We've Overbred Bulldogs To The Point Where They Can't Breathe Or Breed Without Assistance

If you've been on the Internet in the past few years, it's unlikely you've escaped seeing an adorable, wrinkly bulldog wagging its little tail-nub on Instagram. These cute puppies look innocent enough (it's no wonder their adorable, exaggerated features lead them to become one of the most popular breeds in America), but the breed is actually plagued with issues.

Why bulldogs are bad has less to do with the demeanor of innocent puppies and more to do with the fact that greedy breeders are overbreeding bulldogs. Selective breeding has made it so bulldogs barely resemble their original breed and have innumerable, lifelong health problems. In fact, there's such a shortage of healthy bulldogs that people actually resort to buying them from puppy mills overseas. These unregulated dog breeding factories are regarded as the hallmark of animal abuse.

Some people question whether perpetuating these bulldog health problems through pure-breeding is, in fact, animal cruelty. To be honest, that'd be pretty par for the course because even the breed's history is tarnished with egregious animal abuse.

Bulldogs got their name from the inhumane, cruel sport of bull-baiting, but bulldog breed problems aren't limited to their sordid past. Since the cruel sport fell out of favor, the breed has graduated from being intensely abused to intensely sick. With all the dogs in shelters that are struggling to find homes, is it really okay to support breeders who encourage the very man-made features that wreak havoc on generations of puppies? Here's why bulldogs are man-made abominations, and you should think twice before you adopt.

Photo: michal adamczyk / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0

  • Bulldogs Are The Fourth Most Popular Breed In America

    Unfortunately, pure-breeding these animals is perpetuating their health problems, but it won't stop as long as the breed is popular. Bulldogs are some of the trendiest dogs in existence and continue to climb up the ranks of the American Kennel Club's annual list. In 1973, the breed was the 41st most popular registered breed in the country. By 2016, the stubby little pups had risen all the way to number four, falling behind golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers and German shepherds. The more people want this dog, the more breeders will try their best to maintain the breed's classic features – the squashed noses, the stubby legs and the short, slouchy demeanor that causes all of the breed's health problems.

  • Bulldogs Were Originally Bred For The Wildly Cruel 19th Century English Sport Bull Baiting

    Bulldogs Were Originally Bred For The Wildly Cruel 19th Century English Sport Bull Baiting
    Photo: Samuel Henry Alken / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Haven't heard of bull baiting? That's because this cruel, inhumane sport rightly fell out of fashion, but not before giving us bulldogs (get it – bull dogs). Bulldogs were the heart and soul of this medieval sport which rose to popularity in 19th century England. During a game, a large bull would be tied to a stake and sprayed with pepper spray until he was nice and angry.  The bulldogs would then have to bite the flailing bull's nose in order to take him down. The fight would end when the bull had fallen over, but dogs were frequently trampled or chewed up. Of course, this sport was cruel to both the dogs, which were forced to fight, and the bull.

  • A Bulldog's Exaggerated Features Make Breathing Extremely Difficult

    A Bulldog's Exaggerated Features Make Breathing Extremely Difficult
    Photo: Thomas Brown (1785-1862) / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    As you can see from images of bulldogs from the 1800s, past bulldogs had faces that were longer and bodies that were slimmer and more streamlined. Bulldogs may have always had slightly wrinkly noses, but their snouts have been squashed to the extreme over the years in order to create a designer breed. But these excessively flat faces and large heads cause a massive breathing problem known as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (which stems from the words "brachy" meaning shortened and "cephalic" meaning head). A bulldog's shortened nose and narrow nostrils can make breathing so difficult that it's actually impossible for them to exercise at all (say goodbye to the dog park). They may not even be able to ride in a hot car without getting heat stroke.

  • Bulldogs Are So Biologically Messed Up, They Can’t Breed Without Human Help

    Bulldogs Are So Biologically Messed Up, They Can’t Breed Without Human Help
    Photo: Philip Reinagle (1749-1833) / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In the late 1700s to early 1800s, bulldogs weren't the short, stubby, wrinkly pups of which we can't get enough. They were actually pretty proportionate with slender, muscular legs, broader hips and longer snouts. Through selective breeding, bulldogs have lost these traits in favor of prize-winning wrinkles, stubby legs and stocky bodies. Because of this type of selective breeding, bulldogs can't naturally procreate and breeders must artificially inseminate them.

    A bulldog's trademark traits are the very reason it can't reproduce without artificial insemination. Male dogs have legs far too short to reach a female's sexual organs and their short snouts make breathing during physical activity rather difficult. Rock Solid Bulldogs, a bulldog breeder certified by the American Kennel Club, admits that males "generally become exhausted, over-heated and will even vomit from the strain" of trying to naturally breed, adding that it "isn't worth the health or well-being of an expensive champion male."

  • Bulldogs Have Such Giant Heads They Can Only Give Birth Via C-Section

    C-sections save lives. Sometimes, it's really difficult for a mother (human or animal) to give birth. About 30% of human births in the United States are performed via a Cesarean section. While this isn't a tiny percentage of people by any means, it's definitely not the majority.  This isn't the case with bulldogs, which have been selectively bred to the point that their heads are too large to pass through a birth canal. Bulldogs have disproportionately large heads, which may get them that blue ribbon at the dog show, but it also makes it impossible for bulldog moms to have a natural birth.

  • Those Adorable, Chubby Wrinkles Are Breeding Grounds For Bacteria And Fungus

    Bulldogs are plagued with skin problems. Part of it has to do with the fact that the breed is prone to allergies (hello, eczema and dermatitis), but part of it is because they're bred to have tons and tons of adorable wrinkles. While these wrinkles are too cute to handle, they're breeding grounds for the fungi and bacteria that cause major infections. These infections can be extremely serious, and bulldogs need to get their skin folds wiped down every single day in order to prevent issues.