Health Conditions For An English Bulldog

by Valerie A. Modreski
    English bulldogs are a friend to everyone they meet.

    English bulldogs are a friend to everyone they meet.

    Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    As its name suggests the English bulldog hails from England, and was bred to rally bulls. The modern English bulldog has a calmer temperament. The American Kennel Club lists bulldogs as the fifth most registered breed in the country. Prior to acquiring a bulldog, pet parents should be aware of the potential health risks.

    Adding an English bulldog (also called bulldog, or bully) to your family is an important decision and one that should be considered thoroughly. One of those considerations has to be the cost and emotional turmoil, associated with your new family member's many health conditions. Bulldog enthusiasts have conflicted opinions about the bulldog's health problems. Some blame it on antiquated breed standards or irresponsible breeding, while others attribute these anatomical irregularities to natural predilections, which are congenital. The Bulldog Club of American says bulldogs are a specialized, fabricated breed that would never survive on its own, and points to the breed's short life expectancy of about six years.

    Respiratory issues are primary veterinary problems for English bulldogs, as is noted by their noisy breathing. The brachycephalic (short-nosed) condition of bulldogs lends to upper respiratory obstruction, leaving bullies with difficulty breathing and inadequate panting capabilities. Breathing problems can begin with your dog's nose. Bulldogs rarely have nostril holes, or stenotic nares, large enough to maximize airflow. An elongated soft palate, common in bullies, occurs when palate tissue is too long and blocks the flow of air through the windpipe. An elongated palate may require surgery. An upper respiratory condition called hypoplastic trachea occurs when your dog's windpipe is too small. This obstructive breathing condition cannot be corrected but is treatable with respiratory medications from your veterinarian and a reduction in excitable and exhaustive situations for your dog.

    Bulldogs suffer numerous eye problems including the common cherry eye. Your bully has three eyelids, the upper lid, lower lid and an eyelid under the lower one. In bulldogs, there's a gland below the third eyelid and if this gland bursts, a pink “cherry” forms in the corner of his eye. Caught early, your veterinarian will reposition the gland and prescribe medication; otherwise surgery is necessary. A bully condition called entropion is where your dog's eyelid turns inward and eyelashes scrape the cornea. Entropion is treated with surgery. An affliction called cornea ulcers are treatable with medication or surgery. Left untreated, cornea ulcers can lead to blindness. A dry eye condition called keratoconjunctivitis sicca occurs in bulldogs, and a crusty eye discharge is the first sign. This dry eye condition is attributed to malfunctioning tear ducts and is treated topically with drops.

    English bulldogs suffer from numerous other health problems that are not necessarily breed specific but are common for bulldogs. A disease commonly seen is an enlarged and distended abdomen caused by CHD dilated cardiomyopathy, or heart failure. Skin conditions and allergies often affect bullies, especially skinfold infections in his wrinkles. Overheating due to breathing deficiencies, pulmonic stenosis, or lung disease, are both bulldog health risks. While hip dysplasia is usually indicated in larger dogs, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals rates bulldogs with the highest incident of hip dysplasia.

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    About the Author

    Valerie A. Modreski has been a professional writer since 1982. She studied English literature at Broward College, and has written for a variety of publications. Modreski holds certifications in canine behavior and has worked extensively in the field of obedience. She also has hands-on experience in all issues related to canine welfare, including veterinary medicine, rescue and activism.

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