Think happy thoughts for Fluffy

Fluffy says
Fluffy says “Don’t hate me because I’m bee-ooo-tiful”

Poor little Fluffy. She might not be the prettiest dog on the block, but didn’t your momma teach you that pretty comes from what’s on the inside? And this girl’s got a pretty nature that shines on through, in spite of all the trauma she’s experienced in her life.

A puppy mill rescue, Fluffy (now known as “Peaches”) came to rescue with a myriad of health issues, most baffling of which was – her poor little bum was sewn shut, apparently to deal with her diahrrea! Good grief!

There’s suspicion it was done as a shoddy attempt to correct a rectal prolapse, but no one knows for sure, and Fluffy isn’t talking.

She still has some leaky bum issues, and is getting paranoid about anyone coming up behind her, because she is (quite understandably!) getting tired of being swiped with baby wipes every two minutes. Her poor little bottom is still red and sore, in spite of the special diet and special care her foster mom is putting into her.

Still, she’s a Frenchie – sunny natured, happy to be alive and loved, and adoring every pat and kiss she gets. You can read her latest updates over on the French Bulldog Village Blog.

Is there anything more resilient than the heart of a rescue dog? No matter the beatings, no matter the neglect, no matter the horrific abuse, time and time again we find that underneath it all there’s a heart that still wants – desperately – someone to love.

Adopting, fostering or even just supporting a rescue dog isn’t something you do because it’s ‘noble’ – you do it because it’s one way to show these dogs that their resiliency in the face of horror, their willingness to try once more to love us, isn’t misplaced. It’s how we show them that, yes – there is goodness in the world.

Someone once said to me “Rescuing a dog is like picking up some dull, dirt encrusted rock, only to buff it up and find that it’s actually a priceless diamond. Under all their filth and neglect, someone’s priceless new best friend is hiding”.

Go find your own priceless new best friend, over on the French Bulldog Village. Yes, I’ve mentioned them before – but now I’m mentioning them again.

They do good works, every day – placing stray “French Bulldog mixed with who knows what” mixes, adopting out puppy mill retirees with no questions asked, helping breeders place their dogs into great retirement homes, and staying out of the politics of “Should we help that person?”, because they know that what matters is the dogs.

They’re also the home to the Karen Krings Memorial Fund – a fund dedicated to helping special needs French Bulldogs in the care of rescue organizations.

Check them out, and toss them a few bucks, even if you can’t adopt one of those adorable little faces.

Oh, and check out FBV founder Charlotte Creeley’s new blog – attorney stuff, dogs, dog training, pugs and other bits and pieces. She’s a great writer, and a true supporter of French Bulldog welfare.

It's like the scene in the Shining, where the elevator doors open..

Sweet mother of Midol, do I ever have some cranky bitches around my house lately. Bitches, by the way, is meant in the purely animal husbandry sense of the word, in that I’m referring to the fact that every intact girl dog in my house is currently in the beginning, middle or end state of heat. Oh, and in case you were wondering (and come on, admit it, you were) yes indeedy, girl dogs sure do get moody (and no, you can’t slip Midol into their food).

Everyone is fighting with everyone, Elliott (who arrived here from Michigan last week, and likely had something to do with kicking off this festival of progesterone induced frenzy) is losing his mind, and my floor looks like the operating room in a M.A.S.H. unit.

To quote the immortal South Park commercial parody, “It’s like that scene from the Shining, where the elevator doors open..”.

God, I hate having intact bitches. Hate, hate, hate. I have some breeding plans for two of the evil little wenches, but I’m not going to talk about it, for fear the cruel and heartless breeding Gods will read it, laugh, and screw me over once again.

In the meantime, pity me, send swiffer wet jet refills, and watch this Youtube video, unless you’re all uptight and humorless, in which case the first part of this post was probably enough to send you screaming off to send an irate “Dear madam, I find your blog quite appalling” email. It’s ok, it’s been at least a week since I’ve had one of those, so I’m due.

Another view on Blues….

Blue French Bulldog

All of the controversy over French Bulldog colors (it’s a Frenchie list thing – if it’s not this, it’s ear size or weight) made me contemplate the need to hear from both sides of the argument, both pro and con.

First up is long time French Bulldog breeder and recent Blue French Bulldog convert Trudy Bettinger. She was kind enough to answer some questions for me, and to share some photographs of her blues.

Tell me a bit about your background in French Bulldogs, pre Blues. How long have you been breeding French Bulldogs, and do you show?

I have owned Frenchies since 1990, and have owner/handled numerous Frenchies to their AKC championships, and have BRED more than 50 French Bulldog champions including group placing and Best In Specialty Winners.

When did you get your first blue, and did you breed him/her?

I bought my first blue Frenchies in 2002 and yes, I bred them sparingly.

What do you like about Blues?

Silly question; they are French Bulldogs. What is not to like? Although some colors in this breed appeal to me more than others, I do not hate any color, and simply love the breed no matter what color or size they come in. But, I have always been a fan of the color blue and have actually bred and/or owned blue shar-pei and blue neapolitan mastiffs, so would have no valid reason to dislike the color in French Bulldogs. I am more concerned about breed type and health issues than what color the Frenchie’s hair happens to be.

Blue pied French Bulldog

Some people seem to be worried that blue is linked to health issues – have you experienced that with your Blues?

Blue French Bulldogs are FRENCH BULLDOGS that happen to have blue hair. They come from the same gene pool as brindle, cream, fawn, etc. and because there are so few BLUES in existence, I would love to meet anyone who can produce factual data linking specific health issues affecting the French Bulldog breed to blue coat color.

As stated, Blue French Bulldogs don’t have their own separate and distinct gene pool, so they can be affected by any health issue that occurs in our breed, but I am very conscientious about all of the Frenchies that are in my breeding program (no matter the color), so routinely screen my dogs for known health issues affecting French Bulldogs.

Do you think “blue” and the color “mouse”, as referred to in the standard, are the same thing?

I think that those people that are against the color BLUE want to claim that BLUE and MOUSE are interchangeable. BUT, I have researched numerous AKC recognized breeds and their standards, and whether it be Australian Shepherd, Australian Cattle Dog, Italian Greyhound, Chow Chow, Chinese Shar-pei, Neapolitan Mastiff, etc. the correct description for said coat color(s)is BLUE……no mention of ‘mouse’.

Blue French Bull Dog

One of the main complaints I’ve heard about Blues is their ‘light’ eye. Do you think this can be bred away from?

I certainly do think it is possible to breed away from the very pale yellowy eyes. In fact, the eyes in Blue Frenchies, whether they be blue fawn or blue brindle (pieds), range from a light yellow/grey to dark brown. If you look at BLUE IG’s, for example, their eye color is dark, and very light eyes in that breed are to be ‘faulted’ but not Disqualified.

There is NO DISQUALIFICATION in the French Bulldog breed standard for EYE COLOR, so what is the beef?????

Our creams, fawns, brindles, and black mask fawns are already plagued with yellow, orange, pale brown eyes, so to blame BLUES for that issue is absurd, and AGAIN, there is no DQ related to eye color.

Do you want to be able to show your Blues?

I would be ecstatic if I could show my blues in AKC conformation events and would be really thrilled to have the first BLUE AKC CHAMPION!! How cool would that be?

Do you think the FBDCA should address the issue of Blues, and if so, what would you like them to do?

The FBDCA should be addressing our ambiguous breed standard in general, not just this particular color issue. Our standard says ALL BRINDLES are ACCEPTED, but blues and blue pieds are BRINDLE, so that should mean noone has anything to bitch about. Our standard says Nose black. Nose other than black is a disqualifying fault, except in the case of the lighter colored dogs, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable but not desirable. WELL, blues are ‘dilute’ so their noses will not be black, but lighter in color just like their hair. The vast majority of creams don’t have BLACK noses; most of them have brown noses, except for those that get their little noses painted by their handlers before they jet into the show ring. And what exactly is a TRACE OF BRINDLE??? Brindle is a PATTERN. How can 3 little light hairs on a black dog constitute a ‘pattern’???

Why do you think Blues are so controversial?

Hahaha…….I bred one of the very first BLUE SHAR-PEI in the USA many, many moons ago and although the color was not addressed in the standard (meaning no DQ or fault), you would have thought the world was coming to an end. Those that didn’t have them, wanted to buy them and then got irate if they couldn’t get one so they trashed them from here to kingdom come.

In reality, there is no valid reason for anyone to go into such a tirade over something so ridiculous as the coat color of a dog in a breed that comes in a variety of colors and markings. BLUE is a ‘naturally occurring’ color in our breed, and a multitude of other AKC recognized breeds. Furthermore, there is no factual data to support any claim that there are mystery diseases associated with the blue coat color in our breed, and French Bulldogs regardless of their hair color should be adored by all. If you don’t like the color blue, then don’t buy one, don’t own one, and if one pops up in your next litter, just sell the baby to someone who does love the color.

Are you jealous that your dogs aren’t plaid?

You might be kidding, but I don’t do plaid…….hahaha.

You can learn more about Trudy’s Blue dogs on her website – All photos in this post are courtesy of Trudy Bettinger and BlueFrenchBulldogs.Com – Copyright reserved.

A mixed breed argument, from a purebred owner

This comment was left on one of my Thursday Thirteen entries – the one about the many questions that pop into my head when I read Kijiji ‘pets for sale’ ads:

I’m going to have to disagree with you on the puggle thing. First, purebreds end up at shelters (and in breed rescues!) all the time, it’s not just mixed breeds getting dumped.

Also, I totally agree that people while people shouldn’t be breeding crosses (or anything unless they know exactly what they are doing), BUT it’s been my experience that they tend to be healthier than purebreds. I will only adopt mixed breeds from shelters. Watching my parents as I grew up and now neighbors and friends spend a fortune at the vet with their Boston terriers, yorkies, schnauzers with their inherited diseases. My parents got all their dogs from an AKC breeder/judge and not one lived to see ten. Epilepsy, breathing problems, Cushings, bad knees, pancreatitis…etc. I don’t want to go through that. My large mutt is sleeping underneath me, at age 12, healthy and on no medication. While crosses are no guarantee of good health, there is something to be said for hybrid vigor. My breeder friend seethes at me and says I’m totally wrong about this, but when his champion bitch died of a breed related cancer at a young age I could only think about the litters she passed it on to.

I’d take a puggle any day (at a shelter) over a french bulldog. Sorry!

I think that some people assume that anyone who’s an enthusiast of a purebred dog breed is automatically anti mutt. That’s just not so.

Like a lot of breeders, I’ve owned – and loved – my fair share of mixed breed dogs over the years, all of them rescues. I love almost all dogs, no matter what the breed, or the mixture therein.

That said, there’s also a lot of misconception over mixed breeds, in particular the issue of hybrid vigor. There is no truth in the belief that a dog that’s the result of a breeding between two different breeds will be automatically free of any genetic conditions, due to some kind of magic genetic alchemy. If both of those breeds, for example, are brachycephalics (such as ‘Miniature Bullies’, a cross between Bulldogs and either Frenchies or Pugs), the resulting offspring have just as much chance of being afflicted with brachy syndrome  defects (elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, tracheal collapse, etc) as pups resulting from a purebred litter of any the combined breeds.

The minimal benefits of hybrid vigor that do exist are first generational only – this means that a puggle resulting from two puggle parents has absolutely zero residual beneficial vigor.

There is no magic bullet for creating a healthy dog – there is only the tried and tested method of test, eliminate and alter.

First, we test the breeding prospect sire and dam for any testable genetic condition, such as hip dysplasia, eye anomalies, heart conditions and VWD. Then, we eliminate the dogs with obvious problems – dogs with elongated soft palates, or thyroid conditions, or structural defects such as hare feet. Finally, we repeat this in the second generation, and alter affected pups, removing them from the gene pool. All of this should count for just as much a ‘prettiness’ in the dogs we breed from.

Therein lies the rub with ‘designer’ mixed breeds – how many of the people who create them are doing even the most basic of genetic screening? I’m going to assume none.

I’m also going to assume that the dogs being used for these first generation mixes are, in general, not from the best lines in the world, because anyone who’s invested thousands of dollars and untold hours into establishing a line of tested dogs isn’t going to wake up one day and decide to let them be used to create a ‘new’ breed.

There’s truth to the statement that ‘all dog breeds came from someone mixing other breeds together’, but people conveniently forget what things were like back then, when today’s breeds were being established. Culling, for example, was rigorously used in the creation of many breeds, including Frenchies. For those who aren’t familiar with culling, let me give you the definition –

cull    (kŭl)
tr.v.   culled, cull·ing, culls

1. To pick out from others; select.
2. To gather; collect.
3. To remove rejected members or parts from (a herd, for example).

n.   Something picked out from others, especially something rejected because of inferior quality.

Bluntly put, culling in dogs in the earlier part of the century usually referred to ‘bucketing’ – the habit of drowning ‘inferior’ pups at birth in a bucket of water.

From the 1901 edition of Dogdom Monthly comes this excerpt from an interview with an early breeder of ‘French Bull dogs’ –

When a pup with the wrong ears would come up in the litter we would just cull it out so as to not contaminate the rest. There being no space for the inferior. The same for those with a size obviously not of ‘what’s done’ so to speak. In this way did we set the type that you see today.

I think it’s clear that there is no place in modern breeding for culling, but the simple fact is that we can’t claim that creating mixed breeds today is the same as it was when most current breeds were established.

It’s also true that today’s modern dog owner expects more from their pets than the often referenced ‘good old mutt that never went to the vet’ that’s so often mythically referenced by mixed breed proponents. That ‘healthy mutt’ quite possibly was crippled with hip dysplasia and lived out its life in utter agony – agony that went unnoticed because the dog spent most of its life tied to a dog house in the corner of its yard.

We live in much closer proximity to our dogs today – we’ve integrated them, for better or worse, into the fabric of our families, and pay as close attention to their health as we do to our own. We want dogs that don’t limp, don’t scratch, don’t get sick unduly or die too young. We want all of this, plus a dog that ‘looks’ the way we want our breeds to look. I’m going to reiterate, once again, that there’s only one way to get this – test, eliminate and alter. The process is no different for a Puggle than it is for a French Bulldog.

As for the argument that just as many purebreds end up in shelters as mixed breeds, that’s specious logic. Dogs don’t end up in shelters because of their breed – they end up in shelters because of owners who don’t train or who can’t be bothered to care for dogs with medical issues, or because they have no breeders willing to take them back and re home them themselves.

I believe, based on my own experience, that the dogs who end up in shelters, or any breed, are in an overwhelming preponderance dogs who came from impulse purchases. Pet store pups, cheap newspaper buys and give away dogs – dogs that people put little worth on.

Does this mean breeder dogs are immune? Of course not. But a breeder who remains in contact with their owners – who remains available to them, and supportive, is a breeder who makes it clear that they will welcome back any dog who needs to be re homed.

This could be as true of a breeder of designer breeds as it is of someone who breeds purebred Frenchies, but it’s also a simple fact that few back yard breeders or breeders of designer pups are in it for the long haul. They lose interest, or change ‘mixes’, or just disappear. They’re not there for the owners who can’t keep their pups, and they have no contract insisting that pups come back to them for re homing.

I support the right of people to develop ‘new breeds’ – personally, I’d love to see true Toy Bulldogs (an AKC breed until the ’20s) make a come back. I don’t think it’s unreasonable, however, to expect just as much in terms of ethics from a designer breeder as I do from someone breeding Frenchies.  Commitment to your breed, or your mixed breed, is always the hallmark of someone who’s in it for all the right reasons, as opposed to all the wrong ones.

Your puggle deserves just as much care and forethought put into his breeding as my Frenchie does – for your sake, and for his.

Evolution of the French Bulldog Breed Standard – Part 2

Today, two versions of the AKC French Bulldog standard are available – the standard written version, which is reproduced below, or the ‘illustrated’ version distributed by the French Bull Dog Club of America. You can download a copy of the illustrated standard here.

The French Bulldog Breed standard, 2005

Classification: Non Sporting Group – Group Six

General Appearance
The French Bulldog has the appearance of an active, intelligent, muscular dog of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure. Expression alert, curious, and interested. Any alteration other than removal of dewclaws is considered mutilation and is a disqualification.

Proportion and Symmetry–All points are well distributed and bear good relation one to the other; no feature being in such prominence from either excess or lack of quality that the animal appears poorly proportioned.

Influence of Sex–In comparing specimens of different sex, due allowance is to be made in favor of bitches, which do not bear the characteristics of the breed to the same marked degree as do the dogs.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Weight not to exceed 28 pounds; over 28 pounds is a disqualification. Proportion–Distance from withers to ground in good relation to distance from withers to onset of tail, so that animal appears compact, well balanced and in good proportion. Substance–Muscular, heavy bone.

Head large and square. Eyes dark in color, wide apart, set low down in the skull, as far from the ears as possible, round in form, of moderate size, neither sunken nor bulging. In lighter colored dogs, lighter colored eyes are acceptable. No haw and no white of the eye showing when looking forward. Ears Known as the bat ear, broad at the base, elongated, with round top, set high on the head but not too close together, and carried erect with the orifice to the front. The leather of the ear fine and soft. Other than bat ears is a disqualification.

The top of the skull flat between the ears; the forehead is not flat but slightly rounded. The muzzle broad, deep and well laid back; the muscles of the cheeks well developed. The stop well defined, causing a hollow groove between the eyes with heavy wrinkles forming a soft roll over the extremely short nose; nostrils broad with a well defined line between them. Nose black. Nose other than black is a disqualification, except in the case of the lighter colored dogs, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable but not desirable. Flews black, thick and broad, hanging over the lower jaw at the sides, meeting the underlip in front and covering the teeth, which are not seen when the mouth is closed. The underjaw is deep, square, broad, undershot and well turned up.

Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is thick and well arched with loose skin at the throat. The back is a roach back with a slight fall close behind the shoulders; strong and short, broad at the shoulders and narrowing at the loins. The body is short and well rounded. The chest is broad, deep, and full; well ribbed with the belly tucked up. The tail is either straight or screwed (but not curly), short, hung low, thick root and fine tip; carried low in repose.

Forelegs are short, stout, straight, muscular and set wide apart. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet are moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails.

Hind legs are strong and muscular, longer than the forelegs, so as to elevate the loins above the shoulders. Hocks well let down. Feet are moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails; hind feet slightly longer than forefeet.

Coat is moderately fine, brilliant, short and smooth. Skin is soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming wrinkles.

Acceptable colors – All brindle, fawn, white, brindle and white, and any color except those which constitute disqualification. All colors are acceptable with the exception of solid black, mouse, liver, black and tan, black and white, and white with black, which are disqualifications. Black means black without a trace of brindle.

Correct gait is double tracking with reach and drive; the action is unrestrained, free and vigorous.

Well behaved, adaptable, and comfortable companions with an affectionate nature and even disposition; generally active, alert, and playful, but not unduly boisterous.

Any alteration other than removal of dewclaws.
Over 28 pounds in weight.
Other than bat ears.
Nose other than black, except in the case of lighter colored dogs, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable.
Solid black, mouse, liver, black and tan, black and white, and white with black. Black means black without a trace of brindle.