Due to centuries of selective breeding, and the efforts of breeders to keep the breed “pure,” the English bulldog has become so inbred it cannot be returned to health without an infusion of new bloodlines, a genetic study says.
The study, appearing in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, reached the stark conclusion that health issues created by human manipulation of the breed could lead to its doom.
“We tried not to be judgmental in our paper. We just said there’s a problem here, and if you are going to decide to do something about it, this is what you’ve got to work with, said co-author Niels Pedersen of the University of California, Davis.
“If you want to re-build the breed, these are the building blocks you have, but they’re very few. So if you’re using the same old bricks, you’re not going to be able to build a new house.” told the BBC.
Pedersen and colleagues from the Center for Companion Animal Health at UC Davis examined the DNA of 102 registered English Bulldogs and found an alarmingly low level of diversity.
That, they say, is the result of a small initial pool of founding dogs, and “bottlenecks” caused by breeding for “desirable” traits like a big head and a short snout.
Those traits have led to many of the breed’s health problems — difficulty breathing, poor mobility and reproductive issues among them.
The researchers say efforts to return the breed to health by using existing bloodlines alone are “questionable.”
Introducing new bloodlines, from outside the breed, are likely the only solution, but many breeders are resistant to that idea.
“The fastest way to get genetic diversity is to outcross to a breed that looks similar but is genetically distinct… Trying to manipulate diversity from within a breed if it doesn’t have much anyway is really very difficult,” Pedersen said. “If all your dogs are highly related to one another, which ones are you going to pick?”
One possibility suggested by the researchers is the Olde English Bulldogge, a 1970s attempt by an American breeder to recreate the healthier working bulldog that existed in England during the early 1800s.
“The English bulldog has reached the point where popularity can no longer excuse the health problems that the average bulldog endures,” Pedersen said in a statement.
The features of today’s English bulldog are the result of hundreds of years of breeding, but changes to the breed’s traits — flatter face, shorter nose, stubbier legs, more skin folds — have become particularly rapid in recent decades, Pedersen said.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 29th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appeal, bloodlines, breed, breeders, breeding, bulldogs, diversity, dna, dogs, english bulldogs, genetics, inbreeding, mixing, niels pedersen, outcross, pets, physical traits, selective breeding, study, uc davis
If you were built like a bowling ball, you too might have a propensity for rolling.
Bulldogs sure seem to.
Sophie was just a two-month old pup when her owners noted how much she liked rolling, caught it on camera and posted it on YouTube. It would turn out to be the first in a series of rolling Sophie videos.
“Usually she just throws herself onto her back and rolls around but the first few times she did it she happened to be on a sloping hill … I just set her down to go potty and as you see in the video, she threw herself down on the ground and rolled down the hill,” her owner wrote in a YouTube post.
“I picked her up, terrified that she had ‘fallen’ down this hill but I put her back down and she just did it again and again, 4 more times with such gusto we realized she was just having a ball! We were a bit afraid that she had ‘issues’ but she’s perfectly fine. We contacted the breeder and it turns out Sophie’s mother did the same thing.”
More recently, another rolling bulldog debuted on the Internet and quickly went viral:
So what’s behind it?
One plausible theory could be, in addition to seeming to enjoy the activity, they may be scratching some itches.
Given how humans have shaped the breed, an English Bulldog — with its short legs, short neck, and non-existent snout — isn’t able to reach too many parts of its body with its paws or mouth.
Human manipulation of the breed has led to far more severe, and less laughable, problems than that, including having heads so large most have to be born through C-sections. But they’ve adapted to the shape we’ve given them — at least in this regard.
They let the ground be their back scratcher. They roll over and squirm around on their backs — even though getting in and out of that position is sometimes a struggle.
To cope with that, they find a good hill, allow momentum do its job, and let the good times roll.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 9th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, back, breeding, breeds, bulldog, bulldogs, dogs, hills, manipulating, pets, reason, rolled, rolling, rolls, scratch, video, videos
Here’s an “infographic” (more graphic than informative, we’d say) that’s popping up a lot on the Internet these days.
It’s from “Knowledge is Beautiful,” a new book by British data-journalist David McCandless.
In it, he crunches data to explain the world, or at least random bits of the world, through graphics that — though they might intimidate those of us who prefer a good old fashioned story — are intended to be entertaining, artful and easy to absorb.
“Every day, every hour, every minute we are bombarded with information, from television, from newspapers, from the Internet, we’re steeped in it. We need a way to relate to it,” his publisher, Harper Collins, writes. The author’s visual presentations “blend the facts with their connections, contexts, and relationships, making information meaningful, entertaining, and beautiful.”
But we’ve got problems and questions with this particular chart — a ranking of the 87 “best” dog breeds.
(To see a full size version, click here.)
For starters, why — when there are about 180 recognized breeds now — did he limit himself to only the 87 most popular breeds?
Is that a more algorithm-friendly number? Is that the most that could fit on a page before it became so cluttered as to be reader unfriendly, or leave us feeling dog bombarded?
The infographic contrasts the popularity of the breeds with what (according to the formula used by McCandless) are the “best” breeds. The best breed, according to the chart, is the border collie. It concludes the bulldog the most “inexplicably overrated” dog breed.
McCandless ranks the 87 dog breeds based on these factors — intelligence, lifespan or longevity, ailments, grooming, appetite and costs.
In a way, at least four of those factors are cost-related, aren’t they?
How much a dog eats and how much grooming he requires both can make him a more expensive proposition, which we can only assume McCandless attaches negative points to.
The Newfoundland, for example, falls into the “inexplicably overrated” quadrant of the the chart — well, most of him does, a little bit of his big head seems to stick outside that border.
We’d hope McCandless considers a longer life span for a dog to be a good thing, worth positive points, but wouldn’t a dog gaining points in that category be losing them in the appetite, grooming and costs categories?
Of course, our biggest is complaint — on top of the sheer stupidity of picking a best dog breed — is that the chart ignores the “best” (and most popular) dog of all, the mutt.
That would complicate matters though, and infographics are all about over-simplifying. And stereotyping, and quanitfying the unquantifiable, and smugly considering yourself an expert based on what your computer has churned out, which infographic perusers should bear in mind, is only as reliable as the data it was fed in the first place.
(Photos: “Knowledge is Beautiful”)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: algorithms, appetite, best, best dog breeds, books, border collies, breeds, bulldogs, chart, compare, computers, contrast, costs, crunching, data, david mccandless, dog, dog breeds, factors, graphic, grooming, infographic, intelligence, knowledge is beautiful, longevity, newfoundlands, numbers, popularity, technology, worst
Bulldogs are not at the top of the list when it comes to dignified behavior, which is why I like them.
So I wouldn’t say this compilation features bulldogs behaving badly — just bulldogs behaving like bulldogs.
For eight years, Fatcat led a life that was the opposite of her name — in many ways.
For starters, she wasn’t a cat.
And, as bulldogs go, she wasn’t too awfully fat.
And, from all appearances, she definitely did not enjoy the kind of lifestyle the term Fatcat name might connote — she wasn’t idly resting in the lap of luxury. Far from it.
Instead, in the eight years after she was stolen as a puppy from the backyard of a home in Memphis, it’s believed she was used to produce puppies, by a less than ethical breeder who dumped her once she got too old.
Until two weeks ago, when she was picked up as a stray and dropped off at a shelter in Arkansas.
There — at the West Memphis Animal Shelter — she was scanned for a microchip, and Harris was tracked down, even though she’d long since moved to the Phoenix area.
Along with the good news, Harris received some bad news. Fatcat was in sad shape due to the years she spent as a baby-making machine — and getting her to Phoenix was going to be a problem.
Fatcat was too big to ride in the cabin of a plane, and between her health problems and her breed — it’s risky to transport short-snouted dogs in a plane’s cargo hold — flying her home wasn’t going to work. Harris, a working single mother, wasn’t sure she could take time off to make the drive.
“I went from the highest high to the lowest low,” she said. Putting Fatcat down was discussed, but before consenting Harris asked the shelter for an extra 24 hours to make the decision.
When she called back the next day to authorize the shelter to euthanize Fatcat, the director of the shelter stopped her short, and offered a suggestion.
A friend of the shelter director who worked with a local rescue group was moving to Scottsdale, and offered to drive Fatcat there.
Harris and Fatcat were reunited last Thursday in a motel parking lot, and between media coverage of the reunion and a GoFundMe.com campaign, donations have poured in — about $6,500 so far — to help pay for Fatcat’s mounting medical bills.
“I am overwhelmed. It is just amazing. People don’t even know me and they are helping me out,” Harris, 34, of Glendale, said. “I’ve even gotten e-mails from the (United Kingdom). … I just don’t know what to say.”
On Monday, Fatcat was checked out by a local veterinarian who found she has heartworms, dental problems and masses around her vulva and anus that need to be removed, according to AzCentral.com
Harris launched the GoFundMe page with a $5,000 goal, and says she plans to donate any surplus to the shelter in Arkansas.
“How do you show gratitude to someone you’ve never met?” Harris wrote on her page. “Even if I don’t have Fatcat home for as long (in terms of her entire lifespan), I feel like the luckiest person in the world right now. I’m just glad she’s finally home.”
(Top photo: Patrick Breen / The Arizona Republic; bottom photo, Fatcat as a puppy, from LaShena Harris’ GoFundMe page)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 21st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, arkansas, breeder, bulldog, bulldogs, campaign, care, cashmere, dog, dogs, donations, english bulldog, expenses, fatcat, go fund me, gofundme, lashena harris, medical, memphis, owner, pets, rescue, returned, reunion, shelter, stolen, tennessee, unethical, veterinary
I’m a proponent of spending more time with your dog, and less with your computer, but here’s an interesting, and interactive, presentation from WNYC in New York, which has mapped out not just what breeds dominate the city’s neighborhoods, but what names as well.
Citywide, the top three female names for dogs are Bella, Princess and Lola; the top male names are Max, Rocky and Lucky and the top breeds are Yorkie, Shih Tzu and Maltese.
(Actually the most popular dog in New York is the mutt, and WYNC does report that elsewhere. Somehow they didn’t rate getting on the map, though.)
What’s the most fun though is scrolling through the boroughs to see where Lola tops Lucy, where Buddy beats Buster as the name of choice, and what breeds are, from neighborhood to neighborhood, most predominant. While Yorkies dominate most areas, there are enclaves where Labs and Chihuahuas and pit bulls are owned in the highest numbers. There’s a major English bulldog contingent in lower Manhattan, and pit bulls are the highest in number in Bed Stuy.
The list is based on information WNYC obtained from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which runs the city’s dog licensing program.
The feature has some other bells and whistles, too, including opportunities to play games and make a t-shirt.
Just after WNYC came out with its map, Gothamist put together an interactive map of its own — this back in January — claiming to show not where the dogs are, but where their poop is, or at least where it’s most complained about. The map shows what neighborhoods have the most barking dog complaints, too.
One wonders what would happen if those two interactive maps were to interact. Would that reveal large dogs named Brutus leave bigger droppings than Chihuahuas named Princess? That Sparky barks more than Snoozy?
Somewhere we have to draw line on all this interactivity with our computers — especially that share of it that’s presenting information that’s just everyday knowledge or common sense or entirely bogus.
In those cases, your time would be better spend interacting with the dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 23rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, barking, boroughs, breeds, bulldogs, chihuahua, complaints, dog, dog waste, dogs, gothamist, interactive, labrador retrievers, maltese, maps, names, neighborhoods, new york city, nyc, pets, pit bulls, poop, popular, popularity, shih-tzu, WNYC, yorkie
As we reported last summer, short-snouted dogs run a far higher risk of death when it comes to air travel, with bulldogs heading the list of cargo hold fatalities, according to federal government statistics.
Bulldogs, pugs and other snub-nosed breeds for whom its harder to take in oxygen accounted for about half of the purebred dog deaths on airplanes in the past five years, the data showed.
Since then two air lines have stop accepting bulldogs as passengers, most recently Delta, which based on its review of animal incidents last year, has opted to no longer carry American, English and French bulldogs.
Of the 16 pets that died on Delta flights in 2010, six were bulldogs.
Animal advocates are praising the decision, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
“We’re pleased that Delta is being attentive and responsive to the particular animal welfare concerns with bulldogs,” said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the Humane Society of the United States. Shipping pets in cargo holds “really should only be a last resort, when absolutely necessary,” he said.
Other major carriers have restrictions on bulldogs and some other breeds, or decline to carry any pets in their cargo holds. AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines only accept pets that fit in under-seat carriers. American Airlines stopped carrying snub-nosed dogs and cats last November.
Delta had already restricted a wide range of snub-nosed breeds from flying in hot weather, including pit bulls, pugs and Persian cats.
U.S. Department of Transportation data shows that 122 dogs died on airlines from May 2005 to May 2010. Of those, 25 were English bulldogs and six were French bulldogs.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air, air lines, air travel, airlines, american bulldogs, animals, bans, breeds, bulldogs, cargo, cargo hold, deaths, delta, dogs, english bulldogs, flying, french bulldogs, health, pets, pugs, restrictions, safety, short, snout, snub-nosed, travel