The popular French bulldog face is flat-out wrong, say dog show judges.
The Kennel Club, the canine welfare and training group based in the United Kingdom (and not to be confused with the American Kennel Club), said Wednesday that the breed known for its flat muzzle, pinched nostrils and protruding eyes will no longer serve as an acceptable exemplar of the French bulldog.
The French bulldog is ranked the second most prevalent purebred pups type in the United States as well as the UK, and is a favorite among celebrities. Lady Gaga, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, David and Victoria Beckham, Dwayne Johnson, Reese Witherspoon, Cara Delevigne and Hugh Jackman, to name just a few, have all opened their homes and hearts to the furry pets. It’s no wonder, as the Frenchie is known for its energetic, affectionate and adaptable nature.
But breed standards writers in the UK have decided that those bred with brachycephalic facial features, characterized by a broad, short skull with a flattened nose and folded skin, are not the ideal type.
“Certain health problems in French bulldogs have been impacted by their huge increase in popularity, and we continue to be extremely concerned that exaggerations which are perceived to create a ‘cute’ look,” said Kennel Club health and welfare expert Bill Lambert in widely publicized statement to UK media.
Lambert explained that guidelines for dog breeds are reviewed and updated “regularly” per “breed-specific health data,” and that any pooch with severe “physical exaggerations should be avoided,” for the sake of the animal’s well-being, which should be breeders’ “absolute priority,” he reiterated.
According to the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA), “flat-faced” dogs such as French bulldogs, pugs and other bulldog types, may suffer from obstructive airway syndrome and other respiratory disorders, inhibiting their ability to breathe normally, and could lead to a number of other health concerns including obesity — due to lack of exercise and trouble breathing — poor thermoregulation leading to overheating, frequent vomiting and regurgitation and a shortened lifespan.
The HSVMA estimates that half of all French bulldogs demonstrate clinical signs of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome.
Acknowledging that most French bulldog owners are not concerned with breed standards set by their club or other governing bodies, Lambert said, “We hope these amends send a strong message about the importance of ensuring that the puppy that you buy does not have exaggerated features” — suggesting that prospective pet parents should be discouraged from engaging with breeders and sellers who tout these characteristics in their animals.
Lambert also said that the Kennel Club is in touch with the University of Cambridge, where researchers into brachycephalic health of dogs is being conducted. “We hope that this … will help to improve and protect the breed’s health,” he concluded.
The Post has reached out for comment to US-based French bulldog breeding officials the French Bulldog Club of America, endorsed by the American Kennel Club.
Their alarm comes as interest in the breed has surged recently, especially as COVID-19 lockdown measures last year prompted more folks than ever to adopt and purchase dogs. The pandemic pet boom has since prompted widespread scams and countless pet thefts — particularly for the beloved French bulldog. Indeed, the pedigreed pup’s popularity has launched a lucrative black market trade, earning fraudulent sellers potentially $1,500 to $5,000 per dog, according to American Kennel Club.
Earlier this year, two of Lady Gaga’s own Frenchies, Gustav and Koji, were stolen in a violent heist that left her dog walker with a bullet in his chest. Fortunately, the caretaker survived, as did the dogs who were returned to the pop star days later.