A few years ago the French Bulldog was THE dog to own, especially in Britain, where there was a big celebrity craze for the breed. Now, a wave of Frenchies are sitting in Britain's pet shelters, waiting to be rescued.
What happened to this sweet adorable breed?
The same thing that happens whenever there is a breed craze; the Frenchie was over-bred. The demand for the Frenchie caused some breeders to neglect important factors in healthy dog breeding.
A healthy French Bulldog can live up to 11 to 13 years, but they have certain structural issues that can interfere with their health. From birth, a Frenchie's life may be tenuous, as most pregnancies occur by artificial insemination because a Frenchie's hips are often too narrow to mount the female. For the same structural reason, Frenchie's are most often delivered by Caesarian.
Once grown, French Bulldogs can suffer from a variety of respiratory difficulties due to a compacted airway, resulting in an inability to regulate their body temperatures. They get unusually cold and hot, so extreme temperatures must be "tempered" by extra heat and blankets in the winter and an air-conditioned environment in the summer.
In addition, the Frenchies may have joint problems in their knees and spinal anomalies that are painful. It is suggested that these problems stem from selecting the smallest members of the breed to mate. Another condition, known as 'cherry eye' is also suspected to be hereditary and can be relieved only through surgical treatment.
Right now, a well-known charity shelter in London, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, is conducting surgeries on many Frenchies that have been given up because they need medical care and their owners can't afford it. The veterinarians are operating on the dogs to open their airways, operations that would cost about $2000 each, and then the dogs will be ready for adoption.
This is not a solution to the overbreeding of French Bulldogs, nor any other animal that is overbred, but if stricter rules are placed on breeders, and prospective owners more carefully research the breeder, the puppy's parents, and the puppy, the British charity shelter is hopeful that the breed will be a healthier one.
In the meantime, thank the dog gods for the rehabilitation services of Battersea Dogs And Cats Home.