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
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