What Is A Vertical Pedigree And How Does It Create Healthy Bulldogs?

Vertical Pedigrees and English Bulldog Health

Who we are and why we are the authority on the English Bulldog Breed

We have devoted the last 15 years to improving the health of the English Bulldog breed in the United States. Instead of following the current unhealthy breed standards, we set out to change the breed for the better, focusing on lighter wrinkle sets, slightly longer snouts and extensive health testing. Through years of dedication we have been able to significantly improve the health characteristics within our bloodlines and give hope to the breed that health improvements are possible. Along the way, we have also become thought leaders in proper bulldog training, care and behavioral studies.

As you all know, we take the health of our bulldogs very seriously.  There is nothing more beautiful than the sight of a well-bred bulldog that is healthy and functional.  This ideal is the motor that drives us and is at the heart of who we are at Bruiser Bulldogs. Obviously, the ideal bulldog is very important to us. However, it’s important to explain how we reach these goals, and a vertical pedigree is a big part of that.

What Is A Vertical Pedigree And How Does It Create Healthy Bulldogs?

How you get to a destination is often as important as the end itself. In light of this truth, let’s talk about vertical pedigrees.

One would think that creating a healthy, functional bulldog would be simple enough.  However, simply breeding functional parents free of any health issues and, may not give you healthy offspring.  Unfortunately, genetics and hereditary issues are not as black and white or as simple as this.  We test all of our adult bulldogs for health issues such as the eyes, patellas, heart, trachea, and elongated soft palate. But, there are more to genetics than simply healthy parents.

That’s why we rely on a vertical pedigree database to help us understand the health of our bloodlines.  The vertical pedigree differs greatly from the traditional pedigree that we are all accustomed to. Traditional pedigrees expand horizontally.  This means they are read from left to right with relatively few dogs appearing at the far left of the pedigree and increasing in the number of ancestors listed to the right.

We know that the health of the dogs to the left (the mother, father, and grandparents) most directly impact the resulting offspring.  The problem lies in the fact that there are only six participants in this sample size. A small sample size is a problem when trying to develop a healthy pattern of possible offspring.  In short, the health of six dogs is simply not enough evidence to prove the viability of healthy bloodlines. In a traditional pedigree, you can’t increase the number of dogs without using data from distant relations. These distant relatives are somewhat unreliable in predicting the health of the offspring.  While adding distant relatives might increase the sample size, unreliable data is not going to make the offspring any healthier!

The solution to this problem is the vertical pedigree. The value of the vertical pedigree begins with this simple truth: full siblings are equally genetically similar to each other as they are to their parents.  This means you can generate as much or more health data in a bloodline from each sibling in the litter as you can from health testing the parents.  It also means that you can generate more health data by factoring in the health of the siblings than just looking at the health history of grandparents or great-grandparents. 

Oftentimes health issues that are not recognizable through a horizontal pedigree become blatantly obvious when looking at the data of a vertical pedigree. Below is a great example of a vertical pedigree charting hip dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers. Notice there is information on the health of the siblings, the parent’s siblings and even in some cases the siblings of the great grandparents.  This is great information!

vert pedigree

How does the vertical pedigree affect how we go about our day-to-day decision-making at Bruiser Bulldogs?  For starters, we are incredibly interested in the health of our offspring.  Many of our adopters have noticed that we often ask for updates on their puppies. 

We do that for two reasons. To start, we absolutely care about our adopters.  Second, we record the health of the dog in our vertical pedigree database.  That informs any breeding decision we make from then on.  Which allows us to add to our current information.  We have information on the health of the parent bulldogs (and their siblings), the health of grandparents and great grandparents (and their siblings) as well as the health of the littermates. We use that data to decide which dogs get held back as parents. The vertical pedigree allows us to better reach our goal of breeding a bulldog that does not suffer from health issues.

Let’s compare the amount of data we use to what 90% of other bulldog breeders use, which is nothing.  As a result, most breeders are closing their eyes and hoping for the best.  No wonder the bulldog has health issues:)

Take care bulldoggers,

Mitch Wysong

Check Out our Available Puppies Here


Bruiser Bulldog’s Reviews

  • I've grown up with english bulldogs my whole life. I am familiar with common and uncommon health problems they may face so when my boyfriend and I decided we were ready to adopt our own english puppy finding a reputable breeder that prioritizes health was most important to us. Erica and Mitch of Bruiser Bulldogs are just that. They are experienced, ethical and quality breeders. I was referred to them by my friend that I trust after I saw their gorgeous healthy puppy. Our Puppy Primrose is the light of our lives! Bruisers was there to assist us every step of the way. We would highly recommend Bruisers Bulldogs to anyone looking for their own happy, healthy pup!

    Leah H. Avatar
    Leah H.
  • We, like many of the other people who found Bruisers, did a lot of research to find a responsible breeder, especially since English Bulldogs can have health issues and because there is a trend now for "trendy" bulldogs (blue, etc.) which have even more health issues. We were lucky to have come across Bruiser Bulldogs and even more so the fact that they were near our family and hometown made it even better. We have had Clementine (Callie) for four months now, and she is a wonderful dog. Her personality is amazing, and I think part of it is breeding and the other part is Erika and her family lovingly raising the puppies in their home with plenty of attention and snuggles. I also was impressed that, rather than send the puppies out right at 8 weeks, Erika kept ours for a few extra weeks because she was tiny and not read to leave her mom yet. It's that care that differentiates Bruisers from other breeders.

    Emily R. Avatar
    Emily R.
  • We found Bruiser Bulldogs after researching healthy breeding line for bulldog puppies. Erica was easy to work with thru the entire process from application to adopting and now beyond as we host our new family member, Chief. Her on-call support and willingness to provide open, honest advice to all of our questions and concerns continues to be appreciated. We would highly recommend Bruiser Bulldogs to anyone looking for an English Bulldog to join their family.

    Elizabeth W. Avatar
    Elizabeth W.
  • Lady L. Avatar
    Lady L.
  • Bruiser Bulldogs are 5-star breeders! They are experienced, responsive and knowledgeable about all things bulldog related. They went above and beyond for us and are truly dedicated to all of their pups! We love our little girl so much and would recommend Bruiser to anyone looking for a healthy beautiful bully.

    Jonathan E. Avatar
    Jonathan E.
  • Bruiser Bulldogs is a 5-star breeder in every way. Erica and Mitch are trustworthy, excellent communicators, fair, passionate, and produce the best bulldogs.We were at the top of the waiting list for months and Erica reached out every litter to see if we were finally ready for a bulldog. When we were, she was very easy to work with. Her knowledge on bulldogs is outstanding. We had many questions on the process and she always knew what was best for the puppy.We've had Penny (formerly Blair) for two months and she is very healthy, energetic, playful, and sweet. She is great with other people and dogs. We are so happy with our pup.When we are ready for bulldog #2, we will only consider Bruiser Bulldogs.

    Mitch C. Avatar
    Mitch C.
  • We waited a while to write this review so that we had a better sense for the overall health of our Bruiser Bulldog “Bowser”. Bowser was born April 2020 and is an integral part of our family. When we were first exploring English Bulldog breeders our biggest concern was the overall health of the dogs. We decided to work with Erica at Bruiser Bulldogs because we liked their focus on improving the breeds breathing abilities and the fact that the puppies are raised within her family environment before coming home with their new owners.As for Bowsers health, he’s a health energetic English Bulldog that has no problem keeping up with the kids, going on 2 mi walks and camping with us on a regular basis. Bowser also breaths clearly and our vet was impressed with his overall health from the moment we brought him home. All that said we know English Bulldogs have a predisposition to many health issues and that his current health can not predict the future. With that In mind its important to start with a breeder that open to answer any of your questions as Erica has ours, and that strongly believes in improving the breeds overall health profile.

    Adam B. Avatar
    Adam B.
  • After the loss of our first English Bulldog due to health issues it was very important for us to find a breeder who did not breed only for aesthetic but more importantly for health. My sister ended up finding Bruiser Bulldogs and we knew right away that they were the breeder for us.In September we ended up driving 9 hours to pick up two Bruiser bulldog puppies- one for my husband and I and one for my mom. Jackson and Penelope have been nothing but a joy. They are very social and very friendly to everyone they meet including kids and other dogs/animals. They are both very athletic and healthy. They are also HUGE snugglers and always want to be with you. It is an absolute pleasure having these two bullies in our lives! My sister and her fiancé also fell in love with them and now are on the waitlist themselves for a Bruiser bulldog!Erica is very knowledgeable about the breed. She is very hands on throughout the process and is just overall a kind and honest person to work with.With all that being said I cannot recommend Bruiser Bulldogs enough!

    Collyn C. Avatar
    Collyn C.
  • We fell in love with our puppy the moment we saw him. One of the reasons we chose Bruiser Bulldogs was due to the claims about breeding for health. During our first visit at our vet's office, he told us that our pup was one of the healthiest English bulldogs he had ever seen. He is healthy, happy and social. Would recommend to anyone.

    Christina S. Avatar
    Christina S.
  • What an awesome experience! We seen our dog on their website and sent them an Email. Mitch called us and personally walked us through the process and made sure we had the right dog for our family. We couldn't be happier when we picked up our dog Ramsey, Erica made sure we had everything we needed and then some. They are truly amazing people who breed truly amazing dogs!

    Jim T. Avatar
    Jim T.

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