The Bulldog is a British icon. That familiar, solid outline representing the country’s very character. The exact origins of the Bulldog are obscure, but there are mentions of this type of dog, described as ‘bonddogges’ or ‘bandogs’ in the time of Shakespeare and even as far back as the 14th century. The name ‘bull-dog’ comes from the later use of these dogs for the ‘sport’ of bull baiting, outlawed in the first part of the 19th century. The Victorian supporters of the breed dedicated themselves to preserving it, breeding selectively to create what we see today – a lovable, gentle, but ‘determined’ looking companion dog.

Health issues:

The Bulldog is a brachycephalic breed – and the flattened face of these breeds is seen as a source of potential health problems related to respiration. Other areas seen to be of concern include that of excessive loose skin on the head which can lead to defects of the eyelids; heavy over-nose wrinkle (or roll) which can lead to skin irritation; pinched nostrils; tight or inverted tails; and a tendency to overweight which can affect general health and soundness of movement.

Action being taken:

The breed through its Breed Council has been actively involved for many years in developing comprehensive programmes of health checks, research and education initiatives aimed at ensuring the long term healthy future of the breed.

Foremost in these efforts has been the development of a specific Bulldog Health Assessment, the pilot for which was launched in 2007 and rolled out across the breed the following year. The scheme now has a national network of 60 vets able to undertake assessments in the form of a thorough, non-invasive health check which is invaluable for breeders, but also, with the results collated by the Breed Council, forms the basis of benchmarking for the health of the breed. Recognition of the value of this scheme can be measured by the fact that several other breeds have now adapted the Bulldog Assessment for their own breeds.

Other health based activities:

* The availability of DNA test for HUU (urate stones) through the Animal health trust

* A comprehensive health area on the Breed Council website reporting and discussing health issues of concern to Bulldogs.

* Online Health survey – which received 350 responses in 2011 – data from which is currently being compared with the results of the previous survey of 2006 and will be reported in March 2012

* Encouragement for members to use the KC Mate Select database when choosing a stud dog so that breeders can choose a dog that will assist in maintaining genetic diversity

Education is a key part of the overall health programme and initiatives include:

* The annual Bulldog Day UK, now in its 7th year – a forum for existing and potential bulldog owners to meet experienced members of the breed for advice and information

* An active programme of judges’ education with breed seminars where judges are made fully aware of areas of concern and points that should be rewarded or penalised in the show ring.

Bulldog breeders love their breed and are very aware of the responsibility they have to make sure that it has a long future as a healthy, happy companion dog at the heart of the family.

End For further information vistithe Bulldog Breed Council website on http://www.bulldogbreedcouncil.co.uk/


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