French Bulldog: Dog Breed Information

Highlights

Temperament: playful, intelligent and adaptable

Height at the shoulder: 11-13 inches

Weight: up to 20-28 lbs. for males and 16 to 24 for females

Life expectancy: 10-12 years

Breed group: Non-Sporting Group

About the French Bulldog breed

This amazingly cute bat-eared small Bulldog like dog breed is the 4th most popular dog breed in the USA. It has become increasingly popular in the latest decades because of its high adaptability, making it suitable for apartment living and urban life. The Frenchie is also an absolutely adorable dog with a short nose, a large and square head and wrinkles on the forehead. The pups from this breed have short and smooth coats covering compact and yet muscular little bodies.

French Bulldogs are natural charmers and are very alert dogs. They are superb watchdogs but won’t bark too much, which is a must if you live in a condo and have complaining neighbors.

The dogs from this breed can easily adapt to all types of households and families. They can be perfect companion dogs for singles, as well as for large-sized families.

These pups do not require too much exercise and can happily live even in a bustling city.

The Frenchie has been highly appreciated and preferred as a companion dog for ages. This breed was first developed in England as a tiny-sized Bulldog. These dogs often accompanied the English lacemakers who traveled to France, hence the “French” referral in the breeds’ name.

These small-sized and incredibly charming pups are not only perfect companion dogs, but were also bred to be highly efficient ratters at the time. Today, they are mostly preferred as beloved family pets, as well as show dogs.

The French Bulldog may be among the top 5 most popular dog breeds in the country, but it is a fact that until recently, this was a relatively rare breed, with only 100 dogs registered by the AKC in 1940 and only 106 of them registered in 1960.

The look of the small-sized Bulldog may be slightly outlandish thanks to the erect bat-shaped ears and short little body, but it is a fact that the Frenchie has a unique appeal.

The short coat of the French Bulldog requires little maintenance, and it is not a heavy shedder, so it is a suitable breed for people with allergies.

These dogs usually have easy personalities and are pretty playful, but at the same time, after they enjoy some games with their humans, the Frenchies will love spending the rest of the day snoozing on the couch or on your lap.

The dogs from this breed are intelligent and can be trained easily, especially if you turn the training sessions into a game-like experience for the dog.

Since the Frenchies can be quite free-thinking, they are not the most suitable dogs if you are looking for a winner in obedience and agility trials and contests. This free-thinking characteristic makes some of these digs pretty stubborn.

Otherwise, these pups love their humans and will want to spend as much of their time with their owners and families.

They are most definitely not outdoor dogs or dogs which will be happy to spend long hours or days alone. In fact, they thrive on human affection and contact.

French Bulldogs get along with all people, including children. However, these alert little dogs can be pretty possessive of their people and territorial, so adding other dogs to the household could pose a problem.

Early socialization of the French Bulldog is mandatory, but it is also an enjoyable task due to the charm and friendly nature of these pups.

Being pretty humorous and mischievous, French Bulldogs need owners who have the patience, consistency, and firmness to train them and bear with their mischief.

Excellent watchdogs, Frenchies will let you know whenever somebody is approaching your home, but are not barkers. In fact, the dogs from this breed will bark only when it is absolutely necessary. Many Frenchies are ready to protect their families and homes with their lives.

Thanks to the fact that these small-sized dogs do not require too much room to live happily and comfortably, they are among the top preferred dog breeds for city dwellers.

They require two brisk 15-minute walks per day to stay happy and within the healthy weight limits.

These dogs though cannot thrive well in hot conditions, so you will need to provide your Frenchie with a cool place to rest or with air conditioning when it is scorching hot outside because they are highly susceptible to heat exhaustion. You should also be cautious about taking them out on very hot days and monitor your French Bulldog closely for signs of heat exhaustion.

Frenchies are prone to drooling as well as to flatulence, but if you can handle a bit of drool and gas, they are amazing companion dogs to have.

They do well with children of all ages, but due to their protective and territorial instincts can have problems with sharing the home with other dogs. IN fact, they prefer to be the center of attention, which is something to be cautious of if you don’t want your little dog bossing you around later on in life after you have over-indulged it.

Personality

The Frenchies are incredibly smart and loving dogs that need to be with their humans for as long and as much as possible. It is a fun-loving independent thinker who responds well to training done in a consistent and firm manner and with a lot of positive reinforcement.

Despite its pretty gloomy look, the French Bulldog is a highly entertaining and pretty comical-friendly little pup.

The dogs from this unique dog breed will feel at their best no matter whether they are on a huge farm in the countryside or in a tiny apartment in the metropolitan.

This is a smart, loving dog that wants and needs to spend lots of time with its people. A fun-loving freethinker, the French Bulldog, takes well to training when it’s done in a positive manner with lots of food rewards, praise, and play.

Despite his glum expression, the French Bulldog is comical, entertaining, and dependably amiable.

The young puppies from the breed are playful and energetic and have a strong chasing drive. The adult French Bulldogs are quite calmer and will love spending the days and nights curled up against you or in your feet or lap. But still, they will continue to enjoy acting like little clowns and going out when the weather is not too hot for them.

French Bulldogs are friendly animals in most cases, but some individuals may remain reserved to strangers. They are superb watchdogs and will alert you when somebody is coming, but otherwise, are considered one of the quiet breeds.

They are usually pretty cool with other pets, but with their origin as ratters, they may continue chasing rodents. Some of the male Frenchies may find it difficult to get along peacefully with other male dogs in the house.

Some of the French Bulldogs may be quite stubborn, but because of their natural intelligence, they will learn quickly and will remember everything you teach them. They respond well to persistent and patient training with a lot of tasty food rewards as motivation.

Here are some of the pros of French Bulldogs:

  • They are small and sturdy and definitely not your typical lapdogs
  • They have large human-like, expressive eyes which will make your heart melt
  • Their coats are sleek and easy to maintain
  • In general, the Frenchie is pretty polite with other people and with pets
  • Their favorite pastime is chasing balls and playing games
  • They do not require too much space, nor they need too much exercise
  • They are not barkers and are pretty quiet

And some of the cons of Frenchies:

  • As with other short-nosed breeds, they are prone to snoring, drooling, snorting, wheezing and flatulence
  • They can be difficult to housebreak
  • Some Frenchies are quite stubborn, so you will need to be patient and consistent with the training
  • They do have a higher risk of some serious health problems because of the short nose and wide large head

Nutrition

French Bulldogs are small-sized and not so active, so a daily amount of 1 to 1.5 cups of premium-quality dog food should be sufficient to provide a dog of this breed with the nutrition and fuel it needs to be happy and healthy.

Naturally, the exact amount of food you feed your Frenchie depends on its size, age, activity level, health, and metabolism. Also, the quality and type of food you decide to feed your pet makes a difference too. High protein and well-balanced food can be portioned in smaller meal sizes and still be enough to keep the dog well and energized.

You can also feed it with home-prepared dog food, but do not feed the dog with scraps from your meals, especially if you have added spices, onions, garlic, or other potentially toxic ingredients for canines to it.

It is recommended that you divide the daily food into two meals.

Always feed your Frenchie with food that is formulated and suited for its age, because dogs of different ages have different caloric and nutritional requirements.

One important factor to remember is that the French Bulldogs are prone to gaining weight, so you should be careful with the treats and the portion sizes you feed your pup. Keeping it at normal weight levels will ensure that its bones, joints, and overall health remain fine.

Avoid feeding your dog with cooked bones or with high-fat human foods. Also, check the list of potentially toxic foods you should never give to your dog, including grapes, raisins, chocolate, anything with caffeine and others.

Keeping your Frenchie in good shape is essential for its overall health because of its specific bodily structure, which can be affected negatively by excessive weight.

Talk to your vet if you have concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

Grooming

French Bulldogs have short, fine and smooth coats. They can be any color except solid black, mouse, liver or black and tan or black in white. Otherwise, your dog’s coat can be cream, fawn or in various shades of brindle, including tiger or white brindle.

The Frenchies have wrinkled and loose skin, especially on the heads and necks.

Overall, the dogs from this breed are pretty easy to groom, and since they are average shedders and have short and fine hair, they can do well with a weekly brushing. Choose a dog brush with medium bristles, a hound glove or a rubber grooming mitt to get the dead hairs off the coat and distribute the oils to the skin and coat.

While brushing your Frenchie’s coat, make sure you inspect its skin, nose, ears, eyes, and mouth for any signs of infections or other health problems, including redness, tenderness, sores, rashes or discharge or smell.

You should clean the bat-shaped ears of your pup gently with a cotton swab dipped in dog ear cleaning solution or with a damp cloth, but without attempting to clean the ear canals. If those cute ears feel dry at the edges, you can gently apply dog coconut or baby oil on them. The same type of oil can be used on the nose if it feels and looks dry.

Since the dogs from this breed cannot wear down their nails naturally, you will need to trim them regularly to prevent discomfort and possible injuries.

The facial skin folds of your Frenchie should be kept clean and try as well, to prevent fungal or bacterial growth and infections.

If you want to make the grooming sessions more of a bonding time rather than a traumatizing process for both you and the dog, it is recommended that you start training your Frenchie to tolerate and get used to the grooming from an early age. If the dog is rewarded for standing still and allowing you to brush it, trim its nails, clean its ears and wash its teeth from early puppyhood, this will save you a lot of time, energy and frustration later on in life.

Exercise

The good news for the couch potatoes out there is that the French Bulldog doesn’t require too much exercise. With rather low energy levels, the dogs from this breed will be happy and stay well with a couple of short walks and some playtime every day. Ensuring that the Frenchie gets its recommended daily exercise will help keep its weight in normal ranges and thus prevent all of the health problems caused by being overweight or obese.

Since Frenchies love chasing and playing, most of them will be very happy to spend time playing and running around in the backyard.

You need to remember that the dogs from this charming dog breed are prone to heat strokes and exhaustion because of their short noses and breathing difficulties. You should limit their time outdoors when it is very hot or humid and provide them with a nice cool place to rest or spend time when at home during the summer season. It is a good idea to plan the dog’s walks before sunrise and after sunset when the weather is hot in your area.

Due to their large and heavy heads, many Frenchies cannot swim, so be especially cautious if you have a swimming pool or are by a lake or other water source to prevent your pup from falling in and drowning.

Training

Like with any other dog breed and type, early socializing and training are highly recommended for the French Bulldog. Enrolling your pup in puppy training classes or kindergarten will help it get used to communicating with other dogs and people, as well as how to behave themselves. Puppy obedience classes will also help you pinpoint and correct your puppy’s bad habits.

Since they are smart, stubborn and have big personalities, Frenchies require extensive training, which should include a consistent, patient and yet firm attitude from your side, accompanied by a lot of delicious treats and vocal praises to promote good behavior.

The best way to make your French Bulldog learn is to turn the training sessions into games that both you and the dog will enjoy.

Also, they are smart and will remember everything you teach them, and if they can overcome their stubbornness can become well-rounded and well-behaved dogs.

French Bulldogs get along with children of all ages pretty well. They are small-sized but not that tiny and fragile, so they can live well even in households with toddlers. But whatever the age of your young child, never leave it alone to play or communicate with the dog without supervision to prevent them from harassing one another.

Frenchies also can get along with dogs and cats, but the dogs which have been overindulged can become jealous and possessive and may have problems sharing the same household with another pup.

As for housetraining, French Bulldogs are a bit slow to pick up the idea, but with some patience and perseverance from your side, you should be able to potty train your puppy pretty soon. Make sure you take the pup out as soon as it wakes up and after every meal. You should plan to take it out every two hours or so if you want it to get used to doing its business outside instead of on your precious rug.

You may want to crate train your puppy from an early age too, so that it has a safe place to lounge and sleep and so that you have peace of mind that both the dog and your furniture are safe when you need to go out and leave it home alone.

Health

While not all French Bulldogs will ever get any of these diseases and health conditions, all owners of dogs from this breed should be warned about the illnesses and problems they are prone to – either due to genetics or their unique structural features.

Here are some of the common health problems which plague the French Bulldogs:

Hip Dysplasia

This is a heritable problem in the rear feet and hips of the Frenchies. It is caused by the femur bone not being properly aligned and fitting snuggly into the hip joint. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred, so if you have gotten your pup from a reputable breeder with the proper health clearances, you shouldn’t worry about this condition. Hip dysplasia can cause lameness and pain in one or both of the rear feets, worsening as the dog ages or gains weight.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

This syndrome is very typical of canines with short heads, narrow nostrils or elongated soft palates. These specifics in the facial and head structure can cause an obstruction of the airways to different degrees. In some cases, this can lead to some difficulty breathing or noisy breathing, but it can lead to a complete collapse of the airways in more severe cases.

The dogs affected by Brachycephalic syndrome will snort and snuffle and otherwise show difficulty breathing. They can be treated with oxygen therapy and, in severe cases, may require surgery for shortening the palates or widening the nostrils.

Dog allergies

Just like with humans, allergies are common among dogs too. Dogs suffer from food-based, environmental or contact allergies. Your Frenchie can be allergic to any one or more types of foods, but the most common food allergies in canines are to wheat, poultry, meat, fish, soy, dairy, and others. Thankfully, there are various commercial dog foods with limited ingredients and completely free of many of these allergens. The cause of the food allergy can be determined via an elimination diet. The signs that your dog may be suffering from such an allergy include diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive scratching.

Dogs can also suffer from environmental allergies from inhaling particular airborne allergens or smelling certain substances. Canines can be allergic to pollen, mold, dust, detergents, fabrics, rubber and plastic, perfumes, cigarette smoke, etc. The best way to protect your dog from allergic reactions is to keep them away from the allergens as much as possible. If your dog is allergic to pollen, wipe it down with a damp cloth every time it comes home from a walk.

The Frenchies who have contact allergies can be allergic to flea bites, certain shampoos, the flea powder you use, the bedding and others. Again, the best way to prevent allergic reactions is to limit the contact of your pup with the allergens.

Hemivertebrae

This is a condition caused by the malformation of one or more of the dog’s vertebrae and causes a triangle or wedge shape to be formed along the back. It can occur separately or alongside other spinal malformations. In lucky dogs, this malformation of the spine will cause no problems, but in some cases, Hemivertebrae can cause pressure on the spinal cord and lead to weakness, pain and even paralysis. In severe cases, surgery can be performed to release and alleviate the pressure on the spinal cord.

Patellar Luxation

This condition is often referred to as “slipped stifles” and is quite common among small-sized canines. It is caused by the three bones of the rear leg, which form the knee. When these bones are not aligned properly, it causes them to slip out of place.

Luxation is congenital and thus is present at birth but may become evident later on as the puppy grows. Patellar Luxation can differ in severity. Grade I luxation can cause only occasional misalignment and lameness, while Grade IV luxation can lead to severe misalignment, which requires surgical repair.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

IDD happens when a disc in the dog’s spine ruptures or herniates and thus pushes into the spinal cord. When this happens, this can stop or inhibit the nerve transmissions along the spinal cord.

This condition can be caused by trauma, aging, or a sharp physical jolt such as jumping from the sofa or another high place.

Once the disc ruptures, the dog will feel pain and it will feel weak or even become paralyzed temporarily or permanently.

The treatment of Intervertebral Disc Disease includes canine non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You should never give your pup human-grade drugs because they can be toxic to your dog. In some cases, surgical repair may be required. There is quite a lot of physical rehabilitation required after such surgery of the spinal cord, but thankfully there are various successful treatment options such as electric stimulation, massages and water treadmills available for faster and more efficient recovery.

To stay on the safe side, try to prevent your Frenchie from jumping from high places.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

This is a hereditary condition that affects the ability of the dog’s blood to clot. This can be dangerous if the dog needs surgery or is injured. The only treatment is via blood transfusions. The disease symptoms are prolonged or unexplained nosebleeds, bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding during heat cycles or after whelping, and blood in the stool.

The disorder can be diagnosed somewhere at the age of 3 to 5 years, but it can be managed via special catheterization and suturing of any injuries or wounds, by blood transfusions, as well as by the avoidance of particular medications.

Always ask your breeder for written proof that both parents of your future puppy have been tested for this hereditary disease.

Cleft Palate

The palate is the top of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities. It has a soft and hard parts. In the cases of cleft palates, the dog has a slit that can vary in size and can run in any direction of the palate.

Puppies can be born with this condition or it can occur from an injury. The cleft palate can affect either the soft or hard part or both and can cause a cleft lip in puppies as well.

This condition is pretty common among dogs, but the puppies born with it are often euthanized early on or do not survive the first weeks of their lives.

The only possible treatment for this condition is surgical, but not all cases require surgery.

Elongated Soft Palate

The soft palate is the continuation of the palate that covers the dog’s mouth. In the cases when this part is elongated, it can obstruct the pup’s airways and cause breathing difficulties. The treatment for this condition which often affects Frenchies, is to surgically shorten the soft palate and remove the excess parts.

Overall health information about French Bulldogs

Many of the common conditions among Frenchies are genetic and thus completely preventable. Responsible breeders will never breed dogs carrying these gene mutations. Always ask for health clearances for both parents of your future dog to ensure that they are free of genetic predispositions to most of these health issues.

You should expect the breeder to be able to provide you with a hip dysplasia health clearance by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for elbow dysplasia, Von Willebrand’s disease, and patella health and heart disease. You can also expect a certificate declaring that the eyes of the dogs are normal.

Like all dogs with short noses and flat faces, they are prone to breathing difficulties and can have a particularly hard time breathing in humid and hot weather. Make sure you keep your Frenchie inside in an air-conditioned or cool room when it is hot and humid outdoors.

Also, due to their very specific body structure and large and heavy heads, Frenchies often cannot swim and are at risk of falling into swimming pools or other water sources and drowning, so keep your pup safely away from the water.

History

Historically, three different countries have played an important part in the history of the French Bulldog breed – England, France, and the USA.

England is where the Frenchie was first developed as a miniature version of the larger-sized English Bulldog.

The French were responsible for developing smaller-sized bulldogs in a distinctive French type.

In the US, the breeders set the standard for the French Bulldog breed, with the bat ears considered one of the most important features.

The Bulldog from England, which originated from the French Bulldog breed, lived about two centuries ago and was a much taller and more athletic dog than what is known today as the English Bulldog.

In fact, these strong dogs were used for bullbaiting which is a barbaric practice from these ages.

150-200 ago, the breeders of the Bulldog began striving to produce heavier and more massive dogs. Other breeders crossed the Bulldogs with smaller terrier breeds and produced smaller bulldogs for ratting and for dogfighting.

Further on, yet another group of breeders produced lighter and smaller toy bulldogs weighing up to 25 lbs, with upright rose ears and round under jaws and heads, and with the liveliness of terriers.

These smaller Bulldogs became particularly popular among the English artisans, especially the Nottingham lace makers. Those lace makers took their small Bulldogs to the North of France when the Industrial Revolution caused the closing down of most of the small artisan shops in England.

As soon as they were brought into France, these small-sized charming Bulldogs became increasingly popular throughout France. Pretty soon, the English breeders began exporting those small-sized bulldogs to France and making quite a lot of money from this trade.

The small imported Bulldogs were the favorite dogs or regular Parisians, including café owners, butchers, rag dealers, and others. They also became the favorite companions of Parisian streetwalkers.

Famous French artist Toulouse Lautrec depicted these Bulldogs in several of his works, and namely a female named Bouboule who was owned by Madame Palmyre, owner of the La Souris restaurant, which the artist loved visiting.

The French people became so attached to these small bulldogs that they became the guardians of the breed until the late 19th century.

The French eventually developed a more uniform breed of dogs with compact bodies and straight legs but still with the round and extreme under jaw of the English Bulldog.

Some of these dogs had rose ears and others had bat ears.

During that time, the wealthy Americans traveling to France fell in love with these compact and charming dogs and began bringing them back home to America with them.

The people from the USA preferred the ones with erect bat ears, and the French preferred the ones with the rose ears.

In the US, the Frenchies were first shown on the Westminster catalog in 1897 while they were still not approved as a breed by the AKC. At this show, both the bat and the rose-eared dogs from this breed were first shown. This angered the fanciers of the breed because only the dogs with bat ears were allowed by the standard.

As a result, the American fanciers of the breed organized the French Bulldog Club of America to draw a standard for the breed, which included only bat-eared specimens and excluded the rose-eared ones.

They also organized their very own show for bat-eared bulldogs only at the Waldorf Astoria in protest.

The French Bulldog Club of America was actually the first breed club for Frenchies set up anywhere around the world.

Thanks to a small group of fanciers of the French Bulldog breed in the US and in Europe during and after the Depression in the 1930s, the breed was kept alive and was continued.

The popularity skyrocketed at the time, only to start declining following World War I and throughout World War II. This was due to both wars and the increased popularity of other smaller breeds like the Boston terrier. Plus, female French Bulldogs often had problems whelping in a natural manner, so people stopped breeding them. When the veterinarians began performing successful and safe C-sections for these dogs, the breeders began breeding French Bulldogs again.

Still, in 1940, the French Bulldogs were considered rare dogs, with only 100 dogs registered at the AKC and only 106 registered in 1960. Thankfully during the 1980’s the popularity of this amazing dog breed in the US began increasing once again, thanks to the newly energized breed club, and its special French Bulletin magazine, and a lot of shows and events it organized for the Frenchies.

Today, nearly 40 years later, the French Bulldog is officially the 4th most popular dog breed in the USA, and the numbers of Frenchie fanciers seem to be growing!

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