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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