This is our new dog. His name is Koopa. Yes, it was my turn to name the family pet, and yes, I went with a video game name.
Koopa is an Olde English Bulldogge, not to be confused (although he regularly is) with a regular English bulldog. Our last dog, Berkeley, was a regular English bully, and we’ve already noticed some small, but dramatic, differences.
Put simply, an Olde English is a healthier version of the regular English. They are a course correction for the breed, an attempt to bring the bulldog back to what it used to be. The current standard put forth by the AKC for English bulldogs rewards unhealthiness, calling for a massive under bite, bowed legs and a swayed back. As a result, English bulldogs have a slew of health problems and their life expectancy is ridiculously short, just 6 to 9 years. They are high maintenance dogs; some people call them walking vet bills. We’ve met bulldog owners that have paid thousands to keep their dogs healthy—hip surgery to relieve the pressure on their overburdened joints, eye surgery to fix droopy eyelids, nose surgery so they can breathe better, and so on.
Berkeley wasn’t bad as far as bulldogs are concerned. He had some skin allergy issues and that was it. The bone cancer that took his life wasn’t breed specific, in fact according to the vet specialist, it was rare for a bulldog to have that type of cancer, especially so young. So yes, our first dog died way too early, but in terms of bulldog health issues, we dodged a bullet. We really love bulldogs—they have the best personalities and they’re awesome with kids—but we weren’t keen to try that again.
Shortly after Berkeley died I read this New York Times article about bulldogs and how the AKC refuses to budge on English bulldog breed standards. Breeders are effectively driving the breed to extinction, one miserable health defect at a time. That kind of sealed the deal for me. As much as I loved Berkeley and love the breed, I couldn’t support what amounts to slow burn animal cruelty. Lining the pockets of another English bulldog breeder would make us part of the problem.
That’s when we found out about the Olde English breed, which is not recognized by the AKC. A guy at Brooke’s office breeds them and he gave us the low down. They’re taller, have longer snouts (which mean they breathe easier), have more stamina and better proportioned limbs, and still have that goofy bulldog charm. They also have a longer life expectancy, 11 to 14 years. We searched around for a while but couldn’t find any available, especially for our budget. We came very close to adopting a chow mix puppy from the local shelter, but then Koopa found us.
He belonged to a breeder in Charleston. She was getting out of breeding to spend more time with her kids and Koopa was her last pup. Brooke exchanged several emails with her and found out that she started breeding Olde English bulldogges 12 years ago when her regular English died just two months after her first child was born. When we told her that Berkeley died two months after Parker was born she responded with, “Oh, you need this dog.” She was happy to see him go to a family and not another breeder, so she offered us a huge discount.
We picked him up last weekend and he’s awesome. He’s the exact opposite of Berkeley in terms of personality. Where Berkeley was hyper (for a bulldog) and rough, Koopa is calm and gentle. He doesn’t drool, get fatigued or snore as much as Berkeley did either. Parker loves him. He lights up when Koopa trots into the room, and Koopa seems to love the taste of Parker’s feet. He’s a great addition to the family.
I guess I’m sort of an advocate for the breed now. I really love bulldogs, which is why I won’t ever get another regular English bully. At least not until some things change with the breeders and the AKC. If you’re interested in bulldogs, I recommend going with healthier alternatives like the Olde English Bulldogge, the Victorian Bulldog or any of the American Bulldog variants.