French Bulldogs


The last thing I thought I would ever blog about is French Bulldogs. Not my breed.  so much not my breed…and I’ll tell you why:

I’m a sighthound fancier, and form follows function—as they say—. while I’ve had  a few serious health issues with my dogs in the past, nothing chronic, nothing that required constant attention.  I  still live with a Saluki who is 14 years old, and has a heart murmur and a 12-year-old tough as nails Whippet.

But the Frenchies? The bracheocephalics?  You are asking for heartbreak.

When I moved out of my  parents home and got one of my first grooming jobs, it was with Joan Fredericksen.  She raised Boston Terriers.  At one time, Bostons & Frenchies were the same breed.  Now, the ideal Boston  is actually a refined Frenchie.  If you are a  real conformation dog fancier, and you read the breed standards, you can see the  stewards of these breeds put a lot of thought into the ideal conformation of both these breeds.  They also love the personalities.  You can really get an idea of their personalities when you see them with other  dogs. They love to play, but they are  teasers and aggravators:  they will nudge other dogs, and when the nudged dog  lets them know he won’t tolerate what’s going on, they Bostons shriek and run.  They have patella issues, and often eye issues.  Because  of the prominent eyes, they often abbraid their corneas.  Joan had terrible problems with the dogs rubbing their eyes and abbraiding their corneas, as well as paying for  C sections and having more mismarked pups than  the Boston  pattern. She stopped stopped breeding Bostons when y=she had immediate successes with another breed.

I moved back to Chicago and became acquainted with a former  dog show handler, Matt Kassan.  He had an Afghan Hound when we met, but  for a number of reasons, gave that dog up, and one thing led to another, and he got the Frenchie pup.  Back in the early 1970’s, they were a very rare breed, and I know another handler got the pup for Matt …and that’s how I learned the standard.

They were not over bred back then. Again, this was the early 1970’s.  How things change.  What happened was that  the hobby breeders sold  pups with full registration, expecting the  buyers to get the pups spayed and neutered.  They probably also expected the pet buyers to stay in touch…but people move, get divorced, lose papers, and  someone knows someone who wants a Frenchie—miniature Bulldogs—and gets a breedable bitch, or 2, and some photographer has a client who wants one of these cuties in a print ad, and then they are in more and more print ads, and movies or TV commercials & the demand heats up, and everyone is breeding every bitch…and worse, the general public either doesn’t know how to find an ethical hobby breeder, or  goes into a pet store (which has gotten them   shipped from puppy mills—these days, European puppy mills), and the guy who wasn’t even planning on buying anything plunks down his credit card  and surprises him wife with a puppy (happened to a grooming client of mine.   She was horrified.)

But while the  early hobby breeders, euthanized the pups with cleft palates, in the 1970’s, nobody was checking for luxated patellas, liver shunts, or spinal issues.  Now, in the 21st century, many  hobby breeders may be doing more genetic testing, and selling pets with limited registration or already neutered, but the cat is out of the bag, and  the commercial sellers—be they backyard breeders or puppy mills, are raising dogs as livestock, and by the time the hereditary defect shows up, the owners have lost the papers, and would have no intention of holding the breeder responsible anyways. The veterinarians, making a bundle off these dogs,  don’t tell the owners that  the hereditary defects were disc9verable, and that’s just how it is.

I have recently worked at kennels offering dog daycare where there were more Frenchies and Boston Terriers than Miniature Schnauzersor West Highland White Terriers. Virtually all the pet Frenchies have either cherry eye (nictating membrane irritated) or eyelid entropy, heart or liver problems,  club feet, and I’ve seen 2 paralyzed and in dog wheel chairs, needing their bladders & bowels expressed manually. No joke.  So the $2000 dog ends up costing over $5000.  The buyers/owners of these dogs blame the breeders, but have done nothing to put the breeders out of business.

I would tell anyone  who wants a Boston or Frenchie to  contact either  the French Bulldog Club of America or Boston Terrier Club of America, and ask to be put in touch with local breeders AND I would tell them to also contact the French Bulldog & Boston Terrier Rescues (some have links to the parent club, some operate without the sanction) and ask the coordinator about health or training issues.

Not every dog that looks cute, is.  Frenchies happen to be, but  this is not a healthy breed.  Unless you have a lot of expendable income, this may not be the breed for you.

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