It’s the thrill of winning. It’s the thrill of showing the world really good quality, healthy bulldogs. Love is blind. People see these dogs, they love them, they want them and they buy them. And then you’re faced with those problems afterwards. And it’s heartbreaking. Interesting. Wow. They got the tongue and the soft palate of a dog three or four times their size crammed into their throat. And they just can’t breathe. The modern British bulldog, which struggles to walk, which struggles to mate it is not, in any way, able to fulfill its original function. I had 30 minutes to make a decision. To let my dog live, or to put my dog to sleep. Instagram loves these dogs. And everyone in this story does, too. But they’re facing a health crisis. And no one can agree how to save them. I love French bulldogs because they’re the most amazing dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. You speak to any French bulldog owner and most of them have some kind of issue. Karin is my name. Karin Anderson. I have two French bulldogs. Stella is three years of age. And Boris is 16 months. Stella has had breathing issues since the day that I picked her up from the breeder. And, right from that moment I was told — even by the breeder: ‘That’s just French bulldogs. That’s what they do.’ So it’s pretty stressful when you see your dog wants to play, wants to run, but every time she does she needs to stop and vomit. Stella ended up needing a tracheostomy. She now breathes through a hole in her throat can’t bark and can’t smell. Stella cost me $4,500. First round of airway surgery was $2,000. And then the tracheostomy, that was a further $5,000. So, a very expensive dog. So, we find just about every dog that is flat-faced has some degree of compromise. And nearly all of them benefit from some level of corrective surgery. With these little guys, it’s so overcrowded that the teeth become infected and they often don’t erupt properly. And if you don’t get them out and they form a cyst then their jaw literally — it breaks but it doesn’t crack when it breaks because there’s not enough bone to crack. It just falls apart. It’s devastating. Something as simple as: a trip up to the coffee shop, going to the beach, can be enough to overheat these dogs People didn’t know what they were doing is dangerous They come in collapsed and they’re cooking from the inside. And their organs are overheating. And there’s some you can save in the ICU but there are lots that you can’t. They’re gone too far. We don’t want that to happen to any more families. The Australian Veterinary Association joined up with the RSPCA to launch a campaign. Love is Blind seeks to raise awareness of some of the health issues that are associated with breeds with exaggerated features. Breeders need to accept that they exist and breed away from extreme features. What Bronwyn wants changed is a document known as a Breed Standard. It’s what they use to judge purebreds at dog shows. Most of them have been updated over the years but the one for British Bulldogs is pretty much the same as the day the UK Kennel Club published it back in 1873. Up until about the Victorian era, when it started becoming fashionable to have certain dog breeds those original grandfather stock of these breeds they had nice long legs, they were quite lean and they were fit for function. There’s no exercise test, rather they’re purely judged on a very superficial aesthetic. Thirty years ago, the UK Kennel Club changed the bulldog Standard. But Aussie clubs voted not to. And the peak body for purebred affairs, the ANKC has launched a counter campaign to Love is Blind. I’m Sharon Edmonds, I’m an all-breeds judge with the ANKC I have bred British bulldogs for 30-plus years. I love them. There’s not a show in Australia I don’t think my kennel hasn’t won. The first bulldog I bought lasted three months. I was heartbroken. I did not ever want another dog to die on me so I have been adamant in my breeding that I choose sound, healthy dogs. A good breeder will always breed away from genetic trouble. They know the background of most dogs in pedigree so they’ll breed away from that. But vets argue, even if neither parents have genetic trouble if they both have exaggerated features like the Breed Standard calls for then their puppies will likely have a specially exagerated features and develop health problems. So what I’ve got here in front of me is the ANKC Standard for the British bulldog. For a breed that already struggles with giving birth naturally we think this is just encouraging the problem. C-sections… Look sometimes they’re just a necessity. But it’s not just the short-faced dogs that have C-sections. It’s across the board. It’s the bitches, they just don’t push. Come on, mate. Hurry up. Ideally, I would like to not hear the dog breathe at all. But, it’s easily rectified. Not all dogs have their soft palate done I have not had a palate done in my yard for probably six years. If that dog presented to me in the emergency room I would be recommending that he went and saw one of the surgeons and had his nose trimmed and had his soft palate shortened. The dogs that are cross-bred, have more anatomically normal features. So, pugs that are crossed with Jack Russells they tend to have longer noses and less problems. Possibly. I’m not God, I don’t know. I’m very happy with the Standard the way that it is. The problem I feel with the RSPCA is they’re all textbook, they’re no common sense. I recently went to a pound and I did not see one purebred dog in the pound. Most of the dogs I seen were crossbred dogs. The RSPCA’s got a vested interest in the pounds. They have to make money, they have to be able to support everything. We certainly don’t make money from selling dogs or cats from our shelters. Although we do charge an adoption price on most animals — a meagre amount in comparison to the amount of work that we put into these animals. Bulldogs, Frenchies, Pugs, Boston Terriers… They’re the ideal dog for a small backyard for a family that’s busy, that really want a little pet that want to love it to pieces. I haven’t met a breeder who doesn’t absolutely love their dogs And I think it’s about understanding that some of the physical features we see have gotten to the point where they are doing their dogs harm. Something needs to be done to protect these dogs because there’s so many health issues. It’s crazy.