Nova Scotia

Popularity of French bulldogs has downside, say breeders

Owners of French bulldogs in the Halifax region have a warning for people who want to get a "Frenchie" — do your homework.

Advocates for the breed are concerned some puppies are sold too young

Andrea Francheville with Ocean and Lisa Wagner and her dog Maple Leaf. (CBC)

Owners of French bulldogs in the Halifax region have a warning for people who want to get a "Frenchie" — do your homework.

Susanne MacLeod, who bought her first 10 years ago, created a French bulldog group on Facebook that's grown over the past few years to more than a 100 members. 

"The primary focus of this group is to educate people," said MacLeod. "There are always going to be somebody who's going to sell Frenchies and breed Frenchies for a cash grab."

The cost of a French bulldog puppy can range from $2,500 to $3,500.

The breed is popular right now. 

"They are a breed like no other," said MacLeod. "They are like little human beings, their personalities, their love, their joy, I can't say enough."

Lisa Wagner holds her dog, Maple Leaf. She's concerned some people breed for the money.

The breed can come with a long list of health problems and that has led to unprepared owners walking away from the dogs and very expensive vet bills. That's why the French Bulldog Rescue Network has been set up.

"Our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome Frenchies," said Andrea Francheville, who's part of the network. "We spend the majority of our time getting them healthy and sending them out to new homes."

Francheville now has a rescue named Ocean with severe allergies, breathing issues and spinal problems.

"She was originally a puppy-mill dog from the Ukraine," Francheville said.

Use reputable breeders

The Nova Scotia SPCA recommends using reputable breeders and not buying animals from people who advertise on Kijiji where dogs are sometimes offered at discount prices.

Owner Lisa Wagner said that advice is even more important for French bulldogs.

"It makes me really, really mad that those people just breed for the money," she said. "They don't care about the puppies' health."

Wagner has owned a French bulldog named Maple Leaf for two years. She bought her dog from a breeder in New Brunswick. Wagner says Maple Leaf has more European blood lines and so far is strong and healthy.

Most dogs can be separated from their mothers at eight weeks, but for French bulldogs some breeders recommend between 10 and 12 weeks. (Facebook)

Advocates for the breed have a new concern. They're worried about French bulldog puppies being sold too young, at five or six weeks old.

"I've seen a couple and they weren't in the greatest condition," said Wagner, who also works in a pet store. "They were just way too young to be away from mom."

The SPCA says there's no minimum age, but all puppies that are sold have to come with a veterinarian's certificate of health. SPCA officials say vets are unlikely to sign off on a puppy that is too young.

A woman in Dartmouth who's sold French bulldogs says her puppies are a minimum of eight weeks and can be up to 10 weeks old before they go to new homes. 

Shouldn't mother till 10-12 weeks

"I've had no complaints," said Nicole MacLellan. "All the puppies have their needles, are dewormed and come with papers from my vet."

Most dogs can be separated from their mothers at eight weeks, but for French bulldogs some breeders recommend between 10 and 12 weeks.

French bulldog advocates say prospective owners should check out the background of the breeder; good breeders usually have waiting lists of six months to a year.

They say you should also ask to see the parents of any puppy you are purchasing and check any documentation carefully to see that health certificates are actually signed. 

The breed can come with a long list of health problems. (Facebook)

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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