French Bulldogs have a significantly higher chance of being diagnosed with 20 common disorders compared to other dog breeds, research published in the journal reports Canine medicine and genetics. To reduce the risk of respiratory disorders associated with the shorter muzzle and flat head typical of French bulldogs, the authors propose to reorient the breeding towards more moderate characteristics.
Authors from the Royal Veterinary College (Hertfordshire, England) used records from UK veterinary surgeries from 2016 using the VetCompass database, comprising 2,781 French Bulldogs and 21,850 other dog breeds.
Dan O’Neill and his colleagues compared the diagnoses of 43 specific disorders between French Bulldogs and other dog breeds. The authors observed that French Bulldogs had a significantly higher risk than other dogs of narrowed nostrils (42.14 times higher risk), obstructive airway syndrome (30.89 times higher risk), ear discharge (14.40 times higher risk) and skin dermatitis (11.18 times higher). risk).
Among the French Bulldogs included in the study, the authors found that 1,764 (63.4%) had been diagnosed with one or more disorders, compared to 14,442 (66.1%) of other dog breeds. This suggests that French Bulldogs may have a slightly lower chance of being diagnosed with a disorder in general, but it could also indicate that owners are better able to identify health issues in other dog breeds.
Despite a higher risk of developing 20 common disorders, French Bulldogs were less likely to be diagnosed with 11 of 43 common disorders compared to other dogs, including unwanted behavior, lameness, and obesity. This highlights that the breed has the potential to evolve towards a healthier profile. The authors suggest that selective breeding away from the extreme high-risk physical characteristics of French Bulldogs, such as shorter muzzles and skin folds, which are associated with health disorders, could improve the overall health of the breed.
Dan O’Neill, senior lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College and co-author, said: “Achieving significant changes in the typical appearance of French Bulldogs over time requires buy-in from breeders and dog clubs that publish breeding standards, but the greatest responsibility lies with owners who may ultimately demand dogs with more moderate characteristics.
“The Kennel Club recently updated the breed standard for the French Bulldog to move further away from elements of extreme conformation with evidence of adverse health effects. This is a very positive step to prioritize to the health of dogs rather than to human desires for the appearance of these dogs and we must now continue this evolution of the breed to a more moderate conformation.
The authors caution that their results are based on veterinary practice reports and may not indicate how long each dog has suffered from a disorder or how severe it is. They also warn that owners may not recognize that snoring in French Bulldogs can be a sign of a breathing disorder and may not take their dog to the vet.
The authors conclude that dog clubs, breeders and the general public should work together to encourage the breeding and purchase of French Bulldogs with less extreme characteristics associated with poor health.