French Bulldogs are becoming ever more popular around the world, both for their cheerful personalities and adorable good looks.
This is fueling an increased demand for so-called "rare" French Bulldogs with unusual coat colors.
The latest fad focuses on a zebra French Bulldog – but does such a dog truly exist? Find out the real and the not-so-real news about the zebra French Bulldog in this article.
Zebra French Bulldog
Have you ever played an April Fools joke on someone, only to have them take it oh-so-seriously?
This is exactly what happened on April 1, 2020, when a French Bulldog-themed website posted an advertisement for a zebra French Bulldog.
The whole thing was simply a joke. But unfortunately, the way it was written made it sound like the real deal.
To add to the confusion, a similar post from about a year prior showed what looked like a real zebra French Bulldog. Read on to learn about the rest of this strangely true yet not-true story.
See a Zebra French Bulldog for Yourself
This YouTube video is the other post that seems to show a real zebra French Bulldog.
When the April Fool's joke from this past spring went live on social media, people found this video and assumed the zebra coat pattern on Frenchies was real.
But if they had taken the time to read the full description of the video, they would have learned the French Bulldog in question was simply sporting some very fancy makeup.
The Story Behind the Zebra French Bulldog Video
As iHeart Radio explains, the zebra makeup was part of an effort made to cheer up a family member who had just received some scary medical news.
The French Bulldog's name is Loki.
Loki's owner is a professional face and body make-up artist.
The make-up artist's sister had just received scary medical news, so Loki's owner decided that the sudden appearance of a white Siberian "tiger" might be just the thing to cheer her up!
So the make-up artist painted Loki to look just like a tiger and captured the whole thing on video.
But the artist made sure to point out in the show notes that the body paint was organic, water-based, and dog safe, and that they washed it off of Loki's coat right after the short video was taken.
However, when the April Fools joke about a "real" zebra-striped French Bulldog went live a year later, the video resurfaced. And this time very few people took any time to read the show notes before assuming the coat stripes were real.
Why Did the Website Post the April Fools Joke?
The owner of the website that posted the April Fools joke about a rare Zebra French Bulldog said they did it to promote unethical French Bulldog breeding practices that value coat color over canine health.
This is a valid concern that has become ever more urgent in the world of purebred dog breeding today.
But it does not affect only the French Bulldog breed.
In fact, many different purebred dog breeds are being harmed by uneducated or outright unethical breeding practices from backyard breeders, puppy mill breeding operations, and even some respected purebred dog breeders.
In 2008, a film came out called Pedigree Dogs Exposed. This film is what started the public outcry against damaging purebred dog breeding practices.
The Bark reported some dog breeds were already severely compromised health-wise before the documentary was even released.
While the film focused on English (UK) breeding practices and unethical practices amongst breeders associated with the United Kennel Club (UKC), the ripple effect soon spread worldwide.
People became more aware of the health issues associated with strict adherence to a breed standard for conformation (appearance) over a focus on breeding healthy dogs.
How Has the French Bulldog Breed Been Affected?
If you are reading this article right now, you probably care deeply about the health and longevity of the French Bulldog in your life and for that of the breed as a whole.
Unfortunately, as the Pedigree Dogs Exposed blog highlights, French Bulldogs have been quite severely impacted by breeding for conformation (appearance) rather than health.
On this blog post, you can see the marked difference in appearance between a former American Kennel Club (AKC) show champion French Bulldog and a newer line of French Bulldogs that a breeder is developing to try to ease their many breathing issues.
So let's take a look at the most pressing health concerns that the modern French Bulldog breed now faces based on trying to breed for a certain physical appearance only.
Lifelong respiratory distress
The story of the French Bulldog AKC champion, Arnie, is a worst-case scenario of what can happen when a breeder only cares about a dog's appearance.
As the blog post, you just read about Arnie's case highlights, many people who have severely ill Frenchies will relinquish them due to high medical bills.
Even Arnie's status as a former AKC champion didn't save him from being turned into a rescue shelter when he was no longer "useful" to his breeders.
Arnie had to undergo a number of surgeries to try to widen his nostrils and respiratory passages just so he could breathe at all. He had trouble with every single aspect of daily life, from walking to eating to sleeping, because of his severely flattened face.
Many people don't realize that dogs don't sweat the way people sweat.
Dogs can't sweat through their skin. They sweat through their paw pads and by panting.
But dogs with the brachycephalic ("short muzzle") shape that leads to flattened faces and constricted breathing also causes big problems when a French Bulldog overheats.
It is easy for a Frenchie to get overheated and pass out from heat exhaustion before they can cool themselves down.
Inability to breed and whelp naturally
The unnatural body structure of the French Bulldog, with the huge head and chest and narrow hindquarters and bowed legs, means that male dogs often struggle to successfully mate naturally with females.
A successful pairing often requires harvesting the sperm and using artificial insemination to implant it in the female.
When it comes time for the female to whelp (deliver the puppies) the narrow pelvis can cause the puppies to get stuck in the birth canal. This can be fatal for both mother and puppies.
So whelping a French Bulldog litter usually requires veterinary assistance in the form of a canine cesarean section (C-section).
Chronic eye issues
Yet another issue caused by the short muzzle face shape so prized among many purebred French Bulldog breeders is chronic eye issues.
Frenchies suffer from all kinds of eye problems related to how the eyelids form and function and how the eyelashes grow in.
Chronic dental issues
Still another chronic health issue that French Bulldogs and their owners must battle is dental problems.
The short, flat face shape means that the adult teeth often don't fit the way they should in the upper and lower jaws.
Overcrowding can cause teeth to become obstructed or impacted, to grow in on top of one another, or to grow in two or three teeth deep.
This makes brushing and dental hygiene extremely challenging and can often result in early issues with severe gingivitis and periodontal disease.
A sensitive stomach and gastric disturbance
Still another issue French Bulldogs have to face that is closely linked to the brachycephalic face shape is sensitive stomach and gastric disturbances.
Put bluntly, French Bulldogs pass a lot of gas. They also tend to have trouble drinking and eating and chewing and swallowing their food.
Frenchies often need special kibble that has a shape they find easier to grasp, chew, and swallow. And French Bulldogs tend to swallow a lot of air along with their food and water, which is yet another cause of upset stomach and passing wind.
What Will Fix the French Bulldog Breed Health Issues?
At this point, you might understandably be feeling concerned and discouraged about the state of the French Bulldog breed today.
The good news here is that these types of issues are no longer a secret that the purebred dog breeding community is keeping from Frenchie lovers and the rest of the world.
The bad news is that there is still a lot of resistance to changing the way the French Bulldog looks, even though that is what is needed to give these dogs better health and better quality of life.
You can do your part by only buying French Bulldogs from breeders who can demonstrate that their dogs have been bred for health rather than to conform to an outdated, dangerous breed standard.
You want your Frenchie to be able to breathe normally, to sleep soundly, to eat and drink easily, and to be able to play and enjoy a long life by your side.
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.