Now BULLDOGS could be banned

The breeding of bulldogs could be banned unless their shape is altered to prevent a host of debilitating conditions — after a study found they are the unhealthiest dog in Britain.

Vets are urging people not to buy one, despite their soaring popularity over the past decade, and animal lovers have also been told not to boast about the dog on social media by posting and liking pictures.

Flat faces bred into English bulldogs can cause a 'lifetime of suffering' and research shows they are more than twice as likely as other dogs to have health problems.

Royal Veterinary College experts said urgent action was needed to reshape the breed back to how it looked in the 1800s and stop the UK joining the list of countries where the dog is banned.

They also want people to stop buying French bulldogs and pugs until the breeding issues in those dogs are addressed. 

The English bulldog was originally developed as a muscular and athletic dog for bull-fighting but has now been bred as a show and companion animal with a short skull, protruding jaw, skin folds, and squat, heavy build. 

Its extreme physical features, including shortened muzzles, folded skin, and a squat body, have led to an increased likelihood of the breed suffering breathing, eye and skin conditions.

This is because of its extreme physical features, including shortened muzzles, folded skin, and a squat body.

The Royal Veterinary College study showed that the English bulldog was more than 38 times more likely than other dogs to get dermatitis in skin folds, nearly 27 times more likely to get an eye condition called 'cherry eye' and over 24 times more likely to have a jutting lower jaw.

It has nearly 20 times the risk of obstructive airways – causing breathing problems – is 13 times more likely to have a cyst between its toes, and has eight times the chance of developing mange.

Dry eye, inward eyelids, foot infections and dermatitis are also common issues in the breed.

The English bulldog has a short lifespan of around eight years, partly due to its health problems. 

The research suggests that the dogs should be bred to have more moderate physical features both for their health and to prevent their breeding being banned.

Countries such as the Netherlands and Norway have restricted the breeding of English Bulldogs in recent years.

Researchers compared the risks of common disorders in English Bulldogs to other dogs by analysing records from veterinary practices across the UK from 2016 using the VetCompass database.

Looking at a random sample of 2,662 English Bulldogs and 22,039 dogs that were not English Bulldogs, they found that English Bulldogs were twice as likely to be diagnosed with at least one disorder than other dogs.

The breed showed predispositions for 24 out of 43 (55.8 per cent) specific disorders.

They were 38.12 times greater risk of developing skin fold dermatitis than other dogs.

They were also at 26.79 times greater risk of developing an eye condition called prolapsed nictitating membrane gland, also called 'cherry eye', where the dog's third eyelid protrudes as a red swollen mass in the lower eye.

English bulldogs were also at 24.32 times greater risk of mandibular prognathism, where the lower jaw is too long relative to the upper jaw, and 19.2 times at risk of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome which can lead to severe breathing problems, compared to other dogs.

However, they were at reduced risk of some conditions such as dental disease, heart murmur and flea infestation compared to other dogs.