French bulldog goes into 2019 as the UK’s number one dog breed

French bulldog goes into 2019 as the UK’s number one dog breed

Breed Facts

French bulldogs are hugely popular in the UK, and most of us see one or more of them during the average day when we walk our own dogs and allow them to socialise in the dog park or local dog-friendly areas. As well as the French bulldogs we see out and about, they are also a hugely popular breed used within advertising and marketing campaigns featuring dogs, both for pet-specific products and for all manner of other things too!

The widespread use of Frenchies in the media both reflects the breed’s popularity and has helped to contribute to it as well, as has ownership of the breed by a number of high-profile celebrities too.

But how popular exactly is the French bulldog, and why? Well, in terms of Kennel Club registrations of pedigree puppies during 2018, the French bulldog surpassed the Labrador retriever for the first time to take the top spot for new puppy registration numbers, a position that the Lab had previously held since 1992.

The popularity of the French bulldog in the UK is something that we here at Pets4Homes have been monitoring too, and as the UK’s largest, busiest and most popular pet classifieds and advice website, we have some insights into the breed’s rise to fame too.

We collate information about individual dog breeds and types based on the number of adverts for different dog breeds offered for sale here and our buyer searches, which reflect both registered pedigree French bulldogs and also, unregistered or non-pedigree dogs of the breed too.

This helps us to build up a more comprehensive picture of the full story of each breed’s popularity, reflecting the market for dogs bought and sold itself rather than simply new puppy registrations year on year.

In terms of Pets4Homes popularity data, the French bulldog has been the UK’s most popular dog breed since 2016, and they have remained firmly in the top spot ever since.

At the time of writing on the 31st December 2018, there were a total of 1,695 French bulldogs offered for sale on Pets4Homes, whilst the second most popular dog breed in the UK overall based on our ratings system (the Chihuahua) had a total of 644 dogs offered for sale, which goes some way towards demonstrating just how popular the French bulldog is, even compared to the next dog down in the top ten list.

In this article we will examine the rise to prominence of the French bulldog and seek to explain why this breed has become – and remains – so popular in the UK, as well as adding a few cautions and caveats about the breed for anyone looking for a French bulldog for sale in 2019. Read on to learn more.

French bulldogs have only become really popular in the UK relatively recently

Up until around 10-15 years ago, French bulldogs were so uncommon within the UK that really only people who know dogs as a whole very well or the Frenchie breed in particular would have been able to confidently identify a dog of the breed if they saw them.

The Boston terrier, which is in some ways similar to the Frenchie at a glance (but that has many notable differences) were more common, and the two breeds are still quite easy to confuse with each other if you don’t know them well.

French bulldogs have been popular in their home nation of France for much longer of course, and they also have a rather longer history of being very popular in the USA than they do in the UK.

As we get a lot of our TV and films from the USA (and now have the option of a huge number of TV streaming subscription services from all over the world to choose from too) French bulldogs began to filter into the awareness of UK dog owners, and interest in the breed began to grow.

This was reflected in an increase in the number of French bulldogs imported to the UK as breeding stock, and also Frenchies bred on our shores to meet the demand for dogs of the breed.

As French bulldog numbers in the UK began to grow, more and more dog owners got to see them and get to know them, which resulted in a snowball effect that saw the Frenchie increase in popularity at an unprecedented rate over the course of just a few years, seeing a huge 342% increase in puppy registrations of dogs of the breed in the UK between 2013-2017, ultimately resulting in the Frenchie knocking the Lab off the top spot in 2018.

French bulldogs can make for great pets

So, what’s so great about the French bulldog? Every single French bulldog owner in the UK will have a different answer to this question, but here are some of the main pros of owning a dog of the breed:

  • They’re undeniably cute and quirky looking.
  • They are a small dog breed, which makes them versatile enough to suit most homes, including those that would not be suitable for a larger dog.
  • Their coats are low maintenance and low shedding.
  • They are better with children than most other dog breeds.
  • They are not the most demanding breed to exercise.
  • They are relatively straightforward to teach basic commands to.
  • They are a good choice of dog for first-time dog owners who do plenty of research before making a purchase.
  • They are comical, entertaining little dogs that are a pleasure to have around.
  • They are very loving and affectionate, and form strong bonds with their owners.

…But the breed is one that has a significant number of issues

The huge and rapid rise in French bulldog popularity has in many ways harmed the breed more than it has helped it, and today’s French bulldogs run the risk of inheriting a wide number of conformation defects and hereditary health problems from their parents.

The Kennel Club actually previously classed the French bulldog as a high-profile dog breed due to its health concerns and added them to their Breed Watch scheme as a result of this, although progress in improving the health of the breed as a whole in recent years saw the Frenchie dropped down to category two in October 2013.

However, a very large proportion of French bulldogs in the UK have a hereditary predisposition to congenital and inherited health issues nonetheless, such as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome and other problems that can develop in dogs with conformation exaggerations such as a very flat face, or due to selective breeding that results in hereditary health issues being passed on to future litters.

Added to this, unregistered and non-pedigree French bulldogs aren’t reflected within the Kennel Club’s breed watch schemes, and the lack of health testing protocols and the rising popularity of uncommon and unrecognised colours within the breed has meant that the purchase price commanded for non-pedigree French bulldogs is still high enough to incentivise breeders.

This provides an incentive for unscrupulous French bulldog breeders to produce litters that are bred for conformation exaggerations that can cause health problems, that are unrecognised colours, or that are not produced from health-tested parents.

Thousands of French bulldog buyer every year unwittingly find themselves owning and caring for a dog with health issues that are apt to be expensive to correct or manage, and that may affect the dog for the entire duration of their lives, due to a lack of research and a poor understanding into the challenges faced by the breed as a whole.

Even many of the French bulldogs used in advertising display clear and sometimes significant conformation flaws that are likely to result in health problems, which further worsens the issues as this type of exposure normalises owner’s expectations of a certain type of appearance that is not always in the best interests of the dogs themselves.

If you are considering buying a French bulldog in 2019, do not rush into the decision. Do plenty of research into the breed using reputable sources to find out about its core traits, health, health problems and available health testing schemes, and ensure that you know what you are getting into well before you start looking to make your purchase.

Choose your breeder carefully, seeking a breeder who produces healthy, health tested litters that are registered with the Kennel Club, and don’t let those big eyes and flat faces staring down at you from a TV screen or a billboard encourage you to make a decision that you may regret later on.



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