Albert Lea’s Vet Addresses Rising English Bulldog Popularity and Health Issues

June 23—Tillman knew how to skateboard. Spike is a television deuteragonist. And Uga has been roaming around the University of Georgia since 1956. And while they don’t seem to have much in common, all three are bulldogs, which, according to Daniel W. Smith, a doctor of veterinary medicine at the Albert Lea Veterinary Clinic, have seen their popularity grow in recent times. And this popularity can be detrimental to real dogs.

According to a recent BBC article, the Royal Veterinary College has called for urgent action on behalf of the English bulldog, which is suffering from health issues due to its exaggerated features.

“English Bulldogs fall into a category of what are considered brachycephalic breeds,” Smith said.

Brachycephalic breeds have short muzzles and include Pugs, French Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, and Mastiffs.

“What happens when they have a shortened muzzle is that there are three conditions in what’s called brachycephalic syndrome,” he said.

These types of dogs have stenotic nostrils, which means their nasal openings are small.

“They have to breathe harder to get air in, and as puppies we will assess that and if they have small airways, when they’re spayed or spayed, it’s a simple thing to use a laser and open them up a bit so now they have a bit less of that closed nose,” he said.

English Bulldogs will also have an elongated and thick soft palate, which means they might struggle to suck in air.

“Then they’re going to have to breathe harder and that’s going to make more vibrations from the soft palate to the back of the throat,” he said. “That will often lead to a third part of brachycephalic syndrome which is the tonsil – dogs have tonsils – and they roll over, they go right out into the airways. So now they have even less room to breathe.”

So even under light exercise, bulldogs can have trouble breathing. And according to Smith, just sitting in hot weather could give them heat stroke.

“Dogs of course cool themselves by passing air over the nasal turbinates,” he said.

And short-faced dogs – brachycephalic breeds – have less with their small noses, which means they have more difficulty cooling down.

He said the bulldog was originally intended for bull baiting and would fight a bull in a ring, using its mouth to grab the animal’s nose and hold on. He also thought that the features of today’s bulldogs were more exaggerated.

Along with respiratory issues, Bulldogs can have issues with their facial folds, which can create wet patches between coats and cause dermatitis.

Some will also have corkscrew tails where dermatitis can accumulate. And straight-legged bulldogs can have knee problems, which can lead to a torn ACL, which Smith said he’s seen frequently in bulldogs.

According to Smith, French Bulldogs are the second most popular dog breed in America, while the English Bulldog is also in the top five. He suspected that the reasons for the bulldog’s rise in popularity were their appearance and perhaps their sign of wealth in society. French bulldogs cost at least $1200, and he said the same could be said for English bulldogs.

“When breeders are more interested in selling puppies than in breeding a dog that has a little more nose or a little less trouble, well, you have a crowd of people buying popular breeds. .. then you have a whole host of dogs and dog owners who maybe don’t understand what it’s like to have a dog like this,” he said.

Smith said most owners of these types of dogs understand that they can’t expect long walks from the breed, especially in hot weather, but he said there are some dogs that could adapt to less exercise.

“There are a variety of bulldog-like breeds that are different from the English bulldog,” he said. “There’s the Old American Bulldog, which is a larger, longer legged breed with a less flat face.”

Smith said these types have fewer health issues, but admitted some will have elongated soft palates and difficulty breathing, a fact he said owners of the breed should be aware of. French bulldogs also had the same problems as English bulldogs, but were more prone to suffer from seizures and epilepsy, which he said were difficult to control.

But depending on the age of the dog, there are procedures to help the bulldog. These include a resection of the soft palate.

“Doing an operation on the back of the throat is a bit tricky, there is some risk involved,” he said.

Another way to help is to be selective about the bulldog you buy.

“Look at the adults,” he said. “If they [breathe hard] or are they pretty normal with their breathing? If they are breathing normally, maybe their pup will be the same way, or maybe not. But there’s a better chance than the offspring of those dogs who had a bit more time to breathe. [have a better time breathing themselves].”

But he also admitted it would be difficult to get breeders to do so as the bulldog’s popularity increases.

“It’s how they’re bred to look,” he said. “I’m sure a lot of that is for the show ring. Show dogs have certain standards, judges have certain standards.

“So maybe the solution should start with people judging.”

He suggested that maybe having dogs that were “too much, illustrating that flat face and respiratory issues” should be disqualified and no longer considered a breeding standard.

Smith said breeding selected with less problem dogs having an elongated soft palate or closed nose holes could also help.

Smith said one in 10 bulldogs he sees have bad breathing problems.

He said one way to help their bulldog is to keep them lean.

“We have big dog syndrome,” he said, referring not just to bulldogs but to dogs in general. “There are too many, it’s an epidemic.”

According to Smith, two out of three dogs he sees are overweight.

“When they have more weight, they breathe harder, and they have to put in extra effort and it all just makes things worse,” he said.

He said a good way to measure your dog’s weight is to see if you can feel his ribs.

“If you can’t feel their ribs…they’re probably overweight.”

He also said it was important to know the breed’s expectations and said you shouldn’t take a flat-faced dog on a long walk or any type of walk on a very hot day, and he said not to expect them to play or run. for 30 minutes outdoors.

“I think it’s been a problem for a long time,” he said. “Vets have recognized for some time that the breed has grown in popularity. Five years ago now it was 20th in the popularity chart, something like that.”

Smith said that despite their health issues, English Bulldogs were “delicious” and said they hardly ever bite, were friendly and social. They also didn’t need much exercise and tended to become overweight from being overfed.

“They’re just nice dogs,” he said. “It’s just that people have to be aware of a) what the race is going to bring – it’s not going to be athletic.”