frequently asked questions

What is the French Bulldog Club of NSW?

The French Bulldog Club of NSW was founded in 1983 and the first French Bulldog Club to be established in Australia. The club promotes health and welfare of the breed first and foremost. A voluntary organisation affiliated with Dogs NSW, it tries to offer a range of services, advice and support on health, breed direction, rescue, buying a puppy and breed care. The French Bulldog Club of NSW also holds two Specialty shows a year. The club offers exhibitors the opportunity of showing their dogs under some of the leading international breed judges in the world. The French Bulldog Club of NSW is also very proud in leading the way with the French Bulldog Health Scheme, which is reported on each year.

Who or what are Dogs NSW and the ANKC?

Dogs NSW hold the NSW breed registries, control registrations and pedigrees and maintain a code of ethics, binding on all members. They promote health and welfare, shows, training, judges training, trials and other dog related activities as well as advice about pedigree dogs. The ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) is the overriding body nationally.

What is a Code of Ethics?

A code of ethics (COE) is an agreed upon set of standards which include the breeding, owning and correct husbandry of pedigree dogs which always surrounds the health and welfare of each breed. Every registered breeder who holds an ANKC breeder prefix signs the COE and agrees to the content of the COE,agreeing to uphold it at all times. This includes abiding by and breeding to the breed standard of any given breed. Breaches can result in suspension or expulsion.

What is a registered breed?

A registered breed is a recognised breed that adheres to an accepted standard, usually from the country of origin. Registered breeds are recognised by canine controlling bodies around the world such as Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC), The Kennel Club (UK), The American Kennel Club, Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

What is a reputable breeder?

  • A reputable breeder is one who stands by the dogs they breed.
  • Ideally a reputable breeder is a member of a breed club.
  • A reputable registered breeder is someone who has passed an education course, has signed and acknowledged the Code of Ethics, upholds the COE and follows all health and other recommended breeding practices.  
  • A reputable breeder strives to improve the quality and health of the breed and is not someone solely breeding for profit or to meet market demand.

How do I find a French Bulldog Puppy?

Contact your state breed club for advice and a list of its breeder members.

Buyer Beware Social media pages and websites mass producing and even auctioning puppies to the highest bidder should be considered not only unethical, but in complete breach of not only the governing state registries [Dogs NSW, Dogs QLD, Dogs VIC etc] but also the national registry [ANKC] Code of Ethics. Remember, registered breeders agree to uphold and promote the Code of Ethics. If a breeder is breaching that code, what other recommended breed practices are they breaching? Many online classified websites should also be met with caution. Please, contact your state Club for advice on contacting breeders.

What questions should I ask of the Breeder?

  • Experience with the breed – how long involved?
  • Club membership and breed involvement – how long, do they show, obedience etc?
  • Health testing of their breeding stock – do they do it and what tests do they do?
  • Health screening of puppies – do they do it?
  • Kennel visit – can we see the environment where our puppy has been raised?
  • Kennel visit – can we meet the parents of the puppies? The sire may not be available if an outside stud was used, but you should at least be able to meet the mother, see her interact with her puppies and have info about the father.
  • Will the breeder be available and willing to help and advise you after purchase of a puppy?
  • Copies of the official Health Certificates for Sire and Dam
  • Copy pedigrees of Sire and Dam
  • Vaccination and microchip paperwork for puppies
  • Pedigree and registration papers for puppies – these should be available at the time of purchase
  • Diet Sheet
  • Sales agreement

What documentation should I ask for?

  • Copies of the official Health Certificates for Sire and Dam
  • Copy pedigrees of Sire and Dam
  • Vaccination and microchip paperwork for puppies
  • Pedigree and registration papers for puppies – these should be available at the time of purchase
  • Diet Sheet
  • Sales agreement

What is the difference between Main Registration and Limited Registration?

Dogs sold with main registration papers (blue forms) are eligible for competition in dog shows. If bred, their offspring can be registered. All dogs on the main register must conform to the accepted colours for their particular breed.

Dogs sold with limited registration papers (orange forms) are eligible for competition in obedience, trials, and other canine disciplines. Dogs on the limited register cannot be shown and if bred, their offspring cannot be registered. Breeders usually register the puppies which are being sold as pets and companion animals on the limited register. All dogs which do not conform to the accepted colours for their particular breed must be registered on the limited register.

What is health testing and is there a difference between Vet Checked and Health Tested?

Vet checked simply means, checked by a vet. This usually happens at the time of microchipping and vaccination of puppies. The vet will listen to heart and check the overall wellbeing of the puppy. HEALTH TESTED means the dogs have undergone a series of agreed upon tests to help identify their suitability for breeding. This is with the aim of promoting and producing healthier puppies.

What are the Health Tests recommended by the French Bulldog Club?

  • Spine and Hip xrays for adults prior to breeding as per the French Bulldog Club of NSW Health Scheme.  
  • DNA testing for adults and puppies if required – if both parents are clear of a hereditary genetic disease, their puppies will automatically be cleared by parentage, hence, no need to test.
  • Preliminary Spine X rays of puppies. This is usually performed at around 8 to 9 weeks of age. This is possibly one of the most crucial tests we can do on our puppies because any major spinal defects or abnormalities WILL show up on the x rays.

*****IMPORTANT NOTE: THE XRAY SCREENING OF ADULTS CAN ONLY BE CERTIFIED BY A QUALIFIED RADIOGRAPHER. A GENERAL PRACTITIONER IS NOT QUALIFIED TO READ OR SCORE THE XRAYS UNDER THE FRENCH BULLDOG HEALTH SCHEME. PUPPIES CANNOT BE SCORED, ONLY ADULTS AFTER TWELVE MONTHS OF AGE. THIS SCHEME WAS DEVELOPED IN CONJUNCTION WITH DR MARIANO MAKARA WHO IS THE OFFICIAL RADIOGRAPHER WHO READS AND SCORES THE FRENCH BULLDOG SPINES AND HIPS. PLEASE BEWARE OF THOSE CLAIMING TO HAVE SCORED THE SPINES OF THEIR BREEDING STOCK OR PUPPIES – ENSURE THAT THEY HAVE A CERTIFICATION FROM DR MAKARA AND YOU SIGHT IT.

Why are these Health Tests important?

The French Bulldog Clubs recommend and promote these health tests to help to produce healthier puppies that will lead healthy lives with a minimum number of health issues.

What are some of the health issues French Bulldogs can have?

Hemivertebrae – The French Bulldog has an average of 3-4 hemivertebrae. These are misshapen vertebrae that can occasionally cause severe instability of the spinal cord. We recommend testing to reduce the incidence of this occurring. French Bulldogs can also suffer from Hip Dysplasia – again, we recommend testing to reduce the incidence of unstable hips.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a combination of long soft palate, stenotic nares (pinched nostrils), everted saccules and an underdeveloped trachea. Altogether this causes extreme breathing problems for the affected French Bulldog. Left untreated, this can lead to further and more severe health issues like hiatal hernia. It is recommended that a dog suffering from BOAS should never be bred from.

French Bulldogs can also suffer from luxating or slipping patellas (dislocating kneecaps). This usually requires surgical intervention to give the dog relief and quality. Again, it is not recommended that a dog suffering from luxating patellas be bred from.

Heart conditions can also affect the French Bulldog breed – heart murmurs, pulmonic stenosis are some of the heart conditions we occasionally see. Dogs with any heart condition should NEVER be bred from.

We encourage readers to follow the health links provided at the end of this document to find out more on French Bulldog health.

I’ve read that it is normal for most French Bulldogs to have palate and nostril problems and that it is recommended to have the surgery done regardless…is this true?

In one word – NO. The French Bulldog is a brachycephalic breed which can at times suffer from issues associated with the face shape like, long soft palate and stenosis (narrowing) of the nostrils. The aim for breeders is to reduce the incidence of these traits by selectively breeding for good palates and open nostrils. To make a blanket statement that the entire breed should have these procedures done is not only misleading, but irresponsible. Breeder members of the French Bulldog Club of NSW strive to better the breed through vigorous health testing and strict selection of breeding stock. Members agree to uphold the Code of Ethics of the Club in accordance with health and welfare. By selecting healthy, fully tested specimens of the breed who exhibit both phenotypical (what we see) and genotypical (genetic makeup) healthy traits to go on and breed with, hopefully this ensures that the offspring will inherit those desirable healthy traits. These traits include good breathing and all it incorporates.

What is a Standard?

The standard for each breed is specifically drawn up to set out guidelines covering the desired externally observable qualities for that particular breed – its physical conformation, character and termperament.

Why is the Standard important?

The breed standard provides a working outline of the desirable traits and hallmarks of the breed, pushing healthy sound dogs. Movement, temperament and soundness, including breathing are highlighted in the standard. The standard is the blueprint which defines each breed individually. When judging, one is selecting the best representatives of the breed, ie the best specimens to breed on with. It is not a beauty contest.

What are the CORRECT colours for the French Bulldog?

There are TWO basic colours and THREE patterns, so, we can say that a French Bulldog comes in THREE colours.

  1. Fawn – with or without a black mask, ideally fawn should be clean and clear.
  2. Brindle – a mixture of black and fawn hairs creating brindle patterning (striping).
  3. Pied (Pattern) – White base with either brindle or fawn patches. Ideally, the white base should be clean and clear of ticking or spotting.

What is a FAD colour?

These are the colours that are not, nor have ever been recognised as desirable in the French Bulldog standards WORLDWIDE. These may include; solid black, blue, blue brindle, blue fawn, blue pied, black and tan, blue and tan, chocolate, chocolate fawn, chocolate pied, lilac and lilac and tan ... the list could go on. Basically, no DILUTE colours have ever been accepted as part of the French Bulldog Breed Standard as desirable. Regardless of the information that is being put out there, there is no official French Bulldog Standard that accepts these colours as desirable.

A new and alarming colour trend that has hit the French Bulldog is the colour Merle – the colour or pattern Merle has never existed in the French Bulldog breed and CAN NOT occur naturally. Merle French Bulldogs are CROSSBRED where another breed has been introduced to bring in the Merle gene. Dogs that are homozygous (carrying two copies) for the M gene are at risk of suffering from catastrophic health issues. Eye defects such as Micropthalmia – small and deformed eye or eyes, Anopthalmia – missing eyes or eye, Starburst Pupil (Coloboma), Eccentric Pupil (Wandering Eye) and sadly, deafness is also linked with the doubling of the M gene. With the breed already having deafness as an issue - generally associated with the extreme pieds, add the merle gene and this problem could be massive. Eye defects in a breed that already has prominent eyes is another disaster waiting to happen - double merles having defective irises and vision issues means damaged eyes and degrees of blindness. 

2013 Press Release for the UK Kennel Club

“At the request of the French Bulldog breed clubs, the Kennel Club has agreed that it will no longer accept the registration of any merle French Bulldogs from 1 January 2013. Coat colour in the French Bulldog is complex because a range of colours is acceptable. Merle patterning – patches of lighter colouring appearing in the coat – is the result of the M gene in the dog. There are two alleles of this gene: M (Merle) and m (non merle), with the merle (M) being dominant to non merle (m). In some breeds, the effect of the M gene is termed dapple. Unfortunately, the effects of the merle allele (M) are not confined to coat pattering and it is known that there can be an increased risk of impaired hearing and sight associated with it, particularly in dogs that are homozygous for M (dogs that carry two copies of the M allele). In addition, the merle colour is not a naturally occurring colour in this breed, and therefore the Kennel Club General Committee has agreed that it will no longer accept the registration of any merle French Bulldog puppies from this date”

To read more on these potentially disastrous health issues that could affect our beautiful French Bulldogs click here

Are the FAD colours unhealthy?

Apart from Merles – which are not purebred French Bulldogs in any case – the colour of a dog doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse health. It’s the breeding practices that have occurred in order to get a litter. Fully health screened, healthy specimens should only be bred from. When colour is the main and at times only reason for reproducing a litter, health can and is at times compromised.

Dilute coloured dogs have been linked to a particular skin condition – Dilute Alopecia as the condition is known, causing severe and permanent hair loss to parts or all of the body.

What is Line Breeding and is it bad?

This is unfortunately an issue that has recently become the subject of untruths and misinformation. Sadly this misinformation has led many people searching for a puppy to become quite confused and conflicted in regard to pedigree dogs. There have recently been claims made by inexperienced, misinformed newcomers to the French Bulldog world stating that ALL SHOW DOGS are line bred, ALL CLUB MEMBERS line breed and line bred dogs are automatically unhealthy. These claims are simply NOT TRUE.

Some breeders line breed, some breeders don’t, some breeders line breed when they want to set a trait strongly in their lines, other choose to outcross for the desired trait. Either way, when done correctly by experienced and knowledgeable breeders, using genetically superior stock, line breeding sets type and health …… So, what is Line Breeding???

Line breeding is the doubling up of any ancestor within a pedigree. This is fairly common in most breeds to a limited extent. Line breeding is still common among many species in the wild. Natural selection allows individuals with traits desirable for survival to multiply, and quite often, individuals with similar traits are related. Due to the genetic strength of the said desirable trait, paired individuals pass on those valuable traits to their offspring, with the doubling up of those genes (known as homozygosis) - thus creating another healthy generation of the species to go on and multiply. Now, in the domestic dog world, natural selection doesn’t play a role. It’s left up to the breeder to decide which animal should be paired with which. An experienced and knowledgeable breeder will want to use animals that are pre-potent in health, type and temperament. The key is using excellent specimens, pre-potent, healthy and of superior genetics, whether they have common ancestry or not.

1st degree inbreeding is banned in all breeds within the ANKC, Australia wide. It just doesn’t happen and those who say it does are not being truthful. While linebreeding does occur, it is predominantly done in the 3rd and 4th generation. After the 5th generation it is considered negligible. When done correctly by experienced and knowledgeable breeders using healthy, tested dogs of correct type and temperament, the aim is to double up on desirable traits both phenotypically (traits we can see) and genotypically (genetic makeup). There is a higher chance of doubling up on good healthy traits, of course, only if genetically healthy specimens are used. When done erroneously, by inexperienced breeders using genetically unhealthy, untypical specimens – naturally, this may result in the doubling up of undesirable traits therefor, producing undesirable, unhealthy specimens.

So, in a nutshell : Linebreeding is the doubling up of a common ancestor and should only occur when using strong, pre-potent and healthy individuals that have superior genetics for improvement of the breed.

****There are claims out there by groups who like to suggest that matings are done between Brother & Sister, Father and Daughter, Mother and Son, this is simply NOT TRUE. The fact of the matter is, most French Bulldogs in Australia, will have common ancestry in the pedigree.

What is the average price I should expect to pay for a French Bulldog Puppy?

The current average price for a puppy from fully health tested parents is $3,500 - $4,000.

Do breeders usually pass on their costs to the puppy buyers, eg: imported stud dog or semen results in higher costs of puppies?

Importing dogs and semen is expensive. Breeding dogs is expensive. At best, breeders hope to cover their costs when breeding a litter. More often than not, with small litters the costs substantially outweigh the monies recouped in puppy sales.   However, if you are buying a puppy as a companion animal, the price should not be inflated more than the average price for a puppy.

Does a higher price mean a better quality puppy?

NO!!! The price is not indicative of quality. Such a price is unfortunately usually relative to what the public will pay.

Quality to an owner should relate to how well one can talk to and relate to the breeder, both before and after purchasing the puppy. Trust and reliability in the documentation of the puppy, its health testing and that of its parents should form a solid basis for quality.

Quality relates to the health and soundness of the puppy you are purchasing, whether for a pet or a show dog.

If you, as a member of the public, wish to spend an exorbitant amount of money for a so-called ‘rare’ colour, that is your prerogative. However, please ensure all the correct (and complete) health testing has been carried out on the parents of the puppy prior to purchase, this includes certified     radiographs of the spines and hips and DNA testing for all hereditary conditions, not just colour. Be sure to request and sight ALL documentation.

Need further information or advice?

Please contact your state French Bulldog Club, the ANKC, Dogs NSW or your state Canine Registry. They should be happy to provide you with answers you seek and point you in the right direction.