English Bulldogs Have Reached a Genetic Dead End

English Bulldogs Have Reached a Genetic Dead End
July 29 11:34 2016 Print This Article

(GIZMODO) – The English Bulldog is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, but it’s also one of the unhealthiest. An upsetting new analysis now shows that these stocky, wrinkly-faced dogs lack the genetic diversity required to improve the breed, and that their current level of health is as good as it’s ever going to get.

In a new study published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, researchers from the University of California’s Center for Companion Animal Health have shown that the English bulldog’s highly constrained genetic diversity will make it difficult—if not impossible—for breeders to create new-and-improved versions of the canine from existing genetic stock. This startling lack of genetic plasticity is the result of the breed’s small genetic base (which was derived from 68 individuals back in 1835), intensive inbreeding, and breeders’ selection of specific‚ and often extreme, physical traits.

This isn’t good news for a breed that’s already beset with serious health problems. Bulldogs don’t often live beyond six years, and their lives are often marred with serious health problems, including hip dysplasia, respiratory issues, cancer, interdigital cysts (cysts that form between the toes), allergies, and cherry eye (a protrusion of the inner eyelid). The folds on the bulldog’s iconic face make them susceptible to infections, and their their abnormally small nasal cavities make it difficult for them to stay cool, making them prone to overheating and hyperthermia.

Many of these health issues are the result of breeding efforts designed to give these dogs their dramatic appearance. Large portions of the bulldog’s genome have been altered to attain these morphological changes which has in turn resulted in a tremendous loss of diversity in the part of the genome responsible for normal immune function. The lead author of the study, Niels Pedersen, says that this breed has reached the point where its popularity can’t justify the health problems that the typical bulldog is forced to endure and, sadly, not much can be done at this stage.

See the full article HERE