Vets are urging people to “stop and think” before buying an English bulldog because the breed “remains compromised by major health issues”.
Research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has shown the dogs, which have grown in popularity, have poorer health compared with other breeds because of issues related to extreme body shape.
The RVC said many of the bulldog’s “problematic characteristics such as a very flat face, deep facial skin folds and noisy breathing” are still being seen as “normal or even desirable” rather than major welfare issues.
The breed’s “distinctive and exaggerated short muzzle, protruding lower jaw and stocky body shape” has been linked to a range of serious health concerns.
These include breathing problems, eye disorders and skin and ear diseases.
People who already own an English bulldog are being encouraged to monitor them carefully and to seek early advice if they become concerned about any symptoms.
Dr Dan O’Neill, lead author of the paper and Associate Professor in Companion Animal Epidemiology at the RVC said: “Every dog deserves to be born with equal and good innate health by having a natural ability to breathe freely, blink fully, exercise easily, have healthy flat skin, mate and give birth.
“For breeds such as English bulldogs where many dogs still have extreme conformations with poor innate health, the public have a huge role to play by demanding dogs with moderate and healthier conformations.
“Until then, prospective owners should stop and think before buying a flat-faced dog.”
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Dr Alison Skipper, co-author and veterinary historian, said: “This new research provides strong evidence that modern bulldogs remain troubled by many diseases linked to their body shapes, most of which have been recognised for more than a century.
“It confirms the need to follow the example of more responsible breeders who prioritise health in breeding decisions to improve the welfare of this popular and iconic breed in the future.”