Friday, 29 July 2016

Death of the Bulldog

It's not a good day for Bulldog breeders and owners - but it might just be a good day for Bulldogs.  A new paper in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology from a team at UC Davis documents the eye-watering lack of genetic diversity in the Bulldog - or English Bulldog as the breed is known globally.

The conclusion? The Bulldog is in big trouble because it does not have enough genetic diversity to allow breeders to breed away from the health problems known to plague the breed.

The story is all over the media here in the UK and internationally - with the above headline in the Independent particularly blunt.

The Indy piece also contains this very strong quote from lead author Professor Niels Pedersen.

“The English bulldog has reached the point where popularity can no longer excuse the health problems that the average bulldog endures in its often brief lifetime."

I think it's fair to say that there has been some small improvements in health, at least in the UK, in recent years. But big problems persist - include breathing issues, an inability to cool themselves, skin, eye and joint problems and an inability, often, to mate or whelp naturally.

Bulldogs are also dead, typically, by the age of six (KC 2014 health survey).

The researchers' aim was to assess if the breed retains enough genetic diversity to correct the genotypic and phenotypic abnormalities associated with its poor health.  The answer? Probably not.

To put it very simply: even if there was a will to breed only from the very healthiest, most moderate dogs (and I'm afraid there isn't because, mostly, people like their Bulldogs just the way they are), you'd only wreck the breed further because it would result in even less of the genetic diversity needed to ensure a healthy life. 

The study found many sections of the Bulldog genome that were identical in every dog they looked at. In particular, they found very little variation in the parts of the genome that code for immune function - very likely the reason the breed suffers a number of immune-mediated issues.

Where does the breed go from here given the increasing pressure on breeders to do more to tackle health problems in the breed

The quickest and simplest option is to outcross - and indeed there are now several varieties of outcrossed Bulldogs (none recognised by the Kennel Club) that can boast a more moderate phenotype and improved health (notably the Leavitt Bulldog which sets a particularly high bar health-wise).

Leavitt Bulldogs     ©Jessica Gilmour/Lonsdale Bulldogs

But of course traditional breeders would rather stick pins in their eyes than cross-breed - and the two dogs above would be considered mongrels by many; no matter that they can run and breathe freely.

Another option could be to... nope, can't think of one. If there isn't enough genetic variety within the breed, outcrossing is actually the only solution.

Leading brachycephalic researcher Dr Rowena Packer (Royal Veterinary College) says the study is a game-changer.

"Our previous research at RVC found that several morphological traits that are actively selected for in this and other breeds, including short muzzles and wrinkled skin, are associated with quality of life limiting health conditions. These problems include lifelong respiratory difficulties and painful corneal ulcers.

"We recommended that breeders should move away from extreme body shapes, and instead select for 'moderate' dogs (with longer muzzles, smaller eyes and less wrinkled skin) within their own breed to avoid associated breathing, skin, eye, reproductive and dental problems.

"However, this recommendation was with the proviso that there was sufficient phenotypic and genetic diversity in the breed, that these new selective pressures would not lead to more problems. This study has demonstrated that the required genetic diversity is unfortunately not present, and thus to obtain healthier body shapes we should strongly consider outcrossing with another, less extreme breed.

"These reforms could allow the Bulldog to see, breathe, eat, birth and move freely, uninhibited by the body shape that we have chosen for them. We need to put health before looks or breed 'purity' to protect the welfare of these dogs. Members of the public who are particularly interested in buying a Bulldog should consider the health problems associated with this breed in its current form, and explore other less extreme breeds with fewer health problems."

I fear, however, that Bulldog breeders will stick their heels in, claiming that their beloved breed is sacrosanct and that everyone is ganging up on them. The researchers will be accused of being secretly funded by PETA; any Kennel Club that acts will be deemed overtaken by animal rights activists and any vet that joins in the cry for reform will be an unreasonable militant who has "got it in for Bulldogs". BVA President Sean Wensley, who appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning highlighting the issues is being widely slated on one Bulldog Facebook group. "He is an ill-informed moron" wrote one commenter. "He needs a good slap" wrote another.

A statement in response to the new study from the UK Kennel Club's Aimee Llewellyn-Zaidi is predictably within the box. First, she suggests that a bigger study is needed in order to get a true picture, saying:

“It would be very interesting to use genomic tools to investigate the bulldog breed on a global level, as it is well-established that breeds that have developed in isolation over time can be utilised to improve over-all genetic diversity and selection for positive characteristics, on a global level.
She goes on to suggest there might be sufficient genetic diversity in the breed in the UK:
"In 2015, a paper published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology summarised the research undertaken using Kennel Club registered dogs, that estimated the rate of loss of genetic diversity within all 215 breeds of pedigree dog over a 35 year period, and provided information to guide a future sustainable breeding strategy. Latterly in the individual report for the Bulldog the rate of inbreeding declined, implying a slowdown in the rate of loss of diversity, and modest replenishment of genetic diversity which may be through the use of imported animals."

There's a problem with this. All the Bulldogs in the world descend from a small handful of UK founders - and not that long ago either. While it is true that different geographical populations, through a process known as genetic drift, can be a little different genetically it is unlikely to offer much hope in this case. Although most of the dogs sampled in the new study were American, the study did include a handful of dogs from elsewhere (Finland, Canada, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Argentina) and found no significant genetic difference.

That said, I can see nothing to be lost by the Bulldog peeps in the UK getting together to donate blood to a further study to see if there is any more genetic diversity in the UK population. Perhaps this is something the KC could help fund?

Professor Pedersen is doubtful that there is much more diversity to be found - but says he would welcome such a move.

"We have done genetic diversity testing on a number of other breeds and have found in every instance that we could identify over 90% of the known diversity with as few as 50-150 dogs," he says. "The more genetically diverse a breed, the more individuals that have to be tested to encompass the existing diversity and the less diverse a breed, the fewer individuals that need to be tested. We are confident that we have identified most of the existing genetic diversity of the English bulldog, but welcome a much wider screening of dogs around the world to identify small bits of diversity that might remain to be discovered.

However, Professor Pedersen disputes the KC's claims that its research showed that Bulldog might be seeing a "modest replenishment of genetic diversity which may be through the use of imported animals"...

He says:

"The [2015 paper by Tom Lewis] confused inbreeding with genetic diversity. The author concluded that dog breeders in the UK have been doing less inbreeding over the last two decades than in the previous decades. The conclusion was that this caused an increase in genetic diversity, when all that it said was that breeders were being more careful in selecting sires and dams that were as unrelated as possible. You cannot increase genetic diversity across a breed by stopping inbreeding because the amount of genetic diversity in any breed is fixed at the time the registry is closed to outside dogs. Therefore, every breed starts with a known amount of diversity and that diversity will either be maintained or diminished by artificial genetic bottlenecks such as inbreeding to a popular show winning sire. You cannot increase diversity of a closed breed without outcrossing. [Prof Pedersen's emphasis] Therefore, dog breeders in the UK are doing a better job maintaining the genetic diversity that currently exists in their breed by avoiding inbreeding, but they are certainly not increasing genetic diversity."

Indeed. And if the KC data shows otherwise it's likely because it only records 3-5 generations of pedigree info for imports, giving a false impression of unrelatedness.

Tom Lewis is a geneticist working with the Kennel Club. He was interviewed today by the BBC's World Service and, encouragingly, did not dismiss outcrossing out of hand. Have a listen here.

Will add more info/statements/responses as I get them so please keep checking back.

In the meantime, here's a clip from the discussion on BBC breakfast in the UK this morning accompanied with an ever-growing number of angry comments from Bulldog breeders and owners defending their breed. Just posted there is this comment from Dr David Sargan and the "brachy" research team at Cambridge University.

"My colleagues Jane Ladlow, Lajos Kalmar, Nai-chieh Liu, I myself, and others at the University of Cambridge have been working with breeders of UK bulldogs and other short faced breeds, doing both genetic and clinical analyses related to one specific problem, the respiratory distress that many of these dogs, (and dogs of other short-faced breeds) suffer from. Our findings agree with those published by Prof Pedersen and his colleagues in that there is little scope for breeding back to a less extreme skull shape whilst staying within the registered population. This is likely to be true of many other aspects of conformation and temperament as well, as we also find large regions without genetic variation in all dogs of the breed. We would agree that the extreme changes in the conformation and appearance (such as the excessive skin rolls in these breeds) do account for many of their disease problems. 

"Fortunately despite the similarities of appearance, not all dogs suffer from the respiratory disorder and although our studies are not yet complete we now have pretty strong evidence that there are still multiple genetic variations between those that do and those that don’t suffer from the disease. But we do not know whether this is also true for other aspects of conformation and appearance related diseases.  

"In summary, I believe that the swiftest way to remove these diseases would be to outbreed to a dog type that does not have to the same degree the conformational features that cause the health problems referred to in this programme. This would certainly be our group’s preferred option. But over the last few years there has been a lot of advice available directed at these health problems and attemting to reduce the popularity of these dogs. What there has not been is the expensive advertising campaign that could bring these problems to public notice. Without it the advice has not got through to the public. We are therefore looking at how we might reduce the problem more slowly by offering advice on how to breed for healthier dogs using the remaining genetic variation within the breed."

All well and good but the problem remains that brachycepahlia doesn't just result in respiratory problems.  There is a huge number of other consequences, including eye injuries, skin-fold issues and a mouth full of crowded, misaligned teeth that is a veterinary dentist's nightmare. Extremely unpleasant for the dogs, too. At the end of the day... we need dogs with longer muzzles.

• 14:30pm: strong press release from the British Veterinary Association.

Vets urge revision of breed standards to protect animal welfare

Following the release of new research data by Niels Pedersen from the Centre of Companion Animal Health, University of California, into breed health of the English bulldog, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has issued the following statement:

Sean Wensley, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:
“The research released today reflects the seriousness of the health problems associated with English bulldogs that our members are seeing in practice. Revision of breed standards, to include evidence-based limits on physical features such as muzzle shortness, and full consideration of other approaches such as outcrossing, are now needed to ensure high risk breeds, such as the English bulldog, do not continue to suffer unnecessarily.

“Vets are reporting concerning trends in dog health and welfare linked to the rise in ownership of brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldogs, and we are unequivocal in the need for all those with roles to play – including vets, breeders, breed societies, the pet-buying public as well as others – to take action to combat the health problems that brachycephalic breeds experience due to extreme conformation. These issues include severe lifelong breathing difficulties, corneal ulcers, skin disease, a screw-shaped tail which is linked to painful spine abnormalities, and the inability to give birth naturally. As part of their pre-purchase research, prospective dog owners should consider the health harms perpetuated in dogs by purchasing brachycephalic breeds and choose a healthier alternative breed, or crossbreed, instead, and local veterinary practices are ideally placed to give this advice. Brachycephalic dogs should not be seen as cute or desirable, rather as dogs predisposed to a lifetime of poor health, and English bulldogs should not be hailed as a national symbol for the UK where animal welfare is strongly valued.

“Vets have a duty to always prioritise the best interests of their pet patients, which, for affected animals, can involve performing surgical procedures to correct conformational disorders.  They have a concurrent duty to be part of initiatives that aim to address the health and welfare of a breed beyond the individual affected animal. This is why BVA promotes the importance of vets submitting data on caesarean sections and conformation-altering surgery to the Kennel Club, to improve the future of dog health and welfare. We recognise and take seriously vets’ responsibility to develop and contribute to all such initiatives that aim to address the health and welfare of these animals and we will continue to work with all stakeholders who can positively influence and improve the health and welfare of brachycephalic breeds”


  1. Those Leavitt bulldogs are absolutely gorgeous.
    Stunning dogs, I hope they never get recognized <3

    1. They're okay. Still not normal dogs, though. When will people understand that you can only bend an animal so far before it breaks? The kennel club mindset is now ruining dogs all over the world. So frustrating.

    2. On the breeders page they have better images, the nose is still a bit short and compressed, but I love the athleticism of their dogs.

  2. Breeders and the KC need to get rid of this concept of purity, the idea that out crossing is a negative last resort is madness. It should be routine. Unfortunately I think Max Planck put it best:

    "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

    1. When you think of it, Since its inception the K.Cs have been pushing the message that "WE" shouldn't be breeding Dogs.

      The K.Cs only should breed dogs. Through adhering to the 'standards' guaranteed by pedigrees.

      Never mind a DOG for any purpose - The Standards of closed pedigrees ARE the purpose.

      Its nothing more than a belief system thats been imposed on us all, and blow any science that dares to dispute.

  3. As with so many other breeds that have been `fashionly` in bred, the only future for these poor dogs is extinction. I have Cavalier King Charles that have suffered the same fate with a host of in bred health issues. The `breeders` should be ashamed!

    1. Why did you get a cavalier if you knew about the health problems?

    2. Many don't know aboutthe health issues, or know there are some but don't realise how severe and pervasive they are in the breed. It is the lack of the extensive advertising campaign they mention in the article. Particularly true if you go a decade or two back... these things have only increasingky beginning to become public knowledge fairly recently. Also, your comment sounds a bit aggressive although it may be meant as an honest question, and there isn't really a place for attacking people retrospectively who say they have learned some hard lessons

    3. It's meant as an honest question.

      I think rather than aggressive you meant blunt since there were no aggressive words used and it's impossible to convey tone or inflection in a piece of text.

      I was curious why someone would be so angry at the breeders that they themselves funded (unless of course it was a rescued dog in which case it makes more sense).

      I'm not attacking anyone; "Graham" made a public comment that I replied to with a question. If he doesn't want to answer the question he's perfectly within his rights to just ignore it (which so far he has).

      There is certainly more research done now on the breed health and genetics issue but I assure you that the information that pedigrees (and particularly certain breeds) were genetically unhealthy, suffered physical deformity, and lived shorter lives was accessible over 15 years ago because I remember having a discussion about it (which turned into an argument) with a show labrador breeder when I was only about 16.

      Perhaps it wasn't "advertised" but it was certainly out there if you looked for it (and still is). Something doesn't have to be "public knowledge" for an individual to research it for themselves.

    4. It may have been out there, but 1st you have know what you are looking for.

      Most breed information sites gloss over the health issues with a comment that "Good breeders will scan and test for health issues, so seek a reputable REGISTERED pedigree breeder".

      Theres been the implication that once you have found a registered breeder with any sort of cudos, be that show wins or word of mouth, those issues won't be problem.

      The pervasiveness of the issues is NOT public knowledge.
      Most people who are not already deeply involved with dogs in social way think once they have read breed descriptions they have done their home work.

  4. Good riddance - I don't like any of the brachy breeds - we're better off without them anyway.

    1. I think they can make great pets, but I don't think thats enough of a reason to breed animals with a short nose and a ton of health problems.
      There should be a law that you are not allowed to breed dogs with noses below 2 inches,
      or with more than 10% COI,
      and that certain health tests should be compulsory...
      And there should be an open pedigree for all breeds.
      And there should be fitness tests for all dogs
      And you are not allowed to breed dogs which have failed health tests
      And there should be outcross programs for all breeds that preserve the important characteristics of the breed.
      And the dog must be able to perform its original purpose via a test (where safe and humane, e.g. lure coursing, barn hunt etc. as opposed to hunting)

      I could actually go on all day thinking about it.

    2. Sunny Dogs, you can't cross breed NOT outcross (outcrossing is breeding two dogs of the same breed who are unrelated in the first 5 gens of their pedigree) & preserve breed type. You'll always get throw backs. Not only that but you are adding bad genes as well as what you desired. Let's say you breed a Dobe x GSD you just increased the risk of the pups having DCM since both breeds are prone to it. Wanna breed a Doxie to a Cocker opps you just increased the risk of PRA in the pups (along with recreating the breeding that originally produced the longhaired Doxie lol).

    3. sorry,
      Outcross programs with a different breed* <- correction

      better? :)

    4. Well, the Dobie has 60% risk of DCM, IDK what the german shepherds risk is, but probably not 60%
      Aka, the average would go down in the outcross. Also, who would outcross with a breed which also has the ailment? Huh?
      That would be poor design.

    5. Also, if you don't inbreed the dogs, and don't popularize the sire (which is what probably happened drastically with the original cocker x Doxie, if there was one dog that carried the longhair gene, all longhaired dogs must have that single dog in their ancestry)
      And really work to health test the parents outcrossed as well, the recessive genes of that first dog will have a 25% chance of being passed on to the offspring, and if one dog from each litter is bred from with no inbreeding, then it would be difficult for the gene to spread very far.

    6. Celtic I'm sorry to say you're talking rubbish. You won't "always get throwbacks" any more than any breed today "always gets throwbacks" to the original breeds that were crossed to make them.

      All breeds around today except a small subset of landrace breeds were created by crossing two or more different breeds.

      Why are we not seeing throwbacks in every single breed?
      And if we ARE then what's the problem? Deal with it by not breeding from the throwbacks / neutering them. Easy.

    7. Sunny Dogs, health testing is useful, not the solution the KC and breeders make it out to be.

    8. @Anon
      Lol, I know that, but at the same time, no one ever has said you should never health test, its good to do along with dramatically increasing genetic diversity,
      I'd like you to find a single genetics expert who says health testing is of no importance whatsoever.

      In my opinion, health testing should not remove dogs from the genepool, but allow offspring to be selected that do not have the harmful mutation.
      That way you don't remove dogs that would otherwise greatly benefit the breed, and you still have "safe" dogs.

    9. Lucu i have a french bulldog also knows as health prob dogs and guess what? No problems :)

    10. you obviously have not met some of the non inbred healthy Bulldogs about my 9 year old Bulldog, runs as fast as any dog, she takes stairs 3 at a time, & only pants when she's excited, or with any other dog when it's hot, they are a lovely healthy breed if bred by a decent person, who does it for the love of the breed & not for the money as some who interbreed or even cross with another even less healthy dog to get a so called exotic Bulldog, it is these types of Bulldogs that give the breed a bad name.

      the actual correctly bred Bulldog has a lifespan of 11 years plus, & I have owned rescue Bulldogs for over 23 years, & have never had a Bulldog die younger than 11 years of age & all of them died in their sleep, so unless you personally know the breed, you should not comment on what you know nothung about

  5. I guess it is worth pointing out that improving any breed by outcrossing can take more time than doing so by internal means if the genetic variation exists. This is because the latter is much more acceptable to breeders. It is likely that you will start off with only a very few breeders willing to accept any offspring of an outcross whereas all may take advice on the best in breed crosses. So getting genes from outcrosses spread throughout the breed may take a while. Ideally we need a route that uses both. Practicality again, I 'm afraid.

    1. I don't think it's an either/or. Every approach needs to be pursued - including efforts at reducing demand for Bulldogs and education on the best way to minimise the health risks for those already on the ground.

      We also need to see stronger leadership from the Kennel Club. As you (and many others know) the breed clubs refuse to consider changing the breed standards or introduce minimum muzzle lengths.

      The vets are fed-up of treating these dogs and the informed public is fed up of hearing them wheeze as they walk by.

      Hopefully this media maelstrom will exert pressure for more to be done.

  6. Yes! Common sense might win after all. Thanks to PDE.

  7. The 1953 Pathe clip on the BB is interesting
    Even at that time, according to this video, the life expectancy for bulldogs was only 6 years.
    Looks like the primary damage to the breed was done way back in the 19th century when bull bating was banned . . . and became entrenched when people revived and began to popularize the breed as a romantic notion of what a bull dog should be.

  8. What we could do with now is a storyline in Eastenders where their bulldog suffers health problems and they replace it with an outcrossed version. It would bring the story to millions. Any chance of that Jemima?

    Chris R.

  9. Is there denial in the Bulldog community. I visited the Facebook group, Keeping the Bulldog Beautiful to get their take. I was somewhat surprised that this latest research was even posted in the group but it was. After 20 hours of being posted in their group (approximately 8000 members), there were only 10 comments. Here are snippets from the comment section:

    “I have one 12 and one lived to be 14 so its the breeding for sure”

    “A vet in the US did research on 150 puppies. From that he decided, all Bullies are ready for the knackers yard. Perhaps he should take himself off to the knackers yard.”

    One out of the 10 comments showed an understanding of the latest research. The other nine were clueless. A common theme in the comments was - blaming the “non reputable breeders,” as opposed to acknowledging that the standard calls for a defected animal.

    Based on the relatively small sample size of Bulldog fanciers that I found in this particular Facebook page, there is a strong denial among Bulldog breeders.

    A few months ago, I started blogging. My initial intent was to blog about the health of the “purebred” dog. I have since changed the focus of my blogging because I have nothing to add since your blog says it all. Jemima keep up the fight.

  10. I like the idea of multiple fronts in the campaign to educate the public, get the club to change the standards, and to help the breeders see what they are really doing.

    1. Changing standards was the theme in the 1980's. Did nothing.

    2. All dog breeds will be on the verge of extinction soon enough and people will have to admit that the whole idea of a physical standard in the first place is ludicrous.

  11. "Thing is if you introduce other breeds you are destroying the good character of the bulldog"

    Ha ha, yes, hold onto that sad dysfunctional breed at all costs, a stuffed toy also has an excellent character, fortunately it cant feel pain and suffering. There certainly is a degree of very sad naivety and fear at play here. Add functionality and you are destroying character, woe betide our bulldogs get all functional on us. Next it will be squirting out puppies naturally and actually breathing.

    We turned it into a large dysfunctional sad suffering blob and that's the way we like it...

    Anyway I think we might be well on our way to a Kennel club bypass on this one as many countries already have alternative bulldogs and even quite a selection of them.

    The message needs to be spread, these headlines are fantastic news of for the bulldog, of course. Lets hope more than just a glimmer of hope for those show bred bulldogs. Now if the Mastiff had the same National cachet in the physche of the British public.......

    1. You could probably select the dogs with the more bulldog-like temperament as well and then backcross to the bulldog, choose the most bulldog-like from the litter, perhaps cross with a few other outcrossed bulldogs, and continue until you are happy to outcross again.
      As well as choosing a very health breed with as similar of a temperament as you can get, perhaps even with members of that breed which are more bulldog-like than average.

      Thats how the bulldog was made in the first place, minus the outcrossing. I don't see why it wouldn't work again xD

    2. If you bred them with longer noses and legs their temperaments would become more energetic, more interested in the world, and more assertive (and perhaps more aggressive and mouthy too).

      The physical structure of an animal partially determines it's behaviour - a dog with long legs and a slim build is soon going to find out it can run fast and enjoy doing so. A dog with a long snout will notice smells more than one with a short snout and will spend more time with it's nose to the ground. A dog with good vision that can spot moving targets a mile off will want to chase moving targets more than one who doesn't notice them so much. A dog who is short, heavy set, fat, with a smushed face soon realises it cannot run or walk much and it's only comfortable when it's lazing on a sofa.

      I don't know a single naturally shaped breed with the laziness of a bulldog - that's because the laziness is induced by the structure, it's not something inherent in the brain of the dog (the original bulldogs looked and acted like pit bulls).

      The truth is you won't get a dog with the exact temperament of the bulldog with a healthy structure. You might get something close, but it won't be exactly the same.

      Now I think that's a good thing, but I'm sure (at least some) breed fanatics would disagree.

    3. Im not sure what the Bulldog character is in fact but Im sure if you steer clear of aggression you should be fine. I've know bulldogs to be very feisty, hyper and noisy and quite frankly dangerous around food.....

      " Make no mistake about it, English Bulldogs are grossly deformed."

      You wouldn't have read something like that just a few years ago!

  12. None of us have any idea WHAT the true temperament or character of the Bulldog is supposed to be. Because they are virtually on a sickbed and dying every moment of their lives, nobody knows what their temperaments would be like if they could move and breathe like a healthy dog.

    Just as any semi-comatose human patient on a hospital bed is much like another, it would be hard to judge if those semi-comatose patients "would have been" great surgeons, architects, musicians, etc.

    With bulldogs, there is zero personality to see or to try to conserve if reestablishing the breed--the current bulldog is spending 95% of its time just trying to keep upright and breathing without passing out.

    1. Good point. Underneath all that some people seem to think it's an absolute darling. Who rightly knows whats lurking in that dysfunctional blob. I do know that the most I've seen out and about seem to be extraordinarily stoic and will literally fall down dead before giving up on their Sunday stroll in the Park. Which is very sad of course. Some it seems just give up and live to eat instead which is also sad, these you don't see much off of course but from what I have read there are a lot of them around too.

      I think there could actualy be a bit of a latent pit bull lurking in there somewhere maybe this is the character show breeders are terrified to give reign in a functional body? Who knows. Certainly their deformities are masking the dog in there what ever it still is.

  13. Same old crap from the KC though isn't it? Asked if they will change breed standards or ban these deformed dogs in the ring and the answer is always some variation of "We must work with breeders to bring them along with us..." , which roughly translates into "NO!".


  14. so . . . how do we convince the University of Georgia that their teams have a sick mascot? See eg.

    I really don't get the bulldog 'thing'. But there's no denying it's there. (I don't get why people like D. Trump either . . . but I'm sure he'll take Georgia).


    1. I don't know if anyone saw that brilliantly funny ancient serie "Green Acres" Eva Gabor, Arnold the pig etc, well there was a snake oil salesman in it called Mr Heini. Mr Trump to a T. If you haven't it's not too late, get it and be truly entertained.

      I don't think Americans are quite so stupid enough to vote Mr Trump President. It might even be good for democracy if millions turn out who wouldn't normaly even vote to stop Trump. Not sure they would given they aren't inclined to vote in the first place but who knows. Interesting times.

      Georgia needs to do the right thing and get an all improved Bulldog, it would do so much to help the breeds cause.

    2. Oops that's to say of course that I don't think Americans are stupid at all, and it's all rather embarrassing instead but quite normal in a democracy, untless Trump wins of course.....

      How to explain the ground swell of support Trump has received so far is quite perplexing, though. From where I'm coming from at least. Maybe you need to be a Republican, religiously and otherwise generaly bigoted, gun touting, mysogenist amongst other things. No not terribly bright but then we can only hope it won't turn out to be the majority.

      The politics of qualzucht are far worse.

  15. It's hard to convince the Georgia fans that their Bulldog needs to stop breeding the way its been. You can point to the obvious pictures of UGA I and II and note that the life spans of the next UGA's got shorter and shorter. Point to the Georgia students who want UGA to be healthier at the cost of the "correct" form of a bulldog.

    You can point all that, and yet the caregiver of UGA will deny all of that and continue to breed sick UGAs. Probably by the time I'm an old man UGA XXX will be coronated.

  16. The times have changed, and the are changing our way more and more. For example: in 1970 Dog Fancy magazine came out, for people in the 'dog fancy', of course! It change to Dogster in February of 2015. On its Facebook page, it has an article by Theresa Cramer entitled "I think we should stop breeding purebred dogs". A bit extreme, but that is the conclusion that so many dog lovers get after meeting sickly or deformed purebreds. I guess the message is: Improve or your very hobby might be no more.

  17. I've been in dog sports, including conformation, for decades. I used to be one of the purebred dog snobs. And in my defense, I did have long-lived healthy breeds with non-exaggerated structures.

    I discovered PDE a few years ago, right around the time I took up showing dahlias (a type of flower). Thanks to both PDE and dahlias, I have a more balanced perspective now.

    With dahlias, there have been about 20,000 named varieties. Maybe 300 of these are tried and true "purebreds" that are propagated by tuber year after year around the world; each a clone of the parent plant. Some less popular "purebreds" may be grown by a few families in a single village.

    In addition, to improve on current cultivars and to find the next really cool flower, dahlia breeders are constantly collecting seeds growing out these new hybrids (most of which occur randomly from any two plants in the garden). The best seedlings become named varieties, some of which will still be propagated by tubers a hundred years from now. Many other seedlings are tried, found lacking, and taken out of the gene pool after one generation.

    Dahlia growers may have their purebred favorites, but would never consider it a travesty to make a hybrid in an attempt to improve form, color, stem length, etc. On the contrary, those growers that produce and test hybrids are the most esteemed and knowledgeable of all dahlia growers.

    After joining the dahlia world, I now find it ludicrous that hybrid dog breeders are reviled and punished by kennel clubs and dog owners. I recently found out a purebred dog breeder had allowed her health-tested, registered stud dog to produce a few litters of "hybrids" for competitive flyball. At least half of the 30 fastest flyball dogs in the USA go back to that stud dog. For this, the breeder had her KC membership revoked and she was fined and had to remove all mention of the dogs' accomplishments from her website. Now her website only mentions the purebred litters that her stud dog was involved in, despite that fact that none of those purebreds made it into the top 30.

    What a crazy world...

  18. Just testing. Every time I'm in South East Asia my posts never make it. I can read the blog Ok so that's fine.....can't imagine, maybe they get caught up in the censorship filters out here or something. Africa I have the same problem....