You Be the Judge – the French Bulldog
by Robert Cole — Originally Pulbished in Dog News
Judge, Author and Illustrator Robert Cole presents us with an imaginary class of French Bulldogs. Draw on your knowledge of the breed standards to decide how to place the entries.
Before you uncover the 21 faults possessed by six inferior French Bulldog heads, and before you place four stacked French Bulldogs in order of merit, first examine this typical French Bulldog face-on head, and also compare the profile head drawing of a typical French Bulldog to the profile of at typical English bulldog to gain a fuller appreciation of the uniqueness of the French Bulldog head.
TWENTY-ONE HEAD FAULTS
- To elaborate on the Frenchie’s unique head I have drawn six inferior heads (shown below) that by way of their 21 defects expand on appreciation for correct.
- For instance, what major breed characteristic is absent on Head 1? What about the remaining 20 faults?
- Head 2 has three faults, Head 3 has five, Head 4 has six, Head 5 has five, and Head 6 has one fault, for a total of 21 faults depicted.
You have four French Bulldogs in this class and in order to focus attention on certain breed characteristics, I have arranged this judging scenario in such a way that you really have only two major decisions: first place and third place.
There is little difference in the four heads, and their tails are either correctly “straight” (spike) or “screwed” (but not curly). Necks are thick and well arched with loose skin at the throat. Bodies are short and well rounded. Chests are broad, deep and full. Forelegs are stout, straight and set well apart. Hind legs are strong and muscular with hocks well let down. The Standard includes muscular and heavy bone but makes no reference to angulation nor does it mention a shoulder blade, upper arm or stifle.
Your placement decisions should take into consideration: leg length, back roach with slight fall close behind the shoulders, bellies tucked up, breadth of chest, and depth of body (withers through down to brisket).
The revised AKC wording now relates the ratio of height to body length, but it does so in such a vague manner that the new wording will not help you, and I have not helped the cause since I have drawn these four dogs in the traditional head and front three-quarter angle, not in profile.
Rather than leave this gray area of correct height to body length ratio unanswered, I have also drawn what I believe the Standard means when it advises: “Proportion – the distance from withers to ground in good relation to distance from withers to onset of tail, so that the animal appears compact, well balanced and in good proportion” and placed the drawing at the end of this article. I should mention that it does not have official blessing, I am a committee of one and not a breeder.
In accordance with the revised Standard’s requirement for short forelegs, I believe Dog B’s leg length to be more correct and I placed him first. Second place goes to Dog A. Third place was the second of your major decisions. Bully Dog C has the most to offer the breed, I placed him third. Dog D is included mainly to strengthen your eye for type via departure, his level topline is a current concern in the breed.
QUESTION OF COLOR
Not a factor in this judging scenario, but it is nonetheless important to know that there are a variety of colors in the breed and that the 1991 revision continues to use a confusing way to list them in advising that: “the acceptable colors are: All brindle, fawn, white, brindle and white,” and then adds “and any color except those which constitute disqualification” as a sort of afterthought. It appears as if the intent of the Standard is to convey certain color preferences without actually using the word “preferred.”
Why are certain colors popular in the US but not necessarily overseas, such as all cream, and cream and white? Why are they not on the acceptable list? Why is pied not listed? Pied is thought by many Americans to be a Frenchie with any amount of white which technically is wrong. Overseas, pied is restricted officially to a predominance of white over brindle. What should the reaction of a judge be to a fawn pied?
Then there is the occurrence of white and brindle pieds where one of say three patches have no trace of brindle. Would this pied be treated like a black and white, or a white with black and be disqualified? And how many hairs constitute a “trace.”
A black dog is disqualified if “the black is without any trace of brindle.” How many hairs make up a trace? Would four brindle hairs on one front leg held up under a good strong light constitute a trace? How about one hair?
Light-colored French Bulldogs are permitted to have (“acceptable”) lighter colored noses, otherwise other than a black nose is a disqualification. What about a white and brindle pied with no color markings on head? A white and dark fawn pied? Speaking of head markings, are the people who maintain that head markings should be balanced correct? There is also the question of black eyelashes and eye rims on solids as well as pieds and the question of ticking in the white areas on pieds.
The revised wording clarifies many points and the Breed Standard Committee or Committees are to be commended for their contribution; I know how difficult it is to get worded agreement. However on body-length-to-height proportions, the committee fudged, preferring to publish a paragraph that meant nothing rather than publish nothing.
Not advised as to ideal ratio of body-length to height, I can as an artist provide my interpretation of “in good proportion,” whether I could get a breed committee to agree with me is not known. In my opinion this 1996 profile (devoid of distracting color markings) has correct body-length-to-height proportions. What do you think?
Before you answer with a simple yes or no, lets take full advantage of my French Bulldog depiction and consider a number of features that directly or indirectly influence good proportions by answering the following proportion questions. (Where the Standard provides a hint e.g., “slight” or “short”, quotation marks enclose the word).
Answer the following 11 questions.
Does this dog’s head fit its body?
Does the size of muzzle balance with size of skull?
Does the neck have sufficient length?
Is the body “short”?
Is the chest “deep”?
Is the body “well ribbed”? (meaning well ribbed up or… is the loin short?)
Is the belly “well” tucked up?
Does the degree of tuck up balance with degree of topline “roach”?
Are the forelegs “short”?
Are the hind legs “longer” than the forelegs?
How short is “short”, how deep is “deep” and to what degree is “well” a matter of interpretation, in this case visual. My opinion is in the form of a graphic statement. You don’t have to agree with me, you only have to answer yes or no to the way I have graphically answered each of the eleven questions. However if you disagree with any of my ideal proportions, a simple yes or no will not suffice, for this drawing then serves as a platform for dissent.