Monday, December 5, 2011

Can the Bulldog Be Saved?

One of my coworkers shared quite an interesting NYTimes magazine article that ran in their magazine this past Sunday - it was entitled "Can the Bulldog Be Saved?" and was quite a thought provoking article - it spoke a lot on UGA (University of Georgia's bulldog mascot) and the last few UGAs (pronounced UGH-uh) who unfortunately did not live very long and the overall health [or lack of good health] of bulldogs and the breed standards... I am not going to lie, I'm torn on a solid "opinion" in regards to the article, there is very little I disagree with but at the same time I am a bulldog lover through and through and cannot imagine my live without our sweet Oliver.

I found this image particularly interesting as they referred to the UGAs -- this is how UGA has changed over the years...

Illustration by Agnese Bicocchi.

A) Uga I, 1956-66. B) Uga III, 1972-81. C) Uga V, 1990-99. D) Uga VIII, 2010-11.

Before I read the article I could definitely tell you that there are a lot of things you definitely need to take into consideration when getting a bulldog - 1. they're pricey - you should be prepared to pay a handful for a bulldog from a reputable breeder, if not - you're going to have some major issues down the road 2. they are pricey beyond the price-tag you pay for them - they are high maintenance dogs and you need to be prepared to take care of them. 3. they are filled with love (and gas).  One of the first vets that saw Oliver used to always say "God didn't spend a lot of time on these creatures..." and while that has some truth, they truly are heaven sent.  Also, what a lot of people don't realize is that they really are "man-made dogs" - the female dogs have to be artificially inseminated a lot of times and they have to have c-sections due to their heads being too big and then nursed by breeders after born due to laziness on the mothers part [in most cases, at least Oliver's].  I'm by no means a "bulldog expert" - just a bulldog lover. Here's a snippet from the article on that --

"Today bulldogs make for a paradoxical symbol of strength and valor. Diane Judy, a former bulldog breeder from Tennessee who bred the current Yale mascot, told me before her death last year that she “adores” bulldogs but no longer felt comfortable breeding them. “They aren’t athletic or especially healthy,” she said. “Most can’t have sex without help — they’re too short and stocky. Most can’t give birth on their own — their heads are too big. A breed that has trouble doing those two things is, by definition, in trouble.”

We were so so so fortunate that Ollie's first vet in the Berkshires was amazing (if you live within two hours of Copake, NY - you need to go to Copake Veterinary Hospital - they are the best vet group we've ever experienced and probably ever will experience).  Before we left the Berkshires and moved south we had a few procedures done on Oliver - first, we had him neutered - he was almost a year old and we had been torn on breeding/showing him but realized that his health needed to be the priority and we had him snipped, while he was under we had a few other elective surgeries - his soft pallete was clipped (as referenced in the article) it was blocking his airway and he was throwing up water right after he drank, we also had his nostrils widened - which might sound strange but we were moving South to a warmer climate and didn't want him to get overheated as bulldogs often do and we had his hernia fixed (yup, he had a hernia - don't ask, no clue)... now I had a 30 minute phone conversation with the vet about a month before we left and he worked with me to get Oliver worked into their schedule so he would also have recovery time before we moved -- all costs associated with the surgery along with them keeping him overnight cost us a grand total of $500. The vet also told me that if we had waited until we got to Atlanta to have those surgeries done we could have added a "zero" to the end of that, which is a reality - it would have cost us at least $5,000 if we did it at our current vet, I can guarantee that. Again, we were very fortunate that Oliver hasn't had many health issues (knock on wood) other than his allergies - which have unfortunately reeked havoc on his skin/coat this past year... but I blame Georgia, not the breed. ;)
So back to the article - yes, bulldogs have health problems but if you get them from a reputable breeder and take proactive steps with their health you can have a healthy bulldog. We're very careful with Ollie's weight and he does not eat table scraps, that paired with him being pretty active for a bulldog and extremely playful keeps him at a healthy weight. So, while I agree they are not healthy dogs as a breed I do think as a breeder and an owner you can take steps that your bulldog lives a healthy lifestyle and great love.
Am I biased? Absolutely. I love Oliver more than I have ever cared for any animal (and let's be real - most people). He truly is my baby, my snuggly little boy, my sweet puppy who has shown me what unconditional love means. He is a gentle, slobbery bully - so kind, so loving and such a great dog. I know he's going to be the best big brother and I can't wait to see our baby fall in love with him just like we have.  It might sound insane but I can't imagine my life without my bulldog so I am sad to think that we might be doing them a disservice by breeding them.

With that, if you have a bulldog or have any interest in bulldogs (or dogs in general) check it out the article, it's long but I found it extremely interesting.

okay. rant over.


Curly Girl Confessions said...

That's so interesting! I just cannot fathom people NOT breeding them, but who am I. I believe every single dog has health issues. We have spent well over $2K on Marley's eye(s). I asked his eye vet if there is any breed that doesn't have issues and he said, definitely not.
BTW-your gift was sent yesterday. :)

Rachel said...

awww he is just so cute! Its so different all the things you have to do to take care of different breeds of dogs! Thankfully our dog hasnt had any big health issues (knock on wood!) he is a mixed random breed so who knows?

Smart Ass Sara said...

Hmm... well I guess the whole "survival of the fittest" would kind of apply? If a breed of animal can't continue without human intervention... it probably isn't meant to be? Which sounds terrible, because I know lots of people with bulldogs who just love them, but maybe it's not a breed meant to last. But I also kind of hate when people start making NEW dogs, (goldendoodles, anyone?) because that seems creepy and wrong to me too. LOL.

Cole said...

I can't imagine breeds just disappearing. Every breed has their problems - heck, I chase my dachshunds around to make sure they don't jump off furniture! But I can't imagine life any other way. :-)

Anna said...

I agree with the majority of the points in the article, but like the others, can't imagine this breed just...stopping.

And like you said - it's about how to raise them. There are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Don't even get me started on my pit bull rant. If you raise your Bully to be as healthy as possible, then he will be as healthy as possible!

Wuv you, Ollie!

Lil' Woman said...

I've never knew that about bulldogs
(man made) and wow what a change over the decades

Kristen @ All In My Twenties said...

I too have been SO lucky with Tugger but Ive also met Bullie Owners who have nightmares of stories about their dogs. Im torn too but at the end of the day I can honestly say I dont know how I could ever live without Tugs! Just thinking about it left me in tears at my desk texting Chris to cute back on his dinner portion tonight so he doesnt get overweight! hahah!

Nikki said...

I didn't know they had problems beyond breathing and not having their rolly pollies cleaned. Poor babies, I'd hate to see them go.

Although the evolution diagram looks a lot like...human race!

Tara said...

I completely, completely agree with the quote you included from that breeder. However...I'm probably not the person whose opinion(s) you want to hear because I don't agree with breeding purebred dogs or with paying obscene amounts of money for them. My parents rescued two Corgis from a disreputable pet shop (that got their dogs from a puppy mill) and knowing where those pups came from and seeing the issues they've had was one thing...but also, I'm very involved with dog rescue in my area and both my dogs were "pound puppies"...and they're the best dogs I've ever owned. One of them cost me next to nothing because she was fixed when she arrived at the humane society; the other wasn't and cost me the money to get him fixed. I don't judge people for purchasing dogs but I do think it's a practice that needs to be revisited and revised in today's day and age, when shelters are overcrowded and putting perfectly good animals to sleep just days after they are delivered to the humane society simply because they don't have room for all those unwanted dogs.

Kat @ The Midwest Momma said...

Very interesting read! I found your blog because of Oliver :) We are owners of sweet baby girl Cookie (funny what your kids will want to name a dog). Love the blog.

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