Too much inbreeding is leading to severe health problems for the patriotic pets. Many suffer breathing difficulties because of their squashed faces. Dr Rowena Packer of the Royal Veterinary College warns that we could lose the breed as we know it.
She said: “We need to fundamentally change the way the bulldog looks.
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“It’s a loved, iconic breed but in its current form it isn’t fit for life, it isn’t fit for function.”
Dr Rowena Packer
“It’s a loved, iconic breed but in its current form it isn’t fit for life, it isn’t fit for function.
“It has too many problems. We need to open up our minds to what a bulldog can look like. We need to reject the extremes. We need to breed with primarily health in mind.
“We need to not be selfish by prioritising how a dog looks above its long-term health and welfare.”
Bulldogs also suffer from skin disorders and eye ulcers.
Rowena predicts their health will get even worse if action isn’t taken to stop inbreeding. She added: “There is no doubt there are some healthy dogs within that population. But there needs to be enough.
“There is a huge issue within British bulldogs of genetic diversity. If we only pick those few that don’t have problems then we potentially have a timebomb of other genetic problems down the line.
“There isn’t a big gene pool to play with because of the strict rules of keeping dogs breeding within a small population.”
Bulldogs puppies can sell for up to £2,500 and are often brought into the UK illegally.