Extremely Inbred, French Bulldogs Face Greater Odds for 20 Well being Points – Client Well being Information
MONDAY, December 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) – French Bulldogs are incredibly cute, with adorable snub snouts, big round heads, bright big eyes, and big bat ears.
Unfortunately, the physical traits that make them one of the most popular breeds in the United States and the United Kingdom also put a host of health problems on them, a new study shows.
Frenchies are significantly more likely than other dog breeds to be diagnosed with 20 common canine conditions, researchers reported Dec. 16 in the journal Canine Medicine and Genetics.
French Bulldogs are 42 times more likely to have narrowed nostrils, 30 times more likely to have blocked airways, 14 times more likely to have ear discharge, 11 times more likely to have skin fold dermatitis, and 9 times more likely to have difficult births due to the shape of their pelvis than other breeds, they found Researchers out.
The results showed that these dogs were three times more likely to have respiratory or spinal cord disorders, more than twice as likely to have brain or skin disorders, and almost twice as likely to have ear or reproductive disorders.
The most troubling health problems “are related to the extreme body shape of the French bulldog,” said lead researcher Dan O’Neill. He is Senior Lecturer in Pet Epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College in the UK. “These include breathing difficulties, skin fold infections, difficulty giving birth, eye ulcers, dermatitis and slipping of the kneecap.”
The French bulldog has been around for centuries and was recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1898.
But in recent years they have seen amazing popularity, with registrations in the UK Kennel Club increasing 20 times between 2009 and 2019, making them the second most common breed in the UK, the researchers said in the background notes.
The problem is that such a strong breed has made the genetic problems inherent in the breed even more apparent, said Helio de Morias, hospital director of the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
“We actively choose for looks that are detrimental to the animal’s welfare,” said de Morias, particularly the flat face that makes it difficult to breathe. “This is a problem for me. I think we should reverse this trend.”
Worse off in almost half of the problems examined
To get a handle on how bad the breed has gotten, O’Neill and colleagues compared the health data of nearly 2,800 French Bulldogs to more than 21,800 other breed dogs.
Investigators compared diagnoses for 43 specific medical conditions and found that French people were much worse off on nearly half of the health problems tracked.
The problems are directly related to the physical traits that make the breed so cute, O’Neill and de Morias said. The blunt muzzle is harder to breathe; the skin folds are more easily infected; the large eyes are more prone to corneal ulcers.
“The breed has many intrinsic health problems related to aspects of its exterior, such as a flattened face, lack of a long tail and short body. But the paradox is that humanity loves the appearance of these traits, and that love drives the breed to become one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, “said O’Neill.” So the traits we love as humans are precisely those traits that cause suffering in so many dogs. “
These problems are not limited to the French bulldog.
A recent genetic analysis of 227 breeds in the same journal found an average inbreeding rate of 25%, equivalent to sharing the same genetic material with a full sibling. This level is well above what would be safe for wildlife or humans, the researchers found.
But the explosion in breeding caused by the Frenchie’s popularity has made the specific health problems to which he is prone to be even more pronounced.
Take the short snout, for example.
“When you start shortening your nose, everything that was in your nose has to be compressed,” says de Morias. “There are bones in the nose, and as you shorten yourself further, all of the bones in it start to fold. It becomes a lot harder to breathe,” he explained.
“A lot of respiratory problems come from people voting for them. If you keep breeding what people want, you’re basically making all of those problems much worse,” de Morias continued.
New breed standards required
Steps are being taken to rid the breed of these health problems, noted O’Neill.
“The Kennel Club’s breed standard for the French Bulldog was recently revised to emphasize the need to breed for a longer snout and wider nostril,” O’Neill said. “This is a very positive step in a longer journey towards reducing the extreme conformation of these dogs.”
Unfortunately, the gene pool for Frenchies is so small and so extreme that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse these problems, de Morias said.
“To change some of these traits, you have to have genetic diversity within the breed’s gene pool,” said de Morias. “For the English bulldog, they don’t think they have enough to reverse these genes. That could be a problem with the French too, especially with the explosion over the past 10 years. They haven’t had many dogs to have them” start with so they are probably all closely related. “
There is reason to hope: Researchers found that the French bulldog was less likely to be diagnosed with 11 of the 43 most common conditions seen in this study, including undesirable behavior, lameness, and obesity. That means the breed has the potential to become healthier, they argue.
While veterinarians, breeders, and kennel clubs grapple with these issues, consumers can best help avoid buying breeds like Frenchies, which are associated with many genetic health problems.
“Until the French Bulldog’s body shape has changed enough to significantly reduce the breed’s serious health problems, unfortunately, the current piece of advice for anyone thinking of acquiring the breed is to pause and before buying a flat-faced dog ponder. “said O’Neill.” The general public can solve this welfare crisis by simply choosing to buy a healthier breed – if we so choose. “
You can also buy or rescue a mixed breed mutt, though O’Neill cautions that the dog is not necessarily healthier than a purebred pooch.
“All races have their own strengths and weaknesses. This is part of what makes each breed unique. But in many breeds there is a good balance between these strengths and weaknesses, so the overall health of the breed can be pretty good, “said O’Neill.
“There are many benefits to choosing a puppy of a particular breed, including the predictable size and temperament of the adult dog that you will later share with at least a decade of your life,” he continued. “The important goal now is to identify those breeds with unacceptable health problems and work to alleviate those problems.”
The American Kennel Club has more about French Bulldogs.
SOURCES: Dan O’Neill, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Pet Epidemiology, Royal Veterinary College, UK; Helio de Morias, DVM, PhD, Hospital Director, Oregon State University’s Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Corvallis; Canine Medicine and Genetics, December 16, 2021