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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Bulldog breeding ban urged
Pedigree bulldogs are breeded to have flat faces and small hips
One of the UK's best known vets is calling for an end to breeding of the traditional British Bulldog.

Emma Milne, from BBC One's Vets In Practice, described the dogs as "mutated freaks". She claims inbreeding to produce show dogs has led to damaging genetic weaknesses.

"Modern bulldogs can't run, they can't breathe, they can't give birth," she tells the Real Story programme.

"They have enormous problems with too much soft tissue in their mouth and it adds up to a dog that is struggling for air all its life."

I wouldn't tell them to get rid of the German Shepherd. What they want is some sort of Euro dog.
Robin Searle, Bulldog breeder
The breed, once pitted against bulls in fighting rings, is now a regular at competitions where champion bulldogs are worth up to 50,000.

Males and females with the flattest faces, biggest shoulders and smallest hips are mated to produce the purest possible offspring.

But according to many vets this creates dogs with health defects that would never have surfaced through natural selection.

The bulldog is on a list of pedigree breeds that the Council of Europe wants to see banned in their current form.

Other British favourites, such as the Pekingese, St Bernard and English cocker spaniel, are all down for what the Council calls "revised breeding policies".

Emma Milne
TV vet Emma Milne says there is no such thing as a healthy bulldog.
Many countries have already signed up to the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals but the legislation faces stiff opposition from British breeders who fear it would change the entire look of a breed.

"I don't know how they can tell me to get rid of this breed," says Robin Searle, who has been breeding bulldogs in Doncaster for 15 years.

"I wouldn't tell them to get rid of the German shepherd. What they want is some sort of Euro-dog."

The Kennel Club, which promotes responsible ownership of dogs in the UK, says it is stressing the importance of health among show animals.

"There's now a statement in the breed standard that says the bulldog should not show respiratory distress," explained spokesman Jeff Samson.

The minister responsible for animal welfare, Ben Bradshaw, told Real Story that it was unlikely the UK would accept the European recommendations to ban the pedigrees.

"I don't think we'll be going that far," he said. "What we are trying to do is persuade the breeders and the Kennel Club to take seriously the issue of health problems in some breeds."

Real Story: BBC One, Monday 14 June 2004, 1930 BST, and live on the Real Story website.

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