Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Frenchies that win by a nose


The dog on the left is Arnie - a former AKC show-dog. You can read more about him here.

The dog on the right is Flint, bred in the Netherlands by Hawbucks French Bulldogs - a breeder trying to establish a new, healthier template for French Bulldogs.

They are both Frenchies. Both purebred. The difference is that the dog on the left has been bred to meet the current interpretation of breed standard - and the dog on the right is the result of selection for a more moderate dog by a breeder who believes that good health is more important than fashion.

I posted the image on Twitter and my CRUFFA Facebook page a couple of days ago and it has already been shared thousands of times, with many people thinking it has been Photoshopped. It hasn't.

I am pleased that most people are deeply shocked by Arnie's profile.  In truth, most Frenchies are not quite this extreme. But he is not totally untypical either - particularly in the US where the breed standard does not have a minimum muzzle length.

Unfortunately, some people are so wedded to the type of dog seen in today's show-ring that they prefer Arnie - or are more shocked by Flint's comparatively-long muzzle. Some have even called Flint "extreme".

"[I prefer] the one on the left to me it's a French bulldog and what I see and love in a French bulldog -the one on the right I don't recognise as a French bulldog," wrote one breeder.

And then this:

"I'd definitely own the left over right! Right is a disgusting example of the breed."

 As ever, what is considered "good type" changes with fashion. This Frenchie was a Champion in 1914.


And this is a famous French Bulldog from 1925.


This dog won Best of Breed at Crufts last year.


And this dog, a slight improvement, won BOB this year.


Neither of the Crufts dogs has a muzzle length anything like the 1/5th of the total head length advocated by the French Bulldog Club of England - or indeed the one-sixth the length of the head demanded in the FCI standard. They are also extremely cobby - particularly the 2016 BOB.  The show Frenchie's back has shortened over the years too, robbing them of the tail they once had and likely contributing to another Frenchie problem - spinal issues.

Unfortunately, stenosis - pinched nostrils - is almost ubiquitous in the show version of the breed, adding to the respiratory risk.

We know from newly-published research  that there isn't an absolute correlation between any one physical feature and breathing difficulties  (there is a panoply of contributory factors that interplay, including neck/chest girth,  intra-nasal obstruction, stenosis, trachea size and obesity).

But as David Sargan from the Cambridge BOAS research team says: "I think breeding for sound open nostrils, for longer and less wide heads, for less boxy body shapes and for less skin would all improve the [extremely brachycephalic] breeds." 

The good news is that there are breeders like Hawbucks breeding for a longer-muzzled, lighter, more athletic dogs with truly open nostrils. I would urge everyone tempted by a French Bulldog to seek them out - and of course be aware that health tests are important too.

The best Frenchie breeders screen for BOAS, hemivertebrae (HV), hereditary cataracts, luxating patellas, degenerative myelopathy (DM) and skin issues/allergies. A low co-efficient of inbreeding is a plus, too - and also ask about longevity (i.e. what age dogs in the pedigree died). Despite the French Bulldog Club of England's claim  that Frenchies can live to 12-14 "on average", this is not true.  In fact, Agria insurance data in Sweden has found that they are the shortest-living of all the breeds and the Finnish KC's database documents an average age of death of just five years old. It's possible that UK dogs live a bit longer, but essentially they're all from the same stock, so it's unlikely to be much longer.

I am an avid collector of pictures of more moderate Frenchies.  Here are a few of them. The first is Flint's mum, Yara - and the last another pic of  Flint. Enjoy!












© Krijn de Haas



44 comments:

  1. Nowt so queer as folk. The healthy looking ones are superb. Now wondering if there are any breeders doing the same for Boston Terriers, as I have a friend who wants one as a companion.

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    1. Most "pet quality" Boston Terriers look like this. Taller, more tail, more muzzle. Just a sturdier dog overall.

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  2. I used to work for a vet that bred Himalayan's and she, too, was breeding for healthier cats. I support healthier animals and am saddened over fads in breeding. Example of another extreme is the German Shepard. Are we breeding for the health and longevity of an animal or the vanity, pleasure and entertainment of humans?

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  3. It's great that Flint and his relatives have a longer muzzle. They look more pitbull-like, and that's a very good thing. To be sure, Arnie's face is tragically deformed, and if his fans "prefer" it, that just reveals their ignorance of healthy carnivoran morphology. In truth, even Flint's muzzle is too short. At that length, he may be able to breathe normally, but he is still likely to have dental problems. Dogs are canids, after all and need long muzzles, but it is an improvement.

    I also continue to be disappointed that people persist in breeding for the bobtail, which is a congenital absence or shortness of the tail. Dogs need tails for a number of purposes, and selecting them for bobtails is not trivial. I'm glad those Frenchies with muzzles will be less likely to suffer from BOAS ... but people have still intentionally bred them for deformity, and people like me still notice.

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    1. Just FYI Miro and Yara who are the sire and dam of these pups both have their backs tested. In case you haven't seen my previous comment his info is here. Both parents had their entire body CT scanned. Testing for breathing problems, back problems, an so fourth.

      Please don;t think I;m claiming perfection but Miro has listed about a dental status. Yara has a free movable tail and so does Miro and they were bred for A more sporty conformation which also kind of means a longer back..
      https://www.vombueffelboden.ch/deckr%C3%BCden/
      http://www.hawbucks.nl/franse-bulldog/en/about-yara/

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  4. I'm not a fan of brachycephalic breeds but those Frenchies that have long muzzles almost make me want to buy one for myself!

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  5. Arnie is hypertype. Flint completely lacks type and does not resemble a French Bulldog in the slightest. He has strong pitbull-like characteristics. Whereas some of the old French Bulldog photos are far less extreme than Arnie while still being recognisable as a French Bulldog. That is where the sweet spot lies. Health and lack of exaggeration, without the loss of breed type. Otherwise, you might as well just buy a pitbull and forget about the Frenchie entirely.

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    1. Two other puppies from the litter. These are *not* mini pit bulls...

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/cruffa/permalink/1876083752608772/

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    2. If you think these dogs look like pitbulls, you wouldn't know a pitbull if it bit you on the foot.

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    3. I presume you know the difference in character between a French Bulldog and a pitbull?? They are French Bulldog that can breath easier and have a healthier life. They have more nose as the breed used to have (grew up with one in the 1960's).

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    4. I do not find Flint's overly long snout appealing at all. I have no problem with the appearance of any of the other dogs in this article, but if I ever saw him, I'd think he was mixed with something else, and I'd agree with Éadaoin that he looks like pitbull mix, and yes, I do know what pitbulls look like!

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    5. Because the only difference between a french bulldog and an apbt from the ADBA is nose length...

      Honestly, if you really think that, then neither breed is for you tbh.

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    6. Ridiculous - flint does not look like a pit mix at all. He looks exactly like a purebred french bulldog with a longer muzzle than average - which is exactly what he is.

      Talking about loss of "breed type" - french bulldogs didn't look like arnie when they were first created, they looked far more like flint. If any breeder has lost the type it's arnie's breeder and all others that breed for flat faces.

      I'm not a fan of brachy dogs and probably wouldn't ever own one but flint looks far more like a regular dog and is far more aesthetically appealing to me than arnie.

      I applaud Hawbucks efforts in creating a healthier frenchie - we need more breeders like this.

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    7. Let's just put it as it is - Arnie is a cripple. Pure and simple. Poor dog!

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  6. I don't see anything pitbull about Flint at all, I do see mini "bull" and as it's a French bulldog......

    Arnie is typical of a show Frenchie with extreme exaggerations, the type that win shows and turn dogs into sad cripples.

    I think the tide is at last starting to turn. It takes outsiders to notice how badly things were going wrong, but now slowly the fans of the breed will come around, I'm sure.

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  7. Great job! I am glad that these issues are being publicly discussed and revealed.

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  8. I've got a theory about people so breedblind that they can characterize a dog as "disgusting" because it has a muzzle. Have you heard the quote "Things are beautiful if you love them" before? It occurs to me that if you've loved a dog from an extreme brachycephalic breed, perhaps many of them, then they are going to be beautiful to YOU, of course.

    But even more, when you hear or read someone calling these dogs "deformed", it can feel like a personal attack on these dogs which you've loved dearly, and mourned for deeply when they died. It's also like you're saying that the specific dogs you've loved should never have existed in the first place, because if different dogs had been used for the breeding program, then YOUR Mopsi or Pugsley would have never existed in the first place. Oh, sure other puppies would have been born in this alternate timeline, with different looks but equally lovable temperaments... but none of them would have been YOUR cherished Shuggie or Rascal.

    On a visceral level, it feels like breed reform advocates are trying to retroactively rip these much-loved pooches from your memories-- and your heart. No, this isn't logical, but very little about our relationships with our pets is.

    I know that this doesn't explain everything about resistance to reform, but it does seem like it could explain at least part of it.

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    1. I imagine there is quite a lot of that. However surely now that they have been made aware of what was/is going on, in the loving memory of their beloved Mopsies and Pugsleys, they would strive for a healthier breed. That would make their memories less stressful knowing they are doing something good for the breed.

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  9. Can I ask how you make these side by side images? I've been wanting to make one of Bull Terriers.

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  10. Thank you for posting these photos. I totally support the campaign to improve the health of Frenchies but sometimes people assume that all Frenchies are problematic and can't breathe and it's just not the case. Well-intentioned folk go on the attack if you say you have a French Bulldog. Our Frenchie is very like photos 4 and 5 and when we've put pictures on Facebook there have been comments about him not being a 'true' Frenchie and we have to explain that the longer muzzle is actually the way the breed is meant to be, not these flat faced mutants that can't breathe, let alone run and play football. A good healthy Frenchie is a joy and we need to make sure we keep to the objective of improving the gene pool and not, as some have previously said, simply do away with the breed entirely.

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    1. Actually, a long snipey muzzle was never the breed founders intentuons. Some of the photos they are using in this article were just as incorrect for dogs back then as they are now. The closest one to GOOD old type is the black and white dog.

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    2. Where is a long snipey muzzle? I can't see one. All I see are short muzzled dogs.

      A long muzzle that is snipey would be a greyhound or whippet.
      These dogs have muzzles less than half the length of a golden retriever, so I dont know what you are smoking to see these muzzles as long and snipey lmao.

      Idiot.

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    3. I dont see a long, snipey muzzle anywhere.

      All these muzzles are short.

      Short meaning shorter than the average muzzle length of a dog. Even the longer frenchies here are MUCH shorter than the average dog.

      Short does not mean non-existent. You need your glasses checked

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  11. I think both dogs are on the extreme ends of oppposite spectrums. What is interesting is that neither dog has the underjaw that the standards call for, which is part of what makes it a bulldog in the first place. There are nice Frenchies with moderate muzzles out there that even do shutzhund and agility, and it's sad that the author couldn't be bothered to go interview their owners. Furthermore,I don't care what the breeder "says", the dog on the top right is most definitely mixed with something and a DNA test will surely prove it. The breed standard also says they are cobby. I am not sure why they are attacking that aspect now too. These are lap dogs, not athletes, they don't need to be built like Whippets.

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    1. They've got weird characters for lap dogs! Go to any French bulldog gathering and watch the goings on. Talk of pitbulls they seem to be at each others throats half the time.
      ~
      The point is when is enough enough? When is cobby enough when is an underjaw's turn up enough, when is the head square enough, the muzzle set back enough? When the dog is a crippled mess?!
      ~
      An arbitrary vision of what the dog should look like is someones fantasy of what it should look like as set in the standard. The breed didn't just appear. Taken to their "logical" extremes this vision as defined by what wins in a show ring have not always been kind to dog breeds. Many are today suffering disastrous results of this selection process.

      The tide is turning, as the public begin to understand that health and functional phenotypes are more important than those winning extremes. Typy is the synonym for grotesquely deformed.

      Do or die, eventually those that resist will go extinct along with their long suffering dogs.

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    2. To Anonymous at 23:52

      I hate to burst your bubble but Flint as well as the rest of the litter are genetically proven to be 100% French Bulldog. His mother and father mated naturally and one puppy was whelped naturally before Yara had to go in for a C-Section. You can read ALL about it on her page. FCI requires DNA testing to prove parentage (despite the whole naturally mating thing an all). They obviously don’t want paper hanging to occur and despite your doubts they are all 100% French Bulldog. Yara and Miro are both 100% Frenchie and have the DNA results to prove it and the same goes with the puppies.
      You can see the litter and their pedigree here.
      http://ingrus.net/frbull/en/details.php?id=117583

      https://www.vombueffelboden.ch/deckr%C3%BCden/ This is more of Miro’s info. Yara’s info is already linked in the OP

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    3. A dog can be a "lap dog" while still having the health and energy to romp and play vigorously.

      Underbites originated because some humans thought they'd be an advantage in canine blood sports. Whether this is objectively true or not is another story-- wolves are capable killers of large game with scissors bites, so I kind of doubt there's any functional advantage to having an underbite.

      Be that as it may, all dog lover's today rightly reject bull-baiting and dogfighting as inhumane and immoral, so why are we continuing to perpetuate this trait? At best, it offers no benefits, and at worst it causes pain and frustration to the dog.

      It should be noted that dogs can't tell us whether or they're experiencing pain from TMJ, as many people with malocclusions endure. My sister underwent costly jaw surgery and years of braces to correct her underbite as an adult, just for this reason. There was no aesthetic improvement involved; she just wanted freedom from pain.

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    4. Absolutely! My dogs in fact use my lap as a running spring board to lunch themselves at the ceiling to try and catch gheckos. For sleeping the prime spot they vie for is the back of the big settee where they drape themselves and dream of exciting days to come, little legs twitching in the air. Notice I didn't say "tiny bent legs" like a saucisse" dog. There's never enough space for all of them so as they drop off they slide off onto the cushions bellow. The only one secure enough not to is the one wrapping its warm little belly around my neck, till I get up to make some coffee, or get a book that is. It's a nightly ritual. Even though they're JRTs to position themselves they don't launch into aggressive frenzied assaults on one another.

      Point I was making is that Frenchies are a feisty, dog aggressive breed which is rather unusual for what is considered a "lap" dog, I thought.

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  12. There is veru little that is right in a frenchie DAWF BREED...why not just eliminate him and the english and everyone breed sibs only...Frenchie have never had a nuzzle like FLINT .....Flint looks like he could even have an even or scissors bite but I guess that is better for eating

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  13. "They are both Frenchies. Both purebred." - how sad. I hope that the breeder who REALLY breeds for health will know that breeding within the closed population that has health issues is not the way to go.

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  14. "Finnish KC's database documents an average age of death of just five years old."
    Now stating this, you should also mention that this is purely based on what the owners have reported. There is no guarantee that the ages are correctly reported or the cause of death is accurate. And to be precise, the average age for 5 year 7 months, not 5 years as you stated.
    Also only 503 are reported dead (done by owners). Also when dog dies out of old age, it's not so common to report them.
    And 39 out of 503 reported deaths are caused by accidents or traffic (avg age of 3 yrs 1 months) and reported missing are 3 dogs (avg 3 yrs 7 months). 50 of reported deaths are out of old age (11 years 2 months).

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    1. 11 years isn't particularly old for a small breed.

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    2. Might not be, but it's far more older than stated 5 years. Also I would like to see statements based on facts (not roughly rounded numbers) and if the used source of information is known to be inaccurate, it would be a good journalist practice to inform about it (or not to use/mention that source and its data at all).

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  15. An average age of death based on owner reporting is more accurate than an overly optimistic figure made up by a breed enthusiast.

    BTW, do you have any valid, objective sources to support your claim that owners whose dogs reach a good age before dying are less likely to participate in such surveys? It seems to me that such owners would be proud of their dogs health and longevity, not to mention their own good care.

    I should also point out that no one actually dies of "old age". All of us-- humans as well as animals-- die because something killed us, whether it's being hit by a car, or liver failure. Aging does make you more vulnerable to a long list of medical conditions, but so does breeding for unhealthy conformations in a small gene pool.

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    1. No I don't have any valid, objective source to support that. Only my own observations, knowing the individuals within my own breed and keeping a close eye which of them are reported to be dead (in breed groups vs. FCK database).
      And yes, it's not the age that kills, but the failing organs. Also you could say no one gets killed by a car, it's the blood loss or the heart that stopped beating or the lungs that failed. You could go on and on debating on this matter, but we both know what we mean when we say die of old age or getting hit by a car.

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    2. Multiple organ failure can also occur as the result of prolonged physiological stress from cancer, genetic diseases, or brachycephalic syndrome, at a far earlier age than randombred dogs of the same size.

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    3. Actually, no: Being hit by a car is a single event at a given time. Thus whether a dog dies upon impact or lingers a few days at the vet's, you can clearly identify that "being hit by a car" was the cause of death.

      In contrast, aging is a gradual event, with an ultimately subjective "finish line". Sixty used to be considered old; now many would consider it "middle-aged".

      TL;DR: If dogs of your favored breed are dying at an age at which the average pet mutt of the same size would be expected to still be going strong, then they're NOT dying of "old age".

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  16. I think the longer-nosed Frenchies look more like boxer puppies than pit bulls, personally. Either way, they're handsome little imps and I want one!

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    1. Yes ha ha. Now they just need a tail.

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    2. Yes ha ha. They just need a tail too. Im not sure what the tail looked like in old French bulldogs.

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  17. Hello, I don't do Facebook but regularly read your CRUFFA page, thought you might want to put these two studies up that have been reported by CavalierHealth.org "Widespread syringomyelia and craniocervical junction abnormalities are found in study of 53 Chihuahuas." http://www.cavalierhealth.org/sm2.htm#Widespread_syringomyelia_and_craniocervical_junction_abnormalities_are_found_in_study_of_53_Chihuahua" and "Chiari-like malformation is found in 100% of 1,020 cavaliers in Belgium and the Netherlands and syringomyelia in 39%." http://www.cavalierhealth.org/sm2.htm#Chiari-like_malformation_is_found_in_100%_of_1,020_cavaliers_in_Belgium_and_the_Netherlands_and_syringomyelia_in_39
    Crossbreeding looks the only way forward for the Cavalier. I have been crossbreeding Cavaliers (Your documentary opened my eyes) now for 8 years. First using the Miniature Poodle which we then crossed back in to the pure and the F1b 3/4 Cavalier 1/4 poodle looks like a Cavalier with a less extreme head, but unfortunately this cross does not seem to improve the occurrence of CM, as all our three Poodle crosses so far that we have MRI scanned have been graded CM2, but the improvement in muzzle length, eye anatomy and their is a slight lengthening of the cranium will hopefully mean that progression to SM is less likely. I believe though using the diminutive Toy Poodle would add to the problems of the Cavalier rather than give any valid improvement due to their miniaturization and we see CM/SM in miniaturized breeds as well as brachy breeds.
    A couple years ago we brought the Brittany in and this year at two years old we MRI scanned two bitches we kept back from that litter. The mother a Cavalier at 4 years old was CM2 SM1 and her and the two bitches from her litter with the Brittany have been graded CM0 (Clear of CM). It can then be done with one cross, but the only draw back with this cross is the dogs are just a bit bigger than a Cavalier, although distinctly spaniel looking and it is just getting the size back a bit.
    So the next stage of the project begins in a couple months time when the two Brittany/Cavalier girls are crossed back in to the Cavalier. One will go back to a pure Cavalier and one is going back to a 3/4 Cavalier 1/4 Poodle dog, as I believe that there is anatomical improvement enough in the Poodle cross skull from the pure Cavalier skull. Then it is a year to two year wait to MRI scan offspring of these litters to see if the cross out attaining CM0 can be crossed back in and the CM improvement can be retained.
    You don't have to publish this comment or anything about my breeding project ( I get enough shit from purists), but please publish the two research articles above on your CRUFFA page.

    Jane Howarth

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  18. Great initiative! Do you if there is a Pug breeder with the same aims?

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  19. I am looking for a Pug breeder with the same ideas, do you know someone?

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  20. I just found this by serendipity and thought I'd share:

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171005141759.htm

    In short, even Paleolithic Era humans understood that inbreeding was a bad idea!

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