English bulldogs are known well for their adorable and unique appearance. These medium-sized dogs with short low-slung bodies, droopy eyes, pushed in nose and wrinkled faces are popular pet favorites for many animal lovers around the world. Ranking 4th in American Kennel Club’s 2015 survey for the Most Popular Dog Breed in America, bulldogs are considered one of the best dog breeds that make excellent family pets. These friendly, docile creatures are very good with children. But selective genetic breeding has taken its toll on the breed. Excessive inbreeding has created countless health issues on English bull dogs and it may very well be too late to save them.
The breed began just after 1835; there were a mere sixty-eight individual dogs of this breed. Since then they have been artifically altered genetically at an increasinly rapid rate over the years. This is done as to achieve a more desired appearance (pushed in noses, and wrinkly faces). As a result the breed lacks genetic diversity and studies have shown that many of these dogs are malformed and suffering from various health problems.
What are the health issues inbreeding has caused?
Due to their short nose and nostrils, most bulldogs are sick with respiratory problems that are also linked with their various skin infections. Their excessive wrinkles which cause great discomfort are prone to yeast infection if not cleaned regularly. Ear and tail infections are not so rare in the breed. Some cases of tail infections have become so severe, bulldogs need to be amputated in order to survive.
Aside from these bodily infections, most English bulldogs also suffer from mobility issues. Their stocky build and short legs are caused by skeletal impairments due to excessive inbreeding of deformed genes. The skeletal disorders these dogs have include curvature of the spin as well as hip and elbow dysplasia.
Reproductive issues are also rife in this breed. The females usually have too narrow of a pelvis to give birth naturally. And it is only the rare few that do not have to undergo c-sections in order to survive birth and deliver their puppies safely. Due to their breathing issues, the males often struggle with mating.
Due to their prominent underbite, their bottom teeth push outwards. This can end up causing some major dental issues. This breed has a very high mortality rate and an average healthy specimen is only likely to live eight and a half years. But normally they only live about 6.3 years.
If dogs are healthier in their first year of life they can live longer. But if they suffer from any health issues during their first year they may only live for about four and a half years. These dogs usually don’t die from old age. But those who have only last to around ten years.
Saving English Bulldogs through Crossbreeding
According to scientists, the only way to save this breed is to introduce more diverse genetics to the breed. However, due to the very low genetic diversity found in the breed, cross breeding is the best and only option. There are several bulldog breeds that one could look possible options for cross breeding. Other types of bulldogs include:
- The American bulldog
- The Leavitt bulldog
- The French bulldog
- Old English Bulldog
The swedes have already begun cross breeding the English bulldog with the Old English bulldog, an American breed of bulldog. They refer to the breed as the continental bulldog. Many breeders of the English bulldog, however, have expressed their disagreement with crossbreeding. Saying that they feel the English bulldog will no longer be the English bulldog if its to be crossbred.
Does this mean extinction for the breed?
Extinction of the old English bulldog has already occurred. This is just further testimony to how much of a reality this is. The English bulldog is in the worst state it has ever been. If the breeders do not attempt to try diversify the genetics of the breed it will surely die out. The choice is either let the breed die out or crossbreed it.
Either way, the English bulldog, as we know it will never be the same again. This popular dog will have to undergo a huge change in order to survive. Nevertheless, no matter the breed, bulldogs are very lovable creatures. And if the only way to save to this iconic breed of bulldog is to cross breed it. Then it is surely worth the few physical alterations that come with it.