Dexter’s Show Ring Career

As I’ve mentioned before, Dexter (Bullmarket Absolut Darkly Dexter) has gone off to Michigan to concentrate on his show ring career. He’s being shown by his co owner, Sue Simon of Epic French Bulldogs.

We’re so proud of how well Sue is doing with Dexter. Anyone who has met him knows that good behaviour is not the norm for this little bad boy. He’s bratty, bad and bold – not necessarily in that order – and up until now, shows have been of interest to him mainly because they give him a chance to try to pick fights with his nemesis(es)*, long haired dogs of any breed. Shaggy dog = squeaky toy for Dexter, and his only interest in squeaky toys is in getting the squeaker out of the middle as ruthlessly as possible.

Sue, however, has managed to tame my favorite wildebeest into a reasonable facsimile of a sophisticated show dog. He’s gaiting beautifully, standing patiently, and hanging out on the table without trying to launch himself into the neighbouring ring. Way to go, Sue! And way to go, Dexter – in his third show out, he took his second major, meaning he’s now free to single himself to a championship** (although we’d certainly like more majors, please).

**A note about that – In very simple terms, an American Kennel Club Championship requires a dog to take a total of fifteen points. At least six of these points must be ‘majors’ – any win which awards a dog three or more points is a major. These two majors must be won under differing judges. At least one or more of the remaining points must be won under judges other than the two who awarded majors.

Since Dexter has already been awarded two majors, from two different judges, he can now finish without getting any more majors. Majors are more difficult to achieve, because they require much higher entry numbers (in other words, you must defeat more dogs to win them).

* what the heck is the plural of ‘nemesis’, anyways?

Videos of Dexter showing at the Ingham County Kennel Club Winterland Classic, in Lansing. Michigan, after the cut.

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Your AKC Registration Dollars at Work

Since Sean and I are thinking about opening a pet supply store, we’ve subscribed to all the trade publications we can find.

One of them, Pet Age, seems to carry advertising that leans pretty heavily towards pet stores that also sell puppies. There are frequently ads in Pet Age from the big mid western puppy sellers like Hunte Corporation., and Hunte Corp. has booths at all the trade shows this magazine and its parent company, Backer, promotes.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the June issue of Pet Age and found a FULL page ad from the American Kennel Club – an ad touting the fact that “nine out of ten puppy buyers prefer their puppies to have AKC papers”. The gist of the ad is that store owners should skip the ConCK and APRI registered puppies, and sell only ‘authentic’ AKC registered puppies in their pet stores. That AKC puppies somehow carry more consumer appeal, due to their conception as being a ‘superior’ product. An appeal, I should add, that’s based on the public’s perception of the AKC as being the arbiter of good breeding practices.

At a time when everyone is decrying the allegiance between AKC and Hunte, and AKC and Petland, and when people are insisting that AKC take a firmer stand against the sales of puppies in pet stores, what does AKC do? They spend registration dollars touting AKC registered puppies as great money making products to sell in pet stores. They get in bed with the very groups that they should be opposing, and they tarnish the very reputation that they claim their paperwork conveys. What’s truly ironic is that the ad touts the fact that the AKC is “Not for Profit”. I suppose that’s true, if you put aside how much money they pour into salaries, real estate and perks. I understand the theory that NGOs have to pay decent salaries to attract decently skilled people, but after a certain point it becomes a vicious cycle – you have to make more so that you can pay more to get people who can make more… (repeat endlessly). It’s similar to the statistics about the HSUS — they are, in effect, nothing more now than a vicious cycle of fund raising to make money to pay for more fund raising, with the barest minimum actually going to anything concrete.

The AKC, of course, excuses their behavior by claiming that all of these registrations are needed – are necessary! – for them to be able to continue to run dog shows. On their own website, they state that they’d have to raise fees to a ‘staggering’ $20 per entry to be able to make up for declining registrations. Is this true? Possibly. I believe, as do many others, that they could trim this number down through selling their prime New York City real estate and a few other belt tightening measures. And if that isn’t enough? Then raise entry fees. Ask your average exhibitor which they would prefer – higher entry fees, and an AKC that refuses to allow puppies sold through pet stores to be AKC registered, or the current artificially subsidized entry fees. I’m pretty sure I know how that vote would turn out.

Every single time AKC does something like this, it makes it harder and harder for me to believe their line about being the ‘purebred’s champion’, and to believe their PR about how they’re all about sportsmanship and breed preservation. Clearly, the only thing that matters any more to the AKC is making more and more bucks off of registrations, no matter where those registered puppies end up being sold. With this as their mantra, someone tell me – what REALLY is the difference any more between AKC and America’s Pet Registry or any other registry for that matter?

When you start touting your services to the very people your organization is supposed to oppose, haven’t you lost the entire “We’re better than those other guys” moral high ground?


Sometimes Things DO Change


From The New York Times, March 10, 1929

Best in Show Judging Needs a Change

The point has been raised regarding the judging of best in show under the new regulations (the AKC is calling for). Accepted literally, they would require that a judge to officiate in that capacity would of necessity have on file with the license committee affidavits that he is competent to judge every one of the eighty-odd varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club.

As a matter of fact, the judge of best in show has to pass upon five dogs only. All his preliminary work has been cleared for him by experts in each breed.

It must be remembered, moreover, that a comparatively small number of breeds ever go to the top of the five variety groups. And in a big show it is unusual for a toy to be the final selection. It is fairly safe, therefore, to state that the judge of best in show will seldom have to consider representatives of other than the more popular breeds in various groups.

Taking the groups separately, the best of the sporting dogs is usually found among the beagles, greyhounds, pointers, setters, spaniels and wolfhounds. Of the working dogs those in the final running in the group are collies, great Danes, old English sheepdogs, doberman pinschers, Samoyedes and shepherds.

Today among the terriers, one customarily expects an airedale, a bullterrier, a cairn, a Sealy, Scottie, Kerry blue or schnauzer at the top.

Among the toys it is seldom that one can beat the winning peke or pom, while in the non sporting division the one to enter the final is more likely to be a Boston terrier, a bulldog or a French bulldog.

An earlier article from the same edition of the paper illustrates the dramatic difference between then and now in sheer numbers of shows held and dogs registered.

Mass of Detail Passes Through AKC Office

During the year 1928, 568 championships, including those won at field trials, were awarded. A total of 261 bench (or conformation) shows were held in 1928, with member clubs holding 104 shows.

Compare these figures with today’s shows, where shows are held every weekend in every state, but a French Bulldog winning Best in Show rarely happens more than a half dozen times per year.

With the dramatically small number of shows and championships in the 1920s, it becomes even more surprising that French Bulldogs are singled out as receiving a significant number of Group and Best in Show wins.

Apparently, some things really do change with time.

French Bulldog Coat Colors – or lack thereof

I thought I’d write a second part to my article on French Bulldog coat colors, since it gives me a chance to get a terrible burden off of my chest –

I’ve been perpetuating a lie.

Yes, it’s true. All over the web, you’ll find sites parroting this line, from my initial article on coat colors and the French Bulldog FAQ –

“French Bulldogs come in a myriad of colors”

This is, I’m afraid, completely untrue. French Bulldogs, in actual fact, only come in one single coat color – the Golden Sabel/Dominant yellow of the Agouti or ‘A’ series. It’s carried as ay. Everything else we see, from brindle pied to fawn pied to ‘tiger’ brindle to blue fawn to ‘white’, is not a color, but a marking pattern, overlaying or somehow modifying that base coat color of Golden Sable.

It’s true. The genetic ‘base color’ of the French Bulldog is golden sable – think deep golden cream. All of the varying shades and colors in between – from vivid reds to pale buttery yellows to black tipped sable, are just variations on this initial color, thanks to modifiers such as the E Extension series or D Dilute series. It’s theorized that so called ‘blue’ or ‘mouse’ French Bulldogs are a result of the D series dilute gene (dd), but this is just conjecture.

While French Bulldogs might not have a wide variety of colors, what we do indeed have is a staggeringly large variety of marking patterns and modifiers to change the appearance of this one color. The basic patterns are –

Brindle, then, is a pattern of black stripes of varying thickness and degree of repetition, overlaying this base golden color.

Pied is a pattern of white markings interspersed with either self colored areas (fawn pied) or brindled areas (brindle pieds)

Heavily marked brindle or fawn dogs, which seem to sit on the fence between dogs with white markings, and pieds, are likely dogs carrying the si or Irish Spotting allele of the S series.

Black masked dogs are dogs of whichever color/pattern, carrying the black masking gene.

Of course, since Frenchies are Frenchies, and nothing can ever be simple in this breed, we have to deal with the appearance of Liver colored dogs, as well as those of Black and Tans. Both patterns are beyond my scope, or that of my outdated “Genetics of the Dog’ reference book, to explain, but I’m sure someone out there can give us a possible explanation for their occasional appearance.

All of what we know about French Bulldog coat color genetics is currently up in the air. Old theories are being overturned, new ones posited, and differences of opinion over the placement and indeed actions of the various alleles are apparently now commonplace.

What’s heartening is that new genetic testing is becoming available which will soon allow us to run a simple test and determine what color and patterns our dogs are without having to rely on the subjective appearance a dog seems to be – something that no two breeders can ever seem to agree on.

Perhaps soon, when asked what ‘color’ my dog is, I can reply by handing you a copy of his genetic blueprint. It would sure save a lot of arguing!

Coat Colors? – Them's fightin' words!

Want to start a fight on a French Bulldog discussion list? Bring up the topic of French Bulldog coat colors. There are few other topics more guaranteed to get threads going of 75 or more responses, or more promising of exchanges like ‘oh yeah? Sez you’ and ‘You wouldn’t know medelian genetics if it jumped up and bit you in the face’.

There’s a fairly simple reason for this, actually – complexity. Few if any breeds come in the staggering array of allowable colors and patterns seen in French Bulldogs. Our standard in North America pretty much states ‘except for these few disallowed colors, have at it, dog breeders!’. To be more precise, the American Kennel Club standard for the French Bulldog says –

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.

Read that again, carefully –

any color except those which constitute disqualification

That means that if I can genetically engineer myself a glow in the dark pink Frenchie, I could register and show it.

Night shows would be particularly interesting to show one at, don’t you think?

The European standards are a bit tougher on colors, with the FCI standard stating –

– Uniformly fawn, brindled or not , or with limited patching (pied).
– Brindled fawn or not, with medium or large patching.

All the fawn shades are admitted, from the red to light brown (café au lait) colour. The entirely white dogs are classified in “brindled fawn with large white patching”. When a dog has a very dark nose, dark eyes with dark eyelids, certain depigmentations of the face may exceptionally be tolerated in very beautiful subjects.

The FCI standard doesn’t need to list specific DQs (or disqualifications), as their standard has a short, concise list of allowable colors, instead. So, rather than the American standard, which tells us ‘anything other than these few colors is allowed’, the FCI standard says ‘nothing other than these few colors is allowed’.

Over in the UK, the standard says –

Brindle, pied or fawn. Tan, mouse and grey/blue highly undesirable.
Brindle: a mixture of black and coloured hairs. May contain white provided brindle predominates.
Pied: white predominates over brindle. Whites are classified with pieds for show purposes; but their eyelashes and eye rims should be black. In pieds the white should be clear with definite brindle patches and no ticking or black spots.
Fawn: may contain brindle hairs but must have black eye lashes and eye rims.

Reading this, one would assume that ‘cream’, as an ee expression of fawn, would be allowed. One would, however, be wrong. The British French Bulldog breeders are almost completely uniform in their rejection of anything other than what we refer to as ‘Black Masked Fawn’ – those smutty, tan colored dogs, with the clear black masks. Even the masked red fawns and red fawn pieds are still rejected. In fact, the predominance of the red fawn pied dogs we see in North America can be traced to a handful of UK dogs exported to the US, dogs which were sold mainly because their color was not showable in the UK.

These ‘DQs’ might not be specified in the standard, but they are still accepted as the norm – and if I’m wrong about this, and attitudes are changing, I’d love to hear about it.

The issue of cream versus fawn versus black masked fawn is of particular interest to most North American French Bulldog breeders, where the exact method of inheritance is still open to debate. I’ll discuss further on the vagaries of coat color genetics another time.

For now, I’ll leave you with the color example chart I created for Wikipedia, and which you can also find on French Bulldog Z. As I state repeatedly on both sites, these photos and their corresponding color descriptions are listed as examples only, and are open to debate. The only truism when it comes to French Bulldog coat colors is there are more descriptive color names than there are colors, and everyone has their own preference.

It should also be pointed out that some color terms are subjective, with each breeder having their own opinion as to what defines ‘fawn pied’, ‘honey pied’, etc. The examples listed below should be viewed objectively, and are open to debate. In other words, don’t bother sending me snippy letters if you disagree with my descriptions, as I already have a file of about 200 of those. Polite debate, however, is welcomed.

Click thumbnails to see full sized images.

Ellie - Dark Brindle French Bulldog

Black brindle – also known as Seal brindle – so dark it may appear black, but closer inspection will reveal at least a few lighter colored hairs.

Tiger or

This color pattern is sometimes referred to as reverse brindle. It refers to the fact that fawn is more predominant than the black brindling. In the dog shown, there is also a black mask present.

Tiger Brindle French Bull Dog

Tiger brindle is a term reserved for dogs with a coat pattern comprising a fairly regular pattern of alternating fawn and black stripes, similar in appearance to the coat of a tiger.

Cream French Bulldog

Pale cream French Bulldog. Creams can range in hue from deep amber to rich butterscotch to palest gold. This color is generally considered to be a dilution of fawn, minus the masking gene.

Red Fawn French Bulldog

This color and pattern are referred to as black masked RED fawn, due to the rich red hues of the fawn base coat. We have seen fawns in all shades, from brick red to honey to lemon yellow.

Black Masked Fawn French Bulldog

This color and pattern are referred to as black masked fawn. The base color of the coat can vary in shade from red to tan. The mask refers to the marking pattern on the face.

Brindle Pied French Bulldog


This pattern is referred to as brindle pied. Brindled areas – areas where fawn is overlaid with black striping – are interspersed with areas of white coat. Markings can be slight, or predominant.

Red Fawn Pied French Bulldogs


Red fawn pied French Bulldogs. Paler versions are sometimes referred to as fawn pied, lemon pied or honey pied. As with all Frenchies, there may be a mask associated with this pattern.


Ticked Pied French Bulldog


Ticked Pied. Dog has obvious freckled markings among the white areas of the body. Only the KCofE standard specifies ‘ticking’ as a DQ, but this pattern still tends to be heavily penalized in show rings everywhere.


Blue or Mouse French Bulldog


This is referred to as blue, or blue brindle. Brindle markings on this dog have a “grey” hue, and base coat color is a solid blue-grey. It has been debated whether or not this color is also what the standards refer to as ‘mouse‘.

Blue Pied French Bulldog


A Blue Pied French Bulldog. “Blue” Frenchies are a result of the ‘d’ or dilute gene. In this form, the dilute factor has caused the black hairs to become blue. Pigment on nose and pads is also a greyish blue in color, and eyes are often blue or yellowish gold. Again, this color has also been referred to as mouse.

Blue Fawn French Bulldog


Blue-Fawn A variation of blue, with coloring being seen most clearly in the masking points on the face. Typically they have green/grey eyes. It is said that they are usually produced by a fawn or red fawn parent.

Liver French Bulldog


This color can be referred to as either liver or brown – each is a disqualification within the AKC or FCI breed standards. Dog has NO brindling, and is a uniform reddish – brown, with self pigmented lips, nose, pads,etc. Eyes have a yellowish hue.

Black and Tan French Bulldog


Black and tan French Bulldog. Undoubtedly the rarest of the disqualified colors, this is still an extremely striking marking pattern. It has been theorized that black and tan was initially designated a dq because it is a dominant marking pattern in canines