Robert Jenkins & Ken Mollett

News & Media

The latest interview with Derek and Tony Mollett can be seen on YouTube. 

"The Wonder of Dogs"

September 21, 2013...the interview first aired on the BBC

Healthier new bulldog will lose its Churchillian jowl

Video of Tony Mollett and some of his dog

Mollett Victorian Bulldog

Modern English Bulldog

Modern English Bulldog

Victorian Bulldog

 Bulldogs: there is another way......

Once the face of courage, used to symbolise the British fighting spirit, the Bulldog is now almost unrecognisable from the dog it once was. Cue the Victorian Bulldog, which can exercise and breath freely and give birth naturally says Claire Horton-Bussy​

​Over a decade ago. I interviewed Ken Mollett, a breeder who decided to recreate the great British Bulldog after his own dogs began collapsing on warm days and dying prematurely.​

The Bulldog's pronounced skin folds makes them prone to disease, their screw tails can cause difficulty defecating, their bandy legs can hinder free movement, and their short muzzles cause respiratory distress as they literally can't get enough air in when breathing. With such big heads and wide fronts, natural births are a rarity, with most being born by caesarean.


​When you get to a stage where dogs can't give birth naturally, it's a grim day indeed. Human interference - the very thing that caused the problem- is now the only thing keeping the bulldog alive!    

Ken decided to get back to the 1901 Breed Standard and set about a new breeding programme of Victorian Bulldogs. The resulting dogs were longer in the leg, able to whelp naturally, and could enjoy long runs without passing out. Using Staffords and Bullmastiffs in his programme, Ken's dogs were happy and healthy - though Ken had to endure his fair share of criticism from the breed purists, who hated the fact that he was out crossing.

He had his fans, too, though, and was applauded by many for actually doing something to rectify the Bulldog's demise, instead of endlessly having meetings about how to reduce the exaggerations that had crept in over the decades.

Sadly, Ken died unexpectedly in 2002 at the age of 45. But his work continues, as his Victorian Bulldogs have been taken over by his brother, Derek, and nephew Tony.

"Victorian Bulldogs are unmistakeably Bulldogs, but nothing is exaggerated," says Derek. "They are self-whelpers, not to broad in the chest, and the nose is not as recessed. The head is not as large, the stand more upright, and they have free movement when running. Today's Bulldogs couldn't run from a bull, let alone take one down!"

Derek says that the Victorian Bulldogs have a longer life expectancy than KC Bulldogs and have a typical Bulldog temperment. "They are reasonably docile, not hyperactive, easy to live with, all-round good dog."

Interestingly, when I first interveiwed Ken in 1997, the Kennel Club acknowledged that there was a problem in the breed and was willing to listen to the breed club with regard to health problems. The KC spokesperson at the time, Brian Leonard, said they "were willing to take some change on board." A decade on, what has really changed in the pedigree world? Thankfully, the Victorian Bulldogs have been carrying on behind the scenes, living healthier lives and giving years more pleasure to their owners.

Following the Pedigree Dogs Exposed doumentry, the number of people enquiring about the Victorian Bulldogs has increased. "People want healthier dogs," Derek says. Amen to that.  ​       

Although still unmistakeably a Bulldog, The Victorian Bulldog (left) is less exaggerated than the KC Bulldog (right). The nose is not as recessed and the head is not as large.

​© pictures by Tim Rose @ dogs today


Kennel Club standards will improve welfare          

The bulldog will lose its Churchillian jowl after the Kennel Club reformed breeding standards. Puppies will be taller and leaner with smaller faces

Valerie Elliott, Consumer Editor

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.”

New breeding standards for 209 dog species have been brought into immediate force after the furor over breeding practices shown on a BBC One documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, last summer. Breeders have until the end of June to lodge any objections.

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.”

​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.”

​Bulldogs are prone to skin and coat problems, cherry eye, respiratory disorders, orthopedic conditions, and soft or cleft palate. Most are born by Caesarean section because large heads and proportionally small hips make natural births difficult. The breed’s anatomy also hinders mating, with many litters conceived via artificial insemination.

Jemima Harrison, of Passionate Productions, which made Pedigree Dogs Exposed, said that the changes were “hugely welcome and long overdue” but that it would take years to put right all the problems.

Jenny Baker, chairwoman of the Shar Pei Society of Great Britain, also supported the changes. “We have never encouraged breeding of loose skin on the neck, legs or skull.

”Beverley Cuddy, Editor of Dogs Today magazine, was sceptical. “It sounds impressive but remember judges are also the breeders. It’s like asking shoplifters to police themselves. I don’t think there is a judge in the land brave enough to send a dog from the ring.

​”Sir Patrick, president of the Zoological Society of London, said yesterday that he wished to appoint a small committee of experts, including a veterinary surgeon and a geneticist, to help his inquiry into breeding techniques. He will also review the registration and showing of dogs, and hopes to complete his report by the autumn. The Kennel Club has lodged a complaint about Pedigree Dogs Exposed with Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, accusing the documentary of bias.