Monday, March 12, 2012

English Bulldogs

Today, we bring you an interview with Debbie Millay, English Bulldog owner extraordinare!  Debbie works for both Animal Advocates Alliance and The Heigl Foundation.  With the popularity of English Bulldogs increasing, we thought it would be good to bring our Fans and Readers a blog post with some information about the breed from someone who has owned and loved the breed. 

What do you love the most about English Bulldogs? What draws you to the breed?

Bulldogs are adorable and they each have wonderful and unique personalities and little bit of an attitude which makes them very endearing… and a little frustrating!

How many bulldogs do you own?
I currently have 4 bulldogs.

What are some of the drawbacks to the breed?

Bulldogs are a medical disaster. The shape of their body, the lack of a snout and the folds of extra skin that make bulldogs so cute also makes them terribly unhealthy and prone to all types of medical issues and lifestyle limitations. They require a tremendous amount of medical maintenance.

Have you encountered these issues with your dogs? And what have you done to help them?
I’ve encountered many medical issues with my bulldogs over the years. Rarely does a week or two go by without having to visit a vet! Breathing/airway related problems, skin/allergy related problems, eye and ear issues, orthopedic issues- you name it!  

To help a bulldog stay healthy and avoid breed related health issues it is important to:

1.) acknowledge their sensitivity to heat/exercise. Make sure they don’t overheat by keeping them in a cool environment at all times (AC in the summer, limited sunbathing, etc.) and limited activity/exercise, especially in warmer weather.
2.) Feed them a high quality, limited ingredient, low allergen food and supplements like fish oil and probiotics to help keep their skin healthy and allergies under control and to keep their digestive system happy. 
3.) Clean the ears and face folds (wrinkles) and tail folds often to avoid yeast infections. Instill lubricating eyedrops to keep the eyes moist. Bathe frequently with a proper shampoo. If your bulldog has skin/allergy issues seek out a veterinary allergist/dermatologist, if your bulldog has eye issues seek out a veterinary ophthalmologist. Find a general practice veterinarian that is familiar with and experience with this breed.

Do you have any suggestions for someone thinking about getting an English Bulldog?
Anyone that is thinking about getting a bulldog should seriously think hard and do some research on the breed before making that decision. 

The first question is, can you afford a bulldog? Some lucky bulldog owners won’t experience too many expensive issues with their bulldog. But realistically you will likely experience health problems and have numerous unexpected vet bills. For example, because of their body structure bulldogs are prone to tearing the ACL (cruciate ligament) in their knees. I’ve had 8 bulldogs over the years and I’ve already had to do ACL repair on 6 knees. ACL surgery can cost up to $5,000 each. Bulldogs are prone to impacted tails (the tail basically grows back into the body in a corkscrew rather than growing out and away from the body.) In some cases the tail needs to be surgically removed because the area is inaccessible for cleaning and the dog experiences chronic, painful infections. I’ve had to do two tail amputations to the tune of $2,500 each. 

The second question is, is a bulldog really the kind of dog that you want? If you want a dog that can exercise with you then a bulldog is not the right dog for you. At best you will do a short slow walk around the block and play fetch in the yard. Bulldogs should not go jogging or hiking and if it’s hot out they shouldn’t even go out for walks. They spend the majority of their time being lazy and loving it! 

And the third question is, do you have the stomach for a bulldog? Bulldogs are pretty disgusting! They snore loudly, they fling slobber all over the house and they can clear a room with their gas! Having a bulldog means more housecleaning and laundry and if you are a light sleeper then you’re in for some rough nights! If you are a super clean person then a bulldog probably isn’t appropriate for you!

Where would you suggest they get one?
Anyone that wants a bulldog and has thoroughly researched the breed and can afford to have a bulldog should definitely get a bulldog from rescue. As with any breed, it is not necessary to buy a bulldog and support pet stores, puppy mills and breeders. There are breed specific rescue organizations for every breed. Although you won’t find 8 week old bulldog puppies in rescue often, by adopting a bulldog you know you are supporting a worthy cause, you are not supporting animals for profit and you are literally saving a life.

Do you have any comments for someone thinking about breeding their English Bulldog? 
Please don’t! This country has a terrible pet overpopulation problem. Until we are no longer killing millions of companion animals each year due to a lack of space/lack of homes, nobody should be breeding pets. Bulldogs have a terrible time with breeding, it is almost unnatural. Females generally can’t give birth on their own, it has to be done by c-section. If you insist on getting a bulldog from a breeder, find a responsible and reputable breeder that will let you meet the parents and see where the dogs are kept.

Southern California has two incredible bulldog rescue organizations, chock full of fantastic bulldogs just wanting to be adopted:

Southern California Bulldog Rescue:

San Diego Bulldog Rescue:

You can look at the Bulldog Club Rescue Network for rescued bulldogs available nationally:

Thanks so much for your time, Debbie!  We really appreciate it.

What about you, readers - do you have a favorite breed?  Is English Bulldog up there on your list?  If you have any questions for Debbie, feel free to post them here in the comments and we will get you answers!