We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, December 6. 2011
Several neighbors kindly stopped by last weekend and dropped off the NY Times Sunday Magazine. The cover had a picture of ME! How exciting. Not quite as exciting was the article about how, in my current state, I may well be doomed. The article offered several solutions on how my breed may be saved.
I've owned a bulldog for 17 of the last 18 years, and currently own my second. I grew up with collies, german shepherds, and golden retrievers. Never did I expect to fall for a breed such as this. In fact, the original purchase was a Christmas gift for my new wife who loved the breed. We lived in an apartment, and they are excellent apartment dogs.
Neither of my dogs have had major health problems. More importantly, regarding the article, I've never met a breeder who would disagree with some of the commentary the article provided about the breed. All of them are upfront and honest about the difficulties bulldogs present. I purchased my current dog from Cody Sickle, who is quoted in the article. He is well known for producing healthy dogs. My vet is a former breeder, and his partners have all adopted the bulldog as their 'specialty'.
The key point of the article, however, is that the standard needs to be changed. Here, unfortunately, breeders and the AKC have not taken the necessary steps. Undoubtedly, the breed needs some refinement and some steps should be taken. But can you really question the majesty of such an animal as this?
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I'm not sure it is refining that is needed - more like undoing some old very bad breeding decisions. Breeders took a robust, vigorous dog and turned it into an asthmatic mess in under a century. They were right to cull out the more aggressive behavior, but they destroyed the body in the process.
I've always like bulldogs but won't own such a basket case. Instead I've had a bullmastiff and now a mastiff.
Look at any 19th century photo of a bulldog - healthy vigorous dogs.
The problem is that breeders would have to swallow their long-held snobbery and breed in American and Olde English Bulldogs. Maybe bring in some Bullmastiff - which was created with the old bulldog.
When the Mastiff was almost extinct after WWII, they bred in Bullmastiffs, then selected out the bull traits in later breedings.
As I mentioned, I've never experienced any major health problems with my dogs. It's definitely a breeding issue. Reputable breeders produce healthy dogs.
It's true that the bulldog has more issues than other dogs, but that's primarily a result of disreputable breeding, which goes hand in hand with popularity.
When my father was purchasing golden retrievers in the 70's and 80's, they were rising in popularity. So were the number of health issues they faced.
Bulldogs DO need refinement. Slightly longer snouts and tails would go a long way to fixing a huge portion of their problems. This can be done without mixing with other breeds, and by changing the rules on breeding (in-breeding is a problem even with AKC standards, which I consider too lax).
But I thought the article was a bit too aggressive about the problems. My first lived to be 12, the second is almost 6.
Considering the collie I owned as a youth lived to be 14, my bulldog lived a long, healthy life.
Is it true that they are all born via caesarian-section?
Any breed that gets too popular has some problems. Retrievers and German Shepherds are the latest to suffer. I hope the mastiff stays relatively ignored.
Not all are Caesarian, though it's still common. There has been a move, recently, away from Caesarian births unless the health of the dogs is at risk. That's the first step toward a full non-Caesarian approach, because at one point all breeders were doing Caesarians as a matter of policy.
It was a very bad policy.
My neighbors owned a Bull Mastiff, and both our dogs were very friendly with her. They are great, well behaved dogs.
I like Bulldogs, but would not have one. Like Boxers and other blunt-faced dogs, respiratory problems and heat-tolerance problems.
Aren't mutts the healthiest?
When I first looked into them, I knew nothing about them.
The BCA (Bulldog Club of America) told me they were excellent apartment dogs (they are), need very little activity and actually prefer watching TV (true), but have a myriad of health problems.
I asked what kind, and was shocked at the list. However, they also gave me the name of breeders who are trusted and said "if you use these breeders, the likelyhood of health issues is minimal."
They also pointed me to my vet, who is well known in the field as a specialist in bulldog maladies. He's excellent, and has always loved my dogs. Luckily we haven't needed to see much of him.
The respiratory issues are minimal, if you manage the dog properly. They don't like long walks, so on hot days it's not really an issue. It can be if we were to keep her outside for hours on a humid 95 degree day....but that's cruel for any dog.
Yes, mutts are the healthiest. Least amount of inbreeding. The author of the article discusses how dalmatians are no longer "pure" because they used another breed to solve some of the problems they suffered from.
I don't fault people for not wanting to own any kind of dog that may have health issues (goldens have dysplasia problems like mad, apparently so do shepherds now).
I love the demeanor of the bulldog, though. Never seen another dog like it.
They definitely need to be altered, though. Wouldn't bother me a bit if they made them healthier, even if their looks changed slightly.
Aside from one beautiful and intelligent black lab, we've always had mutts. I must say, though, that the dog pictured above is the epitome of elegance. Kind of a cross between a walrus and a ferret.
My ex and I had a couple of pugs and my father surprised me with a picture of his father as a lad with his pugdog. It is almost hocking to see how much the nose has been beed back in these sweet little critters. My grandfather's dog had a discernible snout while mine (ours) were the commonly seem smush-faced little goobers.
Then again, if I ever own another pug bitch I will be able to call her "No Nose Nanette."
To keep the race strong and help breed out (or prevent breeding in of) genetic disorders, the Samoyed clubs (at least here in the Netherlands, and in other countries as well afaik) have taken to very strict selection procedures for breeding pairs, as well as setting national limits to the total number of dogs that can be alive (or bred).
So in the Netherlands (the numbers might have changed by now) there was a strict limit on 1000 dogs for the entire country, including those registered with the KC but not of breeding stock.
Any dog diagnosed with any of a long list of medical problems (even something as innocent as certain infections) is automatically barred from being bred (this obviously to try and breed in resistance to diseases and keep the breed free from genetic disorders).
Every few years, exchange programs with foreign KCs are initiated to introduce new blood, the imported dogs being scrutinised carefully for genetic lines that will further the process of keeping the breed healthy.
This process has mostly eliminated by now many of the worst conditions the breed was suffering from in the past, as well as preventing the breed becoming a "fashion dog" that's purchased and later discarded when some celebrity is seen with one for a few days (as happens a lot with retrievers and some other breeds, think Paris Hilton and her lapdogs) simply by making it next to impossible to get a dog in the first place (all breeding is controlled by the KC, the waiting list for a puppy can be months or even years, and they hardly ever as a result end up in shelters as their owners are dedicated and the KC will take responsibility for finding a new home if the owner can no longer handle the task (e.g. medical problems, death, emigration)).
I've been a Border Collie owner most of my life with the exception of Suzie D. Dog who is a Dobermann.
I like working dogs and all of the dogs I've owned have not been AKC registered, but stock dogs from the sheep, goat and cattle industries. They are true Border Collies with wide variation of color, coat and size, but the all shared the same temperament - they love to work. And work could be anything to keep them busy - training, herding rabbits (that is absolutely true by the way), kids and other small critters or just plain old chasing a tennis ball. My dogs were on call to the local farmers if their heifers or pasture cows were on the loose and that was a good time for them. Same with Suzie - she came from a working family line - no registration, she's a little bigger than some Dobermann's and very smart.
Unfortunately, the AKC has bred a lot out of the working dog class - in fact I would posit that they've done it to most of their "show" dogs that "conform" to a certain standard. I like non-standard working breeds as they tend to be smarter and a lot more fun to work with.
Never owned a bulldog though - I'm not opposed to bulldogs or anything - just not my style of dog.