Bullmarket French Bulldog Breeders

Stupid Phone Calls, Stupider People & Pedigree Dogs in Canada

I had just been gloating a few days ago that this Christmas season had been almost blessedly free of “We need a puppy for Christmas” calls. I should have know better – it doesn’t really get interesting until the last minute callers come out of the woodwork.

This morning’s phone call was an almost text book perfect of the impulse gift giving puppy buyer.

Caller: “Do you have any puppies that will be ready for Christmas?”

Me: “No, I’m sorry, we won’t – and we don’t sell Christmas puppies, or puppies for gifts”.

Caller, in distracted, ‘I’m not really listening to you’ tone of voice : “I want one that’s not too expensive, either. I have a limited budget. Because I looked at some pet store ones? And oh my God. They’re so expensive. Are yours that expensive?”

Me: “Um, yeah. Like I said, we don’t have any Christmas puppies. Also, we don’t sell puppies for Christmas gifts.”

Caller: “Well, that’s stupid. Why not?”

Me, frustrated and really wanting to get off the phone so I can get coffee: “Because all my dogs are Jewish dogs, so they don’t celebrate Christmas”.

Caller, in ‘well, that explains it all’ tone: “Oooooh!”

Seriously, it’s hard not to get snotty with some of these people. I am almost sorry for lying to her (my dogs are actually agnostic), but some callers just make it so tempting.

In less amusing news, a pair of fuckwits idiots calling themselves “veterinarians” harnessed their half starved horse to the (uninsured) car they got stuck in a ditch, then left the poor horse to strain in the harness until it literally gave out from exhaustion.

From the Langley Times Newspaper:

Starving horse in Langley, BC The seven-year-old emaciated gelding used by its owners to pull a sedan out of a muddy ditch on Wednesday has been put down and five other horses seized. The owners, a man and a woman claiming to be veterinarians, face animal cruelty charges, confirm the SPCA.

The Langley residents were arrested after SPCA investigators found out the couple had tethered the horse to the sedan, which had gone off road in front of their property in the 2000 block of 208 Street.

Langley RCMP confirm the car wasn’t insured and the SPCA estimates the horse was labouring in the mud for more than 45 minutes before emergency responders came on the scene.

They were trying to get him to pull the vehicle out of the ditch when the animal simply collapsed and couldn’t get up, said SPCA senior animal protection officer Eileen Drever.

The SPCA determined the young horse to be in critical distress and humanely euthanized it.

“It was terribly upsetting for all the investigators involved,” said Drever.

“We thought he might have a chance when he tried to stand a couple of times but he just couldn’t muster the strength.”

There’s video on the website, if you can bear to watch it. In an update on this story, five more starving horses were found at a barn belonging to the owners of the euthanized horse. Surrey SPCA inspectors are referring to this as “one of the worst cases of alleged horse neglect it has ever seen”.

Up here in Canada, the fur is flying after the CBC aired the BBC Documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed”. Canadian breeders are up in arms, decrying the sensational journalism, and issuing stern (but pointless) letters to the Television Standards Ombudsman’s office.

Personally, I just don’t get it. Cavaliers have an endemic breed health problem, one which they have the ability to test for. How much simpler does it get than “Don’t breed them unless they have tested clear?”. Where is the controversy in this? Where’s the debate? It’s as simple as my choice to not breed from or to French Bulldogs that have had a soft palate re section (aka palate clip – the same surgery that the Peke featured in the documentary had).

It’s not complex – if a dog can’t breathe without surgical intervention, remove it from the gene pool. Ditto hip dysplasia. Elbow dysplasia. Patellar luxation. Heart defects. Eye defects.

What is there in any of this that is controversial to us – and by ‘us’, I mean breeders. It’s not controversial to pet owners, that’s for sure. Ask you average pet owner if they’d rather have a shorter faced dog, or one who lives for an extra seven years, and which one do you think they’d pick?

I also think it’s fairly simple to say that we breeders are being faced with a choice – clean up our own mess, or the CKC and the government will clean it up for us.

Actually, I’m curious about just this subject – if a subtle change to your Brachycephalic dog could improve their health, would you be for it? If so, how far would you be willing to see breeders go to improve the health of your chosen breed?

This poll is intended mainly for pet owners of Brachy breeds (Pugs, Bulldogs, Frenchies), since none of the questions address the changes that would correct problems in other, non brachycephalic breeds. The one exception is the question about out crossing – opening, and then closing the stud book, to allow a controlled breeding to a dog of another breed, similar to what was done in the Dalmatian backcross project. Owners of non brachycephalic breeds can choose this option, or ‘select other’ and leave their suggestions in the comments (or they could always choose ‘none’).

(BTW, sorry about the issue with comments — apparently, when an unusually large number of people attempt to comment at the same time, the database assumes it’s a flooding attempt by spammers, and shuts down comments to everyone but registered users).

22 replies
  1. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Well I guess it’s good that you have only had one phone call so far. I like your response…..:0). It seriously puts me over the edge-pets as Christmas gifts.

  2. Cait
    Cait says:

    Now, as I understand it on the syringomylia issue is that the exact heritability is unknown.

    here’s the breeding protocol at Cavalierhealth.org – http://www.cavalierhealth.org/smprotocol.htm

    Obviously, any symptomatic dog needs to be out of the gene pool, but it seems to me that a dog with the indent and no symptoms, ever, might be of use if collected and saved to make SURE he never develops them- the same way I think they’re doing the heart/longevity testing, no?

    Cait’s last blog post..Class reports – Beacon, Bixby, Bosco & Abby!

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      Obviously, any symptomatic dog needs to be out of the gene pool, but it seems to me that a dog with the indent and no symptoms, ever, might be of use if collected and saved to make SURE he never develops them- the same way I think they’re doing the heart/longevity testing, no?

      Yes, in theory – but in practice, as shown in the documentary, a dog WITH the indent was used to sire 35+ litters, while his owner denied that he had been diagnosed, via MRI (a fact that others present, who had seen the MRIs, confirmed). BTW, I’ve been told he was a class “E” dog for most of those matings, although I can’t positively confirm that.

      Complex inheritance modes exist for many of the conditions plaguing our breeds (elongated soft palate, HD, etc), but in the absence of more accurate methods of screening, removing affected dogs from the gene pool (even if they are asymptomatic) seems to be simple logic.

      As for the argument, made on the page referenced, that “the incidence of syringomyelia is so high in the breed there will be severe depletion of the gene pool if only clear dogs are used (i.e. other problems will develop)” – well, wouldn’t that be a potent argument to open the stud book? Especially in the UK, where their byzantine import restrictions made the addition of new blood almost impossible until just recently, and where the geography of the country has tightened down the gene pool to a disturbingly low level.

  3. JenniferJ
    JenniferJ says:

    The proactive UK breeders, those who want to make changes or import new genes, still have big hoops to leap through. I’ve got a friend preparing to export semen to the UK, she just ran her dog through the titer testing and now it will still be 6 months before the dog can be collected and frozen on, using special and expensive extender as mandated by DEFRA. The importer must apply for license to import, and get the KCs approval for the whole business not to mention the pretty impressive expense involved in shipping a heavy liquid nitrogen tank into the UK. There are fortunately a few veterinarians in the UK who seem to get litters from frozen regularly so hopefully it will be worth the expense and trouble. Maybe the newly motivated KC will make things as easy as possible on their end now.

    Opening the stud books to once-in-a-while well considered back-crosses to other breeds makes sense there, and here. I was chatting on the subject the other day with a friend who asked the question of when do you allow those dogs full registration and rights for competition etc.. My response was that you do so from the first generation. Otherwise, it will be difficult to get other breeders to accept those lines into their own. As little stigma needs to be attached to the whole process as possible. For the most part it would certainly take several generations at least to re-establish type for the breed ring, but they will win when they are ready and there are other disciplines for the first few generations to participate in.

    The other issue is that breed clubs need to establish, encourage or even enforce via Code of Ethics or breeder referral guidelines, the use of screening tests and or health registries. If there is a registry established for a particular disease or disorder, or even just a certificate issued from a recognized testing clinic or laboratory, then there is no excuse for breeders not to obtain it. It took three phone calls, total, for OFA to open a trachea study for the Bulldog Club of America, (with financial support from the Bulldog Club Charitable Fund, nothing in life is free) and hopefully by the end of 2009 it will be a full fledged registry all bully breeds can use to clear dogs of narrow trachea size. (it’s based on anatomical ratios and so works for any dog, 15 pounds or 115) There is frankly no excuse for bitch or stud dog owners not to insist on written verifiable proof of clearance or carrier status for diseases or defects for which screening exists and which are of urgent concern to the future of their breed.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      The proactive UK breeders, those who want to make changes or import new genes, still have big hoops to leap through.

      Yes, it’s still easier to import the entire dog than it is semen. It’s not much easier to export it from the UK, either, as I learned earlier this year while looking into using a UK dog at stud. In the end, the cost was ridiculous – it was literally cheaper to fly over with the bitch, do the breeding, and then bring her back home (but the CKC paperwork would still be a nightmare).

      BTW, kudos on your comments on the poll. I had almost given up on ever being able to find a truly healthy Bulldog, but you gave me a reason for optimism!

  4. Caveat
    Caveat says:

    I have two Griffs, both with ‘good’ heads – which means they look like monkeys. It took some getting used to at first but it definitely grows on you.

    I’d be happy to see more nose if it would improve longevity and overall vigour, although these little guys are pretty sturdy without many breed-related health issues.

    Excellent post overall. Happy Hanukkah to your brood :>)

  5. Marie
    Marie says:

    It is an odd situation. If you look back to how long ago some of these breeds were developed, before great vet care and safer c-sections, it seems like perhaps we should go back to their more original state.

    I hate to say it but the russian import frenchie I fostered (that was most likely free whelped to save them $$) had no breathing problems at all. He was taller and had a slightly different face than the show frenchies.

    My rescue pug is the same way. Longer nose and no breathing issues at all. She is also a fablous tracker! Of course if you look at the older pug photos historically she looks more like them. She is also slightly taller than the show dogs.

    It is to bad that health testing wasn’t a requirement before breeding. But of course that doesn’t address piss poor breeding practices which will still go on. They will just forgo papers on the puppies they produce as their cash crop. So much education needs to be done still for the average pet store puppy buyer.

    Marie’s last blog post..New stuff & crossing fingers

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      It is an odd situation. If you look back to how long ago some of these breeds were developed, before great vet care and safer c-sections, it seems like perhaps we should go back to their more original state.

      I think that’s what a lot of us are trying to do by avoiding the more ‘exaggerated’ type of French Bulldog. I did an article a while back in which I put a photo of Delilah side by side with the very FIRST Specialty winner, Dimboola. They were almost indistinguishable from each other. Delilah, though, has a ‘nosier’ face than what you’d see commonly in the show ring. Her grandmother Tessa does, as well – for some judges now, they nose has to be almost counter sunk into the skull. It’s disturbing.

  6. JenniferJ
    JenniferJ says:

    I have an original framed photo, signed by the judge, of Ch Satan’s Daughter who won the Bulldog Club of Northern California’s first first specialty (the club was disbanded during WWII and the first show after the war is what they now consider number 1)

    I would take her in a heartbeat! Not overdone, very functional looking but still dripping with bulldog essence.

    Bulldogs rally hit the high point of exaggeration n the show ring in the late 70s through the 80s. Huge, unbalanced dogs with too much bone, short round heads, no neck blech… It’s also when many self-whelping lines died out. We are still working to undo much of that.

    My favorite illustration of what a bulldog should look like can be found in the 1920s book “The Bulldog” by Eno Meyer. The dog he draws looks like it can get stuff done. Nice arched neck, strong shoulders and rear, nice straight tail and strong all over. Undeniably a bulldog, but not a clunky dog at all.

    Right now I figure 8-9 out of 10 bulldogs are being bred specifically for the pet market by either large or small scale puppy mills or by folks who bought puppymill, backyard bred or imported stock. And they breed for what sells. The public wants overdone puppies with tons of wrinkle, preferably red and white. So that’s what the millers and BYBs are cranking out. They grow up to be cute, or not, overdone or weedy dogs with a host of behavioral and health problems and they are keeping us in breed rescue busy busy busy. The mills are also breeding designer versions mixed with frenchies, Am. bulldogs, boxers or pits and even sometimes bostons and pugs. These latter examples are often marketed as bulldogs and registered with alternate registries so rescue gets them too. Breeding two brachycephalics together with no health screening does NOT deliver the hybrid vigor the buyers were promised.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      Right now I figure 8-9 out of 10 bulldogs are being bred specifically for the pet market by either large or small scale puppy mills or by folks who bought puppymill, backyard bred or imported stock. And they breed for what sells. The public wants overdone puppies with tons of wrinkle, preferably red and white. So that’s what the millers and BYBs are cranking out.

      Well, I wish that I could say that this isn’t also what the SHOW breeders are cranking out, but in my experience, it is. How else do we explain males in the ring and WINNING who are close to hitting the 100 lb mark? I personally spent years looking for a well bred bitch, only to have the one I ended up with (from a top winning breeder, out of top winning lines), turn out to be riddled with health defects. In spite of this, and the testing results I showed to her breeders (who co owned her with me), they INSISTED that I breed her to fulfill our contract. If this happened now, I’d spay her and let the chips (and lawsuits) fall where they may. At the time, I was intimidated enough to go through with the breeding.

      It was a fast, painful lesson in what some breeders prioritize – looks over health, litters over ethics. It also made me give up on ever owning another Bulldog, which is a shame, because they are still one of my favorite breeds of all time, and I’d have another one in a heart beat. Hmmm.. maybe I need to keep in contact with Jennifer 🙂

      Personally, I think we need to start forcing the show ring to reward health, instead of letting it dictate form to us. We need to remember that WE are the breeders and the guardians of our breeds, not all breed judges who wouldn’t know a good Bully if it bit them in the ass.

  7. The Cletus Residence
    The Cletus Residence says:

    My Pugs could never do much of anything throughout the summer except gasp and drink mint juleps on the porch. They were basically useless in AKC obedience competition if the temperature climbed over 80 Fahrenheit. The last time I tried to take one on a lengthy hike through the woods, about 20 years ago, he collapsed in convulsions at my feet, and the only reason he survived is because I could run a lot faster when I was younger and there was a reservoir nearby. Yet, I go to my Pug meetup and I am surrounded by poorly bred Pugs with long noses and long legs and skinny bodies, sort of like Pug Gumbies. They can run and play and jump and dance all day long without drawing a hard breath. They can also see well enough not to bang into stuff. The unhealthiest slowest moving dogs there are the well bred ones. I am getting embarrassed to recommend my own breeders, no matter how many AKC Champions they have bred, and they have bred plenty. Breeders should really sit up and take notice. It’s a harsh thing to say, but it’s true.

    The Cletus Residence’s last blog post..Fan mail?

  8. Katie
    Katie says:

    I guess a big question for me is in a breed so rife with a specific, testable health problem, how do you not breed affected dogs but not narrow the gene pool from tiny to really really tiny? It seems awfully rock vs hard place.

    Katie’s last blog post..I killed a shelter dog.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      in a breed so rife with a specific, testable health problem, how do you not breed affected dogs but not narrow the gene pool from tiny to really really tiny

      Again, I suppose that would be an argument in favor of opening the stud book for a one time outcross project.. Also, pushing Kennel Clubs in places like the UK to make importing semen less the byzantine paperwork nightmare it currently is would certainly help. Anything that helps to bring in outside genes should be rewarded, not penalized.

  9. JenniferJ
    JenniferJ says:

    Gahh! 100 pounds? Really?!? I just came back from the US Nationals in Reading PA and must say that the couple of “big boys” that I saw were probably in the high seventies at most. Well maybe one 80 plus pounder too.

    Of course, weight can be hard to determine, I still have people asking me if my now retired special is 80 pounds. He is currently a fat 64 pounds. 58-68 being about the average weight range for most male specials. And he is a heavy dog for his size, not in terms of bulk, but solid bone and hard muscle. Often the open bitch leaving the winners class had an inch or so on him as we walked into the breed ring.

    I have finished several 50 lb males and 40 lb females. I was always told that the smaller dogs were healthier but have not seen that to be true. I spayed my first 40 lb girl for having a not as good as I like airway. I neutered one 50 lb male for iffy stiffles. Both had a good life but were not breeding prospects.

    Nice thing about the Nationals this year, it was so quiet! The dogs kept their mouths closed and even in the big classes, when we had 35 dogs in one ring and 30 in the other there were very few, or no, dogs who were noisy breathers. Out of 408 entries, I only heard maybe a handful make any palate/nares type noise all week. the OFA clinic held in conjunction was busier than expected and a lot of OFA newbies took part which is all to the good.

    I know there was one Canadian bred bitch in 12-18 months. She was lovely, did well all week, was standard in size and had wonderful legnth of skull and not overdone in the least. the young lady showing her had “former junior” written all over her and did a bang up dog. I know I saw them in the OFA clinic too:-) I’ll try to find out who she was.

    As for the judges who still think “everything wrong in another breed is right in a bulldog” OMG I will not get started. I do know that the U.S. parent club is in the process of submitting a letter to the AKC judges publication stressing health, fitness and soundness and asking all-round judges to please NOT reward any dog showing ANY degree of unsoundness or ill health including issues of the eyes, airway, skin or legs. Maybe a few will actually pay attention.

    In the states there are numerous bulldog specialties and we have, compared to most breeds, a lot of breeder-judges. There are some years I venture out to very few all breed shows due mainly to the uneven quality of judging.

  10. Dara
    Dara says:



    PS: this post about the Jewish Christmas puppies had me rolling!

  11. JenniferJ
    JenniferJ says:

    I am always thrilled to find other Jewish dog enthusiasts! That’ll show my mother-in-law! (kidding kidding, sort of).


    The Joseph Family

  12. JenniferJ
    JenniferJ says:

    A quick note to any frenchie or english bulldog breeders or owners out there. The OFA tracheal hypoplasia study is well underway. If you submit a film to OFA, you will receive a result, of either normal, equivocal or hypoplastic. We need more submissions to give OFA the data they need. Hopefully this will evolve to a registry and give the breeders of short faced breeds a valuable tool to utilize to breed healthy, active dogs and weed out those with issues from future breeding programs.

    So far, results have been encouraging. While it is true that many breeders have been submitting, so have a lot of pet owners and performance dog owners.

    It requires only one film, NO sedation, and in a few weeks you will have valuable information on your dog. Completely confidential as this is a study phase. Dogs can be CKC or AKC registered and need only be 5 months old at the time the film is taken.

    If anyone wants to take part in starting something that may be invaluable to our breeds someday, just go to http://www.offa.org/trachhypoappbw.pdf
    Any vet with an x-ray can do it.

  13. Theresa
    Theresa says:

    I’m all for the AKC standard to be updated to include all of the above, ie longer muzzle, more leg and body length, smaller heads. If it makes a difference for the better in our dogs, why not? I also would like to see the standard updated to include a tail that is long enough for modesty but still not reach the hocks – such as the old time dogs the standard was founded upon.

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