Bulldogs were originally sports dogs intended for Bull Baiting – inhumane fight between a bull and a dog. The athletic ancestors of the Bulldogs we know and love today were highly superior in means of strength and agility, and the only resemblance left intact is their bravery, courage, and determination. The reason why Bulldogs changed over time is the human interference and irresponsible breeding contributing to body deformations of all sorts which we are about to explain. The deformities aren’t just an aesthetic issue, but also carry some health problems typical for Bulldogs, Mini Bulldogs, and Bully Breed Dogs.
The brachycephalic syndrome refers to problems related to abnormal respiration in brachycephalic breeds of dogs (breeds with ‘shortened heads’). The anatomy of the bone structures on the head in Bulldogs is altered and there is literally too little space for all the soft tissues to fit in. This makes it hard for Bulldogs to supply their body with enough oxygen because the airways are narrow and the enlarged soft palate blocks the passage of air inside the throat. The symptoms become obvious when the puppy is 6 months of age in the form of panting, loud breathing, discomfort, difficulty eating, and exercise intolerance. Bulldog owners are advised to have their puppy checked by a vet who will determine the degree of the syndrome (all Bulldogs have it) and decide whether or not to elect surgery. The best practice is to prevent your dog from getting overweight as this can worsen the symptoms. The exercise regime shouldn’t be a rigorous one and avoiding humid and hot conditions is the key for keeping you little bully healthy.
Bulldogs really do have a lot of love and joy trapped inside them, but one of the things they also have a lot is skin. The excess amount of skin is folding on all parts of the body, especially the face, neck and around the tail. This way the skin is rubbing and the moisture is trapped inside the crypts of the folds creating perfect conditions for bacteria to grow in. Pathological bacterial growth leads to bacterial skin infection called pyoderma as a result of skin fold dermatitis. Dogs with pyoderma are itchy and have inflamed and red areas on the skin that smell really bad. To prevent this from occurring you need to frequently clean the areas on the skin where infections are most likely to appear and dry them properly. Less frequently Bulldogs may suffer from severe skin allergies, dry skin syndrome, acne or eczema. Because most skin problems in dogs appear similar, make sure you get your dog checked to be diagnosed appropriately.
Cherry eye is a genetic disorder causing the third eyelid gland of the dog to protrude on the outside. It appears like a red, wet and round object on the inside corner of the eye. There can be a protrusion in just one or two of the eyes of the dog. Of all breed, Bulldogs are the most prone to developing a cherry eye. The gland can be put back in place or extracted with a surgical procedure that is mildly invasive. Any case of the cherry eye should be discussed with a veterinarian.
Malformation and inadequate growth of the elbow and hip joints in Bulldogs lead to dysplasia. The conditions can manifest with lameness, chronic pain, and difficulty when standing up, climbing stairs, running or jumping. It’s a hereditary disorder and there are different levels of dysplasia, from mild to severe. Diagnose is confirmed with x-ray images and the level of dysplasia determines whether the dog needs to go to surgery or will only receive preventative treatment. Because the symptoms become apparent after the puppy reaches 6-9 months of age, prior to that the owners must prevent obesity, take the pup for regular walks and possibly give chondroprotectives to minimize the risks or dysplasia.
The incidence of cancer in dogs is highest among Bulldogs. Scientists don’t really know why this is the case but probably hereditary and genetic defects have a lot to contribute. Early recognition of different types of cancers and appropriate therapy can sometimes, but not always, prolong the lifespan of your beloved furry friend so be sure to take annual veterinary health check-ups.