Healthier new bulldog will lose its Churchillian jowl
Kennel Club standards will improve welfare
The bulldog will lose its Churchillian jowl after the Kennel Club reformed breeding standards. Puppies will be taller and leaner with smaller faces
Valerie Elliott, Consumer Editor
The classic British bulldog, a symbol of defiance and pugnacity, is to disappear. A shake-up of breeding standards by the Kennel Club has signalled the end of the dog’s Churchillian jowl. Instead, the dog will have a shrunken face, a sunken nose, longer legs and a leaner body.
The change has angered the British Bulldog Breed Council and it is threatening legal action against the club. Robin Searle, the chairman, said: “What you’ll get is a completely different dog, not a British bulldog.”
New breeding standards for 209 dog species have been brought into immediate force after the furore over breeding practices shown on a BBC One documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, last summer. Breeders have until the end of June to lodge any objections.
The shake-up comes as one of the country’s leading zoologists and animal behaviour experts, Sir Patrick Bateson, announced that he would be heading an independent inquiry into dog breeding.
The Kennel Club is determined to show its commitment to dog welfare and has ordered the removal of characteristic features from some dogs. In a statement it said: “The breed standards have been revised so they will not include anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog breathing, walking and seeing freely.”
The shar pei will lose the familiar folds of skin on the neck, skull and legs while the Clumber spaniel and the labrador retriever must stay slim to qualify as top show dogs. Flat faces without a muzzle on Pekingese are also no longer acceptable because they cause breathing difficulties. Other breeds to change are the bloodhound, German shepherd hound, basset hound, Saint Bernard, chow chow, the Dogue de Bordeaux and mastiff.
Bulldogs are prone to skin and coat problems, cherry eye, respiratory disorders, orthopaedic conditions, and soft or cleft palate. Most are born by Caesarean section because large heads and proportionally small hips make natural births difficult. The breed’s anatomy also hinders mating, with many litters conceived via artificial insemination.
Jemima Harrison, of Passionate Productions, which made Pedigree Dogs Exposed, said that the changes were “hugely welcome and long overdue” but that it would take years to put right all the problems.