Health Information

You may be aware that some breeds of dog (and crossbreeds too) can be susceptible to inherited disease. Of course you want to be sure that the dog you choose is as healthy as possible, and you would like to know that it has not inherited any undesirable disease-causing genes from its parents. There is some help in that DNA tests for diseases in purebred dogs are available for some conditions in some breeds, but there are not very many such tests just yet! There are also, however, a number of clinical veterinary screening schemes that dog breeders can use to increase the probability of producing healthy puppies.

Details of the various screening schemes, both veterinary and DNA, that are available to breeders in the UK can be found at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/doghealth

What about Health Issues?

Head shape and dog health

Dogs come in many different shapes and sizes. Having such a varied appearance is one of the many fascinating things about dogs. Regardless of what each dog looks like, it should be able to lead a happy and healthy life and be able to breathe, walk, hear and see freely without discomfort. Sometimes extreme examples of a breeds physical characteristics can lead to health problems.

Dogs with a flat, wide shaped head, are said to be brachycephalic (brachy, meaning short and cephalic, meaning head). This particular skull shape will often give these dogs a characteristic flattened face and a short muzzle. Muzzle length may vary, even amongst a particular breed, with some dogs having shorter muzzles than others.

Some brachycephalic dogs may be at higher risk of certain health conditions, such as:

Breathing difficulties

The soft tissue in the nose and throat of some brachycephalic dogs may be excessive for the airways, making it difficult for them to breathe normally (causing heavy panting or noisy breathing). Some dogs may also have narrow nostrils making it even more difficult to breathe.

For more information, why not watch our film on Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome on www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd3_s_hC7G4&t=1s or register on the Kennel Club's Academy to access additional resources www.kcacademy.org.uk/shop/all-courses/brachycephalic-breeds-health-and-research/

Additional information about brachycephalic breathing problems can also be found at www.vet.cam.ac.uk/boas/about-boas

Skin problems

Some brachycephalic dogs may have an excess of skin, which creates folds, especially around the front of the face. These folds can make a warm, moist environment which is perfect for bacteria and yeast to grow, possibly leading to infection and severe itching.

Dental problems

Dogs with a shortened skull will often have a shortened jaw, but the number and size of teeth will stay the same. This can mean that the teeth become overcrowded and can cause dental and gum problems.

Eye conditions

Some brachycephalic dogs may have shallow eye sockets, causing their eyes to become more prominent and at a higher risk of trauma, ulcers and increasing the chance of them becoming dry and painful (due to not being able to blink properly).

Where can I find more information about brachycephalic health?

For more detailed information on brachycephalic health issues, please visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health/for-owners/brachycephalic-health/.

Want to responsibly buy a puppy?

Not all brachycephalic dogs will have the health issues described, but it is important that if you are thinking of buying a puppy, that you:

• Contact your local breed club for more information on the breed you’re considering

• Always do your research and find out about any special requirements that the breed that you’re thinking of buying may have. Some brachycephalic breeds may require extra care and attention, such as keeping any facial wrinkles clean and dry, for example

• Buy from a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder (www.assuredbreederscheme.org.uk)

• Make sure you ask the breeder about the health of the parents and ask to see any certificates for any health screening tests that the parents may have had (see below for recommended tests).

• Make sure you see mum (and dad if possible) to decide if they look and sound healthy.

Schemes or advice relevant to this breed

It is strongly recommended that both Kennel Club Assured Breeders and non-Kennel Club Assured Breeders should use the following schemes, tests and/ or advice.

Bulldog Breed Council Health Scheme to at least Bronze level
DNA test - HUU

The list above is not necessarily comprehensive, other available health tests can be found at http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health/breeding-for-health/dna-screening-schemes-and-results/ or for further advice please contact your local breed club.


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