The RSPCA is calling on breeders of British Bulldog to improve the health and welfare of their dogs, insisting an extreme breed standard has been ignored for over 30 years.
The popular breed has come under the spotlight from the animal welfare organisation, who have highlighted the serious health issue faced by brachycephalic or flat-face dogs like bulldogs and pugs.
“We all love these happy little dogs, and we want to see them live long and healthy lives,” said RSPCA Scientific Officer (Companion Animals) Dr Bronwyn Orr, who was interviewed by The Feed on SBS VICELAND.
“Sadly, that’s not the case right now, as many suffer from serious health issues that are completely preventable, and due only to the way we’ve bred them to look.”
Dr Orr said breeders of British Bulldogs are in a unique position to improve standards immediately.
“Ironically, British Bulldogs are arguably the most severely impacted of these breeds – and yet, Australian breeders have had access to a more moderate breed standard since 1987 that, unbelievably, they’ve chosen not to adopt,” she said.
“Breeders of British Bulldogs can choose right now to move away from the incredibly extreme standard that’s responsible for many of these problems.”
The current breed standard for British Bulldogs calls for a head that is “strikingly massive” and a skull that is ‘very large - the larger the better’.
The standard also says “Viewed at the side, the head should appear … very short from its back to the point of the nose” and the face should be “extremely short”.
As a result of being bred to this standard, almost no British Bulldogs are able to give birth naturally and many are generally unable to swim well.
The flat face often means they’re unable to breathe or sleep properly – as evidenced by loud breathing and snoring - or cool themselves, meaning they also face a high risk of death from heat distress.
“Already, we’re seeing brands that use these breeds of dog in media, entertainment and advertising facing a backlash from the community, as awareness of these problems starts to escalate,” said Dr Orr.
“If breeders don’t recognise and act to address these issues now, the chorus of criticism and loss of trust from the community is only going to grow.”