As reported in today’s (London) Times:

The classic British bulldog, a symbol of defiance and pugnacity, is to disappear. A shake-up of breeding standards by the Kennel Club has signalled the end of the dog’s Churchillian jowl. Instead, the dog will have a shrunken face, a sunken nose, longer legs and a leaner body.

The change has angered the British Bulldog Breed Council and it is threatening legal action against the club. Robin Searle, the chairman, said: “What you’ll get is a completely different dog, not a British bulldog.”

The shake-up comes as one of the country’s leading zoologists and animal behaviour experts, Sir Patrick Bateson, announced that he would be heading an independent inquiry into dog breeding.

The Kennel Club is determined to show its commitment to dog welfare and has ordered the removal of characteristic features from some dogs. In a statement it said: “The breed standards have been revised so they will not include anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog breathing, walking and seeing freely.”

In a country where the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded sixty years before the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, this is no small thing.

Proponents of the new regs claim that the life of a British bulldog isn’t all beer and skittles kibbles. Most are born by Caesarean section because their large heads and small hips make natural delivery difficult. And, as the report discreetly puts it, “the breed’s anatomy also hinders mating.” The poor blighters are also prone to skin and coat problems, cherry eye, respiratory disorders, and bone and mouth problems.

But many bulldog fanciers and pet owners see the sudden introduction of new regs that go into effect immediately as an attempt to muzzle discussion.

The new regulations —which, depending on your point of view, represent a step in the right direction or the intrusion of PC into the canine world— will apply to other breeds as well:

The shar pei will lose the familiar folds of skin on the neck, skull and legs while the Clumber spaniel and the labrador retriever must stay slim to qualify as top show dogs. Flat faces without a muzzle on Pekingese are also no longer acceptable because they cause breathing difficulties. Other breeds to change are the bloodhound, German shepherd hound, basset hound, Saint Bernard, chow chow, the Dogue de Bordeaux and mastiff.

Judges at licensed dog shows have been instructed to use the new breed standards and to choose only the healthiest and best-adjusted dogs when deciding champions. Those at Crufts are under orders to expel from the competition any animal that shows signs of disease or deformity. Incestuous breeding of dogs is also to be banned. Marc Abraham, veterinary adviser to the Kennel Club, said: “The changes will leave breeders and judges in no doubt about their responsibilities to safeguard the health and welfare of dogs, first and foremost.”

Bad symbol! Bad! The above poster—published when Britain stood alone in Europe after the fall of France in 1940— may have to be airbrushed to fix the large head, small hips, and thinning coat.