• French Bulldog set to overtake the Labrador Retriever as the UK’s most popular dog breed by the end of 2018 – the first time the Labrador will have been knocked off the top spot in 27 years
• Kennel Club registration figures show that the French Bulldog, owned by celebrities such as the Beckhams, Lady Gaga and Leonardo DiCaprio, will overtake current second most popular breed, the Cocker Spaniel, within months and the Labrador within two years if its popularity keeps increasing
• French Bulldog saw a 47 per cent increase in the last year alone, a 368 per cent rise in the past five years and has increased by more than a staggering 3,000 per cent in the past ten years
• Kennel Club warns that people buying the breed on a whim could lead to a welfare crisis and urges puppy buyers to consider other breeds that might be more suited to their lifestyle
The French Bulldog, a breed favoured by celebrities such as the Beckhams, Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman, is set to overtake the Labrador as the UK’s most popular breed of dog, according to statistics released by the Kennel Club, ahead of its annual Crufts event.
The popularity of the breed has seen an unprecedented rise in recent years, with a 47 per cent increase from 2015 to 2016 alone, a 368 per cent increase in the past five years (2012 to 2016) and a staggering 3,104 per cent increase over the last ten years (2007 to 2016).
If this trend continues, the Kennel Club forecasts that the breed could be the most popular dog breed in the UK by the end of 2018, a title long held by the Labrador. The Labrador has been the most popular dog breed in the UK since 1990 – the year it overtook the Yorkshire Terrier. The French Bulldog is set to overtake the current second most popular breed, the Cocker Spaniel, which is ahead by only 384 puppy registrations, within a couple of months.
The Kennel Club is concerned that the dramatic increase in numbers of French Bulldogs is due to people choosing the breed because of how it looks and because it is considered to be a fashionable choice, rather than because it is the most suitable breed for their lifestyle.
Furthermore, Kennel Club registrations only account for around 30 per cent of the total population of dogs in the UK so there are concerns that the number of French Bulldogs in the country is likely to be far higher in reality, including undocumented and unregistered dogs and dogs that have been brought into the country illegally from Eastern Europe.
Sudden boosts in popularity of certain breeds can result in a huge market opening up for unscrupulous breeders to sell to. They often churn out puppies with little or no regard for their health and welfare, solely for profit, because they know they can sell them easily. There is also growing concern amongst animal charities about the number of puppies being smuggled in illegally from Eastern Europe. This highlights the importance of anyone intent on owning a French Bulldog going to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, or considering a rescue dog.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “While the French Bulldog is a lovely breed, it is very unwise for anyone to buy one simply because they think it looks cute or is a fashionable choice. Anyone doing so could inadvertently be contributing to an impending welfare crisis.
“The breed is a favourite with celebrities, who often flaunt them on their Instagram and Twitter accounts for people to coo over. While it’s normal to want to show off your dog, when celebrities do it, it usually results in a surge in the popularity of certain breeds, which is not a good thing as it opens the doors to unscrupulous breeders who see it as an opportunity to breed lots of them without due care to health and welfare.
“French Bulldogs can be bred with exaggerated features, including extremely flat faces, which can cause health issues – many of which owners are not aware of before they buy, which can sadly result in the emotional stress of having a sickly dog and high veterinary bills, highlighting how crucial is it for anyone intent on owning a French Bulldog to go to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.
“Without a doubt the most important thing is for people to do the proper research before deciding on a breed. The great thing about pedigree dogs is that they come with a high level of predictability, so people can work out which breed would be the best fit for their lifestyle based on things like temperament, how much exercise the dog will need and any relevant health concerns. With all the information available these days, and with events like Crufts coming up in March where people can meet around 200 breeds and speak to experts in each one, there really is no excuse for buying a dog that is not a good match for you.”
The Kennel Club is also concerned that, because the French Bulldog is not a suitable choice for everyone, people buying one without doing their research will then have to give the dog over to a rescue centre when they realise they cannot care for it.
Jackie Mavro-Michaelis, Secretary of the Pennine and Scottish French Bulldog Association, said: “French Bulldog welfare services are getting more and more dogs through their doors, so there is a genuine concern that we could be facing a welfare crisis if their numbers keep increasing.
“The fact that we used to have one welfare service for the breed, and now we have three because of the increase in numbers, is concerning in itself and the breed could be in real trouble if people let impulsiveness take over and rush out to buy a French Bulldog without knowing much about the breed.
“To anyone looking for a French Bulldog, we would suggest researching suitable alternative breeds first, but those intent on owning one should contact the relevant breed clubs for advice, go to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, and make sure they are buying a puppy with two health tested parents.”
The Kennel Club is urging anyone who wants to get a French Bulldog to consider other breeds that are similar to it in terms of temperament and care requirements, but that might be more suited to their lifestyle and home environment. Examples of suitable alternatives include the Miniature Schnauzer, Beagle, Border Terrier and Welsh Terrier. The Breed Information Centre on the Kennel Club website gives information on each breed of dog, including details on exercise and care requirements, the type of lifestyle each breed is likely to be suitable for, and health considerations for each breed.
The Kennel Club is also inviting people to come and meet the breed at the Discover Dogs zone at Crufts from 9th-12th March 2017, at the NEC in Birmingham, find out more about whether or not it is the right breed for them. Visitors can meet around 200 other breeds of dog and can find out which ones are best suited to their lifestyle.
The Kennel Club’s Breed Information Centre can be found at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/.
Further information on Crufts can be found at www.crufts.org.uk