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British Bulldogs bred in Australia have been suffering under an extreme breed standard that could have been changed 30 years ago, and breeders of all extreme-featured dogs must act now to improve the health and welfare of their dogs.

That’s the message from the RSPCA following last night’s The Feed program on SBS VICELAND, which highlighted the serious health issue faced by brachycephalic or flat-faced dogs like bulldogs and pugs.

“We all love these affectionate dogs, and we want to see them live long and healthy lives,” said RSPCA Scientific Officer (Companion Animals) Dr Bronwyn Orr, who was interviewed for the program.

“Sadly, that’s not the case right now, as many suffer from serious health issues that are completely preventable, and due only to the way we’ve bred them to look.

Dr Orr also said breeders of British Bulldogs are in a unique positon to improve standards right now.

“Ironically, British Bulldogs are one of the breeds most severely impacted by these exaggerated features, yet Australian breeders have had access to a more moderate breed standard since 1987 that, unbelievably, they’ve chosen not to adopt,

“Breeders of British Bulldogs can choose right now to move away from the incredibly extreme standard that’s responsible for many of these problems.

The current breed standard for British Bulldogs calls for a heads that is ‘strikingly massive’ and a skull that is ‘very large - the larger the better’.

The standard also says ‘Viewed at the side, the head should appear … very short from its back to the point of the nose’ and the face should be ‘extremely short’.

As a result of being bred to this standard, almost no female British Bulldogs are able to give birth naturally and have to undergo major surgery to deliver their puppies.

Their flat face often means they’re unable to breathe or sleep properly – as evidenced by loud breathing and snoring - or cool themselves, meaning they also face a high risk of death from heat distress.

“Already, we’re seeing brands that use these breeds of dog in media, entertainment and advertising facing a backlash from the community, as awareness of these problems starts to escalate,” said Dr Orr.

“If breeders don’t recognise and act to address these issues now, the chorus of criticism and loss of trust from the community is only going to grow,” she said.

To view the SBS program, visit here.

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