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
SCALE OF POINTS.
General appearance 15
Ears 10 Neck 5 Body 15 Legs and feet 10 Tail 10 Color, skin and coat 10
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.
PROPORTION AND SYMMETRY. — 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.
VALUE OF POINTS. —
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.
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