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Is it unethical to get an English Bulldog?

(62 Posts)
JazzyCardi Tue 04-Mar-14 03:36:50

We have wanted a dog for years and years but have never had the space for one.

We recently moved into a ground floor flat with gardens and expect to be here for at least the next 5 years.

Our dream has always been a boxer but one wouldn't suit our circumstances - mobility limited DP, space restriction, unsecured garden.

Next up is the English Bulldog. As I understand it, they cope well in flats, don't need unsupervised access to a garden, don't require hours of exercise, are good companion dogs and could be a deterrent to intruders - everything we want in a dog!

My initial research left my appalled at the problems the average bulldog is likely to face - breathing issues, cs births required and inability to mate. One source said their life expectancy is only 5 - 8 years!

I started to search for 'healthy bulldogs' and came across 2 different types of results. 1) those that showed images of bulldogs jumping and running and claiming they are perfectly healthy, and 2) Olde English Bulldogges or cross breeds that (to me) looked more aggressive than I'd be comfortable with.

We've considered Staffys but we don't want a dog that might intimidate our neighbours.

Is it unethical to get a bulldog, and if so, does anyone have a suggestion for a breed that might suit our lifestyle?

This will be our first dog btw.

Quodlibet Tue 04-Mar-14 03:48:07

I wouldn't get one, for the reasons you've mentioned.
The ones I've met have always been waddling along slowly and seemed burdened by their frame.

Might it be worth talking to some rescues about a dog to suit you? Aside from the garden issue, what is it you want from a dog? Would you be happy to have a high energy dog that wanted to be involved in everything, or would you be more suited to one that was a bit more independent and snoozed for large parts of the day? How long/often will it be left alone? How much time and energy do you have for training?

butterfliesinmytummy Tue 04-Mar-14 04:24:50

Having adopted a rescue dog myself 7 months ago, I am starting to wonder why people who are looking for pets choose anything but a rescue dog (ie a mixed breed). I can understand that some people want working dogs or show dogs and therefore need specific traits in animals that have been optimized through breeding. I wouldn't take on a mixed breed rescue and expect it to be a good hunting or herding dog for instance.

But if you are looking for a good family dog, why not go chat to a rescue centre? There are so many great dogs with amazing characteristics that make perfect pets.

I would not buy and therefore encourage further breeding of animals with physical characteristics enhanced and exacerbated by breeding, that cause suffering including English bulldogs, cavalier King Charles spaniels, shar peis, pugs, pekes to name a few.

JazzyCardi Tue 04-Mar-14 04:29:07

I know Quod. The puppies are so incredibly beautiful I could weep, but then I see the older ones walking along, huffing and puffing, and it makes me feel incredibly sad. I would not want to contribute to the breeding of animals that can't breathe properly. I can't imagine a life more horrible and difficult than one where I constantly struggled to breathe.

What do I want from a dog?

A companion, something to love, an alternative to another baby. I couldn't cope with a high energy dog that needs hours of exercise per day because the responsibility of it would lie solely with me and I couldn't commit to it. I don't mind grooming (would quite like it).

DP and DS want a robust dog, nothing girly or yappy or delicate. DP has mobility issues so can't do lots of exercising, and DS is only 12 so not able to control a strong dog right now and may not even be interested in a few years time when he could.

I would get a rescue dog if it suited our family and lifestyle. I'm a bit nervous of bringing a fully grown dog in and, if I'm honest, I'd be a bit gutted to miss the cute puppy stage. I would do it as a last resort, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

JazzyCardi Tue 04-Mar-14 04:33:20

Sorry butterflies, I cross posted with you.

I agree with you about not wanting to contribute to the continued breeding of unhealthy pets. It horrifies me to think I'd spend the next 10+ years watching an animal suffer.

butterfliesinmytummy Tue 04-Mar-14 04:34:13

Sorry, will step off my soapbox, didn't answer the rest of your questions.

I think you should have a chat with a shelter. Lots of dogs like unsupervised access to a garden. We lived in a house with an unfenced garden however a while back and we were surrounded by farmland so it was imperative that our dog didn't escape. We walked her 3 times a day, plus had to let her out another 3 or 4 times a day, walking her round the garden on an extendable lead just to go for a wee. It's hugely time consuming!

A shelter will let you know what types of dog are suitable after assessing your situation. It may be that you would be looking at a much smaller dog. A dog that will deter strangers will need lots of walking. I have an 8 month old staffie cross and she needs 90 minutes walking a day minimum, plus lots of being chased round the garden by the kids. Don't underestimate the time you should spend on training too. We do an hours class a week, plus several short bursts of a few minutes every day. Having a dog is a bit like having a newborn .... Amazing but it takes over your life!

butterfliesinmytummy Tue 04-Mar-14 04:36:36

And now I've cross posted with you!

Who would be at home during the day? A puppy can only be left for very short periods of time at first, there's a lot of floor cleaning too!

JessePinkmansMom Tue 04-Mar-14 04:45:21

I think you already know the answer. Every single thing you've already mentioned is exactly how I feel about EBs. I know someone who has an English Bulldog. He's a lovely dog but he's had so many health problems and operations in his life it's ridiculous. And listening to that very laboured breathing always concerns me. And the females cannot seem to give birth naturally and always need Caesarians, which just can't be right, can it?

There are plenty of breeds to choose from that don't have all these issues so please don't help to perpetuate irresponsible breeding.

Also, it's easy to have certain dogs in a flat or a confined space without the free run of a garden in theory but don't underestimate how difficult it will sometimes be in practice. I know you do have access to a garden but I would still recommend you go for a very small dog that can run around in the flat when necessary.

JazzyCardi Tue 04-Mar-14 05:02:01

Thanks butterflies smile

At the moment DP and I are both at home all day. DP is retired due to his disability and so will be at home for the foreseeable future, but I'm hoping to go back to work soon. DS is 12, at high school, and tells me he would love a dog, but I would never rely on him for walking or training.

I could, considering I could be working again very soon, cope, happily, with about an hour walking a day. I would like that. I wouldn't want to commit to more than that though. If a dog needed more stimulation than that than I would decide that it's not for us.

DP would be fine with the wees when I would be working. We have access to quite a lot of land and there are other dogs that use our shared space so our neighbours will be fine as long as the dog is well behaved.

I'd be very happy to do training with our dog. DP would as well as long as it didn't require him to be too energetic.

As for floor cleaning, our carpets are needing renewing so that wouldn't bother me at the moment. When we do renew we'll be going for practical hard flooring. The mess doesn't put me off.

JazzyCardi Tue 04-Mar-14 05:10:57

Thanks Jesse. You've made me want to start watching BB all over again with your username.

No, it isn't right that a whole breed of dogs struggle to whelp naturally. It isn't right that the males (or most of them) can't mount the females to breed. I couldn't bear to watch an animal struggle to breathe.

Point taken about getting a smaller dog smile

McFlurry Tue 04-Mar-14 06:02:31

There are more moderately bred Bulldogs out there but finding them could be difficult. Most people like the exaggerated features so that has been most commonplace in the breeding. However, there are people ethically breeding to try to reduce the health issues and gradually get back to a healthier, fitter dog that can, for the most part, self whelp (any dog can need a c-section for in an emergency situation).

I have known several very fit, active Bulldogs so they do exist. Sadly, the less fit ones with horrendous breathing problems do appear to outnumber them. Such a shame for the dogs.

Have you considered a French Bulldog or a Boston Terrier or a pug even? Similar sort of a look but in a smaller package and with fewer health issues although the Frenchies abd Pugs still can be prone to breathing problems as most if the bracycephaic breeds can but finding more moderate lines should be easier and l think there are greater numbers of breeders aiming to achieve self whelping lines than you'll find in Bulldogs.

tonyblairsreallygoodlegsnbutt Tue 04-Mar-14 06:30:54

A bit left field but have you considered adopting a retired greyhound? They usually make amazing companions.

Dinnaeknowshitfromclay Tue 04-Mar-14 06:49:13

It's the breathing issue for me. They get hot or excited or amorous or...or ...or and they can't breathe and they really really can't. It's life limiting and they sit on the cold tiles miserable cos they can't even wander around the garden in the summer because they can't breathe. It astonishes me that people breed dogs that need a surgical procedure (Lanes Soft Palate Removal) to ....just...breathe!

nuttymutty1 Tue 04-Mar-14 07:31:56

Is it unethical to get an English bulldog - Yes

Booboostoo Tue 04-Mar-14 08:01:32

I think with your requirements you'd be better off with an adult dog with a laid back temperament. Puppies take up an enormous amount of time, not so much the walking, which they shouldn't do too much of, but the socialisation and training which is best done in diverse environments. They then go through the teenage years when they do need a lot of physical and mental stimulation.

Talk to a reputable rescue who will take the time to introduce you to 2-3 suitable dogs. Perhaps a family dog that needs rehoming for non-behavioural reasons.

Quodlibet Tue 04-Mar-14 08:03:30

I was going to suggest a greyhound. They are lovely animals.

McFlurry Tue 04-Mar-14 08:43:19

In defence of Bulldogs (and lord knows I'm not their biggest advocate at all), they're not all walking health time bombs. I used to walk regularly with a chap who had up to 5 at any given time. The oldies were still enjoying decent walks up to age 11/12, albeit at their own pace, and the younger ones were as fit and able as any other dog we met out and about (and probably fitter than my younger but very arthritic crossbreed). Another one who was owned by a neighbour was a proper live wire and very active although she was bougt by her owners when they lived in USA and i have no idea as to their breeding standards. There ARE healthy examples out there if you know where to look. Sadly, they're very much in the minority which needs to change if the breed is to survive.

cashewfrenzy Tue 04-Mar-14 11:48:46

I'm a vet. Every single one of my bulldog patients has health problems. That's not to say they don't enjoy good quality of life - many of them do - but as a breed they are consistently afflicted by distressing, miserable problems. They are lovely lovely dogs but so awful that they are born to suffer. Don't do it sad

Scuttlebutter Tue 04-Mar-14 11:53:20

I'd agree completely with previous posters who say it's unethical to choose and pay for (thus perputuating the cycle) a dog that has so many structural health issues, which you've already alluded to in your OP. I also could not bring myself to buy a CKC (a myriad of health issues) or a pug - the brachycephalic breeds in particular really do suffer, and I use that word advisedly.

There's an interesting blog over at Pedigree Dogs Exposed which discusses many of the detailed issues for specific breeds and is extremely supportive of attempts to address some of the health issues in the "high-profile" breeds. Sadly, many of these attempts will be slowed, or even opposed by breed clubs and the KC. I am very much looking forward to Crufts this year to see if the judging shows any sign of their alleged new approach actually translating into placings.

For a quiet, low impact dog, with excellent health, a checkable pedigree, and reasonably low exercise requirements, a retired greyhound would be a perfect fit. They generally come off the track aged between two and three and live to their mid teens. It was a joy this morning watching the 12 year old charging about at the park in pursuit of squirrels. Now he is at home, he is happily tucked up for a snooze. They come in a big variety of colours and sizes - if you want to know more, come over to the Pointy Hounds Cushion - we are always glad to see new hound adopters over there.

JazzyCardi Wed 05-Mar-14 01:18:36

Thanks very much everyone.

Interesting that retired greyhounds have been suggested. I had always thought they would need extreme amounts of exercise so hadn't even considered one. I will bring it up with DP and DS tomorrow.

I wouldn't get a pug because, as Scuttlebutter said, I think they have the same breathing issues as an EB.

A couple of you have mentioned Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I've always thought they were lovely little dogs and if it was my choice alone (DP isn't keen) I would want one. I had no idea they had health issues. I will read the Pedigree Dogs Exposed blog and find out more.

EBs are definitely off our list for buying. The only way I would consider it now is if one was at a rescue centre and suitable for our circumstances. I will have a look at RCs in our area and try to visit a few at the weekend. EB or not, I'm sure there must to a lovely dog looking for a home out there.

TheZeeTeam Wed 05-Mar-14 02:25:01

I have a bulldog. In regular weather, he walks for miles. I have another more atheletic dog, and my bully keeps up for as long as we want to go. The difference is, the more athletic dog runs around and the bully walks at my feet. Both are equally happy.

Yes, in the very hottest of weather he needs to cool off, but tbh, the UK doesn't actually have the kind of hot weather that would become an issue 98% of the time. We live in the US and have much, much hotter summers and aircon, but in the rare times the UK warms up that hot, a child's playpool filled with supermarket ice does the same job.

Buy from a truly reputable breeder. This is definitely not a breed you buy from a backstreet breeder. That's the difference between a healthy dog and a ready to die dog. Also, meet the parents as bulldogs are, by nature, people lovers (although, once they have you under their spell, they are as stubborn as a 2 year old). If either of the parents seem shy or nervy, walk away. Bulldogs sbouldn't be either of those things.

I know lots of people don't like them, but I can honestly not recommend them enough, if properly bred and properly led, they are awesome. I honestly think it would be a travesty if the anti-bulldog lobby got their way and we lost them.

JessePinkmansMom Wed 05-Mar-14 02:47:57

I don't think nayone wants to see a breed die out, necessarily, especially one with such a long history in the UK. But the breed characteristics have changes beyond almost all recognition and there is no reason why they cannot be allowed to revert to their previous much healthier, happier selves and look like they were originally intended to look.

It's only a 'travesty' if you have no problem with an animal suffering for your shallow preferences.

HannahG315 Wed 05-Mar-14 02:53:54

My mum has and has bred Pugapoos!!

We wanted a pug, but my mum warned us against pedigree breeding and how dogs inherit breeding issue - like a face so squashed they cannot breath.

We found a toy poodle that had bred with a pug. Since then my mum decided our Pugapoo should have a litter and did her research- she had a litter with another toy poodle, thus enabling the snout issue to be 'bred out' and whilst we're sure if we'd bred h with a pug they'd have been more 'popular' her pups could have inherited breathing difficulties also pugs tend to be larger, so her hips could have been damaged during pregnancy.

I think getting a rescue dog is the greatest thing you could do, but I respect that's not everyone's cup of tea, but do please avoid 'pedigree' because it encourages breeders to recreate health issues throughout generations.

You can find conscious breeders online- my mother being one of them- whose aim is to allow their dogs to have litters without creating poor little puppies who suffer for their looks.

The Pugapoos are btw the CUTEST little fuzzy things ever, if this is a breed that you look into make sure that the mum was not bred with a dog inherently larger than her I.e. she's a toy poodle dogs a pug. Or go for the next generation- mum is a Pugapoo...

... Am I making any sense?!

Anyhow, best of luck!!!

And well done for doing your research! I always felt guilty for buying a pedigree Labrador and learning she could have inherited hip problems, turns out we were conned anyhow and she's actually half staffy! Love her to bits, brilliant dog and were so happy that she might not have those hip problems smile

TheZeeTeam Wed 05-Mar-14 02:53:54

Healthy bulldogs aren't suffering. That's the point. It's about educating to a healthier breed.

TheZeeTeam Wed 05-Mar-14 02:54:38

That was to Jesse!

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