The future of the beloved English bulldog is under threat, as suggested by a genetic study. Too much inbreeding led to Bulldogs not having enough diversity in their gene pool. This is risky for the pups’ future health. Researchers from the University of California reported these genetic problems in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.
Apparently, English Bulldogs are a breed in need. Inbreeding brought them to a turning point. Scientists reached their conclusions after conducting a broad-based survey of the breed’s genetic diversity, with the help of DNA research. Professor Niels Piedersen, from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, pointed out that there is a host of different problems which come with their structure and inbreeding. Scientists were not surprised to find the dogs lacked genetic diversity.
Because people wanted a more stocky build and a shorter snout, Bulldogs have been selectively bred. But the genome was weakened by this perpetual selection of appearance and had no energy to deal with other, more pressing problems like debilitating health issues.
Commonly occurring English bulldog health problems are trouble with breathing, because of the dog’s facial structure, and complications with their layered skin.
Some of the furrows in the skin can absorb moisture inside and get infected. In time, their skeletons have been modified by selective breeding, to the point that many bulldogs have become deformed.
Many have joint diseases, like hip or elbow dysplasia, or ruptures of the spine.
All these structure changes and the breathing problems contribute to difficulties in giving birth regularly. Now, many dogs of this breed need C-section.
Overall, the viability of the breed is probably going to collapse. These dogs also have immunity problems, like allergies, their tails which are made to look like corkscrews get infected often, and they are inclined to get ear infections and dental problems too, because of the lower jaw pressing forward.
English Bulldogs live less than other dogs, because of their multiple health problems. In generally, one of these dogs lives for about six years. Not many pass the age of eight.
To compare, mutts can live fifteen to seventeen years. Research also revealed that fewer bulldog puppies survive. There is an ongoing debate between English bulldog breeders and animal rights activists, who want the animals to breed with other types of dogs, to expand the gene pool.
This could lead to improvements in health and life expectancy, but the dogs will probably look a bit different.
Image Source – Wikipedia