AKC Gazette

March 2000




A mysterious physical anomaly found in some newborn Bulldogs puppies has led some breeders and veterinarians to reach some apparently unfounded conclusions.

The anomaly is characterized by hind feet that are inverted – that is, the newborn’s hind feet are turned backwards instead of forward. (To put it another way, the pads of both hind feet face upward at birth, rather than downward).

This condition initially appears to some veterinarians and breeders to be an irreversible deformity of the hind legs in an otherwise perfectly developed and healthy puppy.

Until fairly recently, most puppies born with this condition were thought to have a serious birth defect and were euthanized to prevent a life of misery. Unfortunately, many breeders and experienced veterinarians who never encountered this condition advise others not to save puppies so afflicted at birth.

However, a recent item published in the Bulldog Club of America’s officially quarterly, The Bulldogger, alerted breeders to this previously unpublicized phenomenon. Soon after publication, the BCA member who reported having had newborn puppies with inverted hind feet said he received numerous calls and letters from other breeders who had similar experiences. To his surprise, this so-called birth defect was not nearly as rare in Bulldog litters as he had anticipated. He was also surprised to learn that this condition is apparently only temporary!

Breeder after breeder who intuitively chose not to euthanize affected puppies reported that in less than a month, the inverted hind feet returned to normal without therapy of any kind. Absolutely no traces of this condition were observed after the puppies began to mature. Neither were there any reports by the breeders of an abnormal rear gait or impaired mobility when these Bulldogs reach adulthood. Many were shown quite successfully and achieved their championships. Furthermore, many breeders said that the offspring of these previously afflicted adult dogs and bitches seldom, if ever, produced puppies with inverted hind feet at birth.

A veterinarian who breeds and shows Bulldogs advises breeders to wait and see whether the affected puppy’s ligaments and tendons tighten and turn the feet around to the correct position. Thus far, no reports have suggested that this condition will not correct itself on its own.

The factors that may cause this condition, clinical, environmental or otherwise, remain somewhat of a mystery. Whatever the cause, this temporary, alarming condition is more widespread in Bulldog litters than formerly realized, but euthanasia is apparently not indicated. It would appear that the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of saving these pups.

Actual congenital deformities such as cleft palates and harelips are indeed life threatening to puppies, and little can or should be done to save them. Most breeders are convinced that these conditions are genetic in origin. Extreme caution should be observed in the use of the sire or dam of puppies born with these deformities for further breeding purposes.

To say that breeders should not be vigilant and concerned about inverted hind feet at birth would a mistake, but neither should breeders overreact by attempting surgery or reverting to euthanasia. In this case, it’s best to let nature take its course.

  1. William Andree, 204 S. Beach Dr., Monticello, IN 47960.