Health Testing & the Bulldog 

At present, a pedigree British Bulldog is defined by pedigree registration issued from a regulatory authority that displays the past three generations of lineage.  The New Zealand registration body is Dogs New Zealand - formerly New Zealand Kennel Club.

This current state is being compromised, by the breeding ‘purebred’ dogs (not pedigree – every potential you are buying a cross breed dog with a “look and feel”), claiming ‘home bred’, raised, health tested and better than a breeder (questionable).

These individuals have seen the barriers to breeding for type, confirmation to standard and the betterment of the breed difficult to overcome.

To differentiate themselves they sell on price, colour and ultimately not as per the above governed fore-mentioned standards. To obtain a well-bred pedigree British Bulldog, make sure:

  • Obtained from a registered breeder.
  • Who campaigns there dog for standard that attends club shows.
  • Who health test structure and airways with scientific and approved veterinary tests.
  • Who advocates and stands up for the breed, which puts punitive gain aside  and works with the genetics. 
  • Who do not advocate non-approved colours or back-yard breeding.
  • Who will mentor someone as passionate about the breed as the breeder is (health testing included).
  • Who will use ‘Proven’ sires (the sires have pups of an exceptional quality) from exceptional lines (not just a nice dog from another breeder) and health tested to a high level as mentioned in this text.
  • Invest in imported lines to strengthen their kennel, introducing new genetics (health tested) will strengthen the breed for generations to come.

As a consumer, in the market for a puppy, it is easy to be emotive and just fall in love.  Back-yard breeders or start-up kennels will not back you up if your pup has issues.  Will not have extensively health tested their dogs.  They will offer reasons of politics or no need for comparing their dogs in a competitive show environment.  They are not passionate about doing the right thing for the breed.  Yet the consumer market is driving these breeders to continue to breed as their pups are being purchased. (Continue to breed dogs not of type and potentially with health issues).

Be a smart puppy owner, ask tough questions, look at the parents and hopefully the older generations of their dogs, this will reflect what your dog will grow into.  Touch and feel the parents.  Look at movement.  Is the environment where they are being bred a healthy, stimulating environment?  Do you get written information on what to feed, how to train, what to do for a new puppy going into your home?  Do you feel comfortable asking any question – if you don’t how will you ring for support if you have issues?


Many adverts state ‘health tested’, this is just a vet listening to the heart and lungs.  Looking in ears and eyes for health (no foreign bacteria), pressing on the hips and spine looking for soundness and feeling the abdomen.  Some vets will check for flea eggs and check the paws.  This is not extensive testing.  

The Bulldog Breed is in disrepute.  Vets assume all squash face medium sized dogs are bulldogs, not so.  Pedigree bred and other bred bulldogs visually to a breeder are very different. 


To knowingly improve the Bulldog x-rays of the trachea, elbows, spine and hips is important to know where the strength and weaknesses are and match that to a health tested mate with the objective of improving a weakness e.g. Hip Dysplasia (HD) to a dog with low risk HD, will help improve hip structure in the next generation.  Without this knowledge, a double up of bad hips is easily done, potentially dooming the next generation to high risk HD.

HUU blood test negative; (HUU) means elevated levels of uric acid in the urine. This trait predisposes dogs to form stones in their bladders or sometimes kidneys. These stones often must be removed surgically and can be difficult to treat.

Exercise Tolerance test:  A controlled 3 minute walk (grade 0 to 4-fail) is a great test to know if the dog has any obstruction to their airways (BOAS).  There are 4 points to BOAS, depending on the BOAS issue, a knowledgeable breeder and vet will make an informed credible decision to breed OR withdraw a dog from a breeding program.  Test to be conducted by a knowledgeable vet.

BOAS testing.  For a bulldog to be suspected of this requires a knowledgeable vet.  Assess which point of BOAS is the weakness.  Mating on this basis must be done by experienced breeders and vets.


Skin is a reflection of the gut health (gut flora).  The majority of a dogs’ immunity comes from gut flora.  A poorly bred dog will have poor gut health.  This can sometimes be managed, however is mostly an early demise for the dog, and painful.

A well-bred dog, will have a robust gut flora.  The gut flora can be upset by medication (antibiotics), however a nutritional diet and assistance post medication of pro-biotics will put right any gut flora imbalance, putting right a skin issue.

The best recipe for a dogs gut health is NO HUMAN food, meaty left overs should be chopped up finely and mixed through their dogs food on occasion (1-2 per week).  A premium dog food is your best medicine and your breeder should offer this advice, after all they bred the dog and know what has the best effect on the dogs’ health.

A breeder has a vast knowledge of their breed.  Having the above health tests is a powerful tool to make informed decisions of matching sires to dams with credible knowledge to improve on a weakness.  Dogs with an issue should be carefully considered when breeding as to whether the issue can be improved with a stronger mate.  Example, moderate risk HD to low risk HD, progeny to be x-rayed at 4 months to assess level of improvement.    

Table of health tests:  

Why have Doukraan Bulldogs taken this path of extensive health testing?

We have been fortunate enough to have 2 very sturdy pedigree lines as the foundation of our Kennel.  We have for years had trouble free progeny.

In the media, the Bulldog breed is being labelled as having numerous health issues.  As we believed in our dogs health and quality of type for show and results we have had, we decided to health test – prove this breed is worthy of being embraced as a vital breed.  BUT WHAT TESTS?  We were fortunate enough to acquire 3 sires semen from the USA (Valiant Bulldogs) to further our kennels future.  These sires have had extensive health tests and certified health ambassadors of the Breed.  Hips, Trachea, HUU, and Elbows tested.  We questioned how to start challenging the issue of BOAS; Massey University offered us the Exercise Tolerance Test.  I must add, the advancement of testing techniques and data outcomes, make this a worthwhile exercise.

We have started testing our breeding dogs.  We have had 3 dogs with excellent hip scores, one with OK hips.  Excellent spine and elbows.  HUU negative on all and results from Ok to excellent for BOAS.  To us, it has been worthwhile and exciting.  We can scientifically back the breed to any nay-sayers.

For breeding, we have a tool box of results and will breed to improve if required any health weaknesses and breed to the standard.

We are also pursuing hip scoring pups at 4 months, to ensure the pups we retain, are the best for further improvement of the breed and our kennel.

I believe breeders of Bulldogs may be pleasantly surprised if they test their dogs and can therefore raise the flag for the breed and their kennel.  If there are dogs with not great results, an informed and credible decision can be made as to whether to breed and improve or withdraw and focus on the stronger genetics. 

I do encourage breeders to take this leap of faith of their kennel and pedigrees, back yourselves. 

I do encourage puppy buyers to ask the tough questions, not to be blind to clever marketing words.

The Bulldog is an awesome breed, I hear all the time ‘not really a dog, more like a clever person’, who infect every cell of your being.  Enjoy the Bulldog.