Outcross as an option for a long-term improvement of the Frenchies
The breeding of our bulldogs has been overtyped by certain breed characteristics, such as short noses, short backs and rods, exaggerated wrinkles, etc. over many generations into a dead end, and has harmed health. In addition there was the bad breeding habit of the narrow breeding up to the inbreeding, which is still operated in some circles.
Exterally perfect appearing dogs have tremendous problems with breathing under stress, others suffer from deformed spines, HD and other malformations of the skeleton, autoimmune diseases and/or allergies.
Some breeders have recognized the problem and are willing to turn away from these misinterpreted breeding goals. You can still find the vital, standard but not over-typed bully type, which is often only smiled at compassionately by judges at international shows.
Outsiders, veterinarians and geneticists will quickly recognize the torment breeding in the misbred dogs of our breed, and would like to solve it quickly by crossbreeding. At first that sounds like a simple solution. But how do you proceed, how do you cross out again, or breed back?
Here is the important question: Who really does it with heart and mind? The often demanded tolerance and reason to look beyond statutes and over association borders in order to vary the pure-bred Bully is being stubbornly ignored.
Cross breeding without strict offspring control and uniform specifications and restrictions for genetic illnesses, literally breeding after "honor code", will produce further cute puppies, but not necessarily a health improvement of a breed.
We consider the following suggestions meaningful, in order to counteract the inbreeding degeneration by lacking variability of the breeding animals, without resorting to the crossing of foreign breeds.
The desire to cross affected breeds with another one and to cross back after the considerable defects have subsided would be unnessary if existing breeding standards were to apply for the benefit of the dog and not only for pure beauty aspects.
A further problem is the breeders desire to stick to the FCI standards. It is without problems possible to breed with longer noses and tails. Only these two serious breeding goals could significantly improve the problems of the Brachycephal Breathing Syndrome and hemivertebraes.
The worn out argument of the limited gene pool is untenable, because there are still stable bullylines in other European countries beyond the exaggeratedly used Popular Sires. One may also look specifically for somewhat undertyped bullys, in order to loosen up the overtyping, which has solidified in some lines and is a health hazard. This could be a wonderful possibility of bringing in fresh blood and less exaggerated optical characteristics into your own breeding. Of course this also means that you should start thinking of moving beyond rigid association and club regulations.
All these thoughts of crossbreeding would be obsolete if strict veterinary examinations of the breeding animals and offspring were a matter of course.
For the aforementioned problems, an independent examination of the spine and the verifiable unhindered breathing of the dogs is necessary, which ideally takes place through a CT examination. The unconditional consequence of sincere breeders not to use unsuitable animals for breeding is desirable, even if ways for breeding permission would offer themselves.
All these thoughts of crossbreeding would be obsolete if international gene banks with semen from different populations were available.
This would allow a recovery of the gene pool in a few generations and the elimination of breeding restrictions. Independently assessed males with comprehensible ancestors are a basic prerequisite.
But even nationwide available healthy breeding animals could contribute significantly to the health of the breed, if a new modern association policy, seriously controlled by an umbrella organization, would allow this.
There are over 400 recognized dog breeds. Each one originally had its sense in appearance, character and suitability. This selection should be sufficient. We don't need "designer dogs", whose alleged necessity arises under the guise of health. Breeds have or had their meaning. However, they need a strong lobby, responsible breeders and enlightened, interested puppy buyers who understand why they have chosen this breed.
BUT: We don't need any taboos in dog breeding when the breed is as heavily burdened as the French Bulldogs are. We don't need another breed desaster as we see it with the English bulldog, the Pugs and the Cavaliers.
Purebreed FCI French Bulldog
Special case of chondrodystrophy
As a chondrodystrophe breed, the Bully is predominantly loaded with two copies of the defect gene on chromosome 12. As this is an autosomal dominant inheritance, even dogs with only one copy as a designated carrier can fall ill with premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs and thus fall into the risk group. This does not mean that these dogs with the changed intervertebral discs inevitably have to suffer problems and herniated discs, but the chance increases as carriers or sufferers of this defect. Why some people get seriously ill from the consequences of calcification early on and others remain healthy until old age without symptoms has not been researched. Certainly one can influence the course with moderate rearing, nutrition and physical strain and training, but this is not scientifically proven.
An attempt to cross this defect gene out with a foreign cross is a sensible idea that could be pursued. Such a project should be double tracked. On the one hand we need healthy, examined carrier bulldogs, on the other hand of course an equally well evaluated foreign breed, which is free of this defect and suitable as a crossbreeding breed. A planned crossbreeding with rebreeding would also have a positive influence on other breed related characteristics like wedge vortex formation, BOAS, corkscrew rod etc.
Breeding trials with dogs which correspond to the phenotype of the French Bulldog and which have been extensively evaluated should not be rejected before one accepts that hereditary damage cannot be regulated. So-called false colours can also be re-bred in standard colours.
Robinow-Syndrome in Bulldogs?
Please click on picture.