A dog charity has voiced welfare concerns over the rising popularity of a famous and trendy breed which originates from a key chapter in Nottinghamshire’s history.
The breed, regularly photographed as the pet of choice among celebrities, is on course to overtake the Labrador as Britain’s favourite dog later this year.
However the increasing demand has raised concerns over the dogs’ health and welfare, as some have suffered from the affects of irresponsible breeding.
Nottinghamshire has the strongest claim for being the breed’s place of origin, according to the Kennel Club, the UK’s dog show and breeding governing body.
When Nottingham lace makers were threatened by redundancy during the Industrial Revolution in the 1850s, many emigrated to Northern France and took their Bulldog breed dogs with them.
The dogs became popular in local areas, and it is thought that some crosses were made to other short-faced breeds, which after three decades evolved as a new breed known as the French Bulldog.
However recent figures from the Kennel Club, which keeps records of Britain’s pedigree dogs, show that there has been a 47 per cent rise in the number of French Bulldogs registered with it in the past year alone.
The breed has seen a 368 per cent increase since 2012, and there are now more than 14,500 French Bulldogs registered with the charity.
The organisation says it is seeing more and more of the dogs being dumped at rescue centres across the UK, which it says is partly down to people not doing research before buying them.
The dogs, which have to be bred by artificial insemination due to having extremely slim hips, often suffer from breathing problems due to their flat face, and around 80 per cent of females end up having a Caesarean section when giving birth.
Kennel Club representative David Robinson said: “There is always a concern when any breed of dog increases in popularity as this opens up a market for breeders who want to ‘cash in’ on the trend.
“The rise in French Bulldogs has gone up by a staggering level – which we believe is partly down to celebrities making them become more fashionable – and many people buy them without doing any research beforehand, and then realise the dog does not fit in with their lifestyle.
“Another concern is that they are often bred to have extremely flat faces as people think this looks cuter, so many French Bulldogs suffer from breathing problems as a result.”
- Retriever (Labrador) – 33,856 (32,507)
- Spaniel (Cocker) – 21,854 (22,577)
- Bulldog – 21,470 (14,607)
- Pug – 10,408 (10,087)
- Spaniel (English Springer) – 9,827 (10,246)
- Bulldog – 7,785 (6,960)
- German Shepherd Dog – 7,751 (7,783)
- Retriever (Golden) – 7,232 (6,928)
- Miniature Schnauzer – 5,437 (5,302)
- Border Terrier – 5,150 (5,426)
Source: Kennel Club
The Kennel Club estimates that only 30 per cent of French Bulldogs in the UK are registered with them, and many are illegally imported from Eastern Europe.
David said: “French Bulldogs are a charming breed, but when they are not cared for properly they can develop behaviour problems.
“We advise people to do their research before buying one and make sure that they are buying from a sensible, Kennel Club-assured breeder.
“Anyone getting any puppy should visit it with the mother before buying it, which will give a good indication about the breeder and the health of the dogs.”
Lucy Giacone, co-owner of The Speciality Coffee Shop, on Friar Lane, Nottingham has had her French Bulldog, Stitch, for two years.
She said: “We got him in London when he was seven months old. He was like a rescue dog because his old owner couldn’t look after him anymore.
“He already had some illnesses, like conjunctivitis, skin problems and a possible allergy – but we really wanted him so it didn’t matter.”
Lucy and her partner, Michelangelo, carried out research before getting Stitch, so were aware of possible health problems the breed is prone to.
She said: “French Bulldogs are used in a lot of adverts now so this could have caused the trend – but we didn’t get Stitch for that reason.
“I don’t agree with them being bred unnaturally – if they can’t do it properly then they shouldn’t do it at all, but if you know the mum and dad, and they are kept well then I don’t see a problem.”