Q: How do I reserve a puppy?

A: First the application must be filled out, then a deposit can be placed. The deposit is typically $500 and is refundable only before puppies are 5 weeks old, but it is fully transferable to any other available puppy at any time. It can be sent by check, Wells Fargo wire, Paypal (Paypal charges a 3% fee unless sent as "friends and family"), Venmo, or in person cash. A receipt can be provided. Sometimes a deposit holds your spot in line to pick a puppy rather than a specific puppy itself, depending on whether or not there are people ahead of you in line who haven't chosen their puppy yet. Balance is due on pickup. Since I breed primarily to make a show prospect for myself, first and second pick are always technically reserved for me, but I do not always keep a pup.

Q: What if I want to adopt an adult?

A: From time to time, I have a young adult who did not develop enough conformation criteria to show or breed, or a retiring adult available to a permanent family home. It is very important to me that my adults retire young and live a very fulfilled life, whether it is with me or with another person. In order to do what I love, and give each dog the attention it needs, I simply cannot keep every one. My girls only have three litters, so they are usually about three years old when they are spayed. The same is usually true for studs, because a successful stud produces offspring for me to keep, so I run out of unrelated females that he can breed, and must purchase an outcross. All of my dogs are crate trained and accustomed to all the noises and routines of a busy household. They stay with me when I go outside, adore my children, and get along with each other as a group. I only keep and breed dogs who are enjoyable to be around, and who are healthy and low maintenance, so the transition is generally smooth and happy. If for some reason it turns out to be a poor match, my doors are always open for my dogs to come back.

Q: Are Frenchies good with kids and other pets?

A: Absolutely, in fact, family life is what they're bred for. They are silly, curious, friendly, and fun loving. My dogs are particularly smart in my opinion and were not difficult to train. When bred and raised correctly, they adore everyone, though they are protective enough to usually give one quick "boof" to a stranger knocking. They are quiet and typically nondestructive as long as they have lots of toys as puppies. As for potty training, I'd say they are easier than the average toy breed, but not quite as easy as a large breed dog. Like most dogs they do go through a stubborn and rebellious teenage phase around 5-10 months. Some require more leadership and training than others. Generally they are such enjoyable and easygoing pets, I've yet to see a person who could resist them!

Q: What should I have ready at home for my new puppy's arrival?

A: You will want to have a wire or travel crate that is big enough to hold an adult, and/or a playpen to assist in containment and potty training.

Here are pictures of the wire crate and playpen I prefer to use:

If you are going to be at work for a portion of the day, it's best to connect these pens together and make the playpen the potty area and the crate the sleeping and eating area. If you're at home frequently and can take your puppy out for monitored play a lot, you can just use the large crate and put the potty tray in one half, and a bed in the other.

Q: What's the best way to crate train my puppy?

A: The best way to crate train them is with the above pictured crate, and the tray for potty. Never place food near the potty area. The tray holding pellets, shavings, pads, or paper makes for an easy transition in their new home, as you can place the tray wherever needed. All my pups are potty trained with this method before they leave, I highly recommend it!
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The pup should be taken outside in a place to potty at least once every two hours, and rewarded with praise/treats if he goes. Below four months of age, they potty so frequently and sometimes at night, that it is difficult to catch them all, and that's where the tray can prove useful. It can make your job much easier during this tough period. A puppy should never be forced to step in and sleep with their potty; this will undo all the preparation and their natural instinct to hold it and go in their designated area. If the pup has proven trustworthy in using the tray, you can slowly edge the tray toward the door, and then outside, where they'll be able to stop using it. It is important to learn the signs of a puppy looking to potty, before they learn to just go wherever they want. It is easiest to take them to a spot in the yard that already has the smell of stool, as its smell is what shows them where to go. The easiest way to start this process is simply by moving one of their stools to the place you want them to potty, and take them to that place consistently. It is best to supervise any puppy below six months when they're playing unrestricted, or you might learn they've found a secret potty spot! Once that happens, it is much harder to undo. One way to supervise and prevent accidents this while still going about your business is leashing, and this is simultaneously a great training tool.

Q: What do I feed my puppy?

A: I typically feed Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy, but I also like Costco brands and 4Health. They all have good crude fat and protein content, are decently priced, and contain good ingredients. There are many other great brands, this is just my choice. I also supplement with homemade raw wet food. Red Barn food rolls are great for picky or stressed puppies, and can be delivered to your door by Chewy. If you plan to switch to another type of food, ask me for a small sample to help ease the transition. It is always a great idea to compare foods for quality ingredients and fat/protein content. As a general rule, look for foods that have meat as the first ingredient and that avoid corn or soy fillers. Fillers are not necessarily unhealthy, but they may mean your food has less meat than filler, and also will cause you to have to feed a lot more food and for your dog to produce a lot more stool. Just as it is for humans, the more whole, easily digestible ingredients for the species, the better. Grain free was recently linked to Dilated Cardiac Myelopathy (2017-2019), causing many dogs to lose their life, so is best rotated into other foods and not used exclusively for long periods, until more studies are done.

Q: Can I feed my puppy table scraps?

A: This really depends on the dog. Bully breeds are known to have somewhat tender tummies and awful gas, so sometimes human food can exacerbate the issue (they can stink you out of a room!). However, I've also had or seen many who have no problems with table scraps, so it really depends. Keep in mind the behavioral changes you may cause by teaching your puppy to beg at the table! Absolutely no cooked chicken bones or chocolate should be fed to any dog. 

Q: What are some colors in French Bulldogs, and why do they matter?

A: There is a rainbow of colors and patterns, some accepted by AKC and some not. Breeding recessive non-standard colors is highly frowned upon in the show community, so for this reason, I breed only standard fawn, brindle, cream, and pied. There is no scientific evidence linking color alone to health issues, but the breeding SPECIFICALLY for recessive colors can and has caused many new breeders to ignore good conformation and health goals in their program, especially when the colors were bringing more money, and this is detrimental to the dogs and their families. Good conformation is standard because it promotes a more balanced, structurally sound dog, and any breeding for *more* extreme features can break down and shorten quality of living and lifespan considerably. No ethical breeder promotes this. Beware of buzz words like "exotic, micro, freak, bully, shorty, beast, super compact". Splayed flat feet, weak low ankles, stunted necks, super short backs, pin back legs, poor breathing--these will all cause major problems for the dog, reducing quality and length of life, and overall indicate sloppy breeding and/or poor care and ethics. Ask questions of your breeder, visit and see the environment, make an informed decision, so that you do not contribute to greedy or unethical breeding practices, because these are the dogs that will cost thousands in vet bills and/or end up abandoned in shelters, all while lining the pockets of people with no ethics or vision.

Q: Why are Frenchies so expensive, and does price really matter?

A: Simply put, because they are special. They are much more difficult to breed, to nurture as newborns, and to produce without health problems, since they have rather extreme features. To breed and raise them correctly and responsibly, it requires an almost full time commitment, and constant planning. There are breeders who cut these corners, and breeders who exaggerate them, so it is important to do your research! I try to keep my prices reasonable for loving pet homes. Examples of my common expenses are: progesterone and c section $800-2000 per litter, purchase of quality outside dogs $4-7k each (of which, 1/4 actually goes on to breed), dog related living expenses $2500+ annually, stud services $1500-2000 each, show handling and expenses $2k+ annually, OFA and genetic health testing per dog $6-900. Females have only three litters before retiring, for an average of 8-12 puppies total, 2-3 of which I may keep, if I'm fortunate. Retiring adults are often placed with friends or family for free.

Q: How do puppy vaccinations work?

A: Puppies require four sets of vaccinations. Four way DHPP vaccinations are standard, which stands for the protection the shot offers against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza. Some shots also include Leptospirosis, but unless your dog will have heavy exposure to this disease, the shot's side effects can be more harmful than the shot is worth, so by experience I prefer to leave it out. These vaccinations must occur every 3-4 weeks, starting at 7-8 weeks of age. This means that when you receive an 8 week old puppy, he should already have one vaccination, and should be due for his next within 3-4 weeks. Side effects from vaccinations range from nothing to severe diarrhea, lethargy, and vomiting, so these things should be kept in mind when a vaccination has been administered. In general, shots suppress a young puppy's immune system, so post-vaccination is often a time of special vulnerability for a puppy, especially toward the parasites that he is already carrying. Currently, I give only a parvovirus shot at 7 weeks, as it's the most important and the easiest on the puppy when they are so young.

Q: How does deworming work?

A: Unfortunately, worms can't be avoided. They are passed in small numbers from the mother to the puppies in the womb, and forever after from the surrounding environment. All animals carry parasites, including humans! The concern is worm LOAD, ie, how small or large is the infestation. Puppies should be dewormed at least as often as they are vaccinated (every 3-4 weeks). After that point, heartworm medication can be administered monthly. Keep in mind that there are many different types of parasites, thus there are many different types of wormers. Also, different areas have more prevalent types of worms - i.e. a farm may contain parasites that are rarely seen in the city, or vice versa. The stool float that your veterinarian performs on its first visit will confirm what types the puppy carries, if any, and a wormer should be administered that corresponds to what is found. In well cared for dogs, worm loads are very low, especially in hot, arid climates. You will not see worms expelled.

The reason why dewormings must be administered at least every three weeks for puppies is because the dewormers only kill the adult parasites, not the eggs and larvae. Those eggs and larvae soon mature and continue the reproduction process, so the dewormers are given on such a consistent cycle to keep the levels of parasites low. Unfortunately, since dogs pick up new parasites everywhere they walk, and then ingest them when they lick their feet, they are never entirely rid of all parasites. The worming process is just intended to keep the pests in check so that they don't overwhelm the dog's system.

Another common pest is microparasites. The most common of these that affect the bowel of the dog are Coccidia and Giardia. These are pests you can't see, but often cause the most problems because they are only treated symptomatically and often fly under the radar for long periods of time. Luckily, the dog's own immune system plays the largest part in suppressing them, but when the immune system itself is suppressed the microparasites may take the opportunity to overpopulate. The result of over-infestation is most often diarrhea and sometimes even vomiting due to the dog's upset stomach and bowels. The treatment to get the pests back under control is typically a simple antibiotic and is usually inexpensive and easy to administer.

My preferred large parasite wormers are Safeguard and Pyrantel. While I've been very fortunate to have very few outbreaks of microparasites, when it does occur, sulfadimethoxine (Albon) is very successful as a preventative, and Toltrazuril for symptomatic cases of coccidia, while Safeguard and Metronidazole (Flagyl) work against giardia. Since fenbendazole (Safeguard/Panacur) treats microparasites, I prefer to use it from the start as a preventative as well as a large parasite wormer. I also consistently use human grade diatomaceous earth and colloidal silver as parasite control maintenance in all my animals on a regular basis, see links below. I ensure every puppy has hard stool before going home.



Q: What kind of cleaning products do you use for puppy accidents?

A: For messy accidents on carpet I use Resolve carpet cleaner, or the generic version called Awesome Carpet. They both work wonders and totally remove pet stains and odor. I am a HUGE fan of natural cleaning products especially, such as baking soda, lemon, and vinegar, Dawn, and ammonia. I sprinkle baking soda in my carpet and in the puppy playpens regularly, and also use it when washing dog laundry. For daily smooth surface cleanups I use a mix of lemon juice, Dawn soap, and vinegar in a spray bottle. Works great!

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Contact Sarah: (209)732-6144 pups@tophatranch.com
Located in central CA
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