“The classic British bulldog, a symbol of defiance and pugnacity, may now disappear. A shake-up of breeding standards by the Kennel Club has signalled the end of the dog’s Churchillian jowl. Instead, the dog will have a shrunken face, a sunken nose, longer legs and a leaner body. The British Bulldog Breed Council is threatening legal action against the Kennel Club. Chairman Robin Searle said: ‘What you’ll get is a completely different dog, not a British bulldog.’
I referred this one to longtime colleague, prominent motoring writer and bulldog partisan Graham Robson, who writes:
As a long-time bulldog owner (you have met various of my much-loved mutts) I am at once delighted and appalled by what is being proposed. Loud-mouthed critics of “traditional” bulldogs talk about breathing difficulties (usually untrue), too-fat bodies (only some breeders encourage this—mine never), heads too large and legs too short (arguable—none of mine were ever grotesque), and difficulties in delivering puppies without a vet’s help (unfortunately true).
The Kennel Club (if you want an historic parallel, think of the Gestapo or George Orwell’s Thought Police) is now demanding changes to what is known as the written standard for some dogs—not just bulldogs, but other breeds too. They will eventually get their way, but it will take decades of selective breeding to produce a series (rather than an occasional example) of bulldogs to a “new” standard.
Personally, I would be delighted to see bulldogs with somewhat longer legs, but still with the traditional face (including a “flat” face and Churchillesque attitude), and a wide-legged stance—like each of the seven generations of bulldog which my family has owned, and owns to this day. However, I would be appalled to see longer noses, shrunken faces and lean bodies, since this means we will be going back to the “Boxer” identity, destroying the most endearing characteristics of the true bulldog.
Anyone who does not believe that my son’s five-year-old bulldog cannot play, run, and enjoy himself in every way is welcome to try to wear him out before I do.