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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bulldogs get makeover

Bulldogs in Britain will have their exaggerated characteristics weeded out after a few generations, after the (British) Kennel Club made an unprecedented decision to revise the standard for the British Bulldog. Other breed revisions include those for the Chinese Sharpei and the German Shepherd. Please read the full article here.
I do not wish to offend any Bulldog owners and this post is not a reflection on them or their dogs. However, I have been saying for years that the classic characteristics of bulldogs, including a flat face, and short and stubby legs, lead to serious physical constraints. The most important one, in my opinion, is the respiratory tract. The dog's flat face and therefore severely shortened respiratory tract, makes it difficult to breathe. They often have stenotic (barely-open) nostrils, shortened nasal cavities (where air is warmed and is filtered), and an elongated soft-palate. These dogs are walking emergencies. Routine exercise in the heat can be life-threatening.
I am all for it. In the long-term, this means that vets will still be seeing bulldogs and Shar-peis, but perhaps not for the classic health issues that plague the breeds (respiratory and skin/eye issues respectively).
Remember, human beings are solely responsible for the evolution (yes, evolution) of the hundreds of breeds of dogs found on the planet. It is our responsibility to ensure that their physical characteristics do not impair them in any way or cause harm, no matter how cute, pretty, fluffy, flat-faced, bald, tiny, or huge we want them to be.
Kudos to the Kennel Club.

So darn cute, but I'll bet that the revision will demand for a reduction (or absence of) skin folds on the face and body. Yup, you guessed it, they cause health issues.