Sloppy purebred breeding and my modern Frenchie headaches
Yesterday found me leafing through a high-gloss magazine on French bulldogs one of my devoted clients had gifted me. I was immediately drawn to an article on “decoding Frenchie sounds,” expecting to be informed about airway issues.
Though it did touch on the concept of respiratory disease, it reveled in the snuffly-snorty Frenchie noises as an immensely cute characteristic of the breed—strike one. Next, this periodical proceeded to inform me that most Frenchies don’t suffer from brachycephalic syndrome (though, by definition, it’s the cause of all the “cute” snorting and snoring)—strike two.
It’s no wonder we Americans are buying up Frenchies by the truckload; we’re convinced they’re a healthier, cuter, more active version of the English bulldog. And while that may be true to some extent, publications like this are helping sell the breed based on false pretenses.
Frenchies are airway challenged and require special attention—which often requires surgery they typically don’t get. After forking over a $2,500 initial purchase price it’s hard to convince people they should be prepared to spend that amount three times over to keep their pet healthy and comfortable. Hence, it’s not a breed I’d recommend for families with a retriever mentality and no experience in canine health.
Yet I see more Frenchie purchases made every day by first-dog families. Add that handicap to the misinformation that passes for fact in magazines like this one and it’s no wonder I have to spend twice longer than necessary explaining why a dog that “breathes funny” is diseased by design.
And after all that, I still get the inevitable question: “Is she show quality?” Jeez, why don’t you just waterboard me. At least then I’d know I wasn’t really going to drown.
Inevitably and increasingly, the dog is not only not show quality but flawed in almost every major physical characteristic of the breed—except perhaps in its pathologies, which tend to flourish under genetic mismanagement. Have you seen Frenchies with curly ears, floppy ears, Boston faces, long legs and overlong tails? I have. Ever think what those mutations mean when it comes to the problems inherent in the breed?
“But he has papers!” Gee, Lady, give me an afternoon at Kinkos and I can give you papers for a whole litter that doesn’t even exist.
Those of you who know me know that I’m not really picking on Frenchies (I have two of them I adopted for health reasons). Though this breed’s sudden rise to popularity is more recent than others’, this is a story that might well apply to almost any other breed that’s ever entered the mainstream. Here’s the short version:
Unscrupulous breeders multiply to meet rising demand for a trendy breed. They care less about breeding for health and more about sticking to basic type so they can sell more pups out of as many bitches as they can. Even there, the sloppiness gets out of hand and the breed’s basic form degenerates. Next, newbie owners excited about having an expensive dog decide they should breed their babies and make as big a mint as their “breeder” did.
It’s a disgusting cycle I can only help break by informing clients that their beloved new pup is no doubt gorgeous to them—but nowhere near show quality and likely to need surgery to fix its obvious health problems. In sum: “Please don’t breed this dog!”
Last week brought me two such pups and I can only hope I don’t get flayed alive by the “breeder” after imparting my wisdom to her customers. You’d think common sense would dictate that you don’t buy a dog if you know you’re uneducated and even you can tell there’s something funny about a Frenchie whose ears don’t stand. In this case, regardless of what you read in any magazine, strike three’s all yours.