Could the English Bulldog be nearing extinction? With the face of a lovable grump, the popular English Bulldog has one of the sweetest temperaments around. But now he has genuine cause to look so worried.
A new research by scientists at the University of California, Davis’ Center for Companion Animal Health has discovered that the breed is sorely missing the genetic diversity necessary to continue as a breed. Modern breeding techniques have created a dog that is closer than ever to the superficial standards imposed upon the breed, but at a risk: Of the 102 healthy dogs included in the study, nearly 80 percent were more genetically similar than if their parents had been siblings.
Few bulldogs are able to give live birth or conceive without artificial insemination. The breed also holds the silver medal for puppy mortality thanks to congenital defects like splayed legs and cleft palates, while adults must deal with hip and elbow dysplasia and spinal curvature. The study claims that the even the healthiest of English bulldog puppies have a lifespan of less than 8.5 years, with six being the average of a purebred.
“I think the English bulldog in its present and worst state is doomed,” the lead author of the study, Niels Pedersen, wrote, adding that the team was “taken aback” by the state of the breed’s genetics. “We definitely would question whether further attempts to physically diversify the English bulldog, for example, by rapidly introducing new, rare coat colors; making the body smaller and more compact; or adding further wrinkles in the coat; are going to improve the already tenuous genetic diversity of the breed.”