French Bulldog Breeding
Background of French Bulldogs
If you think Frenchies originated from France, well guess again, Frenchies go all the way back to the ancient Greeks! A Grecian tribe known as the ‘Molossians’ would breed strong and large dogs for war and labor purposes, these dogs were part of the ‘Molossus’ breed. Like other breeds, the ‘Molossus’ breed had a variety of other breeds and sub-families including Rottweilers and Pitbulls and a breed known as the Bullenbeisser. The Bullenbeisser breed, now extinct, was a sturdy, strong and aggressive breed commonly used for blood sports typically known as ‘bull baiting’, this sport would see Bullenbeissers bite and latch their jaws onto the bull’s snout to immobilize the large animal.
Due to the uproar of this divided sport, Britain outlawed the blood sport of bull baiting in 1835 and retired bull baiting dogs fell back into easy non-sporting lives. After the sport was banned breeders began crossing BUllenbeisser to create modern bulldogs we know as English bulldogs, American Bulldogs and our beloved French Bulldogs.
French Bulldogs came about when breeders bred the Bullendeisser breed with terriers to conceive compact smaller versions of the Bulldogs and by 1850 there was a healthy amount of smaller Bulldogs running around. Once crossed with other breeds the modern bulldogs showed little resemblance to the Bullenbeisser ancestors only sharing the broad, sturdy body structure and flattened muzzle. Instead of vicious sporting dogs, they were conditioned and groomed to be companion dogs. Not only was the bulldog crossed with terriers but they were also crossed with pugs to achieve a small, compact body.
Around the mid-1800’s, lace workers from Nottingham, forced out by the Industrial Revolution, migrated to France to source work in Normandy as work had dried up from their hometown. Upon migrating to France the lace workers brought along their families and animals including a wide range of dog breeds, namely, the miniature bulldog. These miniature bulldogs became increasingly famous with the French due to their small size. Due to the popularity, new importing lines were created for the miniature bulldogs between England and the Normans. Bulldogs that the English deemed unfit for breeding were shipped straight to France. Though the English people detested the characteristics of the French Bulldog, the French people adored their unique features, including being compact and small and having large bat-like ears that stood up. The French lace workers thought their large ears were so endearing that they named this special dog ‘Bouledogue Français’ and became a prestigious and fashionable symbol of the Parisian life.
In 1893, the Bouledogue Français found its way back into England, however, English breeders did not welcome the new breed as they thought the new breed did not align to their standards. Fanciers of English and Bouledogue Français breeds were concerned that their dogs would be cross-bred to the detriment of each other. As breeders were separated with this breed avid supporters of Bouledogue Français formed their own kennel club and held their first show in 1902 and a year after their first show the English Kennel Club permitted the Bouledogue Français into their roster due to the popularity of the breed and called the breed “French Bulldog”.
French Bulldogs started to arrive in America and were coupled with wealthy Americans in 1885. The social elite instantly fell in love with the new breed and highly influential Frenchie-owners such as the Rockefellers and J.P. Morgans propelled the breed’s recognition by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1898.
Health Concerns when breeding French Bulldogs
French Bulldogs are subject to several reproductive issues and the bitch should never be bred before her second heat cycle or the age of 2. French Bulldogs have difficulty whelping naturally due to their slim hips and the puppies’ large skull; therefore, knowing the due date of puppies is crucial. The gestation period is around 60-65 days from the date of ovulation, however, to know the exact date progesterone screening can be conducted. A veterinarian can determine if a bitch is pregnant through ultrasound between 25-28 days. Female French bulldogs can also suffer from erratic or 'silent' heats, which may be a side effect of thyroid disease or impaired thyroid function.
Breeding is often accomplished through artificial insemination and this is further explored and explained in this article. French bulldogs are susceptible to brucellosis which is an infection of the reproductive tract. This infection can be contracted during a heat cycle and so most French Bulldog breeders screen both before and during the heat cycle and prior to breeding to minimise the likelihood of their Frenchie contracting this.
Within the last 12 months, prior to breeding, it’s important that bitches have their Distemper and Parvo Virus vaccinations. If breeders anticipate that their Frenchies will be in season, they tend to schedule boosters well in advance to ensure their females are well protected against any infections or pregnancy abnormalities.
Before female Frenchies come into season breeders always check for intestinal worms and if they require de-worming breeders will proceed with it, however, by doing so will not keep the pups from being born with worms. Puppies still need to be checked and if deworming is required then this will be facilitated.
Another important health check most breeders conduct is a heartworm check, also within the last 12 months. Heartworm prevention is essential for any dog whether they’re in season or not as heartworm infestation and heartworm disease cause infertility.
French Bulldog best breeding practices
Due to French Bulldogs body structure they frequently require artificial insemination, the conception rate is about 70% which is common for all breeds of dogs, not just Frenchies. French Bulldogs may also require a cesarean section (commonly known as C-Section) to give birth, with over 80% of litters delivered this way.
The process of birthing the puppies is known as whelping and is rarely done naturally with French bulldogs. The large size of the heads and the small size of the birth canal make natural delivery challenging and also relatively risky and therefore a C-section is a common elective procedure performed to deliver Frenchies; the surgery is routine but requires several staff members in addition to the surgeon to resuscitate the pups as they are delivered.
A lot of French Bulldog breeders go down the path of artificial insemination of female dogs and when breeders discuss natural breeding they are usually referring to handheld breeding which involves placing the Frenchie on a breeding board and physically helping and maneuvering the stud dog to mate her.
It is important to consult your vet very early on in the planning stages if you are considering breeding your French Bulldog. Having your vet involved in the process from start to finish will give you peace of mind and reassurance that your French Bulldog’s pregnancy journey will start off well. Vets can give great advice on feeding, mating, using harnesses for French Bulldogs, gestation periods when to conduct necessary tests to keep a pulse check on your Frenchies health and delivery approaches.
A vet who assess both the female French Bulldog but also the stud of the litter they could possibly provide an informed opinion if the bitch can deliver naturally, however, vets should also be present or on standby when the female goes into labor just in case.
Future of the French Bulldogs
With registrations for the breed rising from 14,607 to 21,470 in 2016 (UK) and heightened celebrity craze for French bulldogs is encouraging overbreeding without the right technical skills or breeder knowledge resulting in birth defects and deformities. Backyard breeding has also become prevalent in a lot of countries as many see breeding French Bulldogs as a quick money and illicit puppy farming is also on the rise.
Veterinarians around the world have also raised concerns about the illegal importation of French bulldog puppies and many have been found with foreign microchips and fake passports. Whilst demand for Frenchies has surged in recent years, so too has the number of designer dogs being abandoned.
Prospective French Bulldog owners should do thorough background checks on breeders before purchasing puppies. Too often, unsuspecting people buy puppies from puppy mills and or conduct backyard breeding without the required knowledge and expertise in birthing puppies, however, inform customers they come with "with papers." This usually results in puppies having poor health or with temperament problems that may not be discovered right away.
A dog who has genetic health problems due to poor breeding or who develops poor behaviour problems due to a lack of early socialization may cost a lot to treat and in some cases can take years to reverse the early damage, this, unfortunately, results in heartache, more for the owner but pain for the animal. Investing time into researching French Bulldog breeder is essential as dogs will live up to 10-18 years and therefore it is more comforting adopting a dog from a reputable breeder as you know the pups health and happiness is front of mind and will mean long-term happiness for not only them but for you as well.
As the popularity continues to rise of the French Bulldog breeds, so do scammers and whilst it’s important to do your research on French Bulldog breeders it’s also important to stay alert of fake breeder profiles. Below is a list of common scammer approaches:
Email communication is a good way to spot a scammer, usually, reputable breeders will be very professional and knowledgeable upon replying to your messages or emails. Scammers tend to write very broken responses to email and tend to focus on the sale as opposed to answering any specific queries of their litters and breeding process.
Methods of Payment
- PAYPAL AND CREDIT CARD
Payments via Paypal or a Credit Card should be avoided. Reputable breeders should have their own business bank account for you to deposit funds in. Paying via Paypal or credit card provides little certainty that funds are being sent to an actual breeder and therefore suggest to request the breeder’s nominated bank account when placing deposits or sale funds.
- WESTERN UNION
Western Union accounts typically suggest that the account belongs to someone in a foreign country. Stick to local breeders as it will give you reassurance that you will receive your puppy that you paid for. If you’re a breeder importing a stud you can usually receive referrals of local breeders in your area.
- CLASSIFIED ADS
Watch out for ads on ‘Free Classified’ sites such as Gumtree, Trading Post, EBay just to name a few, this is a breeding ground for scammers. If Breeders do not have their own website, registered breeder number and/or testimonials from other owners then tread carefully
It is now very common that scammers are stealing reputable Breeder identities and creating Facebook profiles that look like the legitimate Breeder.
- Scammers will usually offer French Bulldogs at a reduced rate and usually post or send photos of puppies stolen from reputable breeder websites.
- Scammers will also advise that they live in regional areas and prospective owners to pay for the transport. Once payment has been made it’s common that reaching the ‘breeder’ can no longer be done, email bounce backs and unreachable mobile phone numbers usually happens.
- Payment for shipping of a puppy or adult dog that the seller can no longer keep. Scammers will offer a free dog to a good home however payment of transport is required. Scammers will ‘inform’ you of a time to collect the puppy at the airport, however, no puppy arrives.
All things considered, a French Bulldog makes for a lovable companion and if you are in the market for a loyal, cheeky and funny furry companion you should give the French Bulldog serious consideration. French Bulldogs bring owners great joy and laughter, it can be said that all French Bulldogs have beautiful personalities, however, it is important, like most breeds, to do your research to make sure the breed is right for you and your family.
When we are buying a breed of puppy, we need to be mindful of our current surroundings, environment, and routine. Dogs are very intuitive and pick up on human behavior and therefore it’s important to assess whether or not you and your family are 100% committed to adopting a furry friend.