Phoenix French Bulldog Rescue launched the National French Bulldog Health Testing Programme© in June 2021, offering a greater depth of health-testing for all French Bulldogs of any colour, KC registered or otherwise. The programme has been compiled with breed experts and health specialists and aims to offer a simplified documentation process for those who test simply to know more about their dogs, or for those who actively breed and want to demonstrate their health prowess. It is massive feather in the cap of Phoenix that we are honoured to have added to our remit, and addresses gaps in health-testing previously highlighted by many who want to breed their dogs ethically.
As a rescue, we are over-run with French Bulldogs suffering with various medical issues that are all too common to the breed, and we feel that as well as being here to pick up the pieces of indiscriminate over-breeding and unscrupulous selling, as well as those surrendered to us for very genuine reasons and in excellent health, we also need to play a key role in the welfare of the breed. It is not enough for us to simply mend these dogs; we need to be proactive in improving their future health.
The inaugural event, held on Sunday 18th July 2021, was a huge success and further dates and venues will be announced in due course. Various specialists and vets will be on hand to offer testing in their chosen areas of health, and these findings will be recorded in a Health Passport© for each dog, at a one-off cost of £10. The data collected from the inaugural, and future events and tests, will be collated onto a central database by Phoenix FBR for use in various health screening projects, to assist in the understanding and improvement of breed health. The Kennel Club, Cambridge Veterinary College and Dick White Referrals are amongst those involved with this project, as it is essential that the data we produce is to the highest standards and will be used to ensure better breeding standards; however, first we need to understand where the breed is right now.
The programme does not necessarily require you to attend events to take part, as many of the specialists and vets are able to do these tests and assessments in their own clinics. However, it is hoped that the events will provide better value for money and give you the chance to complete several tests in one visit. There will also be breed experts on hand so that you can ask questions. You may just like to come along with your dog to find out more before deciding whether to take part, but pet Frenchies are likely to be the greatest indicator of what is happening in the breed right now. Dogs of ‘non-standard’ colours have much to teach us but have been omitted from health studies until now but the time has come to accept that they are here to stay and colour is not necessarily an indicator of health. Phoenix FBR is happy to remain colour-blind, preferring to assess a dog on its health and character, rather than the colour of its coat. A holistic approach is essential for the conservation of healthy French Bulldogs, as seen in previous times. Health tests will cover all areas of Frenchie health and will not shy away from problem areas; instead, we will offer practical and realistic advice on how to help your dog if any problems exist. Of course, we know that many of you have some fabulously healthy dogs, and we want to see these and record their statistics too, because this programme will be entirely transparent and truthful, and all-encompassing.
It is intended that health-testing events will be held at regular intervals across the whole of the UK, including Ireland, and test availability at each one will vary, as may costs, so please see separate articles for what will be on offer at each event, and how to take part. We will aim to keep all test costs to a minimum to cover those of the specialists and the hire of venues etc. Any surplus funds will be donated to Phoenix FBR to aid our continued efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome French Bulldogs.
The Health Passport© will hold details of every aspect of your dog’s health and will include additional pages for you to add conditions/procedures outside the scheme, such as vaccinations, flea/worm treatments, any unexpected surgeries, even litters of that dog, so that you have a full record. The one assessment that will be guaranteed to happen at every event will be the Annual Visual Assessment (AVA), and this is the test that we would like everyone to undertake as a starter to their Passport. This will give a general overview of the dog and can highlight any areas that may need further examination. All tests and assessments are at the discretion of the owner. The Passports may be purchased at any time, directly from Phoenix FBR, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tests and assessments which will be detailed in the Health Passport© will be as follows*:
Annual Visual Assessment (AVA)
Respiratory Function Grading (BOAS) including nare grading (nostrils) by the Kennel Club and the University of Cambridge’s Respiratory Function Grade Scheme approved assessors
Temperament Testing – very new and exciting
Dermatological Assessment (to include skin, paws and ears)
Genetic Testing – a basic panel and other optional availability
Eye Testing (BVA and general)
Ear Assessment (inc BAER if deafness is suspected)
Spinal Assessment and grading, to include caudal vertebrae (tails)
For those who breed or show their dogs, we will accept certificates from other recognised health testing schemes, and these can be transferred to the Passport. The genetic testing panels meet the standards expected by the KC for Assured Breeders. As a rescue, Phoenix is not anti-breeders or puppy buying, as we appreciate that not everyone can take on a rescue dog and some people do prefer a puppy; with this in mind we merely seek to help make that a safer and more informed process.
It is expected that the Health Passport© will become a useful tool for those looking to buy puppies safely, as all the information will be instantly available in the handy A5 sized booklet and this will have been verified and stamped by Phoenix FBR at the time of data collection. Buying a healthy pup can be a minefield but this will be a tool that can be used to be sure you are not buying an unhealthy dog that may break your heart, and your bank account. Serial numbers in the Passports will mean that they can be checked against our database in instances of loss, omissions, or even potential fraudulent entries/reproductions.
All Phoenix Managers and Coordinators have been fully apprised of the scheme, and although it will run alongside the rescue aspect of our work, in its own right, they can all answer any general questions and guide you to the people you need to answer anything more complex.
Please do email us with any questions at email@example.com
* these may be changed in future editions if it is felt necessary to do so
Please note that the aforementioned Health Passport© is subject to copyright.