Tag Archives: English Bulldog

Love is Blind – Health is Real

I’ve been practising for ten years now and, during this time, I’ve seen a fair number of the brachycephalic breeds including Pugs, French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs.  These breeds can have a lot of health problems.

In 2016, the Australian Veterinary Association and the RSPCA Australia joined forces to produce the Love is Blind campaign.  Watch this short 3 minute video:

The message is fairly clear – consumer preference is driving the breeding of these dogs.  So increase the understanding of the health implications consequences of that cute, squishy face, and change the breeding standards, too.

In the show ring, it’s suggested that you give the blue ribbon to the healthiest dog.  Not a bad idea.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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DNA influences face shape

A study of dog DNA has revealed a genetic mutation linked to flat face shapes such as those seen in pugs and bulldogs.

The research reveals new insights into the genes that underpin skull formation in people and animals.  Scientists say their findings also shed light on the causes of birth defects that affect babies’ head development in the womb.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute analysed DNA samples from 374 pet dogs of various pedigree and mixed breeds. The dogs were being treated at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

All of the animals underwent body scans as part of their care, producing detailed 3-dimensional images of the dogs’ heads.  These high-resolution images — called CT scans — enabled the researchers to take precise measurements of the shape of the dog’s skull.

By comparing the dogs’ genetic information with measurements of their skulls, the team were able to pinpoint DNA variations that are associated with different head shapes.

One variation — found to disrupt the activity of a gene called SMOC2 — was strongly linked to the length of the dog’s face. Animals with the mutation had significantly flatter faces, a condition called brachycephaly.

Babies are sometimes born with brachycephaly too, though little is known about its causes. Scientists say screening children for changes in the SMOC2 gene could help to diagnose the condition.

Lead researcher Dr Jeffrey Schoenebeck, of the University’s Roslin Institute, said: “Our results shed light on the molecular nature of this type of skull form that is so common and popular among dogs.”

Source:  University of Edinburgh news

Scientists warn about health of English Bulldog

According to new research it could be difficult to improve the health of the English bulldog, one of the world’s unhealthiest dog breeds, from within its existing gene pool. The findings will be published in the open access journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.

The English bulldog’s limited genetic diversity could minimize the ability of breeders to recreate healthy phenotypes from the existing genetic stock, which were created by human-directed selection for specific desired physical traits.

English Bulldog

Many large regions of the bulldog’s genome have been altered to attain the extreme changes in its outward appearance. This includes significant loss of genetic diversity in the region of the genome that contains many of the genes that regulate normal immune responses. Despite this, the English bulldog is one of the most popular dog breeds, particularly in the US, where the bulldog was the fourth most popular pure breed in 2015.

Lead author, Niels Pedersen from Center for Companion Animal Health, University of California, US, said: “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. More people seemed to be enamoured with its appearance than concerned about its health. Improving health through genetic manipulations presumes that enough diversity still exists to improve the breed from within, and if not, to add diversity by outcrossing to other breeds. We found that little genetic ‘wiggle room’ still exists in the breed to make additional genetic changes.”

Pedersen adds: “These changes have occurred over hundreds of years but have become particularly rapid over the last few decades. Breeders are managing the little diversity that still exists in the best possible manner, but there are still many individuals sired from highly inbred parents. Unfortunately eliminating all the mutations may not solve the problem as this would further reduce genetic diversity. We would also question whether further modifications, such as rapidly introducing new rare coat colors, making the body smaller and more compact and adding more wrinkles in the coat, could improve the bulldog’s already fragile genetic diversity.”

This is the first broad-based assessment of genetic diversity in the English bulldog using DNA analysis rather than pedigrees. DNA analysis is needed to measure, monitor and maintain genetic diversity. This has been done in several other breeds including Standard and Miniature Poodles, American Golden Retrievers, and American and European Italian Greyhound.

The researchers sought to identify whether there is enough genetic diversity still existing within the breed to undertake significant improvements from within the existing gene pool. The researchers examined 102 English bulldogs, 87 dogs from the US and 15 dogs from other countries. These were genetically compared with an additional 37 English bulldogs presented to the US Davis Veterinary Clinical Services for health problems, to determine that the genetic problems of the English bulldogs were not the fault of commercial breeders or puppy mills.

Many Swiss breeders have started to outcross the breed with the Olde English Bulldogge (an American breed) to create the Continental Bulldog, hoping to improve the breed’s health. Although outcrossing the English bulldog could improve its health, many breeders feel that any deviations from the original standard will no longer be an English bulldog.

The breed started from a relatively small genetic base with a founder population of 68 individuals after 1835 and has undergone a number of human created artificial bottlenecks (drastic reductions in population size). These could also have greatly diminished genetic diversity.

Source:  BioMed Central media release

Friday Funny: Benny the Bulldog plays peek-a-boo

A short video to say ‘Yeah, it’s Friday!’

The Kaptin of Tips Hair

If you’re in Boston and need a hair cut, then the place to go is Tips Hair salon, located on Dartmouth Street in the South End.  There you will find Kaptin, an English Bulldog who is the salon’s mascot:

Photo copyright Tips Hair Boston

Photo copyright Tips Hair Boston

Kaptin is a girl and she spends her day sitting in the window watching all of the activity on Dartmouth Street!

Anatomy 101: brachycephalic dogs

I was at a lunch last week and I was talking about brachycephalic dogs.  One fellow asked, ‘brachy what?’

Brachycephalic dogs are dogs with a short muzzle and generally flat face.   “Brachy” means “shortened” and “cephalic” means “head.”

These features make them very cute. But, this head structure doesn’t leave a lot of room for the nasal passages and palate, which are parts of the anatomy that help breathing.

Most of us who either own a brachycephalic dog or who have seen one at the dog park or elsewhere can identify the ‘brachy snort’ – the sound of a dog that is struggling to breathe.

We all know that dogs help to control their temperature on hot days through panting.  Unfortunately, brachycephalic dogs are inefficient panters and so these dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke.  They are generally not good outdoor dogs during summer because of this.

Some dogs also suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome.  This syndrome is actually a group of upper airway abnormalities.  Brachycephalic syndrome is also known as congenital obstructive upper airway disease and in extreme cases, a veterinary surgeon may do surgery to help correct the abnormalities.

The abnormalities associated with the syndrome include:

  • stenotic nares, which are nostrils that are narrowed
  • elongated soft palate, which is a soft palate that is too long for the mouth and so the length partially blocks the entrance to the back of the throat
  • a hypoplastic trachea, an abnormally narrow windpipe
  • nasopharyngeal abnormalities,  the bone in the dog’s nasal cavity grows incorrectly and this can stop air flow.  This bone helps direct airflow and also helps with heating and humidifying inhaled air.

Because of their breathing difficulties, a brachycephalic breed must be fit and trim no matter what their life stage.  Obesity is a real threat to these dogs.

Since breathing difficulties become worse with strenuous exercise, it’s critically important to balance the dog’s caloric intake with their exercise and look for small opportunities to exercise the dog without causing stress.

Common brachycephalic dog breeds include:

·         English Bulldog

·         Pug

·         Shih Tzu

·         Pekingese

·         Boston Terrier

·         Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

·         Shar Pei

·         Lhasa Apso