US researchers have concluded the English bulldog is so inbred and unhealthy, and the gene pool so small, its survival may now depend on an infusion of new bloodlines from another breed.

Efforts to return the English bulldog to health by using existing bloodlines alone are said to be "questionable".
Efforts to return the English bulldog to health using existing bloodlines alone are said to be “questionable”.

The University of California, Davies researchers studied the DNA of 102 registered English bulldogs – also known as British bulldogs – and published their results in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.

Suggested solution

One related breed they suggest could be crossed with the English bulldog is the Olde English bulldogge – a US attempt to recreate the healthier working British bulldog of the 1800s.

In their paper, the researchers said efforts to return the breed to health by using existing bloodlines alone were “questionable”.

The authors concluded: “Breeding of the English bulldog for extremes of brachycephaly, chondrodysplasia, skin folding and child-like appearance and personality has required a level of human-directed positive selection that has made the English bulldog both one of the most popular and unhealthiest of dog breeds.”

‘Lacking in diversity’

The researchers added: “A DNA-based assessment of the breed, along a number of parameters, has confirmed the breed is greatly lacking in genetic diversity, which may preclude or minimise the ability of breeders to recreate healthier phenotypes from existing genetic stock, to eliminate deleterious mutations, and to add in new phenotypic traits.”

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