The evolution of the French Bulldog Breed Standard – Part 1

The breed standard is the written blue print of the breed. It is the master plan that instructs breeders on what their ultimate goals are to be, in terms of structure, when evaluating their own dogs or planning a breeding. It is also the guide which judges are to use when evaluating French Bulldogs at breed shows.

Often times, breeders treat the standard as if it is graven in stone – un changeable, and to be adhered to rigidly. This isn’t really true.

Standards are mutable, and change over time. What follows are three versions of the French Bulldog breed standard – one from 1901, one from 1923, and one from 2005.

Reading it closely, you’ll see the changes that occur over time to various aspects of the breed. In particular, pay attention to the sections on color. This is interesting to us today, as one of the reason often given for fighting against disallowed colors is that they aren’t ‘true’ to the standard – but which version of the standard are they untrue to? Should we adhere to what the originators of the breed sought in terms of consistency, or to the more modern versions?

Food for thought.

This will be posted in three parts, for the sake of brevity.

The French Bull Dog Breed Standard, 1901

General Appearance. — The general appearance of the French bulldog
should be that of an active, intelligent, muscular dog; smooth-coated,
compactly built and of small stature.
Head. — Large, si]nare and broad, craninm almost flat, jaws large,
powerful, deep, square, and undershot; the muscles of the cheek well
developed ; the face extremely short, broad and very deep. Stop strongly
defined, causing a hollow or groove between the eyes, and extending well
up the forehead.
Eyes. — Wide apart, set low in skull, as far from the ears as possible,
round, of moderate size, neither sunken nor bulging, and very dark. No
haw and no white of eye should be visible when looking forward.
Nose, etc. — Muzzle, nose and lips should be black. The lips thick,
and nose deep, and nostrils broad. Neck short, thick and well arched.

Ears. — Ears bat ears, large in size, broad at base, well elongated, with
rounded top, set high on head, but not too close, yet carried erect, with
orifice plainly visible when seen from the front.

Body. — Short, well rounded, well let down between shoulders and fore-legs, chest deep, broad, full, well-ribbed, with belly well tucked up. Back short, strong, broad at shoulders and narrowing at loins. Fore-legs short, stout, straight, and muscular, set wide apart ; hind-legs longer than fore-legs so as to elevate the loins above the shoulders. Feet compact and
firmly set, turning slightly outward. Toes compact, with high knuckles and
short nails. The tail can be either straight or screwed (not curl), short,
hung low, downward carriage, thick root and fine tip. Preference given to
short, straight tail.
Color. — Uniform, pure of its kind, and brilliant; preference given to
dark brindle, dark brindle and white ; all other brindles, all other colors.
Skin soft and loose, especially at head, forming wrinkles.
Coat. — Moderately fine, short and smooth.
Disqualifications. — Docked tails, mutilated, and other than bat ears are
General appearance 15
Skull 15
Eyes 5
Muzzle 5
Ears 10 Neck 5 Body 15 Legs and feet 10 Tail 10 Color, skin and coat 10
Total 100

French Bulldog Breed Standard, 1923

The following is the description of the breed as approved by the French Bulldog Club of America:

GENERAL APPEARANCE. — The French Bulldog should have the appearance of an active, intelligent, muscular dog, of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small stature.

The points should be 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 deformed or ill proportioned.

INFLUENCE OF SEX.— In comparison of specimens of different sex, due allowance should be made in favor of the bitches, which do not bear the characteristics of the breed to the same marked degree as do the dogs.

WEIGHT. — A lightweight class under 22 pounds; heavyweight class, 22 pounds, and not over 28 pounds.

HEAD. — The head should be large, square, and broad, cranium almost flat; the underjaw large and powerful, deep, square, broad, undershot, and well turned up. The muzzle should be well laid back and the muscles of the cheeks well developed. The stop should be strongly defined, causing a hollow or groove between the eyes and extending up in the forehead. The nose should be extremely short, broad, and very deep; nostrils broad and black, with well-defined line between them. (Dish-face undesirable.) The nose and flews should be black. The flews should be thick, broad, pendant, and very deep, hanging over the lower jaw at sides. Tusks must not show. Front teeth may show slightly.
EYES. — The eyes should be 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, and in color dark. No haw and no white of the eye showing when looking forward.
NECK. — The neck should be thick and well arched, with loose skin at throat.

EARS. — The ears shall hereafter be known as the bat ear, broad at the base, elongated, with round top, set high in the head, but not too close together, and carried erect, with the orifice to the front. The leather of the ear fine and soft.
BODY. — The body should be short and well rounded. The chest broad, deep, and full, well ribbed, with the belly tucked up. The back should be a roach back, with a slight fall close behind the shoulders. It should be strong and short, broad at the shoulders and narrowing at the loins.
LEGS. — The forelegs should be short, stout, straight, and muscular, set wide apart. The hind-
legs should be strong and muscular, longer than the forelegs, so as to elevate the loins above the shoulders. Hocks well let down.
FEET. — The feet should be 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.

TAIL. — The tail should be either straight or screwed (but not curly), short, hung low, thick root and fine tip, carried low in repose.
COLOR, SKIN, AND COAT. — Acceptable colors are: All brindle (dark preferred) and any color except the following, which constitute disqualification: Solid black, black and white, black and tan, liver and mouse color. (Black as used in the standard means black without any trace of brindle.) The skin should be soft and loose, especially at head and shoulders, forming wrinkles. Coat moderately fine, brilliant, short and smooth.

Disqualification. — Other than bat ears, any mutilation, solid black, black and white, black and tan, liver and mouse color, eyes of different color, nose other than black, and hare lip.


Proportion and symmetry, 5;
expression, 5; gait, 4; color, 4; coat, 2; skull, 6;
cheeks and chops, 2; stop, 5; ears, 8; eyes, 4; wrinkles,
4; nose, 3; jaws, 6; teeth, 2; shoulders, 5; back,
5; neck, 4; chest, 3; ribs, 4; brisket, 3; belly, 2;
forelegs, 4; hindlegs, 3; feet, 3; tail, 4.

Total, 100

Wishbone Brakes for Westminster and Old Dogs with New Homes

This post is sort of a big bunch o’ stuff I wanted to post all last week, but couldn’t, because the internet Gods were angry with me.

I have made them an offering of a pureed 14.4 modem, so hopefully they are appeased and will keep my over priced, stupid, slow-ass satellite internet connection from crashing for just a few days, ok?


Wishbone Needs Snackage

Your dog wins BoB two years in a row, and what is he famous for? Slamming on the brakes so he can carpet surf for leftover bait.

For those of you who missed it, here’s a video clip of Wishbone’s adorable brake-slamming moment during Westminster 2008. I love how they added the brake action sound effects at the top of the second night.

Old Dogs, New Homes

I was thrilled to see a comment from Lisa Levy over on my post about placing dogs into retirement homes. Lisa adopted Blossom a few years ago (I owned her, but didn’t breed her), and I can’t think of a better home for an older Frenchie. It’s a photo of Blossom working the King David retirement home that is shown on the Wikipedia French Bulldog article that I help to edit.

It’s always so great to hear from past and present owners of dogs…

Blossom, btw, had her own website.. Frenchies are sooo tech savvy.

Blossom and Minnie at the retirement home

A Side Note to Owners of Frenchies from Absolut Bullmarket

Hey, you! I know you read this blog, at least sporadically. Get yer butt over to our group on Ning, and upload some bee-ooo-teous photos and film clips of your little flat faced friend.

It’s not scary at all, honest. You just:

sign up for a FREE Ning account

Join our group

– start uploading photos and videos, writing blogs, and chatting with other owners

I’m going to start featuring dogs and owners from our group on this blog, so drop me a line if you’d like to be featured! I love braggin’ on our extended four legged family!

Westminster Re-Cap – French Bulldogs, Patty Hearst and Unfair Hair Cut Advantages

Well, the judging is done, and yet again the Frenchie got overlooked for a frou frou poodle. C’est la vie. Apparently a poofy haircut counts for extra super duper bonus points. Actually, I don’t have a clue how good the poodle really is, since poodles are one of those breeds that all look startlingly similar to me (sorry Jan!).

It was good to see yet another of Cody Sickle’s lovely Bulldogs place well in group. Bullies, like Frenchies, are at a natural disadvantage in a group over run with spring loaded, fluffy coated yappers, so I always root for the Bulldog, in lieu of the Frenchie. I mean, take a look at the photos of this year’s Non Sporting group placers –


Notice anything? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Fluffy haircuts will get you to the big ring every time…

French Bulldog Best of Breed was taken by Ch Windmark’s What a Guy, who also won BoB in 2007. He was handled by Jodi Ghaster, who also handled Best of Opposite Sex winner Ch Shann’s Legally Blond (call name Diva). I’m apparently obligated to mention that Diva is owned by Patty Hearst (now Patty Hearst Shaw). She has owned French Bulldogs for quite a few years, so it’s old news to Frenchie people to hear that she has a dog in the ring. It’s big news everyplace else, though – the name “Patty Hearst” was one of Google’s top search terms today.

Isabella, also known as Ch Absolut’s Ooh LaLa V Amron, didn’t do anything in the breed ring, but she did make the final cut, and with 32 other Frenchies in the ring, that’s a pretty respectable showing for a 14 month old pied. I’d like to also point out that she was the only pied in the final line up, and one of only two that I can see of all the judging photos Wayne sent me. The ring was awash with creams and brindles, but the more esoteric pieds were rare, and the other colors were missing altogether.

Here’s a photo of Isabella gaiting for her handler, James Berger, for owner Toni Perone. Next year, guys…

Wayne Kovacs, co owner of Dixie and owner handler extraordinaire, was at the Gardens, and took tons of photos. You can see the entire collection here, or Isabella’s photos here.

Thanks again, Wayne!