If you are looking for a small sized dog that is easily adaptable, funny, smart, and affectionate, the French Bulldog may be a good choice for you. Of the 193 breeds that are registered with the American Kennel Club, the “Frenchie” ranks #6, making it one of the most popular dogs in the United States; this breed is also beloved around the world. They are well-suited for all environments and do well in large, expansive settings as well as small city dwellings.
The French Bulldog is the descendent of the English Bulldog, which was a sturdy, athletic breed that stood tall and served as a bull-baiter, as the name suggests. During the middle part of the 19th century, breeders began crossbreeding the standard bulldog with terriers and developed a toy version of the breed, which was smaller, lighter, had ears that stood upright and rounded foreheads. English lace-makers of Nottingham were quite taken with this toy breed. During the Industrial Revolution, these workers moved to the northern part of France, and brought their beloved toy Bulldogs with them. People of Normandy also started to take a liking to the breed, and their popularity spread to Paris.
Due to the surge in popularity, the English who bred these dogs began breeding even more specifically to sell to the working class French. Over time, these toy Bulldogs were bred with other dogs, such as Pugs and terriers, and eventually, they developed the bat ears that are a famous feature of this breed. The French started calling this new hybrid Bulldog Bouledogue Francis (translation: French Bulldog). Their popularity continued to soar, and they became a permanent fixture in Paris. In fact, they were so popular that the famous French artists Toulouse Lautrec and Edgar Degas painted the dogs in many of their pieces.
By the latter part of the 18th century, the popularity of the French Bulldog had spread throughout Europe. Americans visiting France took a liking to the breed, as well, and brought them back to the United States. Today, the French Bulldog is just as beloved as it was in 19th century France. A member of the Non-Sporting Group, this breed makes a wonderful canine companion.
Characteristics of the French Bulldog
Next, we’ll go into the appearance and temperament of the french bulldog.
French Bulldogs look similar to a standard Bulldog; however, they have a smaller stature and their ears are large and stand tall, resembling “bat ears”, a hallmark feature of this breed. They weigh less than 28 pounds and they stand between 11 and 13 inches tall. As is common with most breeds, females are usually smaller than males, and the life expectancy of both genders is 10 to 12 years.
French Bulldogs have an oversized head that is shaped like a square. Their noses are very short and they have the trademark under bite of a Bulldog. Their eyes are large, round, dark in color, and friendly. The body of a Frenchie is muscular and squat and their tails can be either curly or straight. The skin is loose and wrinkly, and it’s covered by a short coat of soft hair that can be a variety of colors, including white, fawn, or brindle.
French Bulldogs are beloved for their endearing personalities. They are very even-tempered; this breed is not quick to anger, nor is it aloof. Generally, they get along well with people of all ages and animals, making them a good fit for families with small children and other pets, as well as the elderly. They are astute, playful, and silly; in fact, Frenchies are known for their goofiness and can often be seen behaving in a silly manner just to garner attention. They love to be doted on and are require companionship.
While this breed does not require a lot of exercise and they can be content spending the day sleeping in a dog bed, they do like to chase plush dog toys and a good game of tug-o-war with rope and tug toys. It’s important to note that this breed cannot swim. Their “top-heavy” and have short legs, so they are unable to keep themselves afloat. Never leave a Frenchie unattended near water. Because of their even- tempered dispositions, their small stature, and their low activity requirements, French Bulldogs are quite adaptable and do just as well living in small city apartments as they do in large houses with expansive yards.
Frenchies are very sweet-natured and are quite intelligent; however, they are notoriously stubborn. As such, they may be reluctant to training. Additionally, because of their short muzzle, this breed does tend to snort and snore, and may slobber a bit, too. They are also prone to several health conditions, as a result of their pushed-in faces. Furthermore, Frenchies can suffer from separation anxiety, as they thrive on companionship. This breed should not be left alone for prolonged periods of time or confined to a life in a dog house or an outdoor dog kennel; they need to be with their human companions. If your pet does suffer from anxiety, natural remedies, such as dog calming aids; for example, dressing your pet in dog calming apparel before you are going to leave the house may help to combat anxiousness. CBD oil for dogs can also help to manage anxiety.
While the French Bulldog may have a few undesirable traits, their desirable traits are many, which is why the French Bulldog is such a popular choice for a pet.
Caring for a French Bulldog
Like all breeds, the French Bulldog has specific care requirements in terms of diet, exercise, and affection. In order to ensure your pet maintains a happy, healthy life, it is important to have a full understanding of this breeds care requirements.
Frenchies have unique dietary needs, as they are prone to a number of health conditions. Therefore, feeding this breed a well-balanced dog food that meets their nutritional requirements is vital. They are a brachycephalic breed (read: short-nosed), and they tend to love eating, they can consume their food too quickly, which can not only lead to choking and bloat, but can also lead to weight gain. Bloat can be highly problematic for any dog, as can excessive weight, but particularly for short-nosed breeds, as it can lead to breathing complications. Therefore, it’s important to watch your pet’s caloric intake and monitor his eating behaviors. Veterinarians and animal nutritionists recommend premium quality food for small dogs for this breed. Offering your pet a dog food for weight loss that is specifically made for small breeds can help to prevent weight gain, too. Furthermore, Frenchies can suffer from allergies, which can affect their skin. If your pet does exhibit food sensitivities, offering him a dog food for allergies can help to prevent complications.
It is strongly encouraged that you establish a feeding schedule for this breed. Offer your pet meals that are properly portioned at the same time each day. Pick his bowl up after 10 to 15 minutes, even if he hasn’t eaten to avoid “free-range” eating. Leaving food out all the time can contribute to weight gain.
There are several high quality dog food brands that make formulas that meet the nutritional needs of the French Bulldog. Examples include Canidae dog food, Taste of the Wild dog food, and Castor and Pollux dog food.
Compared to other breeds, the French Bulldog is very low-maintenance, in terms of grooming. Their short-haired coats do not require a tremendous amount of maintenance, as they don’t need to be clipped and are not prone to tangles or mats, and shedding is minimal. Brushing on a weekly basis will help to remove any spent hair and will keep the coat lustrous. This breed also does not require regular bathing. Bathe your pet as-needed with a dog shampoo that is free of dyes, perfumes, and other harsh ingredients. Because this breed is small in size, bathing can likely be done in a bathtub or a sink with minimal fuss; however, do not leave your pet unattended in the bath, as Frenchies are poor swimmers. Excessive bathing can aggravate the skin, so it’s important to avoid washing your pet too frequently.
In regard to nail care, Frenchies do require a bit of extra care in this department. This breed does not wear down their nails naturally, so clipping on a monthly basis is essential to avoid overgrowth, which can lead to complications. Some French Bulldogs are particular about their feet and do not like having them handled. If clipping your pet’s nails proves to be difficult, take him to a groomer or vet for pedicures.
French Bulldogs also do require a bit of extra oral health care. Plaque and tartar buildup can be problematic, which can not only lead to tooth decay, but can also contribute to halitosis. Brushing your pet’s teeth several times a week can combat oral health issues. Also, a dog breath freshener can help to prevent bad breath, and dental chews can control plaque and tartar buildup.
You should also concentrate on cleaning your pet’s ears on a regular basis. The signature “bat ears” of the French Bulldog can easily collect dirt and debris, so it’s important to clean them out to prevent infection. Gently wipe his ears out with a clean, damp cloth a few times a week. Additionally, their upright ears can become dry, especially during cold weather. If your pet’s ears appear dry, rub a small amount of coconut oil for dogs along the problem areas to moisturize them.
Exercise and Activity
In addition to their pleasant dispositions and sweet nature, many people consider French Bulldogs wonderful pets because they do not require a tremendous amount of physical activity. They are quite content spending time curled up with their human companions. However, that’s not to say that this breed does not require exercise. Physical activity is important for any dog, as it helps to strengthen their physique and maintain proper weight. Since weight gain can be problematic for French Bulldogs, it’s important that you do offer your pet exercise on a regular basis.
Regular walks are about all this pet needs for physical activity. Walking a French Bulldog on dog harness is recommended over a dog collar. Since this breed has a short-nose, they are prone to breathing problems, which can be further aggravated when walking on a collar. Playing is also a great way to offer your Frenchie the exercise that he needs. Since this breed is noted for having high intelligence, consider providing your pet with puzzle toys for dogs that will challenge his mind and provide the mental stimulation that he needs. French Bulldogs also do well with agility and obedience sports; but, it’s important to note that because of their short snouts, you should keep a close eye on your pet while playing and avoid over-exertion, as too much physical activity could lead to breathing complications.
French Bulldogs have a strong desire for companionship and should be socialized as much as possible. Expose your pet to other animals, people, and locations to meet his socialization needs. Frenchies are notoriously stubborn, and it’s not unusual for this breed to be reluctant when it comes to training. Therefore, it’s important to start working with your pet as soon as possible to avoid unwanted habits from developing. These dogs are very astute, however, and with firmness, consistency, and patience, you should be able to teach your pet a variety of commands, as well as more complex tasks. Start by training your pet the basic commands, including “sit”, “stay”, and “heel”. When he has mastered these commands, you can start working on more complicated commands and agility training.
Due to their stubborn nature, housetraining a French Bulldog can be a difficult task if a routine is not established. Experts in training recommend crate training for Frenchies, as it will offer the quickest results and prevent accidents in the house until your pet is fully housebroken. Make sure to select a properly sized dog crate; your dog should be able to stand and turn around comfortably, without hitting his body on the top or sides of the crate. During crate training, it is essential that you maintain a consistent routine; failure to follow through with the routine that you have established can delay housebreaking and lead to frustration for both you and your pet. Keep your pet in his crate when you are not home, while you are sleeping, or any other time you are not able to keep an eye on him and watch his behavior; however, do not keep your dog in his crate for a prolonged period of time, as doing so can also be problematic. Once your pet exits his crate, immediately take him to the location where he is to relieve himself. Offer praise and positive reinforcement. Also, establishing a schedule for eating and drinking – and sticking to it – will further aid in successful housebreaking.
With persistence and positivity, you should be able to successfully housebreak your French Bulldog and teach him a variety of commands.
Unfortunately, the French Bulldog is prone to a number of health complications. Crossbreeding has made this breed susceptible to a number of issues, but by being aware of health concerns and knowing how to attend to these conditions can help to prevent complications.
- Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. The French Bulldog is a short-nosed breed, so it is susceptible to Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, which is marked by abnormalities in the upper respiratory system. As a result, mouth breathing, snoring, and snorting are common among Frenchies. Reflux and general breathing difficulties are also not uncommon.
- These dogs are also prone to allergies, both food and environmental. If your pet does suffer from allergies, pinpointing the trigger and avoiding it can help to prevent complications.
- Cherry eye. This condition occurs when the third eyelid prolapses, or pops out, which can result in irritation, excessive tearing, infection, and pain. Try to help your pet avoid straining to prevent cherry eye from developing. If it does occur, surgery may be needed.
- Dental health issues. Frenchies are also genetically predisposed to halitosis and tooth decay. As such, it is important to exercise proper oral hygiene for your pet.
- This breed loves to eat, and excessive weight can cause a number of health problems. Feed your pet a properly balanced diet and avoid over-feeding to prevent weight gain.
- A hearty appetite coupled with a short nose increases the risk of bloat in French Bulldogs. Make sure you monitor your pet’s eating habits, as eating too quickly increases the risk of bloat. A slow feed dog bowl can help to slow eating and reduce the chances of bloat.