“Don’t Buy This Dog,” our December 9 cover story/rant about French bulldogs and their owners, generated an avalanche of reader comments via email and social media, some of which we share below.
Despite the passionate (and more than occasionally poison) pens wielded by most respondents, it isn’t hard to discern the depth of their love for their dogs. Similarly, the pointed prose of the story’s author, dog expert Michael Brandow, does not negate his central point: that Frenchies, widely popular in New York and beloved for their unique build and facial expressions, have been genetically engineered to suffer for their cuteness — a truth their owners often fail to acknowledge.
The Voice encourages readers to reach out and weigh in. The following letters have been edited for length, accuracy, and clarity.
Focus on the Truth
We all have dogs that we love and are hilarious. You know the breed doesn’t matter, be honest. He is 100% about the medical issues and the suffering these dogs endure – more than not thanks to lousy breeding. Humans have destroyed these poor dogs as we are doing with boxers, German Shepherds’ too-short back legs and several other breeds. The author is negative, but he is being very honest about the dogs. People should filter out the rant and listen to the truth.
— Kris Malkasian
I’ve never been able to make eye contact with a Frenchie. I don’t trust them.
— Midge Belickis
I’d rather be with a Frenchie than this condescending writer!
— Janice Y. Perez
Breed In, Breed Out
Sadly, the main point his rant is wrapped around, “Add the very common multiple surgeries to correct their show-standard mouths, noses, eyes, skin, legs, and spines,” is a reflection of bad backyard breeding. The show standard does not condone any of these “deformities.” They are disqualified for having such issues. Furthermore, they are x-rayed and tested in order to be scored for hips, heart, spine. So, with regard to his rant on these malformed, backyard-bred Frenchies, I do agree with him. However, there are reputable breeders who breed to the standard, of which health is the highest priority. These breeders actually show in AKC and have been breeding only this breed for many years. They have bred long enough to breed-out bad characteristics and breed-IN health and conformation.
— Laura Burdine
Negative but Not Wrong
We all have dogs that we love and are hilarious. You know the breed doesn’t matter, be honest. He is 100 percent right about the medical issues and the suffering these dogs endure — more often than not thanks to lousy breeding. Humans have destroyed these poor dogs as we are doing with boxers, German shepherds’ too-short back legs, and several other breeds. The author is negative, but he is being very honest about the dogs. People should filter out the rant and listen to the truth. — Kris Malkasian
Head in the Sand, Nose in the Air
Unfortunately, the author, who apparently has been unable to find someone willing to stomach photographing him in over two years, has obviously had his head up…no, sorry, buried in the sand. We have owned a French bulldog for over five years, and she is the sweetest creature you would want to own as a pet. Other than not being able to jog with you on a hot day, she is what one would like: easily trained, exceptionally mannered, very loving, very cute, a homebody, an excellent traveler, not gassy, nor does she have any serious health problems. Your comment on elitist owners — you the author are the one with your nose turned so far up you can’t see in front of you. Get a life.
— Ed Fitzgerald
Dogmatic Bulldog Bully
In attempting to read Mr. Brandow’s hate-filled “bully”-pulpit diatribe against French bulldogs and their caretakers, I wondered about many things as my mind wandered off the seemingly unedited pages:
1. What is going on in our society that fascist rhetoric is dominant? Mr. Brandow’s rant is not unlike Donald Trump’s rant on banning Muslims, or the recent Planned Parenthood shooter’s rant on protecting babies.
2. What happened to Mr. Brandow in his personal life that he is selecting to persecute this breed and the owners of this breed? Was he perhaps jilted by someone who loves Frenchies more? In psychological terms, is this a reaction formation akin to raging homophobes harboring same-sex fantasies?
3. Wouldn’t it be more productive to focus on irresponsible breeders of all breeds or the neglectful and abusive humans who dump their animal companions at shelters? (I picked up a copy of the Voice when I saw the cover because I expected to find an article on the often misguided urge to adopt a puppy as a holiday present.)
Mr. Brandow makes so many erroneous assumptions and over-generalizations about the breed and their caretakers that the more important message of assuming responsibility as humans for our animal companions gets lost in his “dog”matism.
— Marijo C. Adimey
Pretty Little Fools
I intellectually agree with this, but I also get a lot of joy from watching French-bulldog owners attempting to walk their dogs, who often just don’t seem to get it. And by that I mean watching frustrated owners carry their dogs and plop them on the grass hoping they will frolic or pee, but the dog just sits where it was placed and stares at them confused. Adorable.
— Aline Marie
Wow, this writer sure didn’t just flat-out label individuals with little to no facts…. He might as well have said everyone who has ever eaten cheese and drunk wine is a snob. My Frenchie — along with many we know — is well-mannered, trained, and healthy. They can’t swim? There are full-grown adults who can’t swim or ride a bike.
— Jacob Gedert
Give Frenchies a Chance
Such a hateful article. Shame on you, Michael Brandow. As a Frenchie owner very offended by your article, I guarantee you if you had a Frenchie your life wouldn’t be so bitter! They’re the sweetest creatures and make my life so much happier (as well as every Frenchie owner I know)!
— Andre Falcao
Bombastic About Bulldogs
As an experienced, registered breeder and exhibitor of healthy, agile, and personable French bulldogs, I found almost all of this verbose article to be poorly researched, misleading, and heavily flawed. The author seems to like the sound of his own voice more than anything else.
— Sue Cameron
Eye of the Beholder
You are an idiot! My Frenchie is a loving little guy that makes you laugh every day, and I would much rather look at him than your ugly mug.
— Lauren West
Finally, a Use for the Voice
I have loved the Voice for many years; it has been a huge part of my NYC life. But, boy, was I in for a surprise to find that I can no longer count on your paper to be any more credible than the fluff on E! TV or Fox News. How very sad that a “writer” (and I use that term LOOSELY) is allowed to carry out what seems to be nothing more than a personal vendetta against a breed of dog and its entire community, and also announced on the FRONT PAGE, no less! REALLY? You had NOTHING else to print? I am of course talking about Michael Brandow and his attack on the French bulldog. This was REALLY the most valuable piece you had for this issue? If so, it may be time you folded (which as I have heard is not far away anyway). If this guy is a writer, then the Kardashians are pillars of their community. He is nothing more than a homely, bitter hack, an “ex” dog walker who bases his hate-filled spew on nothing more than his personal feelings and POSSIBLY one or two accounts that he may, or may NOT, have been privy to. I really feel sad that what he said was allowed to be printed in your once great paper. It truly is a sad day, and now, when I pick up the Voice, it will be for one very important reason: so my Frenchie can take a dump on it.
— Jeremy Gann
Haters Gonna Hate
So French bulldogs are the fracking, capitalist, free-enterprise, NRA-member, Confederate-flag-waving, Trump-supporting, climate-change-denying, Republican, Zionist, Palestine-occupying cultural imperialists of the dog world. But, conveniently, unlike any of the above, they seem to take “eat shit and die” literally.
— Alexander Nussbaum
French bulldogs seem to have hit the jackpot as far as life-threatening physical traits: brachycephaly (all of them have it), bug eyes (very dangerous, especially when the dog becomes old and the vision fades; they can bump into things and easily injure their eyes), short legs, barrel chest, no tail. Both they and pugs are cash cows for vets because they always end up having some physical problem to be serviced — I mean treated.
As a dog walker, I’ve known many Frenchies, and all of them have had either physical or emotional problems — or both. One Frenchie I used to walk threw out her back — which is actually not an uncommon injury for small dogs — and she was under 24-hour observation at the vet before she died from her injuries.
The physical problems pale in comparison to the mental/emotional problems, though! One Frenchie I walked was the half-brother of the one I mention above (who died), and I would walk the two as a pair but had to always put a muzzle on the male because he couldn’t be trusted not to lash out if we were in close quarters as in an elevator. At the time, the couple who owned (for lack of a better term) him lived in a Greenwich Village apartment building, and there were — naturally — a lot of neighbors with young children.
To echo my first paragraph, however, French bulldogs take the cake as far as having the most life-threatening traits packed into one dog.
— Scuba Diva
Ogre in Need of Charm School
Wow. Clearly you are not only severely lacking in taste and judgement, but manners as well. I do realize that this is purely your opinion of the breed, and being a free country, you are entitled to your opinion. You do of course know what they say about opinions, and you sir, have indeed earned the well-deserved title. Relish it, embrace it, you worked hard for it.
In reading previous responses to your “rant”, coming from one who can so freely and distastefully “bash” the breed, you lack tact and grace when you are called out on it. You did realize, I imagine, that there would be toxic fallout as a result of your effort? Yet, you seem offended and defensive in your attacking responses. I find this not only interesting, but oddly amusing. You did, after all, take it upon yourself to start a war of words that would inevitably have every Frenchie owner throughout the world wanting to take a strip off your sorry hide. Suck it up Buttercup and take it like a man.
Yes, Frenchies, they snort, fart, grunt, snore, and have their own language, but they are some of the most genuinely sweet dogs I have come across. Why, my sweet girl would adore even an ogre such as yourself if she happened upon you out and about. The 178 pound Rotti on the other hand… he is a bit more discriminating.
I will take the snorting, farting, grunting Frenchie any day over the oaf cleverly disguised as a sorry human being and self-proclaimed lover of dogs, possessing a comb over to hide his receding hairline.
— Tresa Daniels
The Not-So-Great Beyond
All dogs go to heaven… not so sure about you!
— Lisa DePalma
Picky About Pups
You are a negative, misinformed elitist who thinks they know everything about a dog breed. Plenty of other dog breeds have health and temperament problems. French Bulldogs are wonderful, funny creatures, affectionate and smart. I will take a Frenchie over a food stealing Golden or a goofy and stupid Labradoodle any day of the week. There is a reason the dog is popular, they are great companions and that is the definition of man’s best friend. You are bitter and your anger is misdirected…
— Elizabeth Fowler
Perfect Playdate Pooch
What a mean spirited article! My dog and I live in the Berkshires. She hikes, camps, goes fishing and plays her days away. Her best friends are two labs and a German Shepherd, and they seem to have no problem with her (although she has been known to tire them out). I don’t think I am impressing anyone with her? Most people don’t even know what kind of dog she is where I live! She (knock on wood) has had no health problems and the only time I monitor her is when she is out in the sun playing on a hot day. She is strong and healthy, and she makes me laugh! We have only ever met one other Frenchie and that was hiking up a ski slope in the summer time. Neither his owner or myself had any pretensions as we exchanged stories and took pictures of them playing together.
— Kristen O’Neil