Bullmarket French Bulldog Breeders

How many is TOO many?

Bunny's Boys

Bunny's Boys - crappy resolution still capture from my new video camera

Here’s a Frenchie Friday question – How many litters are TOO many litters?

We debate this question all the time – what’s that magic number that tips someone over from ‘reputable’ breeder to ‘not so reputable’? Is there even a magic number – or should there be?

There’s a HUGE big name kennel out west (not Frenchies), who has an average of six to eight litters per year – in a breed with fairly large litters.

Is that too many litters?

What if I then add that they feed raw, employ a full time staff of three to care for puppies and adults, have an ‘open door’ kennel policy, and a huge waiting list for available puppies?

Still not good enough?

What if I mention that they have literally DOZENS of Best in Show wins, multiple BISS wins, Westminster group and breed wins, International Champions, etc? Are they still an ‘un reputable breeder’? Or would you even call them a puppy mill?

What if, instead of six to eight litters, they had ten to twelve?

What about the small breeder who only has one to two litters, but they’re raised in a garage, barely socialized and won’t see new people until they either go to their homes or hit the show ring?

Are those two litters still too many litters, if their breeder can’t or won’t care for them properly?

Does it matter if their breeder has multiple champions and shows every weekend? Does it matter if they’ve never shown any of their dogs, and don’t even register their litters?

Can you have four litters per year if your breed only has two puppies, or is just all about that number? Can you have three litters if you didn’t breed the year before?

Personally, I care more about the way that the pups are raised than I do about numbers.

For Frenchies, I want to see pups that are home raised, with tons of exposure to people and sights and sounds. I want them to be clean, well fed, and well cared for. I want to know you’ve got homes waiting, and won’t be trying to dump un sold puppies on Kijiji when they get too old. If you’re doing all of that, I don’t have a ‘number’ – although I do think that there’s a number, beyond which, it’s almost impossible to achieve all of that, or at least to achieve it well.

Of course, all of that is just MY opinion – what I really want to know is, what’s yours?

12 replies
  1. YesBiscuit!
    YesBiscuit! says:

    I breed rarely but once considered breeding 2 bitches simultaneously. When I talked about the idea with the owner of the stud dog I was interested in, he immediately branded me a puppy mill. So apparently for that guy, the “magic number” is 2 litters simultaneously.

  2. H. Houlahan
    H. Houlahan says:

    In addition to the kind of care the puppies receive …

    What is the reason for each and every breeding? Because it too often boils down to, “Making puppies to sell.” That is true of many show and working kennels, too. They may have their work or dog hobbies, but if this breeding was about making some money off the pups, that means that the rest of the decision process is automatically suspect.

    And what kind of screening and followup does the breeder do with buyers?

    Eight litters a year, in my breed, would mean 70-90 pups to place, which for me would mean contact with over 500 inquirers, serious conversation with about 300 prospective buyers, reference checks and in-depth matchmaking with well over a hundred. That’s scaling up from the way I do it now, not altering my criteria.

    So is the owner doing this, or an employee? Where does the buck stop?

    And then followup for many hundreds, eventually thousands of dogs. Checking on the animals’ health and any screening results, making sure that buyers are following the contract, doing or arranging welfare checks if something seems off.

    If someone says, “Well, you have to alter your criteria and process if you produce that many pups.” — There’s your sign, right?

    An open door, in some kennels, is just a way of selling a second time. It’s not a substitute for a toothy RTB clause that protects the animal from being abandoned or sold downriver.

    I think you already know my answer about whether “showing” the dogs and producing champions makes a difference in the breeding ethics.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      I think you already know my answer about whether “showing” the dogs and producing champions makes a difference in the breeding ethics.

      You’d be amazed (ok, maybe not) at how many people will be allowed a HUGE get out jail free card for crappy treatment of their dogs, just so long as they show. A recent case involving AKC judges illustrated this point perfectly – the dogs were in appalling shape, and yet breeders all over the web were defending them, because “they’re show people – they would never be cruel to their dogs!”. So what if their eyes were infected, their coats matted and their nails grown into their feet. Hey, so long as the ones going in the show ring are clean, who cares?

      If they had been Mr and Mrs Trailer Park, the same people would have been lining up to pillory anyone who kept their dogs in the same conditions.

      Like Vivianne, I have my own secret number that makes me cringe, but I also know people who have passed that number and did an excellent job at socializing and loving their dogs, and raising their litters. It might be too much for me, but then again I also work. Maybe if I was home full time, my number would feel higher. As it is, I get and (try to) answer about 200 inquiries per month, most of which I pass on to other breeders – and I’ve only had five puppies in two years, so occasionally I feel like “Why am I doing all this work, for something that’s supposed to be an enjoyable hobby?”.

      I can’t imagine the work involved in placing 90 puppies. I’d need a staff of ten just to keep my sanity.

      • H. Houlahan
        H. Houlahan says:

        I was once amazed at the free pass of which you speak. Other friends introduced me to the concept and reality of “showmills.”

        And I met someone who had champion dogs with working creds, but she was selling a litter of “all pets” (same breed) from a non-champion bitch, and it was clear that the reason for the breeding was to produce puppies for sale that would carry that kennel name, could be sold at inflated prices because of it. It was like when a brand-name designer makes a lower-end product for sale at Walmart, but the quality is crap compared to a non-label product at the same price point. While this bitch was not bred every heat, she was definitely bred every year, and maybe two heats out of three. (Also, I really, really did not like the temperament of one of her show dogs. If he’d been my dog, in that particular breed, he’d have been lucky to just have his balls cut off. But he was winning, natch.)

        Remember the Harmon collies? There are still people who give that lunatic a pass because she showed her dogs. 165 starving dogs wearing felt huddled in their own shit, but it’s just a case of a great breeder for whom things “got a little out of hand.”

        Terhune was a puppymiller who traded on his fame to sell badly-bred puppies at inflated prices, but at least he had The Help to pick up the shit in the runs.

        • frogdogz
          frogdogz says:

          Remember the Harmon collies? There are still people who give that lunatic a pass because she showed her dogs. 165 starving dogs wearing felt huddled in their own shit, but it’s just a case of a great breeder for whom things “got a little out of hand.”

          I certainly do – I think it was the first time I really experienced, first hand, the rampant hypocrisy that show people can exhibit when “one of their own” gets caught.

          For those who don’t – http://www.prodoggroomingsupplies.com/dog-forums/showthread.php?t=15253

          I’ll try to dig you out the links about this most recent case, involving a pair of AKC judges.

          And of course, there’s the Murder Hollow Bassets case. Apparently, hunting aficionados can be hypocritical bitches, too.

          • H. Houlahan
            H. Houlahan says:

            That hypocrisy became an obstacle for NESR, a few years later. There was the worry that we were blinkered breed fanciers who would come in wanting to spirit off some great breeding stock, because that had actually happened with these collies. Seriously, WTF?

            It would be a lie to say that there were not a few animals out our 227 about whom I’ve thought “Damned shame that guy had to lose his huevos.” But we are talking well down in the single digits. And I think that all the time about ES whose owners chose to neuter them. In neither case — rescues with great temperaments and bodies or neutered pets with same — is it appropriate to try to acquire them for breeding.

            FYI, a prosecutor told me personally that the error in the first trial was to present the jury with too many counts, and overwhelm them with too much confusing information.

            That is why it is common, nowadays, for prosecutors in cruelty cases involving a large number of animals to bring only a few counts, and to document those few counts very thoroughly and in a straightforward manner, rather than hammer a jury with hundreds of individual counts for every starved, shit-caked, cowering animal. It’s a lesson directly from the Harmon collies.

            It’s interesting to me how different the disposition of these two cases, both in Montana, turned out. The judge may have chewed Athena Harmon a new nether orifice, but she didn’t have to pay restitution (even token payments), and some animals were released intact, to the abuser’s MOTHER and to unnamed breeders.

            It’s my recollection that the Harmons got back into the puppymilling game in Mexico, out of reach of easy extradition, before Athena Harmon finally did the honorable thing and departed this mortal coil.

  3. Vivianne Mello
    Vivianne Mello says:

    How many dogs are too many dogs? You could have the very same discussion. I have two frenchie girls and they are with me doing everything at nights and weekends. They are with my family when I am at work. I go out for walks, am always checking the slightest difference in their behavior or skin or whatever.

    I wonder if you can do that with twenty, thirty or fifty dogs. I wonder if they all fit in bed with you or if you can take them all on walks with a good frequency, if cutting down in expenses with food is needed, etc. I don’t know how to answer that either but I guess I DO tend to look at people oddly when they have past a certain number of dogs and litters… I mean, it could be just coincidence but I saw a breeder halfway through january having their third 2011 litter. His girls could have cycled together, yes, but they have around 20 frenchie girls. So, eek.

  4. Susan
    Susan says:

    I’m not a breeder, but my two dogs have a full time staff of two to care for them – well, it’s not our only job, but if one of us is feeling ill or has our plate full with job-work, it can be a handful, because we don’t have a yard. They have to be walked both for exercise and elimination. They are fed raw. In very cold weather I have to bundle them up before they go out. How could a staff of three care for a litter of puppies plus the adults of a large-littered breed, giving them individual attention, affection, stimulation, examining them physically for bumps et al, noting odd behavior, loss of appetite, weight gain, weight loss…

    Those are the issues that come to my mind.

  5. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:


    I have followed your blog for a couple of years now and respect this type of discussion.
    Personally I am not a breeder, however I have had dogs (and cats) all my life and still do. I have seen the good and the bad. I used to love walking into the Pet Stores and look at all the puppies. Loved it until I walked into one where the instant I walked in to the door, I got hit with a smell of filthy puppies playing in their own waste. I looked in the puppy play area and I could see dirty puppies that looked ill,playing on dirty newspaper that was piled on more dirty news paper. I was disgusted and heart broken that a “business” could get away with this. I was a teenager when I saw this and I am happy to report that they were shut down shortly after this happened.
    That was the first time I heard about puppy mills, etc..

    I personally think that a “bitch: should not be put through more than two litters as it’s hard on them. You have even stated on your blog some of your dogs whom weren’t fans of being a mother. I know you have also had dogs who absolutely loved being moms so I guess it goes both ways but I just think it’s hard on their pour bodies. Also I don’t necessarily agree with breeding an animal through artificial incimination and delivering every single litter through c-section. I know there has to be exceptions to protect the health of the bitch and puppies in emergency cases, but I don’t agree with keeping the breed going this way. Sorry, I know this is a touchy subject with French Bulldogs but it’s just how I feel. I still do love seeing all the Frenchie puppy pictures and stories that you share.

  6. bestuvall
    bestuvall says:

    too many is what YOU have.. just right is what I have…a ‘puppy mill’ is what YOU have.. a ‘breeding program” is what I have..I win because I have great dogs.. YOU win because you know the judge..and so it goes.. the questions with no answers.. except opinion..numbers prove nothing.. choice is what it is all about.. but how soon we forget that when it is ‘someone else’.

  7. Twisted Tails
    Twisted Tails says:

    In my opinion if you know your dogs and what they have done and what
    their health is at the time you would be contempating to breed you should
    be able to answer that question for yourself. Each dog is different
    as each breeder is different. Whether they are registered is of no
    value when it comes to health of mom and babies.

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