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English Bulldogs in the UK: a VetCompass study of their disorder predispositions and protections

O’Neill, Dan G.; Skipper, Alison; Packer, Rowena M. A.; Lacey, Caitriona; Church, David B.; Brodbelt, Dave C.; Pegram, Camilla


Dan G. O’Neill

Alison Skipper

Rowena M. A. Packer

Caitriona Lacey

David B. Church

Dave C. Brodbelt

Camilla Pegram


The English Bulldog has risen sharply in popularity over the past decade but its distinctive and extreme conformation is linked to several serious health conditions. Using multivariable analysis of anonymised veterinary clinical data from the VetCompass Programme, this study compared the odds of common disorders between English Bulldogs and all remaining dogs in the UK during 2016.

From 905,544 dogs under veterinary care during 2016, the analysis included a random sample of 2,662 English Bulldogs and 22,039 dogs that are not English Bulldogs. English Bulldogs had 2.04 times the odds of diagnosis with ≥ 1 disorder than dogs that are not English Bulldogs (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.85 to 2.25). At a specific-level of diagnostic precision, English Bulldogs had increased odds of 24/43 (55.8%) disorders. These included: skin fold dermatitis (odds ratio [OR] 38.12; 95% CI 26.86 to 54.10), prolapsed nictitating membrane gland (OR 26.79; 95% CI 18.61 to 38.58) and mandibular prognathism (OR 24.32; 95% CI 13.59 to 43.53). Conversely, English Bulldogs had significantly reduced odds of 6/43 (14.0%) disorders. These included: retained deciduous tooth (OR 0.02; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.17), lipoma (OR 0.06; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.40) and periodontal disease (OR 0.23; 95% CI 0.18 to 0.30). At a grouped-level of diagnostic precision, English Bulldogs had significantly increased odds of 17/34 (50.0%) disorders. These included: congenital disorder (OR 7.55; 95% CI 5.29 to 10.76), tail disorder (OR 6.01; 95% CI 3.91 to 9.24) and lower respiratory tract disorder (OR 5.50; 95% CI 4.11 to 7.35). Conversely, English Bulldogs had significantly reduced odds of 3/34 (8.8%) disorders. These were: dental disorder (OR 0.25; 95% CI 0.20 to 0.31), spinal cord disorder (OR 0.31; 95% CI 0.14 to 0.71) and appetite disorder (OR 0.43; 95% CI 0.20 to 0.91).

These results suggest that the health of English Bulldogs is substantially lower than dogs that are not English Bulldogs and that many predispositions in the breed are driven by the extreme conformation of these dogs. Consequently, immediate redefinition of the breed towards a moderate conformation is strongly advocated to avoid the UK joining the growing list of countries where breeding of English Bulldogs is banned.


O’Neill, D. G., Skipper, A., Packer, R. M. A., Lacey, C., Church, D. B., Brodbelt, D. C., & Pegram, C. (2022). English Bulldogs in the UK: a VetCompass study of their disorder predispositions and protections. Canine Medicine and Genetics, 9(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 15, 2022
Publication Date 2022-12
Deposit Date Mar 31, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 3, 2023
Journal Canine Medicine and Genetics
Print ISSN 2662-9380
Publisher BioMed Central
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Keywords General Medicine
Additional Information Received: 3 March 2022; Accepted: 7 April 2022; First Online: 15 June 2022; : ; : Ethics approval was granted by the RVC Ethics and Welfare Committee (reference number URN Ref SR2018-1652).; : All authors have given consent for publication.; : The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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