I can't stress enough the importance of research and more research to be done BEFORE anyone invests the love, and money into any breed. Get to know the pedigrees/type you like best, and go to breeders that are well established, talk with them, and if you can, see the results of their breeding programs in person. Only then will you have an idea of where you will want to begin for yourself. Pedigrees are your breed's roadmap. It gives you a written description of how your dogs should look. Study quality dogs, have an idea of what pedigrees produce when brought together in a breeding. Not just show wins or championships make a quality dog either. Politics play a part in the world of show dogs. It can be the money backing the dog as well as the high profile handler at the end of the leash. So, pay attention to reputable and long time breeders, they have a pretty good feel for the dog world and the ring. .... So,you need to have good knowledge about the dog show game. By knowing the dogs you see and are attracted to, you have a greater insight into accomplishments, litters, health concerns and politics.
Although the frenchies I've had over the years have been few compared to many breeders, they have been quality individuals. Temperment, health and type have all combined to produce beautiful puppies for me. It takes years to establish yourself as a quality breeder, not just the money you put into a stud fee, or that the champion you bred to was handled by a famous handler.
I'll try to briefly outline some of the concerns and health issues within our breed. Of course, it is impossible when breeding any animal to accurately predict the eventual health issues of offspring. That's why it is so important to be careful when producing a litter of puppies, hence knowing your breeding frenchies ancestory....or pedigree. However, no matter how careful one is, health problems can occur, resulting from genetics that happened in breedings long past.
Research is ongoing and progress is being made, there are now several DNA markers enabling breeders to check on some genetic concerns in our breed....such a wonderful thing as no reputable breeder wants any adnormalities in their frenchies
Some major concerns are Intervertebral Disc Disease, Hemivertebrae, Stenotic Nares, Elongated Soft Palate, allergies..........
Spinal concerns....First and foremost is the spinal problems in this breed. Because french bulldogs have never been easy to reproduce, the gene poole is small and concentrated.. there is far less breeding stock to choose from when one considers producing a litter ....and because this breed is a man made breed, we have produced problems that may never have occured otherwise. One is spine abnormalities....hemi vertebrae and intervertebral disc disease are the catch phrases. French bulldogs are a dwarf breed, and conditions exist in french bulldogs that don't in most other breeds. No matter how careful we reputable breeders are, things happen. There was no health testing for most of this breed's existance. Technology for health testing didn't exist for the early breeders, so spine xrays to rule out misshapen vertebrae wasn't available. Im sure concerned breeders of long ago bred the healthiest specimens to be had. Spine problems range from nonexistant to extensive and this is a common concern of dedicated breeders. Of course, I am barely touching the tip of the proverbial iceberg, this is a cautionary page, but if more information is desired, there are many sites that go into specifics. Go to the French Bulldog Club of America website, or FrogDog.Org.......for further links.
Breathing problems....Next, as this is a brachycephalic breed (flat faced) breathing problems abound...from minor to major, frenchies can have difficulty in breathing when stressed, whether from activity or heat. An enlongated soft palate, and stenotic nares (pinched nostrils) are two common problems. In this breed, part of the cooling system is compromised..because of flat faces, the long muzzle of other breeds that cool a dog is not present in frenchies. Without a significant cooling system, the core body temperature of frenchies can heat up fast. Because compromised breathing is already a possiblity, frenchies can be in trouble in short order. They can not cool down quick enough in some cases to avoid a heat stroke. An enlongated soft palate can partially block the trachea, and while some find the snorting sounds some frenchies make cute, in actuality this can signal trouble. Pinched nares(nostrils) can be surgically corrected, and while rather expensive, the soft palate problem can be as well. Usually this is successful, but sometimes adhesions and polyps follow later. Although these 2 concerns are "correctable"...they are inherited problems.
Breeding information.... I am asked often why french bulldogs are so costly........well, I'll enlighten those of you that faint at the "sticker shock" when asking puppy prices. Hopefully, you'll have a good basic understanding after you read this. The first step to a quality breeding program is EDUCATION. Quality breeders research before deciding what lines they want in their breeding program and purchase the very best parent stock they can afford. Yes, a top pedigree, a top puppy and a top price tag usually go hand in hand. In all dog breeds, there is a breed standard, or "road map" that lists how a ringworthy frenchie should look, kind of a manual for us breeders. Following this guideline will certainly help a newbie with correct body structure..that and discussing the standard with knowledgeable established breeders. To those looking for a frenchie, be it show or companion, locating a good reputable breeder is a must. Once you have found the breeder who is willing to share their knowledge with you, and they accept you as a puppy client, the wait for that special puppy begins. Most quality frenchie puppies are available for $2500.00 and up for companion puppies, and $3500.00 and up for show potential puppies. The breeder evaluates that particular puppy many times over it's early puppyhood and has deemed it worth watching as a potential show puppy....sometimes the best puppy at 12-16 weeks turns out to be a companion puppy at 5 months. It is very disheartening to realize what was once a possible show frenchie is now a pet. A breeder is always researching lines they are interested in, it is important to research ancestors. Look at pictures whenever possible of dogs that are in lines you are interested in. Ask questions of those in the breed longer than you as quite possibly they may have known some of those dogs. Of course doing health testing on dogs you will be showing and possibly adding to your breeding program........this is all very costly. Showing dogs is expensive, consider gas costs, time involved in training, caring for your dogs, motel fees, entry fees( $25 and up per show), and the list goes on. Ok, so now the parents are finished champions. (you are lucky if you have both parents......stud fee is another story if you breed out of your kennel) Now the wait for the little bride to be to come in season. The day is here......you notice a red stain on her bedding.....she's in season. Now off to the vet after you've watched her for 7-8 days. It's progesterone time.....she needs a baseline hormone test....that tells the veterinarian it's either time to breed or wait and redraw the test again in a couple of days..........and each test runs $50 or more. Im pretty lucky, usually I only have to have 3 tests per breeding. Ok, after the little bride is "right there".....in comes doc with his equipment and the stud dog.......and it's artificial insemination (AI) time...........$55 or more and this is usually done twice. However, a transcervical implant can be done....that's $45 for the AI and $70 for the endo proceedure the vet does to get the specimen "up there" at the cervical door...so to speak. Usually this proceedure is just done once....or the most expensive proceedure is placing the specimen in the uterus or surgical implantation $200 or more...so....this is only if you have your own stud dog, shipping in chilled or frozen specimen is far more costly, and doesn't include the shipping charges, overnite is at least $100 and that's typically repeated twice within 2 days.....now on to the next stage. An ultrasound at around 35 days to determine if the little bride is going to have puppies........that's usually around $55...the fees Im quoting are on the low side!. If the news is happy, you wait for the approximate 63 days, and out comes puppies!!! Wish it were that simple. The vet gives you the date on which the C-section can be anticipated.......then the worrying starts. So, now hopefully everything has gone smoothly, and you go in on that date and leave the veterinarian's office with a new litter of beautiful babies....averaging 3 a litter. But of course you have the C section to pay for......and if all has gone well, that may be only $600.....or up to $1200 depending on the vet you use. . So it's home you go with your precious babies and mommy, and the real worry and work begins. Up several times a night for the first week, anything and everything concerns you......are they breathing ok? Was that a rattle in the lungs of one of your "childred"? Are they pooping ok? panic..........maybe or maybe not....but hopefully all goes well with the "kids". Thousands of hours later, the babies are up on their feet and are ready to be weaned...your eyes have circles under them, you haven't had a good nites sleep in several weeks but you are happy happy happy, ....almost done with the "hard" part and ready to enjoy the patter of little feet running around. Nothing is cuter than 6 week old frenchie puppies, they look like baby bunnies.
So that was a very condensed cost analysis.......if you have your own stud dog for this litter, you may be lucky and produce a litter for around $1500..and that's the low side. ..not including costs for the bitch, or sire....and also not including costs to get the parents to the breeding point. If you had to "hire" the bridegroom......expect an additional $1,000 to $3,000 or more for that litter!
Recently, I had a gal talk with me regarding inherited health issues in dogs, primarily frenchies. She asked several questions, trying to educate herself so that when she was ready to adopt she could make an informed decision. I answered her questions, and she then contacted a breeder that had puppies available. She asked those questions to that breeder. His answer was rather frightening. He told her that he did not do health testing on parents, that his frenchies were as healthy as everyone elses. That frenchies were bulldogs and everyone knew bulldogs had health issues. He also replied that if you adopt a frenchie you should expect to take it to the vet often for problems......he was angry that this lady was trying to make the best decision about adopting a puppy based on answers he gave her. Personally, this "breeder" sounded like he was more concerned about making money than breeding healthy frenchies. ALWAYS do your homework, education is the key to buying the most healthy puppy you can.
NUTRITIONAL NEEDS/SKIN AND COAT PROBLEMS/ALLERGIES
Many folks have asked me over the years about allergy related problems with french bulldogs.....my answer is yes, this breed has problems with allergies.......what kind of allergies? Personally, I believe alot of this is brought on by the diet an individual frenchie is eating. Of course, allergens can be from the environment. But let's talk about food related allergies and the frenchie.
Foods that are high in quality are definitely the best for your frenchie. I can't stress enough, dog foods with by products, artificial preservatives, colors and flavors are a big no-no. Any food that has corn, wheat, soy, and sorghum is not a quality food source. Dogs are carnivores, they have a short gut, they are able to digest animal protein, but have difficulties with vegetable proteins. Ever wonder why herbivores can digest grasses and other plant material? They have a much longer intestional tract, and cows in particular have several stomachs, with all that "assembly line" moving cellulose down the track, evetually it gets digested.
Grains, in particular the above mentioned, especially corn, causes fermentation in the stomach. This can cause flatulance, and we all know how that smells.......who likes to watch TV and get a whiff of Fido's last meal? Not only gas, but fermentation can also cause skin issues from yeast......wet and smelly ears, licking feet and redness between toes, sore skin, red spots, crusty lesions.....all can be signs of allergies to poor diets.
Meat by-products. Who would want to eat beaks, feathers, hide, meat from sick and diseased animals, not me. And I certainly don't want the frenchies I love eating that either. Low quality foods can have it all, poor nutrition causes many problems. Look at the label on your dog food bag.....what's first? Should be human grade MEAT.....and that means not by-product meat. Within the first 5 ingredients listed on the bag....meat should be the first listed......Meat listed first means that's the biggest single ingredient in the food by weight.....for example whole chicken with juices, then chicken meal, the first 2 ingredients on the bag. Meal is a concentrated protein.....all the juice has been drained and the concentrated meat is left behind......make sure it states what type of meat protein too. NONE of my frenchies have ever had allergies to foods, or for that matter environmental allergies. I feel a quality food helps give a dog a quality life and the little extra spent on a good food saves on vet bills and frustration.
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