Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Frenchies that win by a nose


The dog on the left is Arnie - a former AKC show-dog. You can read more about him here.

The dog on the right is Flint, bred in the Netherlands by Hawbucks French Bulldogs - a breeder trying to establish a new, healthier template for French Bulldogs.

They are both Frenchies. Both purebred. The difference is that the dog on the left has been bred to meet the current interpretation of breed standard - and the dog on the right is the result of selection for a more moderate dog by a breeder who believes that good health is more important than fashion.

I posted the image on Twitter and my CRUFFA Facebook page a couple of days ago and it has already been shared thousands of times, with many people thinking it has been Photoshopped. It hasn't.

I am pleased that most people are deeply shocked by Arnie's profile.  In truth, most Frenchies are not quite this extreme. But he is not totally untypical either - particularly in the US where the breed standard does not have a minimum muzzle length.

Unfortunately, some people are so wedded to the type of dog seen in today's show-ring that they prefer Arnie - or are more shocked by Flint's comparatively-long muzzle. Some have even called Flint "extreme".

"[I prefer] the one on the left to me it's a French bulldog and what I see and love in a French bulldog -the one on the right I don't recognise as a French bulldog," wrote one breeder.

And then this:

"I'd definitely own the left over right! Right is a disgusting example of the breed."

 As ever, what is considered "good type" changes with fashion. This Frenchie was a Champion in 1914.


And this is a famous French Bulldog from 1925.


This dog won Best of Breed at Crufts last year.


And this dog, a slight improvement, won BOB this year.


Neither of the Crufts dogs has a muzzle length anything like the 1/5th of the total head length advocated by the French Bulldog Club of England - or indeed the one-sixth the length of the head demanded in the FCI standard. They are also extremely cobby - particularly the 2016 BOB.  The show Frenchie's back has shortened over the years too, robbing them of the tail they once had and likely contributing to another Frenchie problem - spinal issues.

Unfortunately, stenosis - pinched nostrils - is almost ubiquitous in the show version of the breed, adding to the respiratory risk.

We know from newly-published research  that there isn't an absolute correlation between any one physical feature and breathing difficulties  (there is a panoply of contributory factors that interplay, including neck/chest girth,  intra-nasal obstruction, stenosis, trachea size and obesity).

But as David Sargan from the Cambridge BOAS research team says: "I think breeding for sound open nostrils, for longer and less wide heads, for less boxy body shapes and for less skin would all improve the [extremely brachycephalic] breeds." 

The good news is that there are breeders like Hawbucks breeding for a longer-muzzled, lighter, more athletic dogs with truly open nostrils. I would urge everyone tempted by a French Bulldog to seek them out - and of course be aware that health tests are important too.

The best Frenchie breeders screen for BOAS, hemivertebrae (HV), hereditary cataracts, luxating patellas, degenerative myelopathy (DM) and skin issues/allergies. A low co-efficient of inbreeding is a plus, too - and also ask about longevity (i.e. what age dogs in the pedigree died). Despite the French Bulldog Club of England's claim  that Frenchies can live to 12-14 "on average", this is not true.  In fact, Agria insurance data in Sweden has found that they are the shortest-living of all the breeds and the Finnish KC's database documents an average age of death of just five years old. It's possible that UK dogs live a bit longer, but essentially they're all from the same stock, so it's unlikely to be much longer.

I am an avid collector of pictures of more moderate Frenchies.  Here are a few of them. The first is Flint's mum, Yara - and the last another pic of  Flint. Enjoy!












© Krijn de Haas



25 comments:

  1. Nowt so queer as folk. The healthy looking ones are superb. Now wondering if there are any breeders doing the same for Boston Terriers, as I have a friend who wants one as a companion.

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    1. Most "pet quality" Boston Terriers look like this. Taller, more tail, more muzzle. Just a sturdier dog overall.

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  2. I used to work for a vet that bred Himalayan's and she, too, was breeding for healthier cats. I support healthier animals and am saddened over fads in breeding. Example of another extreme is the German Shepard. Are we breeding for the health and longevity of an animal or the vanity, pleasure and entertainment of humans?

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  3. It's great that Flint and his relatives have a longer muzzle. They look more pitbull-like, and that's a very good thing. To be sure, Arnie's face is tragically deformed, and if his fans "prefer" it, that just reveals their ignorance of healthy carnivoran morphology. In truth, even Flint's muzzle is too short. At that length, he may be able to breathe normally, but he is still likely to have dental problems. Dogs are canids, after all and need long muzzles, but it is an improvement.

    I also continue to be disappointed that people persist in breeding for the bobtail, which is a congenital absence or shortness of the tail. Dogs need tails for a number of purposes, and selecting them for bobtails is not trivial. I'm glad those Frenchies with muzzles will be less likely to suffer from BOAS ... but people have still intentionally bred them for deformity, and people like me still notice.

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  4. I'm not a fan of brachycephalic breeds but those Frenchies that have long muzzles almost make me want to buy one for myself!

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  5. Arnie is hypertype. Flint completely lacks type and does not resemble a French Bulldog in the slightest. He has strong pitbull-like characteristics. Whereas some of the old French Bulldog photos are far less extreme than Arnie while still being recognisable as a French Bulldog. That is where the sweet spot lies. Health and lack of exaggeration, without the loss of breed type. Otherwise, you might as well just buy a pitbull and forget about the Frenchie entirely.

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    1. Two other puppies from the litter. These are *not* mini pit bulls...

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/cruffa/permalink/1876083752608772/

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    2. If you think these dogs look like pitbulls, you wouldn't know a pitbull if it bit you on the foot.

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    3. I presume you know the difference in character between a French Bulldog and a pitbull?? They are French Bulldog that can breath easier and have a healthier life. They have more nose as the breed used to have (grew up with one in the 1960's).

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    4. I do not find Flint's overly long snout appealing at all. I have no problem with the appearance of any of the other dogs in this article, but if I ever saw him, I'd think he was mixed with something else, and I'd agree with Éadaoin that he looks like pitbull mix, and yes, I do know what pitbulls look like!

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    5. Because the only difference between a french bulldog and an apbt from the ADBA is nose length...

      Honestly, if you really think that, then neither breed is for you tbh.

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    6. Ridiculous - flint does not look like a pit mix at all. He looks exactly like a purebred french bulldog with a longer muzzle than average - which is exactly what he is.

      Talking about loss of "breed type" - french bulldogs didn't look like arnie when they were first created, they looked far more like flint. If any breeder has lost the type it's arnie's breeder and all others that breed for flat faces.

      I'm not a fan of brachy dogs and probably wouldn't ever own one but flint looks far more like a regular dog and is far more aesthetically appealing to me than arnie.

      I applaud Hawbucks efforts in creating a healthier frenchie - we need more breeders like this.

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    7. Let's just put it as it is - Arnie is a cripple. Pure and simple. Poor dog!

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  6. I don't see anything pitbull about Flint at all, I do see mini "bull" and as it's a French bulldog......

    Arnie is typical of a show Frenchie with extreme exaggerations, the type that win shows and turn dogs into sad cripples.

    I think the tide is at last starting to turn. It takes outsiders to notice how badly things were going wrong, but now slowly the fans of the breed will come around, I'm sure.

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  7. Great job! I am glad that these issues are being publicly discussed and revealed.

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  8. I've got a theory about people so breedblind that they can characterize a dog as "disgusting" because it has a muzzle. Have you heard the quote "Things are beautiful if you love them" before? It occurs to me that if you've loved a dog from an extreme brachycephalic breed, perhaps many of them, then they are going to be beautiful to YOU, of course.

    But even more, when you hear or read someone calling these dogs "deformed", it can feel like a personal attack on these dogs which you've loved dearly, and mourned for deeply when they died. It's also like you're saying that the specific dogs you've loved should never have existed in the first place, because if different dogs had been used for the breeding program, then YOUR Mopsi or Pugsley would have never existed in the first place. Oh, sure other puppies would have been born in this alternate timeline, with different looks but equally lovable temperaments... but none of them would have been YOUR cherished Shuggie or Rascal.

    On a visceral level, it feels like breed reform advocates are trying to retroactively rip these much-loved pooches from your memories-- and your heart. No, this isn't logical, but very little about our relationships with our pets is.

    I know that this doesn't explain everything about resistance to reform, but it does seem like it could explain at least part of it.

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    1. I imagine there is quite a lot of that. However surely now that they have been made aware of what was/is going on, in the loving memory of their beloved Mopsies and Pugsleys, they would strive for a healthier breed. That would make their memories less stressful knowing they are doing something good for the breed.

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  9. Can I ask how you make these side by side images? I've been wanting to make one of Bull Terriers.

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  10. Thank you for posting these photos. I totally support the campaign to improve the health of Frenchies but sometimes people assume that all Frenchies are problematic and can't breathe and it's just not the case. Well-intentioned folk go on the attack if you say you have a French Bulldog. Our Frenchie is very like photos 4 and 5 and when we've put pictures on Facebook there have been comments about him not being a 'true' Frenchie and we have to explain that the longer muzzle is actually the way the breed is meant to be, not these flat faced mutants that can't breathe, let alone run and play football. A good healthy Frenchie is a joy and we need to make sure we keep to the objective of improving the gene pool and not, as some have previously said, simply do away with the breed entirely.

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    1. Actually, a long snipey muzzle was never the breed founders intentuons. Some of the photos they are using in this article were just as incorrect for dogs back then as they are now. The closest one to GOOD old type is the black and white dog.

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  11. I think both dogs are on the extreme ends of oppposite spectrums. What is interesting is that neither dog has the underjaw that the standards call for, which is part of what makes it a bulldog in the first place. There are nice Frenchies with moderate muzzles out there that even do shutzhund and agility, and it's sad that the author couldn't be bothered to go interview their owners. Furthermore,I don't care what the breeder "says", the dog on the top right is most definitely mixed with something and a DNA test will surely prove it. The breed standard also says they are cobby. I am not sure why they are attacking that aspect now too. These are lap dogs, not athletes, they don't need to be built like Whippets.

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    1. They've got weird characters for lap dogs! Go to any French bulldog gathering and watch the goings on. Talk of pitbulls they seem to be at each others throats half the time.
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      The point is when is enough enough? When is cobby enough when is an underjaw's turn up enough, when is the head square enough, the muzzle set back enough? When the dog is a crippled mess?!
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      An arbitrary vision of what the dog should look like is someones fantasy of what it should look like as set in the standard. The breed didn't just appear. Taken to their "logical" extremes this vision as defined by what wins in a show ring have not always been kind to dog breeds. Many are today suffering disastrous results of this selection process.

      The tide is turning, as the public begin to understand that health and functional phenotypes are more important than those winning extremes. Typy is the synonym for grotesquely deformed.

      Do or die, eventually those that resist will go extinct along with their long suffering dogs.

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  12. There is veru little that is right in a frenchie DAWF BREED...why not just eliminate him and the english and everyone breed sibs only...Frenchie have never had a nuzzle like FLINT .....Flint looks like he could even have an even or scissors bite but I guess that is better for eating

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  13. "They are both Frenchies. Both purebred." - how sad. I hope that the breeder who REALLY breeds for health will know that breeding within the closed population that has health issues is not the way to go.

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  14. "Finnish KC's database documents an average age of death of just five years old."
    Now stating this, you should also mention that this is purely based on what the owners have reported. There is no guarantee that the ages are correctly reported or the cause of death is accurate. And to be precise, the average age for 5 year 7 months, not 5 years as you stated.
    Also only 503 are reported dead (done by owners). Also when dog dies out of old age, it's not so common to report them.
    And 39 out of 503 reported deaths are caused by accidents or traffic (avg age of 3 yrs 1 months) and reported missing are 3 dogs (avg 3 yrs 7 months). 50 of reported deaths are out of old age (11 years 2 months).

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