French Bulldog Breeding Ethics
My name is Dr. Marika Zoll. I am a doctor of psychology but have furthered my education in genetics and animal behavioral psychology and would love to share with you some of what I have learned. I have been breeding French Bulldogs now for approximately 8 years and can tell you that I’ve learned an awful lot and probably the most from my own mistakes that I have made. The biggest one was the first one that put me on the edge of my seat when my first litter of puppies produced six puppies seemingly healthy but one entirely deaf which we did not realize until it was four months old. It was only then that I was forced to do the research and wondered if this was entirely an accident or something that I could have controlled. I came to understand the science behind breeding together two animals that have the majority of their bodies white or missing of color. I did in fact breed together a male that was white with cream colored spots and a female that was white with brindle colored spots. I was hoping for a bunch of puppies with all kinds of different colored spots having no idea that this would be a recipe for disaster if you consider being deaf a downfall. The reason for this is that the white colored gene bonds itself to the deaf gene. This is a likely circumstance in all species of animals including human albinos and white goldfish included. Any creature that carries an abundance of white genes is also carrying deaf genes and for an unknown reason those genes are attracted to each other and travel most times in pairs. This means that when there are present white genes you have deaf genes. I hope that you remember that part in basic science class where genes are dominant and recessive and depending upon the combination two dominant genes will show its face more easily than a recessive gene. The white gene or lighter colored gene is considered a recessive gene. A dark black or brindle colored gene is considered dominant. When two dark colored creatures breed together the odds are in favor that the babies produced will also be dark unless either one of those dark breeding creatures has a parent that is of a light color which is then an indicator that the dark-colored animal is also carrying the lighter recessive color gene. So initially, understanding recessive and dominant nature of genes, I presumed that if I was breeding together two light colored dogs this would increase my chances for a light colored dog however I did not know about the combination of the light white gene color with the deaf gene. What I was also assuring myself of, then unknowingly, is a bigger chance of deafness because both parents are carrying the deaf gene in this type of a breeding situation. This being the case with six puppies in a litter my chances were increased by six times that I had the chance of a puppy retaining death genes from both the mother and father which would indeed result in deafness somewhere in that breeding.
Good breeding practices are to NOT breed together two animals that one knowingly understands could produce an animal of a less perfect quality. Breeding an animal just for money purposes when one knows that it’s possible to have a deaf offspring is, in my opinion, irresponsible and selfish behavior.
When looking for a puppy as a pet and you prefer a light colored dog it would be a good idea to always be certain that you know who the parents were and that one of those parents most definitely should have been a dark solid colored dog. If it was not and there were two light-colored dogs bred together then you must have your puppy tested for hearing.
Whether you are a breeder already or are thinking about breeding please don’t do it just for the money. Do it wisely and don’t make choices that can result in unhealthy puppies. It is these kind of breeders that gives a bad name to breeding in general and are often referred to as backyard breeders. Please don’t be one of them! Take this new found knowledge to heart and encourage good healthy puppies. Don’t just put together two white animals unless you’re certain that there is some color in the line/relatives somewhere. I don’t know how this applies to breeds that are only white such as a Maltese but in my education my understanding is that those dogs also carry the deaf gene so get your puppy tested for hearing if that’s the breeding of your choice.
AUTHOR: The author is Dr. Marika Zoll. She is clinical psychologist and also a breeder of French Bulldogs. You can see more of her work with dogs at her website http://frenchbulldogsla.com.