According to a news release from the American Kennel Club (AKC), more French Bulldogs were registered with the organization than any other breed of dogs in 2022. The AKC – and thus every news agency that published some version of the news release – characterized this fact in the same way they do every year: by saying the breed is now the “most popular” breed in America.
The AKC stopped releasing the numbers of dogs that the organization registers each year some years ago, so it’s impossible to know exactly how many French Bulldogs were registered last year, or how many more of them were registered than Labrador Retrievers – the breed that had the most registrations each year for the previous 31 years in a row. But Labradors tend to have large litters; five to 10 puppies is typical for a Labrador litter. French Bulldogs typically have two to four puppies (and almost always by caesarean section), so there must be a LOT of French Bulldog breeding going on.
Sorry for the snarking. I have to admit that I find the news about the increasing popularity of these adorable little dogs to be sad – even more so since I’ve discovered how ubiquitous their breeders are. I’m sad because I know how much suffering many of these dogs experience: French Bulldogs are prone to spinal problems (such as intervertebral disk disease – IVDD), hip dysplasia, and patella luxation; brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) and heatstroke (because they can’t pant hard enough/exchange air quickly enough to cool themselves); allergies, which contribute to skin-fold dermatitis and pyoderma (due to wrinkly skin); ear infections (due to small ear canals), conjunctivitis and corneal abrasions (due to bulging eyes) – and, of course, an increased incidence of death during delivery if their cesarean section surgeries aren’t performed at the appropriate time.
All of the brachycephalic dogs have been trending toward increasingly flat faces, and the French Bulldog is no exception. The May 2023 issue of Cornell DogWatch lists the many symptoms of BOAS – frothing at the nostrils, snoring in sleep, snorting, gagging, noisy breathing, exercise and heat intolerance – that are typical for brachycephalic dogs, and details how surgery is needed to correct the anatomical defects that causes this suffering.
I’m fairly certain that few people who buy these dogs are aware of how much they should be expecting to save for veterinary bills.
The popularity of these dogs also has led to a great number them being stolen, from homes, cars (when left alone as well as in car-jackings), and from individuals. I just read an article in the New York Times about a 76-year-old man who bred and sold French Bulldogs who killed by two other men in the parking lot of a KFC in Bishopville, South Carolina; the two men arranged to meet the breeder there, purportedly to buy the French Bulldog for $2,500. They stole the dog and shot the breeder to death. It seems like this is what happens when dogs are such a valuable commodity (their small size increases their vulnerability, no doubt).
I like the French Bulldogs I have met. They tend to be clownish and playful, and fairly undemanding of their owners. While it’s often reported that they can be difficult to train, their smaller size means that even kids or elderly people are able to walk them without too much trouble even when they pull on leash. They aren’t barky, though they can be quite vocal with cute squeaks and moans when they want something.
I’m sorry they have gotten so popular.
I’ve been involved with another breed for many years. I agree with the author that Frenchies are cute, but when we discussed the AKC popularity press release on an email list devoted to my breed a thought frequently expressed was being pleased that our breed was not a popular one. When I got my most recent pup I chose the breeder in large part for her reputation for her dogs being healthy and well socialized. I think it’s a shame when dogs are bred in directions that can be injurious to the dogs.
It’s interesting how many “rare” colors are being sold that have never been seen in Frenchies . Could it be that these are “mixed” with another small breed to achieve that “rare” color???? A fool & his money are soon parted. Buyer beware & do your homework.
Who cares if a dog is AKC registered? There are undoubtedly countless dogs of all breeds who are not, so the AKC numbers are suspect at best. And given all the genetic problems inherent in pure breeds, I’ll take a good old mutt any day. It is sad that human hubris has led to the suffering of so many dogs through unhealthy inbreeding.
This article would have been more meaningful if it helped pet owners know how to verify a good breeder is doing what they can to prevent problems. Those that do health testing including but not limited to x-rays for hips, elbows and spine as well as genetic testing and others is the hallmark of a breeder being a good steward of the breed. These can be verified OFA.org.
Many pet people say they don’t care about testing because they have no intentions of breeding. Uneducated breeders may sell puppies for much less (still outrageous sums) and it seems like a better deal than a breeder that tests and requires an application and a contract to sell a puppy. The amount of vet bills incurred for a poorly bred dog is huge compared to the price of a well bred puppy from a breeder that cares.
Frenchie’s are adorable. Any fad breed suffers from a huge upsurge in popularity. The best breeders shouldn’t be thrown under the bus because of bad breeders only interested in making money.
Good point! Here’s one, for a start. Other articles linked at the bottom of this one: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/lifestyle/a-field-guide-to-ethical-breeders/
A good breeder will ask many questions of the person wanting to buy one of their pups to make sure they can provide a good home. A good breeder does not have to advertise on Craig’s List. A good breeder will have a waiting list of 6 months to two years.
Most of those Craigslist postings are scams.
I have a problem with dogs that have been bred to extremes so far that they cannot reproduce without human intervention (I.E. Caesarian section.) Many of our breeds are almost unrecognizable to what they were a century or more ago. While they may be cute, having a head too big to fit through a birth canal isn’t. All I can think of is how many mothers and puppies may have died because they didn’t get vet care fast enough to save them. I think breed conformation is responsible for the extremes in some dogs. Just as ear and tail cropping are being discouraged I think the AKC and others should be encouraging dogs to be bred back to what was more “normal” a century ago through revision of their conformation standards. The underbites, flat faces and severe stops come immediately to mind. Our American GSD who crouch so badly they look almost deformed or crippled. We are breeding the dogs we claim to love so they suffer from hip dysplasia or cancer or other genetic diseases. Yes, some is the result of irresponsible backyard and puppy mill breeding driven by greed to make money selling the most recent “popular dog” but some is those breed standards that seem to get more and more extreme. While I understand the desire to know what you are getting regarding size, at some point some organization has to step forward and say enough. No crippling little dogs breeding “tea cups.” No GSDs crouching so low their back ends are crawling on the ground. No more boxers and bulldogs with underbites so extreme they can hardly function. The brachiocephalic dogs that can’t breath and need surgery to enlarge their nostrils. Golden Retrievers whose life spans are growing shorter. While I strongly support spay and neuter and responsible breeding, something needs to be done about breeding to the extreme to meet some idealistic standard.
I agree. As far as I’m concerned, the AKC and other organizations that set/judge breed standards have a lot to answer for, and frankly, it should be criminal to set breed standards that lead to dogs’ unnatural premature death, the misery of not being able to breathe or sufficiently cool themselves down, the inability to walk without pain, and the inability to have a natural birth. I’m sure there are more issues that I am not aware of — oh yeah, apparently some dogs’ eyeballs can just…pop out?! :O
For all that we profess to love dogs, we humans have a funny way of showing it.
Since I’m on my soap box, I will go a step further and declare that no breed standard should require the active mutilation of a dog, e.g. tail docking. Mercifully, I grew up with either mixed-breed dogs or purebred dogs who were not subject to such horrors. I was absolutely shocked when I discovered people do this to puppies. It’s twisted and depraved, and for the majority of dogs, it serves no function whatsoever. If I ever elect to welcome a purebred dog into my home as an adult, I would set fire to their AKC registration papers if they came with them. I can’t stand to watch dog shows. Why can’t we RESPECT them as well as love them? Why do we have to insist on molding them into unnatural forms that shorten their lives and cause them unimaginable misery, day in and day out, for…what, exactly? How does that smashed-face dog that can’t breathe epitomize anything other than the worst of humans’ propensity to ruin what we supposedly hold dear?
I can imagine this will irritate a lot of breeders but bans on brachycephalic breeds is happening in some countries- it’s currently been overturned in Norway but that is being appealed.
Animals bred to conform to some distorted vision of humans that results in health issues causing pain and distress to the animals is, imo, largely the fault of judges who reward such conformation.