The French bulldog is the UK’s most popular dog breed bar none, but they are also a breed that suffers from more than their fair share of health problems. Dogs that are bred for extreme exaggerations (such as a very flat face) suffer from a range of health issues as a result of their conformation, which can have a huge impact on their quality of life and even shorten their lifespan.
Unfortunately, there is a high level of demand for very flat-faced and highly exaggerated French bulldogs, many of whom cannot breathe properly even at rest, and will be plagued with health problems throughout their lives. Additionally, so-called rare colours (which fall outside of the breed standard) are in equally high demand, something else that is of concern to responsible French bulldog breeders and breed clubs.
A lack of knowledge on the part of first-time French bulldog buyers and a significant number of unscrupulous breeders who cash in on this is making the problem worse – and makes it hard for prospective French bulldog buyers to know how to choose a healthy dog.
In order to improve the health of the breed as a whole and to make it easier for French bulldog puppy buyers to identify healthy pups, the French Bulldog Club of England has devised a health testing scheme for French bulldogs, consisting of three certification levels.
These are bronze, silver and gold respectively – and whilst a certificate does not guarantee future good health, buying a French bulldog puppy whose parents have a certificate from the scheme can help to ensure that your pup will have the best possible chance of being healthy.
In this article we will explain what the bronze, silver and gold health certificates for French bulldogs mean, and what dogs need to achieve to earn certification. Read on to learn more.
The French bulldog health scheme that awards bronze, silver and gold certificates is overseen by the French Bulldog Club of England, which is a Kennel Club affiliated breed club that works to educate French bulldog owners and buyers and improve the breed’s health.
Participation in the scheme is voluntary, and open to all French bulldog owners including those who are not members of the club itself.
Participating dogs must be Kennel Club registered pedigrees, over the age of 12 months, and microchipped or marked with an identification tattoo.
Whether or not any given breeder decides to breed from their dog or not based on the results their dog achieves in health testing is up to them, but the Club advises that dogs showing any signs of suffering from BOAS (including those that have had corrective surgery for BOAS) should not be bred from, and nor should dogs with spine, back or neck problems.
When a French bulldog has undergone the checks and tests necessary for bronze, silver or gold certification, this information can be used in adverts and provided to puppy buyers to demonstrate both the health of the parent stock, and the breeder’s investment in quality and breed health.
In order to undergo testing for certification, the dog in question must have been DNA tested to confirm that they don’t possess the genes for one of the breed’s undesirable and disallowed colours, then take a form along to their vet who will score the dog in accordance with the relevant areas of the form.
This form and DNA evidence is then sent off to the French Bulldog Club of England, who verify it and issue the appropriate certificate.
In order to achieve the bronze health certificate, French bulldogs have to undergo the following examinations:
The bronze certificate is essentially a record of participation in the scheme, rather than a surety of health or a recommendation to puppy buyers.
In order to achieve the silver health certificate, French bulldogs have to fulfil the following criteria:
In order to achieve the gold health certificate, French bulldogs must meet the following criteria:
The gold health certificate is the highest and most comprehensive level achievable for the French bulldog – and gives potential puppy buyers the greatest level of reassurance of future health. However, it is vital to remember that an excellent result in grading for one of the parents of a litter is meaningless unless the other dog also achieves the same results – so ensure that you ask to see the certification for both the dam and the sire, before you commit to a purchase.