Bullmarket French Bulldog Breeders

Amazing Flying Frenchies

A recent email exchange on the FrenchBulldog-l mailing list had one overwhelming sentiment – French Bulldogs, at least well made French Bulldogs, are not supposed to be able to do agility. To do agility, your French Bulldog would automatically have to be ten feet long and look like he’s wearing stilts. That’s an interesting sentiment, and it’s also a very common one. Even breeders who’ve been around forever believe that Frenchies can’t – and shouldn’t – do agility. Or, that if your Frenchie is built in a manner that will allow them to do agility, then they’re obviously not going to be conformationally correct enough to compete in the show ring.

Our lovable lunkhead

Our lovable lunkhead

This is Dexter. I spent a lot of time worrying about Dexter, because he’s so damn short. I liked to say he was 23 pounds – 10 pounds of body, 10 pounds of head, and three pounds of rocks inside his head. Dexter is short, stocky and built like a truck, with a face that couldn’t get any flatter if he ran into a wall (which he does do, on occasion). In addition to being a lunkhead, Dexter is also a circus dog – that’s my term for Frenchies who never seemed to learn that the rules of gravity apply to them.

Dexter leaps from the floor to the back of the chair, and from there to the back of the couch, and from there to the top of the coffee table. At dinner time, Dexter eats in the second crate I have stacked on top of the bottom one. I tell him, “Dexter, dinner!”, and he leaps from a standing position into his crate. He taught himself that one.

The amazing flying French Bulldog

The amazing flying French Bulldog

He also taught himself to clear our five foot retaining wall, from the ground to the top, from a standing position. I’m less thrilled about that one.

In the fall, Dexter starts his American conformation career. He’s about as much to the standard as I’d want him to be – maybe more so, since I actually prefer a longer back and more neck. He will also hopefully start training for agility, and perhaps obedience. I know full well he’ll ace all three rings.

Tula's Smile

This is Tula.

She’s also stocky – perhaps ‘plump’ is a better word. Slightly more moderate backed than Dexter, she’s a bit low slung, but has a gorgeous head. Her tear stains (which for some reason mysteriously disappear when Tula is pregnant and nursing, and re appear as soon as her pups are weaned) are the bane of my existence, but if I can get them in control by September she’ll be making her ring debut.

The other dogs are shocked that Tula can fly

The other dogs are shocked that Tula can fly

This is Tula clearing the same retaining wall as Dexter, although she does have to scramble for a grip on the way up.


This is Tula’s great great great Grandmother, Fulla Bull Bullmarket Chicky.

Chicky could leap walls and climb chain link fences, a skill which ended in one of the worst tragedies I’ve ever experienced in dogs. She was my first monkey dog. Chicky was ridiculously low slung and big headed, with another moderate back that verged on overly short. She was also the love of my daughter Nicole’s life.


This is Luke, Dexter and Tula’s son. He has a plush head, a balanced body, and a lovely neck. Of all my boys in these litters, he and Po are my two favorites in terms of show prospects. He’ll be going to live with Andrea Morden Moore, who knows a thing or two about Frenchies and agility, as well as about the conformation ring. Luke will be competing in both rings, because Andrea believes, as I do, that a balanced dog has a title on both ends.


Andrea owned and loved Gunny, Bullmarket Shogun Spirit Dragon , another dog that apparently never got the memo that Frenchies aren’t supposed to do agility.

32 replies
  1. Cletus Residence
    Cletus Residence says:

    Hmmmm, I wunner what makes them liddle Frenchies sink to the bottom of the pond/swimming pool and drown, and bulldogs pass out in parking lots and choke to death on their own phlegm… must be a self fulfilling prophecy, since they is obviously able to do whatever any self respecting Golden retriever can do. Even your own post is on point, the only agility dog in the post is Gunny, and he was built like a whippet – http://www.flickr.com/photos/bullmarketshogun/3744929760/in/photostream/ – if you shorten the back end by about a foot, inflate the head with a bicycle pump, and push his nose back into his stop, and squint, he might kinda, sorta resemble Dexter. Really, really squint. Call me when Dexter actually competes in agility – I gotta see him roll that head up the A-frame, gotta be just like Sisyphus… rollin, rollin, rollin, keep that head a rollin… get freakin’ serious. Get a REAL agility dog. Get a PUG!

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      Hey, if they haven’t competed yet, that’s my failing as a slacker, not theirs for being structurally unsound. I should also mention that I would never, ever expect my dogs to compete at the same level as Border Collies or their ilk do. In fact, I’d more likely try rally, since it’s a more laid back sport that wouldn’t make me have panic attacks at the thought of taking them in.

      My main point was that this fallacy that a dog who is conformationally correct must therefore also be a dog who is incapable of completing an agility course is just idiotic. This doesn’t translate to me thinking that one of my Frenchies is going to ace the Eukanuba Invitational, but it does piss me off that there’s this sort of ‘us versus them’ schism between conformation people and people who think that Frenchies should be able to jump off the couch without their backs exploding. Personally, I think they can have both, and so far I’ve been lucky enough to be right. I am never, ever going to stop my dogs from doing all the stupid dog stuff that makes some Frenchie people pitch fits, and that includes them bouncing up and down the stairs and sproinging off the furniture like flat faced little kangaroos. Or maybe flat faced wallabies. Which ones are smaller?

      I would get a Pug, but all the ones I’ve met lately have ADD, and I already have Dexter for that. Trust me, A frame? Dexter? No problem. Getting him to come back and not go molest that lovely Golden at the side of the ring? Problem.

      • Jenniferj
        Jenniferj says:

        No no no.

        You have to be wrong. If you let the little darlings out in the real world, they go “poof” like a vampire in the sun.

        No jumping, or climbing. I mean, don’t you know that jumping off the couch ruins elbows, playing too hard blows out knees, chewing on hard toys ruins bites…

        I’m with you, I let my dogs be dogs. I do cringe when a ball of bulldogs and terriers slams into the wall or furniture, and I do protect puppies from being “squashed” by big, overzealous teenagers or adults.

        I’ve had two serious play and/or crash about “I can fly!!” related injuries in 22 years. One was a severely blown cruciate from a dog climbing 5 feet up a fence then getting his rear leg hung up. the other was a 4 month old who felt he was Superdog and who attempted to jump down an entire flight of stairs at once. His brother was involved, it takes two for that kind of stupid. His maiden flight resulted in a dislocated fracture of the proximal humerus and a big bill at the ortho specialist.

        Fence climber was already a champion but his pups were not all that so he ended up tutored. Fly boy went on to be an AKC Ch, a group placer and a good sire too.

        Either could have done agility, but I did not have the time for it then (or now 🙁 )

        So I did have some injuries which made a few people say “ah ha!”. On the other hand I have never had a dog heat stroke or suffer respiratory distress. If people do not let dogs be dogs, how the hell do they know what they really have?

        • frogdogz
          frogdogz says:

          I’ve never figured out the point of Rally. It just looks like doodling elevated to an AKC title. It looks totally pointless.

          I have panic attacks at taking my dogs into the ring – whether conformation, obedience or agility. I let my dogs down because I panic and freak out and work myself into a lather. Rally, though, looks fun and laid back. There’s no pressure, and this will (hopefully) give me a chance to not screw my dogs up too seriously if I take them in. I’ve done three rally classes so far, and the pressure is so much less and the fun level so much more that I think it’s the perfect fit.

          Also, I’m a big fan of pointless things.

        • Cait
          Cait says:

          Yeah, but it’s not like obedience has a point in and of itself, either. I mean, broad jump? With you standing beside it, and the dog racing back to come front after clearing the ‘obstacle’? Pretty, fun to teach, and precise, but USEFUL? No. 😛

          It’s all for fun, and time and learning with the dogs. It all measures trainability. Rally just requires a little less skill on the part of the human in keeping their mouth shut, and more in following visual directions. (As someone with auditory processing problems, rally is INFINITELY easier and I almost never make course errors- but I have HUGE difficulties following a heeling pattern if someone gives me verbal directions.!)

  2. Jenniferj
    Jenniferj says:

    Crappy palates, bad tracheas and stenotic nares make any short faced breed “pass out in parking lots and choke to death on their own phlegm” But I’m sure that’s not news to anyone here. 🙂

    It has not been a problem around here for a good long while, although rescues do keep me on my toes from time to time with airway issues.

    Crappy palates, bad tracheas and stenotic nares can be bred out, just like bad knees, eyes elbows whatever. Making the decision to no longer tolerate bad airways and alter dogs who don’t pass muster does not always make one popular, but it makes for much happier dogs.

    The OFA trachea study still needs a few more bullies to participate so it can wrap up and get tabulated. A trachea registry would benefit all our brachycephalics. Info on how to participate is at

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      I have a friend who has EB’s they compete in agility constantly and do a great job. Now I am not that well versed in the titles etc, but I am pretty sure they have top titles. Her dogs are also in movies and commercials. And speaking of EB’s and agility, there was a fabulous dog named Potroast at the Royal, they have a televised competition where dogs compete simultaneously with riders and horses, mind you Potroast thought it was more fun to go through most obstacles rather than over……..

  3. Andrea Morden-Moore
    Andrea Morden-Moore says:

    Hello there. Gunny wasn’t exactly a whippet, but he appeared leggy because I kept him lean. I take exception to your assertion that only dogs of his type can do agility. History was made on July 4th of this year by a very blocky, and breed typey Frenchie. “Soren” earned the very first MACH (Master Agility Champion). Not only CAN he do it, he EXCELS at it. I have seen all breeds compete in agility, many of whom were breed champions. The salient point is they are conformationally sound.

    • Cletus Residence
      Cletus Residence says:

      You can see how hard Soren has to work to run the course – of course the boy has drive and heart like no other. I would not agree that he excels at it, I would agree that he does extremely well given his build. It’s a strain on a heavy bodied dog to pretend to be a performance dog. The best Frenchie will never move with the ease and grace of a Doberman or even a Boxer. And Gunny would look like a whippet even if you did feed him. He was long bodied and long legged. I still have trouble visualizing him as being related to Hammer. Not an ounce of similarity.

  4. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Well as soon as Rumble learns to contain himself a bit better in public, he will be back at obedience classes and hopefully on to Rally and some agility.
    He has his own jump here at home that he sails over, he loves to jump and climb and fly through the air…..

  5. Marie
    Marie says:

    “It takes two for that kind of stupid”

    Oh. My. God. Thanks for the laugh JenniferJ. That was awesome.

    I think people need to think outside the box when it comes to “breed” stuff. Try it, you may be surprised by the results. Pugs aren’t supposed to be able to breathe well either yet I do tracking with mine and she is damn good. Would probably be well on her way to a title by now but she lives with a slacker.

    I have no doubt that my frenchie couldn’t have done agility when she was younger. She can certainly jump up on a bed just fine.

    They are dogs first, breeds second. If they are healthy and can stand up to the physicality of agility (or whatever sport) then let them try it. Besides, it is supposed to be fun isn’t it?
    .-= Marie´s last blog ..And now, a word from our sponsor. =-.

  6. Cletus Residence
    Cletus Residence says:

    All through this I am remembering what a staunch advocate of free whelping Carol used to be. A HEALTHY Frenchie can free whelp, no excuses! Then Tessa had the free whelping experience from hell. End of that song. Perhaps when Dexter falls off the dog walk or blows his back out on the A-frame, we’ll hear a different tune. Time will tell. I don’t care if people run their Frenchies in agility – there will always be agility Frenchies – I just don’t want people giving the impression that this is a suitable sport for your average everyday Joe Frenchie, because it most certainly is not.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      All through this I am remembering what a staunch advocate of free whelping Carol used to be. A HEALTHY Frenchie can free whelp, no excuses!

      I’m still a staunch advocate of free whelping – I’m just a coward who’s now afraid to let them try, mostly because I now live two hours away from the closes 24 hour emergency vet, and not 20 minutes. With that length to go in an emergency, I panic at thinking that a puppy will get stuck and I won’t be able to get it out in time on my own. Again, this is mostly MY failing, and not a failing of my dog. Tula, Bunny and Delilah could all, I am quite sure, free whelp and then go make themselves breakfast afterwards. The fact that I won’t let them try says more about my personal fears than about their structure.

  7. EmilyS
    EmilyS says:

    stupid, really. There isn’t a breed that can’t do agility. Some won’t do well at the highest achievement levels, but that’s not all that agility is about.

    The EB’s I’ve seen do agility try their derndest and have fun. As do their owners. Ditto the pugs. There are some Bostons that are fastfastfast and DO compete at the highest level. The biggest issue, I think, for those breed types, is whatever breathing issues their snub noses might cause, which could limit their ability to sustain speed.

    It’s a GAME WE PLAY WITH OUR DOGS, for goodness sake. The biggest trick is not the dogs anyway, it’s finding a trainer who BELIEVES that any dog can do agility. (there are too many who won’t really take you seriously if you don’t have one of the top breeds).

    I competed with an AmStaff and now with a StaffyBull. “Everyone knows” those breeds can’t be offleash around other dogs so they can’t possibly compete in agility, just as “everyone knows” the snub nose breeds can’t run and breathe at the same time..

    If there’s a breed standard that precludes a particular dog from being able to run and jump, then there is something seriously wrong with the standard.

    • Jenniferj
      Jenniferj says:

      There is a woman in SoCal named Betty Fisher, WhiteFang Bulldogs, who has been big on performance events for bulldogs going well back. She and a few friends put on a demo at the Bulldog Nationals in 1995 that I wish was on tape. The first two agility dogs were fun, the third was f-a-s-t. She slammed around like a pinball but was all business and clearly as into it as her handler. In rock hard, “cut” condition. My understanding is that after she retired from agility, they fed her up a bit and showed her in conformation quite successfully.

      A few years back in NorCal we had a similar bitch who was competed with in agility, OB and Rally, both at AKC and also ASCA events. She also earned her championship as her agility career wound down.

      Right now I have two youngsters who would rock at agility. Athletic, healthy, no upper airway issues and really tuned in to what I want. But my back injury, my kids and geography mean that agility probably will not happen anytime soon.

      • frogdogz
        frogdogz says:

        There is a woman in SoCal named Betty Fisher, WhiteFang Bulldogs, who has been big on performance events for bulldogs going well back. She and a few friends put on a demo at the Bulldog Nationals in 1995 that I wish was on tape.

        I remember Betty – and I think I was at the same Nationals. I was sitting ringside with Robin Stansell and a few other people. She has gorgeous, gorgeous dogs!

        • Jenniferj
          Jenniferj says:

          Betty just gave a clinic on getting started in Rally. I had to go to a wedding, I was so bummed to have to miss it! 🙁

          Joker would loooove it, I really need to look into finding a class.

  8. Hope
    Hope says:

    Weighing in as someone who competes in agility (and obedience) with her Frenchie…..
    Some dogs need jobs. My Dax’s job is to be my companion and play with me in performance events.
    It doesn’t matter if we reach to top level of competition. Yes, agility competition is skewed toward particular obsessive/compulsive breeds. That doesn’t mean we can’t play. And have a heckuva lot of fun doing it.
    And I defy anyone to tell me that’s not a smile on Dax’s face:
    .-= Hope´s last blog ..Ceilidh vs. the Spinny =-.

  9. kasia
    kasia says:

    I have a lunkhead frenchie too, who will attempt to scale and jump off any height if given a chance. when i meet owners of other breeds in the dog park, they always assume that my mooi won’t be able to keep up with the other dogs, and are unfailingly amazed at his speed and jumping ability (not that i encourage the jumping necessarily, but i let him be a dog).

    i don’t understand the turn of this discussion – i think carol’s original point was that frenchies competing in agility do conform to standard rather than being atypical in built. noone has argued that frenchies and other heavy set breeds are going to beat out more athletic-built breeds.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      i don’t understand the turn of this discussion – i think carol’s original point was that frenchies competing in agility do conform to standard rather than being atypical in built. noone has argued that frenchies and other heavy set breeds are going to beat out more athletic-built breeds.

      That was pretty much my point exactly, yes. I don’t believe that Frenchies HAVE to be one or the other – a ‘sport’ dog, or a conformation dog. I think they can be both. I certainly do NOT think that Frenchies = Border Collies, and I certainly don’t propose working our Frenchies the way we’d work a Terrier, but I also do believe that a Frenchie can compete in both rings in the same day. I am perhaps laboring under the illusion that agility is supposed to be the ‘fun’ sister to competitive obedience.. maybe that’s just not true any more.

      I understand Charlotte’s point, too, but I also know she finished both Stoney’s conformation championship, and his CD – on the same weekend.

      • Cletus Residence
        Cletus Residence says:

        My point was actually just as lost in the discussion. I thought agility was a fun sport too, which is why I started training my second Frenchie for it, god, 15 years ago(!!!). When he can up injured during training, I learned the hard way that it is a very athletically demanding sport – especially for dogs built like French Bulldogs – and that there is a huge potential for injury, a point that was brought home to me by the board certified neurosurgeon who evaluated Hammie after his injury. There are performance sports that are fun where it is almost impossible to injure your dogs – I tracked with my first Pug – and I think it would be safer for most Frenchies to stick to those sports. I’m one of those idiots who still think obedience is fun, so I can stay perfectly happily in that performance mudhole forever…

        • frogdogz
          frogdogz says:

          My point was actually just as lost in the discussion.

          My main argument was really with the statement made on the list that a well made, conformationally correct dog could NOT, by virtue of being conformationally correct, also be able to complete an agility course.

          So, their argument would be:

          ‘Proper’, to the standard conformation = structural inability to complete in agility

          My argument was:

          Here are three dogs, all of whom are ‘proper’ and to the standard, all of whom could complete an agility course

          ergo, proper conformation does not equal structural inability to do agility

          The other arguments – should Frenchies do agility? can Frenchies get hurt doing agility? can Frenchies be competitive in agility? All sort of got tacked on afterwards.

          Whew, that was more complicated than I thought it would be.

  10. DorianJ
    DorianJ says:

    If I may ask, What Happened to CHicky? did she get stuck in the fence? That’s really sad. What a beautiful dog. They all are.

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