French Bulldog Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
Official Standard of the French Bulldog General Appearance: The French Bulldog has the appearance of an active, intelligent, muscular dog of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure. The hallmarks of the breed are the square head with bat ears and the roach back. Expression alert, curious, and interested. Proportion and Symmetry - All points are 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 poorly proportioned. Influence of Sex - In comparing specimens of different sex, due allowance is to be made in favor of bitches, which do not bear the characteristics of the breed to the same marked degree as do the dogs. Size, Proportion, Substance: Weight not to exceed 28 pounds; over 28 pounds is a disqualification. Proportion - Distance from withers to ground in good relation to distance from withers to onset of tail, so that animal appears compact, well balanced and in good proportion. Substance - Muscular, heavy bone. Head: Head large and square. Eyes dark, brown or approaching black in color, 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. Lighter brown colored eyes are acceptable, but not desirable. Blue or green eye(s) or any traces of blue or green are a disqualification. No haw and no white of the eye showing when looking forward. Ears - Known as the bat ear, broad at the base, elongated, with round top, set high on the head but not too close together, and carried erect with the orifice to the front. The leather of the ear fine and soft. Other than bat ears is a disqualification. The top of the skull flat between the ears; the forehead is not flat but slightly rounded. The muzzle broad, deep and well laid back; the muscles of the cheeks well developed. The stop well defined, causing a hollow groove between the eyes with heavy wrinkles forming a soft roll over the extremely short nose; nostrils broad with a well-defined line between them. Nose black. Nose other than black is a disqualification , except in the case of creams or fawns without black masks, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable but not desirable. Flews black, thick and broad, hanging over the lower jaw at the sides, meeting the underlip in front and covering the teeth and tongue, which are not seen when the mouth is closed. The underjaw is deep, square, broad, undershot and well turned up. Wry mouths and any bites other than undershot are serious faults. Neck, Topline, Body: The neck is thick and well arched with loose skin at the throat. The back is a roach back with a slight fall close behind the shoulders, gradually rising to the loin which is higher than the shoulder, and rounding at the croup. The back is strong and short, broader at the shoulders, and tapering to the rear. The body is short and well rounded. The chest is broad, deep, and full; well ribbed with the belly tucked up. The tail is either straight or screwed (but not curly), short, hung low, thick root and fine tip; carried low in repose. Forequarters: Forelegs are short, stout, straight, muscular and set wide apart. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet are moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails. Hindquarters: Hind legs are strong and muscular, longer than the forelegs, so as to elevate the loins above the shoulders. Hocks well let down. Feet are 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. Coat: Coat is brilliant, short and smooth. Skin is soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming wrinkles. Coats other than short and smooth are a disqualification. Color: Acceptable colors: white, cream, fawn (ranging from light fawn to a red fawn), or any combinations of the foregoing. Markings and patterns are: brindle, piebald, black masks, black
shadings, and white markings. Ticking is acceptable but not desired. Brindle ranges from sparse but clearly defined black stripes on a fawn background to such heavy concentration of black striping that the essential fawn background color barely shows through (“black brindle”). Only a trace of the background color is necessary; in a brindle piebald, a trace of the brindle patterning in any patch is sufficient. All other colors, markings or patterns are a disqualification. Disqualifying colors and patterns include, but are not limited to, solid black, black and tan, black and white, white with black, blue, blue fawn, liver, and merle. Black means black without a trace of brindle. Gait: Correct gait is a “four tracking” foot pattern with the front track wider than the rear track. The movement should have reach and drive and is unrestrained, free and vigorous. Temperament: Well behaved, adaptable, and comfortable companions with an affectionate nature and even disposition; generally active, alert, and playful, but not unduly boisterous. Disqualifications: Over 28 pounds in weight. Blue or green eye(s) or any traces of blue or green. Other than bat ears. Nose other than black, except in the case of cream or fawn colored dogs without black masks, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable. Coats other than short and smooth. All coat colors other than those specifically described (e.g.,Solid black, black and tan, black and white, white and black, blue, blue fawn, liver, and merle). Black means black without a trace of brindle. All other patterns and markings other than specifically described.
Approved April 10, 2018 Effective June 5, 2018
A Brief History of FRENCH BULLDOGS
By Jim Grebe FBDCA Historian
n discussing the history of the French Bulldog, we should note the importance of three countries: England, France and America. England provided the foundation for our modern
Frenchie: the old bulldog. Breeders in France developed the smaller bulldogs into a distinctly “French” type and American breeders set the standard that prescribed the all-important “bat ears.” We begin with the bulldog in Eng- land, where so many of our AKC breeds originated. Th e ancestral type was not our modern bulldog but the bulldog of 150- 200 years ago: a strong, athletic dog, high on leg, and capable of being used in that barbarous activity called “bull-baiting.” Many English bulldog breeders began to change the breed around this time to a big- ger, heavier dog with exaggerated features. Others crossbred them with terriers result- ing in the bull-and-terrier breeds used for dog fi ghting, ratting, etc. Another group of breeders developed a smaller, lighter toy bulldog, around 12-25 lbs. in weight, having either upright or rose ears, round foreheads and short underjaws—and perhaps a touch of ter- rier liveliness. Th ese were quite popular with workers in the English midlands, in particular the artisans in the lace-making industry around Nottingham. When the Industrial Revolution closed down many of the small craft shops, these lace-makers emigrated to the North of France—and they took their little bulldogs with them. Th e popularity of these little dogs spread from Normandy to Paris and soon the English breeders had a lively trade, export- ing small bulldogs to France where they began to be called Bouledogues Français. Th ey were favorites of ordinary Parisians such as butchers, cafe owners and dealers in the rag trade and became notorious as 146 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014
the favorites of the Parisian streetwalk- ers. Th e famous artist Toulouse Lautrec depicted Bouboule, a Frenchie owned by Madame Palmyre, the proprietress of a favorite restaurant “La Souris.” Society folks noticed these cute little bulldogs and before long they were “a la mode.” Most of the British wanted nothing to do with these French bulldogs so it was the French who were guardians of the breed until later in the 19th century. Th ey developed a more uniform breed—a dog with a compact body, straight legs, but without the extreme underjaw of the Eng- lish Bulldog. Some had the erect “bat ears’, some had “rose” ears. Wealthy Americans traveling in France fell in love with these endearing little dogs and began bringing them back to the USA. And the Yanks preferred dogs with erect ears which was fi ne with the French breeders as they pre- ferred the rose eared specimens, as did the British breeders. Society ladies fi rst exhibited Frenchies in 1896 at Westminster and the breed was featured on the cover of the 1897 West- minster catalog even though it was not yet an approved AKC breed. At that show, both bat eared and rose eared dogs were exhibited but the English judge put up the rose-eared specimens. Th is infuriated the American fanciers who quickly organized the French Bull Dog Club of America and drew up a breed standard allowing only the bat ear. At the 1898 Westminster show, the Americans were outraged to fi nd that classes for both bat-eared and rose-eared dogs were to be judged despite the fact that the new breed standard allowed only the former. Th ey pulled their dogs, the American Judge refused to participate in the show and the club organized their own show, for bat-eared dogs only, to be held at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria. Th is was the famous fi rst specialty of the French Bulldog Club of America—which, incidentally, was the fi rst breed club any- where in the world to be dedicated to the French Bulldog. Popularity of Frenchies skyrocketed, particularly among the East Coast Society folks. After World War I the breed’s popular- ity began a decline that would last for the next fi fty years. Th e enormous popularity
“SOCIETY LADIES FIRST EXHIBITED FRENCHIES IN 1896 AT WESTMINSTER and the breed was featured on the cover of the 1897 Westminster catalog even though it was not yet an approved AKC breed.”
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014 • 147
of another small brachycephalic breed, the Boston Terrier, probably contributed to this. Also many Frenchies had problems whelping naturally; it would be years before safe vet- erinary cesarian sections would be routinely performed. Hot summer months, before res- idential air conditioning became common, were rough going for the dogs. And interest in purebred dogs generally declined during the Depression of the 1930s. A small number of Frenchie breeders in America and Europe kept the fl ame alive but by 1940 French Bulldogs were considered a rare breed and only 100 were registered with the AKC. Th e years dur- ing World War II were di ffi cult for all dog breeders and especially for those in Europe where many fi ne dogs starved or were put down for lack of food. Heretofore most Frenchies were brindle with a few pied and white dogs. Creams and
fawns were rare and not particularly popular until the 1950s when a breeder from Detroit, Amanda West, began showing cream Frenchies with phenomenal success. Her dogs, mostly creams, tallied over 500 group wins and 111 Best in Show awards as well as 21 consecutive breed wins at Westminster. From then on, creams and fawns were more and more common in the show rings. But Frenchie registrations totaled only 106 in 1960 and an article in the AKC Gazette stated, “ Th ere are many advantag- es to owning a dog of this breed but there are very few bred and very few exhibited. If the trend keeps on, eventually the breed will become extinct... No one wants to see the breed overpopularized but certainly the breed deserves to be known and appre- ciated by the public.” Th e 1980s witnessed a rapid rise in Frenchie registrations due to a newly
energized FBDCA that included younger breeders who transformed the annual spe- cialty shows and who contributed to Th e French Bullytin , a new magazine devoted solely to Frenchies. Th e 1980 breed regis- trations were 170 and by 1990 were 632. Since then, the popularity of these little dogs has soared and over 5,500 dogs were registered in 2006. Nowadays it’s not that uncommon to see Frenchies featured in ads, movies or in stories about celebrities. Th is skyrocketing popularity can be scary for those of us who love the breed and who fi ght a constant battle to maintain breed type and minimize those health prob- lems to which Frenchies are subject. Unscru- pulous breeders and importers complicate the picture. Let’s hope that today’s successes are not a passing fad and that many future fanciers will enjoy all that can be o ff ered by this most companionable breed.
“Nowadays it’s not that uncommon to see FRENCHIES FEATURED IN ADS, MOVIES OR IN STORIES ABOUT CELEBRITIES.”
154 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014
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JUDGING THE FRENCH BULLDOG: Finding The Diamond In The Rough! By Luis Sosa T he French Bulldog is a small, cobby, square dog with a large head, bat ears and an o ff -level topline. Right? NO! Th ough this generic and a correct square head is more impor- tant than mere size. We unfortunately see large, round-headed Frenchies, or dogs with ears pointing straight up to heaven reward- ed in the show ring. Remember that the head is square with bat ears set at 11 and 1 on the dial. Th e ears are expressive and need not be carried forward at all times.
statement is misleading and largely false, it often appears that this “Cli ff Notes” ver- sion of the Frenchie Standard is at times rewarded in the show ring. Th is article will hopefully help explain some of the most important points of the Frenchie silhouette that are often overlooked, and o ff er some common sense suggestions on evaluating our breed. Above all, please remember that this is strictly our opinion as breeders and exhibitors of this breed for over 30 years. Th e first paragraph of the Standard describes the Frenchie as an “active, intelli- gent, muscular dog of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure.” Two items of note in this description are the “compactly built” and the “medium or small structure”. While at first you might think that this description implies a square or overly cobby dog, when you consider these phrases within the con- text of the history of the French Bulldog, it doesn’t. Th ese terms can be traced back to early standards when the Frenchie was a much longer-backed dog than what we typically find in the ring today. “Compactly built” means short, yet still having some length of loin, meaning that the correct French Bulldog will still have some overall length; and we must be careful not to reward overly short, “cobby” dogs. Without a correct length of loin, it is not possible to have a cor- rect topline or the pear shape which is char- acteristic of the breed. Compact also does not mean square, but more on that later. In fact, the only thing square about the French Bulldog is the head which is “large and square” when viewed from the front. Large is in relation to the size of the dog
Similarly, “medium or small structure”, in our opinion, refers to the French Bull- dog relative to its English counterpart, the Bulldog. Being of medium or small struc- ture does not make the Frenchie a “toy” breed and certainly not a toy Bulldog. As a breeder, my personal preference is for a dog to weigh around 23-27 lbs. and a bitch to be 20-26 lbs. However, as a judge, I have no issue whatsoever in rewarding a 28-lb. dog or bitch that is in correct weight, anymore than in rewarding a 22-lb. dog. Remember that “over 28 pounds is a dis- qualification”, but the Standard does not give us a lower limit. However I would not reward an oversized dog that is exhibited in very poor weight so it will weigh in. Th e Standard does state under “Sub- stance: Muscular, heavy bone.” It is up to you as judge to determine correct sub- stance for the size of the dog, keeping in mind that they are neither toys nor “little Bulldogs”. From a breeder’s perspective, the French Bulldog topline is probably the single most di ffi cult aspect of the Standard to breed correctly. Th e Frenchie Standard states that the “back is a roach back with a slight fall close behind the shoulders; strong and short, broad at the shoulders and narrowing at the loins.” Th e second part of this sentence describes the characteris- tic Frenchie “pear” body shape; the first half the topline. Th e term “roach back” is ambiguous, and has been subject to much discussion within Frenchie circles, and so it is open to a judges’ interpretation. Again, help can come from the Frenchie’s ances-
Well proportioned bitch.
Well proportioned bitch.
tor, the Bulldog for insight. Th e Bulldog standard gives a very detailed description of the Bulldog roach: “Topline – Th ere should be a slight fall in the back, close behind the shoulders (its lowest part), whence the spine should rise to the loins (the top of which should be higher than the top of the shoulders), thence curving again more suddenly to the tail, forming an arch (a very distinctive feature of the breed), termed ‘roach back’ or, more cor- rectly, ‘wheel-back.’” Th e 1926 book Th e French Bulldog, as published jointly by the French Bull Dog Club of America and the French Bulldog Club of New England, states: a “roach back” as explained in the standard of the English Bulldog... is equally applicable to the French Bulldog. We believe that this statement is as valid today as when it was written almost a century ago. What you
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Where you actually measure makes a large di ff erence, so all the ratios are approximate and only for illustration. Of the animals shown, it was interesting to find that the shortest dog (Figure 2) had a length to height ratio of approximately 1.1 to 1, thus being about 10% longer than tall; while most of the other dogs were 13 to 15% longer than tall. Notice that all of these dogs have correct toplines with cor- rect low tailsets. I then took the photo of the 8-year old bitch in Figure 1, who is 13% longer than tall and digitally shortened her to a nearly square length to height ratio for illustra- tion purposes (Figure 1A). You can see that the altered photograph now appears to be overly short, unbalanced and thus poorly proportioned. Since our Standard does not give us specific numbers, we are each at our own discretion to decide what are “good proportions”. I firmly believe, how- ever, that the shortest dog in the ring is not always the best Frenchie. A correct back length not only gives correct toplines, but also correct, freer gait, a correct tailset and an overall healthier dog. With some of the ambiguities in the Standard, a wide range of correct and incorrect dogs, and the large number of entries, the French Bulldog is probably one of the most challenging breeds to judge. However, if you clearly remember the cor- rect silhouette, which includes correct size, topline and proportions, you can quickly eliminate the incorrect dogs and refrain from rewarding the generic Frenchie.
determine in the ring to be a “roach back” is entirely at your discretion, but this is the guideline I use in judging a correct French Bulldog topline. Th e Frenchie Standard further states, “ Th e chest is broad, deep, and full; well ribbed with the belly tucked up.” Remem- ber that the tuck-up should somewhat fol- low the topline and that a correct topline will more often than not exhibit the correct tail set, “hung low... carried low in repose”. A high tail set will often be indicative of an incorrect level topline. Remember that a straight topline and high in the rear is not a roach. Another area of di ffi culty is that of proportions. Th e Standard states, “Proportion – Distance from withers to ground in good relation to distance from withers to onset of tail, so that animal appears compact, well balanced and in good proportion.” Th e key word in this descrip- tion being “balance”, the Standard gives no specific body proportions for the Frenchie, only that it appear compact, well balanced and in good proportions. Notice that the length stated in the stan- dard does not include the forechest or the croup. Th is means that even if the length stated were equal to the height at the withers, the correct Frenchie will still appear longer than tall. Th e photographs shown are of finished dogs, some of which are Group, BIS and National Specialty winners. I believe that they are all balanced and of “good propor- tions”. As an exercise, I drew a rectangle from the point of shoulder to the point of rump (Ischial tuberosity) to designate the length, and from the withers to ground to designate the height. I then measured the photos to determine an approximate length to height ratio. “REMEMBER THAT A STRAIGHT TOPLINE and high in the rear is not a roach.”
Fig. 1: Well proportioned 8-year old bitch.
Fig 1A: Digitally shortened square proportionas of previous photo.
BIO Luis Sosa obtained his first French Bull- dog in 1975, out of Terrett-Hampton breeding. Since then with his wife Pat- ty, they have bred
Fig 2: Very short 10% longer than tall dog.
around 80 AKC Champions that have won more than 300 Non-Sporting Group Firsts, 38 All-Breed Bests in Shows and Best of Breed at five FBDCA National Specialties. Luis judges for the Non-Sport- ing Group and a number of other breeds, and has served on the FBDCA Board and Judge’s Education Committee.
Fig 3: Well proportioned dog.
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Judging the FRENCH BULLDOG
By Becky L. Smith
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” —Aristotle W adhere to the o ffi cial FBDCA Breed Stan- dard. Th e standard was written and accepted by AKC in 1897 by Th e French Bull Dog Club of America, the first organization in the world devoted to the breed. Let us take a look at the standard as it relates to the various “parts” of the French Bulldog. When judging the whole French Bulldog FBDCA stresses to judge the merits of a dog and not the faults. General Appearance Th e French Bulldog has an active, intelligent appearance. Muscular dog of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure. Expression is alert, curious, and interest- ed. Any alteration other than the removal of dewclaws is considered to be a mutila- tion and is a disqualification. hen judging the French Bull- dog the most important func- tion we expect from Judges is to Proportion & Symmetry All points are 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 poorly proportioned. Size, Proportion & Substance Weight not to exceed 28 pounds; over 28 pounds is a disqualification. (If weight is a concern, call for scales. No judge should lift dogs o ff of the table as an indi- cator of weight.) Proportion—Distance from withers to ground in good relation to the distance from withers to onset of tail, so that the animal appears compact, well balanced and in good proportion. Sub- stance—Muscular, heavy bone. 158 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014
Head Head large and square. Eyes dark in color, 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. In the lighter colored dogs, lighter colored eyes are acceptable. No haw and no white of the eye should be showing when looking forward. Ears known as the bat ear, broad at the base, elongated, with round top, set high on the head but not too close togeth- er, and carried erect with the orifice to the front. Th e leather of the ear is fine and soft. Other than bat ears is a disqualification. Th e top of the skull is flat between the ears; the forehead is not flat but slightly rounded. Th e muzzle broad, deep and well laid back; the muscles of the cheeks well developed. Th e stop well defined, causing a hollow groove
between the eyes with heavy wrinkles forming a soft roll over the extremely short nose; nostrils broad with a well-defined line between them. Nose black. Nose other than black is a disqualification except in the case of the lighter colored dogs, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable but not desirable. Flews black, thick, broad, hanging over the lower jaw at the sides, meeting the under- lip in front and covering the teeth, which are not seen when the mouth is closed. Th e underjaw is deep, square, broad, undershot and well turned up. Neck, Topline & Body Th e neck is thick and well arched with loose skin at the throat. Th e back is a roach back with a slight fall close behind the shoulders; strong and short, broad at
the shoulders and narrowing at the loins. Th e body is short and well rounded. Th e chest is broad, deep, and full; well ribbed with the belly tucked up. Th e tail is either straight or screwed (but not curly), short, hung low, thick root and fine tip; carried low in repose. Forequarters Forelegs are short, stout, are straight, muscular and wet wide apart. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet are moderate in size, compact, and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails. Hindquarters Hind legs are strong and muscular, longer than the forelegs, so as to elevate
“THE LEATHER OF THE EAR IS FINE AND SOFT. OTHER THAN BAT EARS IS A DISQUALIFICATION.”
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014 • 159
the loins above the shoulders. Hocks well let down. Feet are moderate in size, com- pact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails; hind feet slightly longer than forefeet. Coat Coat is moderately fine, brilliant, short and smooth. Skin is soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming wrinkles. Color Acceptable colors—All brindle, fawn, white, brindle and white, and any color except those which constitute disquali- fication. All colors are acceptable with the exception of solid black, mouse, liv- er, black and tan, black and white, and
white with black which are disqualifica- tions. Black means black without a trace of brindle. Gait Correct gait is double tracking with reach and drive; the action is unrestrained, free, and vigorous. Temperament Well behaved, adaptable, and comfort- able companions with an a ff ectionate nature and even disposition; generally active, alert, and playful, but not unduly boisterous. Disqualifications • Any alteration other than removal of dewclaws. • Over 28 pounds in weight. • Other than bat ears.
• Nose other than black, except in the case of lighter colored dogs, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable. • Solid black, mouse, liver, black and tan, black and white, and white with black. Black means without a trace of brindle. (Mouse refers to the blue color.) “Success for the future of the breed depends on unwavering commitment to the pursuit of excellence.”
This article is adapted from the FBDCA Breed Standard by Becky Smith.
BIO Becky is the current President of the FBDCA and is located in Ocala, FL. She is an “AKC Breeder of Merit” and dedicated to producing healthy French Bulldogs with consistency for the betterment of the breed.
“COAT IS MODERATELY FINE, BRILLIANT, SHORT AND SMOOTH.”
162 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014
JUDGING FRENCH BULLDOGS A BREEDER-JUDGE’S PERSPECTIVE by DIANE BURVEE
T he French Bulldog is fast becoming one of the most popular breeds and biggest entries at the shows. Unfortu- nately, it is not a breed easily understood by the judging community. While shape and silhouette are an important part of the breed, many judges seem to make the mistake of oversimplifying it, and seem to base their judging on a single element such as topline, tail or movement. To e ff ectively explain the Frenchie a series of articles would be needed, so I shall try to concentrate on the main essence of the breed in this article. Th e French Bulldog comes in a myr- iad of sizes, proportion, shape and style. Some specimens can be “bullier,” some are slighter, while only a relatively small percentage has the desired ratio of size to substance and bone. Judges may not real- ize just how di ffi cult it is to just breed a Frenchie of correct bone, substance and proportion, let alone a Frenchie with the correct bat ears and other defining breed characteristics. Th e first paragraph of the Breed Stan- dard clearly asks that a Frenchie be a “muscular dog of heavy bone, compactly built, and of medium or small structure.” It is no wonder why many breeders are lamenting the loss of bone, and substance within the breed, and disappointed when the racier, rangier version now commonly seen in the ring are being rewarded. Bone and substance are an essential part of the breed, but having said that, overall bal- ance is key. We don’t want a Bulldog nor a Boston Terrier in Frenchie clothing. SHAPE & SILHOUETTE Th e silhouette remains as an important factor to consider when judging French Bulldogs. However, please remember that the silhouette does not just refer to topline, and topline only! Some judges appear to
overlook the other important components of the silhouette: the upsweep of the under- jaw, the layback of the muzzle, the height of ears, the well-arched neck, the paint- brush low tail set/hung low, the underline with the deep full chest with nice tuck up and the correct angulation of fore and rear (all in profile). Proportion is a vital ingredi- ent of a desirable silhouette. In an average quality entry of 5-7 dogs, a judge might observe a variety of proportions in the exhibits. A judge is likely to see exhibits ranging from those who are shorter-legged and longer-bodied (what I nickname “the squatty frogs”); to the short-backed, high-stationed type that show plenty of daylight underneath with slight bone a ff ectionately termed the French Terriers by the breeders. What I seek in silhouette, apart from the afore- mentioned criteria, is a dog of correct balance, with beautiful lines that transi- tion smoothly from one component to the next in a harmonious fashion. If one com- ponent of the dog screams or jumps out at you, instead of all parts fitting and blend- ing nicely, then more than likely, not all the points are well distributed as they should be in an ideal French Bulldog. Th e Standards states that “the back is a roach back with a slight fall close behind the shoulders,” but a roach back can be defined relatively di ff erent in dif- ferent breeds. In French Bulldogs, what we want is a slight (not exaggerated) rise and fall with the rise being over the loin, and not in the middle of the back. A flat back is as incorrect as an exaggerated camel or wheeled back, which some judg- es unknowingly seem to favor. I cringe at the saying “Any topline is better than no topline.” We only seek the correct topline for French Bulldogs, not “any non-level” topline. Th ink gentle rise and fall when it comes to topline, and you should not reward the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
An ideal outline demonstrating correct proportion plus upsweep of underjaw, layback, tall ears, good arch and length of neck, correct topline, low tailset, deep chest, thick bones, and good rear angulation. Note the rise in topline takes place over the loin.
A high-stationed dog seriously lacking in bone, substance and rear angulation. The steep topline is a carmel back with the rise over the middle of the back which is severely incorrect, but sadly rewarded by many judges.
A low-stationed longer-bodied dog displaying a flat topline and high tailset. Appears to have good substance, decent bone and rear angles and is possibly overdone and “bully.”
222 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2015
“THE BAT EARS ARE A HALLMARK OF THE BREED, AND JUDGES SHOULD PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THEM.”
Pay attention to shrewd handlers that “create the illusion of topline” by pok- ing at their dogs to make them “hunch” on the stack, as well as dogs that tend to overstretch and flatten out their topline. We want no exaggeration in this breed, and this applies to topline as well. When you look at an exhibit, and if all you are drawn to is its topline, my guess would be it is an overdone incorrect topline, as “no feature being in such prominence from either excess,” and “all points are well distributed and bear good relation one to the other” meaning they should flow and fit harmoniously instead of an element standing out like a sore thumb. A correct topline is usually finished by a subtle and low tail (set). HEAD & EARS Much of the breed’s popular- ity is undoubtedly due to the wonderful Frenchie headpiece. Th e standard does call for a large and square head, but in my opinion, the emphasis should be on the square aspect. Too many dogs in the ring are exhibiting the huge round watermelon heads that are so incorrect. When it comes to heads, don’t be a “size queen”. Breed- ers will tell you that square heads should trump over huge round heads every time! Most of the overdone round heads often come with a huge backskull but lack in fill and width of muzzle, making them more like apple or wedge-shaped head that is heavy on top, and often, wider-spaced ears due to the rounder skull. Kindly look at the head in profile as well for the correct upturn of underjaw, and muzzle layback which are so desired by Frenchie fanciers. Also, pay attention to the desired wide inverted “u” underjaw. Th is feature ensures the desired width to the underjaw. When you look at the Frenchie head, it should appear SQUARE with correct ear carriage, heavy wrinkles forming a soft roll over the extremely
short nose, good cushioning, luscious width of muzzle and flat between the ears. You may find dogs that are nosey (long or low set noses), down-faced as those without upsweep and layback, and ones lacking the proper roping of the beauti- ful overnose wrinkle and fill that finish the face. Eyes should be healthy, round, dark, and expressive to conform to their alert, curious and interested nature. Bug- gy or bulging eyes that show eye whites or white haws are unattractive and incor- rect. Th ey totally spoil the breed’s desired intelligent expression. Judges should note that it is common to see slight white haws in the pied dogs.
Th e bat ears are a hallmark of the breed, and judges should pay particular atten- tion to them. Not only should they be set correctly at 11 and 1 o’clock, they should be the quintessential bat ears of correct shape and size. Remember that anything other than bar ears is a disqualification, and how many judges have actually DQ’d a dog based on incorrect ears? Ears that are set too wide apart (10 and 2) are just as wrong as those that are set too close and vertically parallel. Ears should be broad at the base, elongated, and round top. Th ese days, far too many ears are sharp-tipped, small and triangular like the Teddy Bear ear. On the other hand, we also do not
A proper SQUARE head with correct bat ears set at 11 and 1 displaying the alert, curious and interested expression. Well- cushioned with tremendous width of muzzle and the desired inverted "U" finish and upsweep of underjaw.
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“BEAUTY AND HEALTH GO HAND IN HAND WITH FORM AND FUNCTION.”
slightly inside of the lines of the straight tracking front. While the larger breeds’ fast-paced, open side-gait with excessive reach and drive is flashy, and seems to seduce many judges, one should always remember the purpose and function of the French Bulldogs. Th ey are bred to be Man’s loyal and clown-like com- panions—so moderation is key even in movement when it comes to Frenchies. JUDGING Another area the Standard does not address is faults, so it is understandable why some judges find this breed a quan- dary. Judges need to learn the breed com- petently, and not just award dogs based on performance and flash. Find and reward dogs that conform as closely as possible to what the Standard specifies. Th is includes calling for the scale if there are questions about the dog’s weight and not guessing at the weight, as over 28 lbs. is a qualifica- tion, and there are big dogs around. Having judged and watched Frenchies in many countries around the world, I am proud to say the best American French Bulldogs can hold their own anywhere. Since the Frenchie is still an evolving breed in the US, judges will note that homogeneousness is not often found in a large entry. To me, the following are areas needing more focus by judges: • Finding entries with proper rear angulation • Finding entries with correct bone and substance • Understanding and rewarding the correct topline • Finding square heads with correct layback, wide underjaw with upturn
While most judges try their best to adjudicate, it is not uncommon to see an average specimen that displays flashy showmanship being rewarded, while a less seasoned but more typey dog is over- looked. If the fundamental purpose of dog shows is indeed to evaluate breeding stock, then as judges, we should always walk into the ring armed with the in- depth knowledge of the breed the breed- ers deserve, and judge dogs according to the priorities of the characteristics that define the individual breed. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Diane Burvee is Diane became the very first breeder in the world to have successfully bred a dual-sire French Bulldog litter of three champions, utilizing imported frozen semen from two different countries. Breeding on a very lim- ited basis, Ms Burvee has bred/owned over 50 Champions in French Bulldogs, Peking- ese, and Afghans combined, plus a top-win- ning Toy Poodle and Brussels Griffon. She has owned, handled and bred some of the current top-winning French Bulldogs, and is the owner/handler of the reigning French Bulldog National BISS winner. Diane Bur- vee will be judging the FBDCA French Bull- dog Specialty at Santa Barbara, and the Norwegian French Bulldog Club national specialty later this year. licensed by the AKC to judge French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Afghans and Poodles. She has judged specialties and all- breeds shows in Asia- Pacific, Europe, Mexico, and United Kingdom.
A large and impressive but incorrect head commonly seen in the ring that fools many judges. Wide skull but narrower muzzle forming an ‘apple’ head, with ears that are set too far apart. It lacks fill under eyes, and a lippy finish of mouth without the desired upturn of underjaw.
desire extra ginormous and long ears that remind us of the Jack Rabbits’ either. Nose other than black is a disqualifica- tion. A lighter colored nose is acceptable in the lighter colored dogs, but the Stan- dard clearly states it is not desirable—a point both breeders and judges seem to forget! Speaking of nose, open nostrils are important, and dogs that cannot breathe well (i.e., can’t walk around the ring in moderate temperatures without that awful audible raspy struggle for breath) should not be rewarded. If the point of showing a dog is to make it a champion, which pre- sumably means it is worthy of being bred, then healthy breathing apparatus should be considered foremost. Beauty and health go hand in hand with form and function. MOVEMENT One area the Standard is not very clear on is movement. Dogs should be able to move soundly and freely with reach and drive while holding their topline on the move. In fact, the topline should be eval- uated while the dog is moving; not just when it is on the table. Th e front should be wider with a narrower rear action which means that the rear will track
FOR FRENCH BULLDOGS, REMEMBER THE 4 S’S:
1. SILHOUETTE (Outline, proportion and balance)
2. SUBSTANCE (Bone and muscles)
3. SHAPE (Square head, square front and pear-shaped body)
4. SIZE (Nothing over 28 lbs!)
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THE FRENCH BULLDOG
I n the past ten years or so registration statistics for French Bulldog puppies and litters registered with the AKC have risen dramatically. From 2013 to 2014 alone, French Bulldogs have gone from #11 to #9 in registration. Th ose of us who love French Bulldogs and consider our- selves the caretakers of the breed, we understand these dra- matic increase in numbers is not the result of an increase in the number of responsible breeders as much as it is the result of commercial kennels recognizing the financial opportunities that breeding French Bulldog represent. THE STANDARD HISTORY Th e French Bulldog standard is interesting for judges and students of the breed. It has no faults listed. Much of the standard was borrowed word from word from the Bulldog standard before it was approved (for the first time) by the AKC in 1897. Th e US was the first country to have an approved standard and were leaders in specifying that the breed have bat ears while breeders in England were still debat- ing whether bat and rose ears were equally acceptable. DISQUALIFICATIONS Th e standard has MANY disqualifications, most having to do with coat and nose color—and weight. Th ose breeders who are into breeding French Bulldogs for the money either haven’t read the standard or more likely don’t care what the standard’s DQs are. You just have to visit the new akc.org website on French Bulldogs to see photos of dogs with color disqualifications and other breed DQs—dogs with drop ears which would be a DQ for not being a bat ear and being a mutilation— yes mutilation is the word used in the breed standard as a DQ. Since some breeders are deliberately breeding dogs with color DQs, there are coat colors and eye colors that are being produced now that are not described in the standard that is really scary. Nowhere does the
by VIRGINIA ROWLAND
“THE US WAS THE FIRST COUNTRY TO HAVE AN APPROVED STANDARD AND WERE LEADERS IN SPECIFYING THAT THE BREED HAVE BAT EARS...”
218 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2015
standard mention harlequin French Bulldogs or green or blue eyes. Despite how the akc.org website currently reads, the two most distinctive features of the French Bulldog are the bat ears and the silhouette of the dog in profile. JUDGING THE FRENCH BULLDOG Th e characteristic head profile/lay- back of muzzle, bat ears, extremely short nose; arched neck, the compact (refer- ring to the loin) body with the character- istic roach back/moderate arch over the loin and straight or screwed tail hung low in repose; hind legs longer that the short front legs to elevate the loins about the shoulders, for both front and back feet the toes are supposed to be compact with short stubby nails, the slightly lon- ger hind feet that are hard to detect when compared to the front feet. Th e standard does not say the dog is supposed to be square, o ff square, 15% longer that tall, long. Th e reference to short stubby nails is the only mention of a possible groom- ing requirement in the standard. Some people clip/scissor the hair in the ears and around the tail. Putting Vaseline® on the dog’s nose to soften it is fine too. Using a chemical to make a nose black is not fine but there is no way to prove a nose color doesn’t occur in nature unless the dye comes o ff on a tissue. For judges of the breed we recom- mend first evaluating the dog in profile remembering that the standard requires that everything be in proportion—all points so well distributed that the dog does not look poorly proportioned. If the dog does not have bat ears he should be disqualified. Judges are not supposed to be veterinarians so interpreting the DQ for mutilation could mean a dog that has a piece of ear missing/drop ear; a dog that is obviously blind or has ulcer or some other eye deformity; judges are not supposed to have the expertise to determine if the dog has other mutila- tions such as entropion surgery, throat, nose or mouth surgery. If there is any question about the dog’s weight, this would be the time to call for the scale to allow the superintendent/show sec- retary time to get the scale to the ring. Weight DQ is important, the only way to correctly figure out the weight is by calling for the scale. If there is any
question on how that is done, once a judge calls for the scale, the AKC rep will also be called to the ring to assist with the procedure. Unfortunately AKC doesn’t have requirements on scales. Of course there must be a weight to cali- brate the scale. Th at being said, some of the scales that superintendents have at shows are literally bathroom scales. Th e dog should have the option to stand or sit on the scale, with or without his collar on and some of these scales are so tiny the only option for a (large) French Bulldog to try to get comfortable is to sit and its impossible for a lot of big French Bulldogs to stand on these small scales. Approaching the dog from the front, the judge should be sure to remember the standard calls for heavy bone. Looking at the legs/front there should be a square. Th e standard allows for dogs of small or medium size. As long as the dog does not weigh over 28 pounds, there should not be a concern with a bitch being larg- er than a male. As long as the dog does not have a color DQ, color should not be considered in the determination of which French Bulldog is placed first/BOB. MOVEMENT Th e French Bulldog standard has nev- er assigned a lot of importance in terms of points to movement (when a descrip- tion of movement was added to the breed standard, the 1991 standard revision eliminated the point scale). Th at being said, a French Bulldog should be able to move with reach and drive; he should not look sickle hocked. Listening to the dog as he moves, there should be no sound of breathing/palate issue. Th eir pear shape body means that coming and going the rear legs would move closer than the front. Th ere should be no sign of patella issues which are a problem in the breed. Moving in silhouette is the best place to evaluate the dog’s profile—does the dog have a roach back or did an expert exhibitor create a roach when the dog was set up on the table. To truly evaluate the dogs expression, ear carriage, that is to be done not when the dog is set up on
“FOR JUDGES OF THE BREED WE RECOMMEND FIRST EVALUATING THE DOG IN PROFILE REMEMBERING THAT THE STANDARD REQUIRES THAT EVERYTHING BE IN PROPORTION...”
the table but on the ground. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Virginia Rowland is President of the French Bull Dog Club of America and Chair of their Judges Education Committee.
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2015 • 219
A s every fancier knows, the French Bulldog comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns—some of which are acceptable according to the AKC stan- dard and others that are not. The colors found in the French Bulldog are masked fawns, fawns, and creams. The patterns found in French Bulldogs are piebald and brindle. Urajiro markings (pale tan or cream to white markings similar to the tan points on black and tan dogs—except they appear in fawn color coats as well as in black and tan coats) are also known to occur in French Bulldogs, but are extreme- ly rare. Tan point and cross-bred merle Frenchies are favorites of “color breeders.” The alterations to pigment caused by the autosomal recessive genes on the D (Dilute) Locus and B (Brown) Locus, much sought after by color breeders and commonly referred to as “blue” and “chocolate” or “liver,” have the ability to alter the appearance of each of the patterns and colors previously noted. It is enough to make a breeder’s head spin, so it is best to start the exploration of coat color genetics with the most common color/ pattern found in French Bulldogs—brindle. As a starting point, it is important to note that all brindle dogs are genetically yel- low, a result of inheriting a dominant gene for yellow at the A (Agouti) Locus as well as a dominant gene for masked fawn or fawn at the E (Extension) Locus. The combina- tion of these genes allows for the expression of pheomelanin, or red/yellow pigment, while also permitting black pigment in the coat. All brindle French Bulldogs would be a masked fawn or fawn if a brindle gene had not been inherited. The brindle pattern normally appears as black stripes (the result of the black pig- ment eumelanin) which partially extend over the body of the dog. The stripes can vary in quantity from a few to very many. Dogs can have so few or such faint brindle mark- ings that they may not be recognized as being brindle. Such dogs are called “cryptic brindles,” and will be registered as masked fawns or fawns, and will produce brindle offspring. Alternatively, dogs may be so heavily marked that they may appear to be black. There has always been concern that the very heavily marked brindle Frenchies might somehow or another mutate to black, so the standard disqualifies what appears to be black French Bulldogs. It is important that French Bulldogs have enough fawn hair to satisfy the standard requirements. To determine whether or not fawn hair is present, look closely at individual hairs on dogs that initially appear to be completely black. If light colored hairs are seen—however sparse they might be—then it is evi- dence of the underlying fawn color. This is especially important in evaluating heavily brindled pied dogs. A stripe pattern in the lighter colored hair is not required to satisfy the standard, nor are light colored hairs required in each brindle spot of a brindle pie- bald. In addition, there are “seal brindle” French Bulldogs just as there are seal Boston Terriers, where the fawn and black hairs are so evenly distributed and intermixed that the dog appears to be an off-black color.
BY LINDA J. MOORE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Linda J. Moore has bred dogs for over 40 years and has judged French Bulldogs since 2006, with assignments on three continents. As a pre-teen, she bred Shetland Sheepdogs and mastered the inheritance of coat colors in that breed. She then went on to have a lifelong interest in genetics and coat color inheritance in dogs. As an undergrad at the University of Tulsa, she studied genetics while pursuing her BS in psychology. On occasion, she writes articles for publication on coat color inheritance.
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