a dog of many talents and are surpris- ingly versatile. The Bulldog may be a family friend and loyal companion or a clown who is an expert in a vari- ety of activities from skateboarding to snowboarding. Bulldogs are mascots for more than forty American Colleges and Universi- ties, as well as the United States Marine Corps and many businesses. Two Bull- dogs have called the White House home. Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding both owned Bulldogs during their presidencies. Bulldogs serve as both service dogs and therapy dogs. Service dogs are defined as “any guide dog, signal dog or other animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the ben- efit of an individual with a disability”. Just ask Rebecca Burlage of Mineral, VA. Confined to a wheelchair with a number of disabilities Rebecca’s constant Bull- dog companion, Diesel-Joker, confirms how amazing and trainable a Bulldog can be. Diesel-Joker opens doors, helps her dress, brings her tools and helps her get in and out of her chair. Diesel-Joker is truly an amazing dog; he accompa- nies Rebecca on speaking engagements at schools and churches, where the top- ic is “Being Successful and Never Giv- ing Up”. Bulldogs have in recent years become valuable members of Paws and Strips, an organization which pro- vides veterans with service dogs. These Bulldogs live with family members and assist veterans dealing with PTSD and other mental and cognitive disabilities. A number of organizations qualify dogs, including the Bulldog, as therapy dogs which are trained to give comfort and relieve loneliness and boredom. These Bulldogs visit nursing homes, hospi- tals, psychiatric wards, shelters and schools providing a welcome change in routines and form lasting friendships with patients. At the performance level Bulldogs are not just another pretty face in the conformation ring; their inherent strength and vigor has led the Bulldog to successfully compete in rally, cours- ing, carting and agility. This versatile breed can be a wonderful performance companion. Bulldogs consistently earn titles in all manner of sports from fly ball, to weight pulls, dock-diving and freestyle dance. Bulldogs were among the first breed to earn the new Coursing Ability title offered by the
“THE REALITY IS THAT IT SHOULD NEVER BE EXPECTED THAT A BULLDOG WILL BE UNHEALTHY.”
American Kennel Club. Bulldogs have earned invitations to participate in prestigious national competitions in obedience, rally and agility—and have represented their breed well. More and more people are discovering what an animated and capable partner a Bulldog can be. As people recognize the versatility of the Bulldog, popularity has surged in recent years. According to AKC they consistently rank in the top ten breeds. Unfortunately, this popularity has actu- ally created many problems for the breed, mainly in subpar quality dogs being bred to fill the demand. There has been a culture of acceptance that has evolved over the years that implies the Bulldog is inherently unhealthy due almost completely to his unique confor- mation and ultimately the official stan- dard for excellence. The casual breeder often regards health issues as “typical” for the breed and propagates these health issues by careless breeding prac- tices. Accepting buyers have been told for decades that these health problems are somehow “normal” for the breed and veterinarians see in droves the result of these careless practices. There is a growing trend among people breed- ing for “designer colors”. The Standard calls black undesirable and the new dilute colors are equally undesirable. The making of undesirable colors for retail without focus on the more impor- tant health and temperament aspects is creating dogs who are destined for problems. The reality is that it should nev- er be expected that a Bulldog will
be unhealthy. We live in an age of pro- gressive technology with health testing techniques and genetic research being more advanced than ever. The Bulldog Club of America (BCA) actively pro- motes health testing for all breeding stock. The BCA is a CHIC member and requires the following tests for those interested in entering the database: car- diac, patella and trachea. Tests recom- mended but not required include; hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, autoimmune thyroiditis, CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) or OFA (Orthopedic Foun- dation for Animals) for eyes, BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) for deafness and Hyperuricosuria. The BCA has implemented the Ambassador for Health program, which rewards dogs for their participation in health testing. Many top performance and con- formation winners have achieved the platinum status—the highest award. There is an active campaign among concerned fanciers to perpetuate the breed as it was originally intended and described by the Standard—a vigorous, sound and healthy dog free of any medi- cal conditions that would diminish its quality of life. This requires no change to the official standard. When considering a Bulldog, puppy or adult, first and most important is to be patient and not rush the process. Before adding a Bulldog to your home one should do extensive research on the breed. The Bulldog Club of America has the breed standard, breeder referral services and other educational informa- tion available online at: www.bulldog- clubofamerica.org.
272 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2017
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