What is the Kennel Club doing to improve Bulldog health?

Improving the health of Bulldogs and any other breed with health concerns is the Kennel Club’s top priority and as such we have a number of things in place to do this. We are a not for profit organisation and have invested almost four million pounds in the last decade into research that will help to improve dog health.

It is estimated that around 70 percent of Bulldogs in the UK are not registered with the Kennel Club and are therefore bred outside of the Kennel Club’s sphere of influence – and with physical exaggerations that are driven by fashion because it is perceived to look ‘cute’ – we work hard to inform people about the health problems that can come with this.

What the Kennel Club does for Bulldog Health

Improving the health of Bulldogs and any other breed with health concerns is the Kennel Club’s top priority and as such we have a number of projects, resources, advice and strategies in place to help improve the health of the breed.

Funding important scientific research
The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has so far placed £170,000 of funding into ground breaking research at the University of Cambridge helping us to understand more about brachycephalic breathing problems, including the Bulldog. Knowing more about these complicated issues will help us develop better treatments for affected dogs and ultimately create breeding resources to produce healthier puppies in the future.
Reviewing breed standards
The Bulldog Breed Standard was reviewed in 2009, with the input of veterinarians, to make it absolutely clear that physical exaggerations that are in any way to the detriment of health are not acceptable. The Kennel Club’s Breed Standards and Conformation sub-group, which consists of vets, breed experts and scientists, will consider scientific evidence, such as the findings from the University of Cambridge research, in any review of the Breed Standards for Brachycephalic breeds..
Raising awareness
We recently produced a free and easily accessible film focusing on Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs that examines the signs of brachycephalic breathing problems, factors that can make the condition worse and the latest research being carried out. A new film focusing on the top 3 brachycephalic breeds will be released later this year.
Finding out more about health issues
The Kennel Club Charitable Trust is partially funding vital research at the Royal Veterinary College looking into the prevalence of health and welfare issues in a number of different breeds, including the Bulldog. The Veterinary Companion Animal Surveillance System (VetCompass) investigates the range and frequency of companion animal health problems by using data stored in individual computerised veterinary practice management systems..
Brachycephalic Working Group
We lead a Brachycephalic Breeds Working Group made up of representatives from breed clubs, academic bodies, veterinary associations and animal welfare organisations. The group recently outlined an approach on how to improve brachycephalic dog health and also issued an open letter urging UK companies to stop using brachycephalic dog breeds in advertising and marketing campaigns, as there is no doubt that increasing popularity in these breeds is creating excessive demand.
Breed Watch Illustrated Guide
This new booklet, designed to help dog show judges, and breeders, highlights and explains how exaggerated physical features (such as excessive wrinkles or narrow nostrils) can affect a dog and lead to welfare concerns.
Plans for a healthier future
Our Breed Health and Conservation Plans (BHCP) is an ongoing research project that identifies each breed’s health issues and provides an action plan on how to improve health. The Bulldog was one of the first breeds to participate in this project and already has a completed BHCP report, which includes an action plan agreed by breed club representatives, to ensure that breeders are supported in tackling health problems and achieving positive health goals. Through this process we have identified some knowledge gaps and are investigating the possibility of supporting research to answer these questions.
Improving dog show judges education
The Kennel Club raises awareness of Bulldog health to dog show judges through training days and an online resource known as Breed Watch. Breed Watch helps judges reward healthy dogs by alerting them to, and monitoring, features that may suggest, or lead to, health concerns. We also have vet checks at championship dog shows for all breeds identified as having health problems related to exaggerated features
Educating puppy buyers and owners
Our free online Mate Select website pages allow breeders to select dogs that will produce the healthiest puppies possible, and have the best impact on the long term genetic diversity and health of the breed. Our team of scientists continually analyse pedigree and health data to produce new resources and information that will help breeders to breed healthy puppies.

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