French Bulldog

If you're looking for an adorable, fun-loving companion dog who is always ready for a new adventure with his family, the French Bulldog may be the right dog for you. These entertaining little pooches are just as enthusiastic about a walk to the park or a day snuggling on the couch with their favorite person. They're bright and intelligent and happy to play with new friends, both human and canine. However, Frenchies are so adorable that you'll want to spoil them rotten! It's best to set some boundaries with your little friend to avoid any behavior issues.

Attentive French Bulldog
Attentive French Bulldog Original image by user digdeman on Pixabay. CC0 1.0.
All French Bulldog pictures »

French Bulldogs really are miniature bulldogs and historically, were equally good ratters as they were companions to French lacemakers. Today, they are well-loved as pets and also as show dogs. They were once a fairly rare breed, but they are rapidly gaining in popularity in both the UK and the United States. One look at that adorable face and it's easy to see why. Their upbeat personalities and cheerful, playful disposition are welcome in most households, and their small size makes them an excellent pet for apartment dwellers. These tiny dogs take up a huge place in the hearts of their owners.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The French Bulldog breed is also commonly known by the names Frenchie, Bouledogue Français.

Popularity: Very popular

Life expectancy: 10 - 14 years

Breed group: Non-Sporting Dogs (AKC), Utility Dogs (KC), Companion and Toy Dogs Dogs (FCI)

Size: Small

Male Female
Height 12 - 12 in 12 - 12 in
Weight 20 - 26 lbs 20 - 26 lbs

Coat: Short

Colors: Black, Red, Brown, White

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Average shedder

Grooming requirements: Minimal

Good with children: Yes

Good with other pets: Yes

Intelligence / Trainability: Average

Exercise needs: Low

Tolerates being alone: Absolutely not

Hunting drive: Low

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Average

Good for novice owners: Definitely

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: Very low

Barking: Average

General health: Below average

Cost to keep: High

History

French Bulldogs are directly related to the much larger Bulldogs. These dogs descended from large, Mastiff-type, dogs and were used specifically for bull baiting until the practice was outlawed. Fortunately, some breeders had been converting the Bulldogs to companion type dogs years before their "job" was eliminated. A group of these breeders sought to reduce the size of the dogs, making them even more suitable as companions. To achieve this, some of the dogs were bred with pugs and others were bred with terriers. Traditionally, terriers have been used as ratters and varmint dogs, and early miniature Bulldogs were also used for that purpose.

When English lace workers became displaced by the Industrial Revolution, they brought their miniature Bulldogs with them. In addition, the English continued to export the dogs to France, specifically the dogs with faults (i.e. too small and ears standing up). Theses dogs became the French Bulldog we know today, as the English miniature Bulldog became increasingly rare. The smaller French dog became an extremely popular companion dog among the rich, fashionable, and artistic.

The American Kennel Club recognized the French Bulldog as a breed in the early 1900's, and as of 2013, Frenchies were the most 11th most popular breed in the United States.

In 1905, the UK Kennel Club recognized the Bouledogue Francais as separate from the English Bulldog and changed the name to the French Bulldog in 1912.

Appearance

Fench Bulldogs are small to medium dogs with a sturdy, compact build and an active, alert, and curious personality.
Typical characteristics are:


  • A large head compared to body size, dark, wide-set eyes, "bat" ears, and a broad, short muzzle with a black nose.

  • Short, strong body, with wide shoulders and broad chest. Muscular front legs are shorter than the hind legs.

  • A straight or screwed tail, carried low.

  • Fine, short, and smooth coat.

  • A variety of colors including: brindle, fawn, white, brindle and white.

Temperament

Intelligence/Trainability

Frenchies are generally intelligent, and can quickly grasp basic commands. However, they are moderately difficult to train. Frenchies tend to be independent thinkers and require a kind, consistent hand when training. Treats and play will help encourage this fun-loving dog. They are appropriate for first-time dog owners, but working with a professional trainer is recommended.

As intelligent dogs, Frenchies will need an outlet for their intelligence and energy. Playtime and walks will help prevent your dog from acting out in undesirable ways like chewing, barking, etc.

Activity

For small dogs, Frenchies have a lot of energy. They are bright, fun-loving, and always ready for playtime or to go with you on an outing or adventure. However, it doesn't require a ton of daily exercise to tire them out. A walk around the block is generally enough.

Because of their short muzzles, Frenchies may have more difficulty breathing in extreme temperatures. Be very mindful when exercising your dog in hot or cold weather.

Exercising your French Bulldog puppy requires a few special considerations. Frenchies have an increased risk of hip dysplasia. Avoid exercising on slippery surfaces and climbing stairs under the age of 3 months. Exercise is needed, however, as strong muscles will increase the stability of the hip joint. Outdoor exercise on soft, uneven grounds seems to have a lower risk. Try to avoid exercise that involves running, jumping and playing on hard surfaces until the age of two.

Independence

French Bulldogs were bred as companion animals and they require attention from their owners. They are happiest if they can spend all of their time alongside their family. They will not thrive in situations where they must spend long periods of time on their own.

Protective

Frenchies are friendly dogs and definitely not watch dogs. They are usually very friendly to everyone they meet, including any intruder in your house. However, keep in mind that every puppy requires proper socialization to new people and animals.

Living Conditions

Frenchies are small dogs who are not especially prone to barking, are fairly calm indoors, and are generally friendly with neighbors (both human and animal). Therefore, they tend to make excellent apartment pets. Of course, they will be happy in a larger home, as well.

Children and Other Pets

Frenchies do well with children, and unlike tinier dogs, it is safe to have them in a home with toddlers and small children. However, like many small-sized companion dogs, Frenchies can become spoiled which can lead to jealousy with pets and other people. Proper training, boundaries, and socialization are important to prevent this.

That said, extra care should be taken, especially with young children (under the age of 6).


  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

No dog, regardless of breed, should be left unattended with young children.

In general, Frenchies get along very well with other dogs and pets, especially if they are properly socialized as puppies. Special care needs to be taken when introducing a new puppy to your other pets. It needs to be done slowly and very careful to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that it is a calm, positive experience for the puppy.

Health

The average life expectancy of a French Bulldog is between 10 - 14 years. Like all breeds, the French Bulldog is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A French Bulldog is prone to these diseases:
  • Von Willebrand's Disease (VWD) (hereditary)
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) (hereditary)
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome (hereditary)
  • Hemivertebrae (hereditary)
  • Cleft Lip or Palate (hereditary)
  • Elongated Soft Palate (hereditary)
  • Patellar Luxation (hereditary) : Patellar luxation is a very common orthopedic disorder in dogs. A patellar luxation occurs when a dog’s kneecap (patella) is dislocated or slips out of its normal position. More info»

Grooming

Frenchies don't require intensive grooming. They need to be brushed once a week, to keep the shedding under control; with their short coat, it's very easy.

They don’t really need a bath too often, once a month should suffice. When you bathe them, make sure to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin's natural PH balance. After bathing, pay special attention to your Frenchie's wrinkles. Dampness between the folds can cause bacterial infections, so be sure to use a cloth to dry your dog's wrinkly skin.

Ears should be checked regularly for dirt, redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. Clean your dog's ears when needed with an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs. Frenchies don't usually wear their nails down on their own. Long nails will require regular clipping and all puppies should be introduced to nail clipping early on so that it will be easier when they are older.

Consider brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste two or three times a week. Daily is even better. All puppies should become accustomed to having their mouths and teeth checked regularly.

All puppies and dogs should be groomed regularly (preferably weekly) and have their paws, ears, and mouth handled and examined frequently so that they become comfortable with the process. This way, you will quickly become aware of any problems that arise and your dog will be easy to handle for the vet, groomer, and any treatments that are required throughout its lifetime.

Feeding

1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less. French Bulldogs are prone to obesity, so special attention should be paid to ensure that your dog doesn't become overweight, which can cause health issues in both the short and long-term.

Special attention is needed when feeding puppies. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a burden but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.
Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.