Many people over the past years have asked me this question: “what are the differences between standard and exotic coloured Bulldogs?” I want to answer this hot topic, on which there is an ongoing “feud” between factions and unfortunately are circulating false information that then goes viral, spreading “urban myths” on the subject.
The French Bulldog is the result from the cross-breeding of Bulldog-type dogs and Terrier-type dogs in the standard bringee, fawn, caille and fawn-white colourations, a colour that has always been part of this breed but has only recently been recognised. Subsequently, thanks to cross-breeding with breeds that are much healthier and more functional than the typical French Bulldog (with the great contribution of Staffordshires), the so-called exotic colours were selected, resulting in blue, choco, merle etc.
These colours have been highly appreciated throughout the world, but are not recognised by the International Canine Federation because the French Club that holds the breed standard has never allowed them. These colours, recognised in many other breeds, do not lead to health problems per se but, as they are not part of the history of the Bouledogue because they are the result of outcrosses with other breeds, they are considered genetic pollution. Exotics are therefore officially half-breeds, as they are not allowed by the French breed club, which has the exclusive right to apply to the FCI for the admission of new colours.
As far as the physical construction of the exotic coloured French Bulldogs is concerned, it must be acknowledged that it is similar to that of the FCI subjects, and deviates from the standard by coming closer to the morpho-functional health of the subjects due to the fact that the breeds used to obtain the exotic colouring are built in a much healthier way than the typical French Bulldog.
The three sensitive points of the French Bulldog are the brachycephalic skull, the descending dorsal line towards the front and the straight hindquarters. In the exotics we tend to have a more developed nasal duct with open nostrils, which reduces the incidence of the elongated soft palate making breathing much easier, a dorsal line parallel to the ground which reduces the problem of spinal hernias, a more angulated hindquarters which facilitates movement putting less stress on the hips and knees joints. We therefore have a tendentially healthier construction thanks to cross-breeding with breeds that do not have these sensitivities, whereas unfortunately many FCI standard Bouledogue breeders in the past have fallen into serious excesses, making the breed notorious for its physical problems. Let us also remember that genetic variability is the basis of every organism’s good health and the introduction of bloodlines that are not typical of the French Bulldog has brought a breath of fresh air, although slightly modifying its somatic traits towards a healthier and more functional construction.
The serious mistake that has been made by many breeders who are affectionate exclusively to the FCI Bouledogue is to frighten neophytes by boasting about serious health problems of exotic colours when it is the exact opposite, as I have just illustrated. Frightening people spreading articles with no scientific zootechnical basis whatsoever, puts neophytes in serious confusion, who tend to take everything they find on the internet for granted, as they have no direct experience on the matter. This has led to the making of urban myths about exotic colours, which are supposedly more delicate or created in the laboratory as a result of who knows what genetic experiments, but this is simply FALSE!
The problem for many breeders is that the general public is captivated by the beauty of blue, chocolate, merle and lilac French Bulldogs and this leads to a decline in interest in standard subjects, even if they are the offspring of award-winning breeders. Having bred both varieties I would recommend an FCI standard to all those who are passionate about the history of the breed, as cynophilia is culture and the preservation of pure breeds is part of the international zootechnical heritage, while I would recommend an exotic to all those who wish to have a Bulldog of attractive colouring, with reduced respiratory and articular sensitivity. Let’s also remember that every breed in the world was born from cross-breeding between other pre-existing breeds and from subjects native to the countries of origin and before an official recognition they were themselves cross-breeds, as exotics currently are, not having the approval and protection of the FCI, even though many other world associations are committed to their protection and selection.