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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
My Sadie, English Bulldog-Female, will be turning 2 years old in just a few weeks. She's had two heat cycles and we're considering breeding her on the third. In my area, it's hard to find vets that are knowledgeable on the English bulldog breed. Her only medical issue thus-far has been entropion and we (the vet included) aren't sure if it may just be an allergy to something. We know that they have allergies around pine trees and we're in Georgia. Other than that, she breathes well. She can actually be very active, running, swimming, playing, etc. No wheezing, she does snore though. She's extremely well tempered and fairly trainable.
My main concern is being able to sell whatever puppies we choose not to keep. I personally want to keep both a male a female. If they're both in good health then I'll likely stud/breed both. If you're someone who is against breeding for whatever reason, stop here. Sadie seems to be a little large for a female bully, and I'm not sure that she meets the breed standards as she doesn't look exactly like the pictures on Google. Her stud will definitely be a champion sired perfect example of a bully. Please look over these pictures and tell me what you think. She weighs 50 lbs. Also, we're actively working on her eyes. We started allergy medication, a soft cone, eye drops, and ointment. We will do surgery if necessary. Thank you for any advice!
 

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It's great that she breathes well! I am all for responsible breeding, and it takes a lot of dedication!

Breeding English Bulldogs is especially involved because they are prone to so many health problems. Entropion and allergies are both highly heritable, so do take into account that you risk producing puppies with the same problem, possibly even more severe than their mother. There are other health screenings that are important to do before breeding as well to minimize the risk of producing puppies that develop serious, painful, and life-limiting genetic conditions. This is more involved than a typical vet check, and may involve blood testing, DNA screening, and/or x-rays. Here's a PDF of what the Bulldog Club of America recommends: https://bulldogclubofamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/health-amb-tri2020v2.pdf

What do you know about your girl's lines? Was her mother naturally bred and gave natural birth? It's extremely common for bulldogs to need artificial insemination and a cesarean section, which is an added expense and an increased health risk to your girl. Definitely familiarize yourself with the risks and complications you might run into. It's always a good idea to have a mentor who's familiar with your breed and can help you through any problems or questions as they come up, so it's a good idea to reach out to her breeder for support and see if they'll be willing to offer you any advice or support.

Not trying to scare you, but this is a more complicated breed than average and there's always a possibility that you may lose mom if something goes wrong, so I want you to be prepared for that possibility so you can make the best choices for her and make sure you have good veterinary support. Similarly, you may wind up not even breaking even, cost-wise, if there's an issue and she or the puppies need emergency treatment of some kind, so this really is a labor of love for the breed!
 

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Thank you for that informative response and link! I am somewhat familiarized with the cost in breeding an English bulldog from my own research. I guess the possible entropion is my biggest fear. My understanding is that it would be impossible to produce a perfect line of English bulldogs, so I wonder if I would be adding to the overall breed quality since she has so many other good qualities or potentially taking away by breeding her with assumably entropion. From what I see in videos of other bullies, most of them struggle to breathe and have skin issues and/or cherry eye. This is a sort of philosophical question I guess.

I was told that her mother gave birth naturally. I'm not willing to risk her life as we all love her very much. I did want to attempt for her to give birth naturally if it's reasonable, she is a larger than normal female. I feel like giving birth may help her understand that the puppies are hers and it would obviously eliminate the cost of a cesarian. Again though, costs aren't what comes first, I won't risk her life. If a complication were to happen during natural birth, do you know how long I would have to get her to an emergency vet? Also, do you have any links on what to look for while she's birthing as far as complications go?

I mostly just want to continue her legacy in a sense. I don't like to think about it but I know that her time is limited and I'd like for her to have someone to play with while she's here and to keep her line going if that's a reasonable decision.
 

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You'd have to look at your dog's family lines (and the stud's, of course) to get a good idea of whether entropion is common in her lines. I do know it's sometimes linked to lots of wrinkles and excess skin, so it may help to look for a stud who is less heavily wrinkled, but when the mom is affected there's always going to be a risk to the puppies as well. Personally, I'd assume I'd get at least one or two puppies with entropion in the litter, and I'd have to decide whether that's something I'm comfortable with producing, knowing the condition is painful and can lead to blindness if untreated. Keep in mind the other screening I mentioned will also look for issues that might come up later in life, like screening the hips and elbows to make sure they're well formed and not likely to cause pain and lameness as the dog ages.

Breeding always comes with a risk to the mom's life, I'm afraid, and in bulldogs more than most. I'm not familiar enough with the breed or the practical side of breeding to offer specific advice about things like whether it's safe to allow your girl to try to whelp naturally (though it's good her mom did). Some of this has to do with things like the shape of the pelvis rather than her overall size. It's unfortunate that you can't find an experienced repro vet who knows the breed in your area, because that would be the best person to advise you on risks and the safest way to proceed, but maybe if you reached out to one you could at least get a video consult? Not sure if they offer that but couldn't hurt to try. You 100% need a local vet who will be on-call during whelping time if you're not doing a cesarean, though, whether that's an emergency clinic or your regular vet being willing to come in at off hours at short notice. Again, I'm not experienced enough to be comfortable giving you an exact time frame, but I know it's a situation where you need to act fast and won't be able to wait for a clinic to open in the morning.

I've heard people recommend "The Book of the Bitch" by J.M. Evans and Kay White - it's a little older so may not be up to date on all possible medical options, but is supposed to be a good reference for care, complications, and illnesses in breeding females. I haven't read it myself - I'm interested in breeding but haven't been in the position to actually have a litter of my own. There are also a number of FaceBook groups that are specifically about breeding and whelping, the one I know offhand is "Canine Fertility, Reproduction, Whelping and Puppy Care", with a number of people who are more experienced than I am. Just know that, like anywhere on the internet, there's going to be people with strong opinions who don't always agree with each other, so use your own judgement about whether something seems right to you, and try to confirm facts elsewhere when you can.
 

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I am also pro-good-breeder and my Dutch Shepherd is from an incredible breeder. That said, if I was looking for an English Bulldog you could not pay me any amount of money to buy a puppy from your breeding, no matter who the sire is. There are plenty of reputable EB breeders who would not deliberately breed a dog that has eye and possible allergy issues. Yeah, sometimes breeders choose an 'imperfect' dog to breed, because what dog is perfect? But usually those faults are more minor, like a slightly longer snout (which the EB desperately needs), or a tad high in the rear, etc. But CLEAR, KNOWN medical issues? With this breed? I don't know a single reputable breeder who would do that. Also, no reputable EB breeder would allow their male to breed to your female. So your pool of sires to choose from would be 'other backyard breeders who also personally think their dog is amazing and wants to breed them with fewer objective measures for temperament and health such as eye/heart/hip/elbow/+ testing and titles'. At the end of the day, you do what you do. But if you do, recognize that it's 100% because you want puppies from her, and it would not be an action that would improve the breed.
If you want to get into breeding EBs, the best course of action would be to seek out a reputable breeder and express your goals to them. They may even mentor you in the process! You can get an EB who has a great temperament, active, healthy, health tested and with a pedigree of health tested dogs, etc. Sadie sounds like a great dog! But there is a huge difference in the breeding community between great dogs and great dogs to breed. My first dog was a rottie/golden. He could do anything and did almost everything people think to do with their dogs. But he died of osteosarcoma at 12.5 years of age. Even if he was a purebred rottie or a golden, lived to a pretty good age, and I would clone him in a heartbeat, he would not be a good candidate to breed because osteosarcoma is one of top issues in BOTH Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers.
 

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This is a handy little flow chart. It's not perfect, but it does cover a lot of the basics.

Breeder flow chart by Rosemary Elwell, on Flickr

On to other things...

What health testing has your bitch had? These are the recommended tests for Bulldogs. The male you use should also be tested.
I don't know about costs in your area, but hip x-rays can run upwards of $500 just for the vet costs, plus the cost of submitting them. If you get the other x-rays (knees, trachea, elbows, etc.) done at the same time, it will cost even more, but does reduce the number of times your bitch will need to be sedated.

Now the mechanics of getting puppies....

If you can't do a natural breeding for whatever reason (physical difficulties, male is five states away, or has been dead for ten years), AI is expensive. Not just the stud fee, but the cost of collecting, storing, and/or transporting frozen or chilled semen, and then the cost of implanting. Side by side AI with fresh semen is obviously less expensive, but still has costs not associated with a live cover. With either live cover or AI, all my breeder friends recommend progesterone testing to make sure the timing is right. Yes, another expense, roughly $75 to $150 a pop.

Then, you have the actual pregnancy and whelping. At the bare minimum, you will need to have x-rays done to get an estimate of how many puppies she's carrying. Then, either schedule a c-section, or have a plan in place in case she needs and emergency c-section. Keep in mind that a c-section on an exhausted bitch, who possibly has one or more dead puppies inside her, is going to be more both riskier and more expensive than a scheduled one.

Once you get the pups safely whelped, there are other things to consider. Are you prepared to bottle feed puppies is your bitch either dies or can't feed the puppies for some reason? (My SPoo's breeder wound up bottle feeding eleven puppies when their bitch developed severe mastitis. That was a round the clock job that went on for three weeks until they were ready to start eating on their own...) Can you deal with possible stillborn puppies, or puppies who die after being born, or puppies with deformities that require them to be euthanized soon after birth?

Okay, you've now got a litter of healthy 8 week old puppies to find homes for... Are you willing to take a puppy back if their owner can't keep it? Now? A year from now? Five years from now? What kind of health guarantee do you plan on offering? What are you going to do with any puppies that you can't sell?

As far as allergies and entropion, the tendency for both is definitely inheritable. My (rescue) GSD has environmental allergies, and while they are mild, they do still cost me money on a monthly basis for medication, and cause her misery if she doesn't get her medication.
 
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