Peak Panic for the French Bulldog?
By Jessica Freni
Picture courtesy of Nicole Denny

 In 2012, the Frenchie was ranked at No. 14. Since then, registrations have increased by over 1,000%, bringing this playful breed to the top. French Bulldogs held the No. 2 spot in 2021.” (https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/most-popular-dog-breeds-2022/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook_org&utm_campaign=20230315_posting )

 After three decades as America’s favorite dog, the Labrador Retriever has been dethroned by the French Bulldog according to AKC publication March 2023. A shift that should strike concern in enthusiasts and preservation breeders of both breeds.

Popularity has been unkind to the French Bulldog, a wonderful little clown with a big, delightful temperament who is an ideal companion in a variety of modern living situations. Unfortunately, the rising popularity of the French Bulldog and increase in registrations directly reflects social media popularity and constantly evolving trendy, out of breed standard, fad gimmick colors from profit- driven breeders. Preservation breeders or even those just breeding within standard colors are astronomically outpaced by those hoping to cash in on the latest fad color. These DQ (disqualified within breed standard) colors are marketed to the masses as valuable, rare, special and without any kind of titling or testing can fetch in to the tens of thousands of dollars or more (particularly colors not naturally occurring which have been introduced to the breed,  such as merle or other trendy traits like “fluffies”). The incredible surge of fad color breeders and backyard breeders of French Bulldogs has also impacted breed health drawings the ire of some veterinarians and ARA Groups and put increasing strain on breed specific rescues.

The French Bulldog Club of America is making efforts to educate and promote the health of the French Bulldog. BOAS testing is expanding to America to measure the dogs’ breathing health. Spine health is also a priority of the FBDCA in conjunction with OFA,

“The spine database is a pilot study maintained at the request of the French Bulldog Club of America but also applies to the Bulldog and Boston Terrier breeds to track prevalence of vertebral anomalies which have an inherited component.” (https://ofa.org/diseases/other-phenotypic-evaluations/spine-database/ ) The well-bred French Bulldog should not be discounted as a wonderful breed and delightful companion because of poorly bred or extreme examples.

The Labrador Retriever is another case study in the impact of modern trends on breed preservation. While Labradors remain undeniably popular for their versatility,  biddability and good temperaments, the rise of the “Labradoodle” has certainly had a negative effect on the Labrador. Many family homes that would have sought out a Labrador, often instead pick one of the various popular Labrador mixes for their trendy names, promises of “hypoallergenicā€¯ or “hybrid vigor” and assortment of catchy colors. Fad colors have also been increasingly problematic in Labradors in recent years. Despite strong condemnation of their breeding from the breed parent club and efforts to educate would be buyers (https://www.thelabradorclub.com/the-issue-of-the-silver-lab ) dilute Labradors remain popular (silver, champagne, and charcoal). This dilute color demand drives prospective owners away from Preservation breeders and is a popular, profitable endeavor for those purposely breeding against standard, despite the risks of issues like Color Dilute Alopecia.

Has the French Bulldog not only reached the number one spot in American popularity, but reached peak concern for Preservation Breeders? For the full breed ranking list, visit the AKC (https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/most-popular-dog-breeds-2022/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook_org&utm_campaign=20230315_posting)