BEDS! You buy as a “co-owner” from her and by God, if you don’t have that dog in some type of training or working class, you’re breaking her contract and she WILL reposess that dog! LOL!
Kelli is puzzling to me too. Breeding pure bred pups isn’t profitable? I almost spit my tea out when I read that. haha
I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with John. The English Bulldog is a trainwreck. Perhaps the lady who claimed all her’s all are healthy, with zero problems only bought them recently? I assumed she had a few as pets, not that she was breeding them. Anywayyy…..
Hi all.. it seems to me that Bulldogs in your part of the world are suffering. I have kept bulldogs for over 30 years and have not had any issues at all. All living long and healthy lives. To be honest the examples you often see in the US, South Africa and also Australia, are far from the true English bulldog. They are almost always overweight and far to big. Remember a bitch should weight in at 20-23KG and a dog 25kg maximum. I think if you remember this and exercise the dog properly, the health issues are no more than other breeds. Regards
What part of the world are your writing from?
Hi John, Im from Wiltshire in England.
Well written article, it never ceases to amaze me how people can continue to breed a dog that not only looks miserable, but does suffer tremendously because the looks come above the condition. I noticed on here that a bulldog breeder said they can be very healthy and used the two examples of exercise as surfboarding and skateboarding, which I find funny as these are two “exercises” where the bulldog is stationary whilst the thing they’re on does the speed for them. Probably because their disproportionate body, weight, breathing problems etc. means they can’t gain this speed themselves without pain as a consequence…
Btw, also from Wiltshire in England, my family owns a dog walking business so we can compare to capable dog breeds, and the bulldogs do suffer here too…
In your vast experience as a ‘dog walker’ (expert then), how many Bulldogs have you had the pleasure of walking? I am on my 5th Bulldog and all have enjoyed two walks per day with zero issues. I have friends with other breeds, which my Bulldogs have always out walked and often shown greater levels of fitness and play stamina. The thing is, most people that seem to dismiss this breed as unhealthy are the very same people that have never owned one, or have been unfortunate to have owned a badly bread example. As we all know, this can happen in any breed, just look at the GSD at Crufts this year, could hardly walk…!
Armchair experts without any first hand experience…You cannot replace what you think you know from hearsay and badly written / researched books with underlying negative agendas, with actual first hand experience….
My Dog has a higher hip score than most Labradors!, No breathing issues or any other health issues you all seem to think is the norm for this wonderful tempered and iconic breed.
The Genuine breeders out there today are fully committed to the health of the breed. Except those greedy breeders that are breeding so called rare colours for ridiculous money…
This is my last comment… not arguing but you are wrong! IDST !
Sam in the U.K.
I don’t usually approve such poorly thought out illogical comments but this one (yours) kind of made me laugh so I feel compelled to share it with my readership.
For those unaware, in internet slang – IDST translates as – If Destroyed Still True – in this case implying that I wouldn’t approve the comment out of fear of being exposed as being ignorant/wrong.
No worries there Sam, so for what it’s worth read on.
Denigrating someone’s credentials as an opening gambit is often a dorky way to try and distract others from one’s own shortcomings. It’s a common tactic of the spongey minded. (If you need further clarification, see the current U.S. republican leadership race for further reference.)
For what it’s worth, dogs are “bred” not “bread”. People that are confused by this typically get very low scores in both the bedroom and the kitchen, let alone the “breed expert” category.
I have to wonder as well, does your rationale that one needs to actually have owned one or several of a breed in order to have an educated opinion apply to the veterinary care you seek for your dogs? (training, grooming?) Tell me does your paediatrician have to have as many children as you do? Your car mechanic, own the same vehicle before you’ll believe in a recall notice? (Get my drift?)
I’m actually sincerely happy for you that you’ve had 5 successive bulldogs unplagued by so many of the ills born by the breed. I’m sorry that for an alleged enthusiast you are so ignorant with regard to what is common knowledge amongst experts in the dog walking, training, veterinary, breeding, genetics etc. community.
At the risk of being repetitive, I’m not sure how you’ve construed ownership of 5 dogs into your being an expert or dismissing all evidence to the contrary but you’re welcome to wallow in that ignorance. (I’m sure you’re great at making toast (cooked bread).) Sadly however it is that sort of ignorance and stupidity that plagues this breed.
I have worked with at least 5 of this breed (not the type you slice (outside of surgery nor the type with yeast, unless it’s related to infections) over the last 30 years that were better then others as well. I’ve worked with and know of far more that were not.
I think you were wise to intend your comment as your last word. That was the smartest bit of your comment.
I’m a very avid animal rights supporter, and I’m really glad you posted this article. There’s a disturbing contrast between bulldogs from the early-mid 1900s to now, and anyone who thinks it’s ok as long as “we treat them well” that it makes it ethical. I’m sure you also know that pugs have similar respiratory issues.
It’s not okay, and I’m glad someone is speaking out about it.
I had a bad experience with a bearded collie, a purebred. It had countless behavioral problems and ended up biting my mother in the face. Ever since then I made sure to stray far far away from any breeder, and prefer mutts indefinitely. A lot of reputable breeders are okay, as long as they are breeding for behavior/functionality as you mentioned, but that’s simply just not the norm.
obviously you have never had a bulldog. The great dane and English Bulldog are superior dog its all in personal choice. Do your research.
Your reasoning eludes me. Does one have to own a bulldog to diagnose problems? For example, if you took your child to see a doctor because of an ailment and be told they have a breathing ailment or a skin problem and dismiss the doctor’s diagnosis because he or she doesn’t have a child? Also weird that you believe that the Great Dane, a breed with a shockingly short life span is superior. In what manner?
In every breed there are good and bad breeders. While there are no “perfect” bulldogs, some are vastly healthier than others. Its unfair to lump the entire breed as one to say they are all unhealthy. That is called generalizing and is as inaccurate as someone saying bulldogs are all healthy. I think bulldogs are ugly, by the way, but if people like them, whatever. My neighbor used to have one, very friendly dog. I’m not going to defend the breed, or the bad breeders, but if you want people to listen, you should stop generalizing, otherwise you end up with nothing but “haters” jumping on the bandwagon. Good breeders who are trying, get defensive. Nothing gets better from that. Nothing changes.
There is a difference between generalizing, stereotyping and drawing conclusions based on overwhelming evidence.
Unfortunately, (although I agree with all that you say), you’ll never win this battle (although I admire you for trying to educate), because when it comes down to breed preference, no matter how “right” or “wrong” one might be, it’s a blind crap shoot for most humans.
We do tend to spend more time researching less significant purchases. (Like toasters)
Thank you so much for this post. I have worked at a vet for the past 2 years and it angers me how ignorant people can be. They purchase puppies without properly researching what the breeds entail. I’ve seen owners buy intelligent working dogs like Australian Shepherds and then wonder why their dog is so anxious. Instead of proper training and exercise, they ask the vet for sedatives. So the poor dog is drugged up its entire life. And then there are, of course, the bulldogs. I feel sorry for every single bulldog that walks through the doors. They can barely breathe properly, and very few “lucky” ones have owners who can afford expensive surgery to correct that. It makes me so angry that people claim to love dogs but continue to champion for pure breeds, all of whom have their own problems due to inbreeding. Golden retrievers – cancer. Boxers – brain tumors. French bulldogs- skin issues, breathing issues, cancer. Oh and the best one – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – almost guaranteed heart disease and will probably not last past the age of 12-13 (and it’s really ironic that one of the vets working at my practice bought a puppy many years back. I guess even vets are not immune.) Pretty much any pure bred dog faces problems later in life. Real dog lovers will only consider rescue, and never buy from a breeder, or even worse, a puppy mill. It’s so sad that animals are at the utter mercy of human beings. I’ve become so sick of this fact that I’m choosing to switch to another industry where I don’t have to put up with this hypocrisy any longer.
I am very happy that Lydia is changing professions, as she seems incredibly judgmental and definately not someone I would want to bring my pets to. I disagree with the comment that says buyer demand is controlling breeding practices. If that was true, we would have blue, black and tan, and minis in the ring. And rescue is great but the problem with this breed is that a dog in rescue could very well be there soley for health issues that the owners couldn’t afford to treat. The new owners may not be able to, either. As far as the article goes, I think it’s pretty bang on. It just sucks that a breed with such a great temperament is trapped in a deformed body.
Cruelty? I have an old English bull dog! With every horrid sign of inbreeding you can think! Severe underbite, smaller head, ridiculously long tounge! I know all these things are the tell tail sign of inbreeding! Animal abuse in your opinion gave me my saving grace! He’s my heart and soul on a chubby body with a small head , a super long tounge,[sic] he’s me in a dog personality wise! So all you *word deleted* so worried about protecting the pedigree of your breed have forgotten why we spent so many thousands of years domisticating [sic] them! Lineage blood percentage none of that matters when you have that one completes you heart and soul! Nothing on else will love you like a good dog! Mines my old English bulldog! Heavy French native decent! And me on your legs destroy the breed no they’ve found a new audience!
If I understand your point, which I may not as it became incoherent there towards the end you feel that it’s all right to breed painful ailments and shortened lifespans into a breed because you found one you love. Makes perfect sense because if we bred for health they wouldn’t be lovable at all now would they?
Do I wish them to breed these elements into my dog No! Incoherent? Just one man that says all the inbreeding and mixing of those results and inbreeding them led to one of the most beautiful dog I’ve ever seen! Not sure how the fact that I love the dog that was a byproduct of it is my world!?! I do talk in circles and for that I apologize! But for all his pronounced traits it’s the ones that you can’t account for that make him so amazing! If he has medical issues from that so be it I’ll see to them when they come, but that dog came into my life when I didn’t think it possible to love ANYTHING! He’s not English bulldog not boxer not French mastif (which is what he resembles on a small scale) he’s one thing…………my dog, my heart, my best friend! And we fit like a glove so much so that I got him at a year old…….yes I rescued him first night at home he crawled in the bed with me! I know I’m not the norm and that this isn’t the normal result……..or is it? Dog pedigree is a myth just a pay check for some and There a some who really care like me! I know what your saying and I’m sorry if I seen condescending you know the horrors of the almost breeds. I’m not trying to undermine your thoughts only to remind you people still care!
And the fact that my autocorrect sucks really bad!……LoL!
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I’m glad at least one person is saying this… the way people are breeding these dogs into freaks of nature is terrible. It’s like they don’t even see them as living creatures, they’re just objects to be molded into their desired form. It’s disgusting.
Just had to put our very loved Bull Mastiff to sleep. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My sons and their wives are encouraging us to get another dog as soon as we emotionally able – but encouraging us to get something smaller and less active at our age. (73)
I have always wanted to own a bulldog(English) but your piece gives me pause. Are there any breeders that you are aware of who have not done to the breed what you write about? I understand what you have written – Boxers were bred down from large, healthy, dogs to the emotional misfits and smaller dogs we have today.
Anyone you know of who has the older healthier Bulldogs
Would love to give a good home!
I’m sorry I don’t. However, there are very likely breeders trying to turn the breed around. The best I can do is provide a little guidance on how to separate the wheat from the mostly chaff when talking to any breeder. Here’s an article I wrote on the topic: Questions To Ask The Breeder Or A Rescue Before Deciding This Is Where You Want To Get A Dog
– John Wade (www.askthedogguy.com)