One of the most common emails I receive is from people asking, “Should I breed my French Bulldog?”. Generally, these people are very well intentioned. They have a wonderful French Bulldog that they love, and they can’t imagine anything more rewarding than having their dog produce French Bulldog puppies just as beautiful as they are.
As I write this, I can hear the occasional squeaks and yips of two litters of French Bulldog puppies. One litter is 8 days old, the other just 48 hours old. It’s hard to deny the cuteness of a Frenchie puppy – or that of any other breed. Those soft coats, those limpid eyes and that puppy breath! One glance at a litter of healthy puppies is enough to make any owner of a pure bred dog consider breeding their own. After all, it looks like so much fun, and you might even make a little bit of extra money.
Before rushing into breeding, there are some very specific things you need to consider. Cost, for one. Breeding, whelping and raising French Bulldogs is exorbitantly expensive — more so that you could probably imagine. The vast majority of French Bulldogs can neither breed, conceive or whelp naturally, and these costs can add up into the thousands in a very short period of time. Consider as well the emotional impact of seeing your beloved girl sedated, intubated and cut open on an operating table – all for the sake of hopefully one or two puppies. Take a look at our C Section Video, and decide for yourself if it’s worth. All of that stress comes along with a hefty price tag…
French Bulldog Litters – the Caviar of Dog Breeding (In Expenses Alone!)
Here’s an example work sheet of a litter we whelped several years ago. Unless otherwise indicated, all costs are in Canadian Dollars:
Timing Testing of the Bitch – progesterone & LH testing to determine optimum breeding dates.
Shipping Costs for Bitch to Stud Dog
Boarding Costs for Bitch while at Stud Dog
Ultrasound to determine pregnancy
Supplements, Vitamins, Premium Food
Reverse Progesterone to determine whelp date
Follow Up Visit for Mom and Pups
Shots, Worming, Well Puppy Visit, Microchips @ 3 puppies
Litter and Puppy Registration
Three puppies were born in this (fortunately) problem free litter. Bearing in mind that we have left out the costs of advertising, health testing, showing, feeding and all other expenses associated with this bitch reaching a stage where she is suitable to be bred, we are still looking at net costs of $2303 per puppy produced. Bear in mind, as well, that the net cost of $6910 would have been much the same even if this litter had only produced one puppy – or none.
We also need to consider that not all litters are trouble free. Some end in stress for the breeder, the bitch and the puppies, and some end up much, much worse.
Puppies Always Come in the Middle of the Night
[custom_frame_left shadow="on"][/custom_frame_left] Honey was a lovely cream bitch with an amazing future. She finished her US Championship with numerous group placements, culminating with a Best of Opposite Win at a Breed Specialty. In Canada, she finished her Championship in one weekend, with three group placements. Within one month of showing, she was the top winning French Bulldog in the country.
When the time came for us to breed Honey, we carefully chose a gorgeous male with qualities that matched and enhanced hers. An ultrasound showed she was indeed pregnant, and we began the count down to her due date. At 6 am on a Sunday morning, approximately five days before the earliest date we had estimated for her, Honey went into labor. Our regular vet, a canine reproduction specialist, was not open, and the local emergency clinic was a two hour drive from our rural home. We called the closest Vet, and, to our relief, he was indeed already in and willing to do Honey’s section. We had no idea at the time that he was there at such an unusual hour because he was a livestock vet primarily, nor did he inform us of this.
Arrival at the clinic showed a distressing site — one elderly vet, one 15 yr old kennel girl to assist, and a placid Jersey cow tied up in the back room. We had no other choice, though, as Honey was clearly in distress. Over sedated and with no hands to help me, Honey’s entire litter six of apparently healthy and to term puppies were born dead. We were not able to revive a single one of them. The Vet barely helped at all, calmly stating that ‘some pups just don’t make it’. So casual was his attitude, in fact, that when my bitch began to seizure in the cold metal recovery crate where he had placed her, he told me that it was ‘normal for a dog to shake’. It took screaming on my part to make him walk over and confirm that she was indeed seizuring. Luckily, we saved Honey – very luckily, and very barely. Unluckily, she developed a medical condition shortly after this, and was never bred from again. The litter we lost was her only chance at reproduction.
When Things Go Wrong
Don’t think that Honey’s case is the exception, either. Remember that cute little litter of 48 hour old puppies I mentioned at the beginning of this article? Since their birth, two of them have been back to the Vet clinic due to problems — and one went to the emergency clinic just two hours after we’d brought him home.
One male developed a severe umbilical hernia requiring stitching, and one female suffered a mysterious injury to her elbow which rapidly abscessed. I’m now flushing her wound every 30 minutes,once with saline/peroxide solution, then a second time with liquid antibiotic solution, and finishing up by applying topical antibiotics. In addition, I must check the boy’s stitch to ensure there’s no oozing, apply topical antibiotics, and administer oral antibiotics every 12 hours. All this in addition to checking weights, ensuring they are nursing well, keeping the whelping box clean, checking on the bitch, carrying her up the stairs so she can go outside, and washing mound after mound of dirty blankets.
The rule of thumb in dog breeding — perhaps the dog breeder’s credo — should go something like this:
“If you think it can’t happen, it will. If you KNOW it can’t happen, it will. If it is absolutely impossible for it to happen, it will most DEFINATELY.”
Mother nature works to ensure that the minute a dog breeder assumes that all is going well, something will go wrong. If you are prepared to make the choice to be a dog breeder, you need to be aware of the risks associated with, and the incredibly hard work and agonizing situations which it entails.
I can not count the number of emails I have received over the years from people who have bred their French Bulldog, and now she’s gone into labor, she’s in distress, and they have no idea what to do. Your first step, of course, should have been to plan ahead, prepare for the worst, and have a contingency plan in place if your bitch can’t free whelp. That means having a skilled Veterinarian who is experienced in performing c-sections on stand by – and “Stand by” means, yes – they do emergency surgery on weekends.
Planning is an essential part of breeding French Bulldogs, and if you’re not the plan ahead type, it’s probably not for you.
Dead bitches, dead puppies, dead litters, sleepless nights, devastating vet bills, and round the clock work are all the prices we must be prepared to pay for the rewards of snuggling those cute little faces which survive.
Until you have held in your hands a cold, dead puppy — one you’ve watched since birth, one you’ve waited for so eagerly — you cannot know what loss is. Until your bitch has died from complications of a breeding that you decided and planned, you cannot know what regret is. Serious breeders are aware of all of this, and reluctantly accepting of the possible outcomes which can happen.
What you need to ask yourself is are you prepared and willing to risk all of this?