French bulldogs are more at risk of common health disorders than other breeds
Selectively breeding away from these health issues, could mean that French Bulldogs start to look different in the future.
French Bulldogs are more likely to be diagnosed with 20 common health disorders when compared to other dog breeds, a new study published in the journal Canine Medicine and Genetics has found. Among the health concerns, researchers found this included a greater proclivity towards narrowed nostrils, obstructive airways syndrome, ear discharge and skin dermatitis.
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But it’s not all bad news. They also found that French Bulldogs are less likely to be diagnosed with 11 out of the 43 specific disorders when compared to other breeds. For example, they are much less likely to experience undesirable behaviour, lameness and obesity. This suggests the breed has the potential to move towards a healthier profile over time, with researchers proposing a move towards breeding for more moderate traits.
Selectively breeding away from the high-risk physical features of the breed, could improve the overall health of the French Bulldog, researchers say. This could include moving away from shorter muzzles and skin folds, as well as lessening the risks of breathing issues associated with the typical shorter muzzle and flat head of the breed.
Using reports from veterinary practices across the UK, the team from the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire, examined records from 2,781 French Bulldogs and 21,850 other dog breeds in the VetCompass programme.
Dan O’Neill, a co-author of the study and Senior Lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College, said: “Achieving meaningful changes to the typical look of French Bulldogs over time requires buy-in from breeders and kennel clubs who publish breeding standards, but the biggest responsibility lies with owners who ultimately can demand dogs with more moderate features.”
And there’s potentially more good news for the future of the breed: “The Kennel Club has recently updated the breed standard for the French Bulldog to move further away from elements of extreme conformation with evidence of health ill-effects. This is a very positive step to prioritise the health of dogs over human desires for how these dogs look and we must now continue this evolution of the breed towards a more moderate conformation,” O’Neill said.
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