I found this gem in the British Pathe film library – it’s footage of the Richmond, UK dog show, and shows several breeds, including a French Bulldog named “Champion Baxter’s Atom”, owned by one of England’s most renowned, French Bulldog breeders, Mrs. Townsend Green.
Mrs Townsend Green was one of the most respected Frenchie authorities in the UK. She was one of the nine founding members of the French Bulldog Club of England (FBCE). Her Roquet 96 (by Boule ex Boulette) won the first French Bulldog show in England, held on April 7, 1903 at Tattersall’s in London. Mrs Townsend Green’s renowned Barkston kennel was founded in 1897, had a great influence on Frenchie breeding in England in the 1920s and ’30s and continued until 1940. The good lady was president of the FBCE from 1926 to 1944 and died in 1951.
- Bonham’s Auction House
Atom, the dog shown in the Pathe film clip, is a solid, cobby,moderate backed little dark brindle bitch, with a reasonable amount of stop and nicely rounded ears (although for today’s taste they seem a little bit low set – partially a result of having a film camera shoved into her face, perhaps!).
In contrast with many other breeds, this bitch would still be ‘in the ribbons’ if she was shown in most countries around the world, and she’d certainly earn a place in most breeding programs. This is because, for the most part, French Bulldog breeders have held out against being persuaded that overly exaggerated features are necessary to win in the show ring (and to sell puppies to pet owners, many of whom are just as guilty of desiring extreme features as the most inept judges could ever be).
Moderation is a difficult thing to achieve – it’s easy to pick out the BIGGEST dog, or the FLATTEST face, or the SHORTEST back, because extremes ‘stand out’ and draw our eye. Moderation, that underrated virtue, can seem to ‘blend’ into the background, unless we can learn to value and recognize it. Remember, just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth striving for.
As modern breeders, we have to ask ourselves – “Do we want to be the generation responsible for screwing up the French Bulldog?”.
Do we want to allow ourselves to be swayed for a desire for ‘extremes’ instead of the moderate, healthy, sound dogs that have survived virtually unchanged for over a hundred years? Let’s hope not – or a hundred years from now, there might not even be a French Bulldog, other than in film clips. This is why it is SO important to fight back against breed clubs that attempt to impose arbitrary, cosmetic and potentially dramatically detrimental changes to breed standards that have stood the test of time.
Image below is of the trophy won by Mrs. Townsend Green’s French Bulldog ‘Barkston FanFan’, awarded by French Bulldog Club of England for the Best Dog exhibited at their show June 19 1922