You’ve probably seen these long-eared goofballs around, haven’t you? They’re quite popular these days and extremely hard to stay indifferent to. All they need to do is look at you with those big puppy eyes and give you a silly grin, and suddenly you don’t just want one for yourself — you need it. If that is precisely what happened to you, let us introduce you to the French Bulldog.
A Brief History of the French Bulldog
Although the name suggests that the French Bulldog originates from France, that is not quite the case. The breed became popular in France, but it actually came from neighboring England, which experimented with cross-breeding bulldogs at the time.
Crossbreeders in England made two new breeds — bull-and-terrier for dogfights, and a smaller toy bulldog with rose or upright ears. This second breed became particularly popular among workers in the lace-making industry around Nottingham. After the Industrial Revolution forced them to emigrate, these workers took the toy bulldogs to France.
The French instantly fell in love with the small dogs. Parisians adored them — both the ladies and the ordinary folk loved being seen with these companions. The British used the opportunity to export many of these toy bulldogs, soon to be known as French Bulldogs, to their neighbors.
Soon enough, Americans took a liking to them as well — especially the type with erect ears. In fact, they were so crazy about them that they refused to participate in the 1898 Westminster dog show because it featured both bat-eared and rose-eared dogs! Instead, the French Bull Dog Club of America organized its own show exclusively for bat ears.
After a decline in their popularity during the two World Wars, Frenchies are once again in vogue. You can see them on the streets, in magazines, and even starring in movies!
A Few Facts About French Bulldogs
- Weight and height: Typically, male Frenchies weigh between 20 and 28 pounds, while females are lighter — from 16 to 24 pounds. As a toy breed, they are only around 11 to 12 inches tall.
- Lifespan: On average, the French Bulldog lives 11 to 14 years.
- Appearance: Small and compact, but muscular, the French Bulldog bears some resemblance to the breed it originates from. It has short legs, a flat, squished face, and most notably, big bat ears. Frenchies have a straight, short coat that doesn’t require too much grooming.
- Color: French Bulldogs come in four common colors — fawn, brindle, cream, and white. However, some have more unusual coats of jet black, chocolate, and even blue and lilac!
- Dog breed group: It should come as no surprise that the American Kennel Club sorted Frenchies into a toy group. Toy dogs are small but affectionate, and they make great companions both for adults and children.
- Energy level: French Bulldogs are rather playful, but their energy level is average. Basically, they don’t require much exercise, so they are perfect for people with busy schedules.
- Health: Unfortunately, Frenchies are quite prone to genetic health issues. The cause lies in their breeding — often done only for their appearance, disregarding their health.
- Social needs: French Bulldogs hate being alone! They are incredibly social — so much so that they may develop separation anxiety if left alone too often. They are extremely friendly and affectionate, and won’t hesitate to approach even strangers!
- Barking tendencies: Every dog is different, but as a rule, Frenchies don’t bark much. They’re also quite intelligent and easy to train, so even if you do have some barking issues, they’re quite solvable.
French Bulldog’s Personality
Why They Are So Easy to Love
Though their cousins, bulldogs, have a bad rap, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more amiable breed than Frenchies. As companion dogs, they are friendly, patient, sociable, and easy-going. They generally get along well with other pets and children, and you’ll only hear them bark when they greet visitors.
French Bulldogs may look like simple, loveable goofballs (which they are), but they are surprisingly intelligent. They learn quickly and have a great memory — so they’re unlikely to forget any commands you teach them.
Also, they are extremely playful! Buy your Frenchie some toys, take it out for a walk, and you’ll see how excited it gets. Though it doesn’t need much exercise, it still enjoys some.
Why They Might Drive You Crazy
A friendly, intelligent breed that doesn’t bark? Who wouldn’t want such a dog? Well, unfortunately, Frenchies do have a few shortcomings that drive some dog owners away.
For instance, they are extremely stubborn. Though highly intelligent, your French Bulldog might prove challenging to train precisely because of this stubbornness. However, Frenchies typically respond well to training involving food, so that can be your trump card when your pup gets too set in its ways.
On top of that, you’ll have to deal with a lot of snorting, sniffling, and flatulence. Unfortunately, most of these small, flat-faced breeds come with a variety of sounds that can be endearing to some and annoying to others. Before you get a French Bulldog, it’s best to consider which category you belong to.
As we’ve already mentioned, French Bulldogs are not the healthiest of dogs. Aside from the regular health issues any dog can face, Frenchies may suffer from several genetic conditions due to irresponsible breeding.
That doesn’t mean you should stay away from Frenchies — these loveable companions have a lot to offer despite their health issues. However, always make sure to double-check the person you’re getting your dog from.
In the meantime, here are some of the common health problems French Bulldogs experience.
Intervertebral Disc Disease
On your dog’s back, between vertebrae, there are jelly-like cushions. When your French Bulldog jumps too much and lands too hard, these cushions can rupture and start pressing the spinal cord. That causes a great deal of pain to your dog, and may even lead to nerve damage and paralysis.
If your dog suddenly stops moving or doesn’t want to jump and climb stairs, and generally behaves as if it’s in pain, take it to the vet. Intervertebral disc disease needs to be treated with medication, or if it’s severe, surgery.
Although Frenchies are predisposed to this condition, there are ways to prevent it. For instance, instead of letting your dog jump, build ramps around the house. Make sure not to let your Frenchie become obese — the risk is much higher with overweight dogs.
Some French Bulldogs are born with spinal deformities — otherwise known as hemivertebrae. A dog with this condition may lack stability or experience spinal cord damage.
The condition can worsen with age, but luckily, many French Bulldogs can live happily with it. More severe cases are usually resolved with surgery and rehabilitation.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
If your French Bulldog’s joints form improperly, it’s likely to struggle with arthritis as it matures. You’ll recognize hip and elbow dysplasia by lameness in your dog’s legs and its inability to jump or climb stairs. If the condition is seriously affecting your pup’s well-being, surgery might be the best option.
Frenchies have large and prominent eyes, which are, sadly, susceptible to painful and dangerous eye conditions. It’s essential to check your pet’s eyes regularly and take it to the vet as soon as you spot something suspicious. Here are a few conditions you should look out for:
French Bulldogs are by no means the only dogs that can develop cataracts. However, old Frenchies are particularly susceptible to it, and the condition often causes blindness. Don’t hesitate — if you notice some cloudiness in your dog’s eyes, take it to a vet.
This condition causes hairs to grow inside the eyelid. Sounds unpleasant? It’s more than just that — it’s extremely painful. The hair can scratch the surface of the eye, causing ulcers and chronic pain.
A condition that has some similarities with distichiasis, entropion causes eyelids to roll inward. Then eyelashes scratch the surface of the eye, irritating it and eventually leading to blindness.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
Your French Bulldog may seem perfectly healthy, until one day it sustains an injury and the bleeding doesn’t stop. A condition similar to hemophilia in humans, Von Willebrand’s disease, is the usual culprit.
Von Willebrand’s disease is a blood-clotting disorder, but it’s only dangerous if it’s severe. Mild and moderate cases don’t usually require any special treatment. However, if the disease is severe, your Frenchie might need a blood transfusion and certain movement restrictions.
Degenerative myelopathy is a neurological disorder that affects French Bulldogs more than any other breed. It causes weakness in hind legs that progressively gets worse, resulting in complete paralysis and incontinence. The symptoms usually begin manifesting when the dog is 8 to 14 years old.
Unfortunately, since this disorder is a lot like ALS in people, there is no cure. The only thing you can do is slow its progression by using acupuncture, dietary supplements, and rehabilitation.
Like most flat-faced dogs, Frenchies are prone to brachycephalic syndrome. It’s caused by several upper airway abnormalities that obstruct normal breathing.
Typically, the brachycephalic dog’s upper palate is elongated and extends into the airway, the nostrils are too small, and the trachea may be too narrow. All of this results in respiratory difficulties, sniffling, snorting, and coughing. If the symptoms are severe, your Frenchie might need corrective surgery to help it breathe normally.
French Bulldogs don’t do well with heat. Due to their squished faces, they may have trouble breathing and regulating their body temperature. If you notice your dog panting excessively, convulsing, or vomiting, give it water to drink and try to cool it down.
And don’t forget — prolonged heat stress can quickly turn into a heat stroke, which is a much more severe condition. Take your dog to the vet if you notice that the symptoms are persistent.
Though the name might suggest a serious condition, patellar luxation simply means that your dog’s kneecap tends to dislocate. In most cases, the condition resolves on its own — your Frenchie might just kick its leg sideways and pop the kneecap back in place. However, if the symptoms are severe, your pup might require knee surgery.
Flea, food, and grass allergies may manifest in the form of atopy. Basically, dogs don’t sneeze and experience watery eyes — instead, their allergies cause rashes and itchiness on the skin. And as you may be able to guess, Frenchies are rather prone to atopy-causing allergies.
On its own, atopy isn’t particularly life-threatening, but it may cause extreme discomfort and stress to your dog. In fact, all the scratching can lead to wounds and be quite painful.
Other Health Concerns
Frenchies do look a little stocky, but they shouldn’t be overweight. Obese French Bulldogs may suffer from joint pain, digestive issues, backaches, and heart disease. If things go too far, your beloved dog may even die.
Since Frenchies are not particularly active, obesity is quite a big concern. Make sure to take your dog for walks regularly and don’t feed it every time it asks for food.
Dental issues affect most dogs, but unfortunately, French Bulldogs are more likely to have them than most breeds. If left unchecked, dental problems can lead to gum infections and even teeth loss. Obviously, your dog’s life quality will be significantly reduced if it has no teeth. But dental infections can also affect kidneys, liver, joints, and heart, as well as reduce your dog’s lifespan by several years.
Worms, bugs, ticks, fleas, and mites are just some of the parasites that may find their home in your Frenchie. The good news is that it’s no more susceptible to them than other breeds. However, that doesn’t mean you should relax — check your French Bulldog regularly to spot any changes on time. After all, parasites can cause serious health issues to your dog, but also to you and your family.
Bacteria and viruses are a threat to every breed, and your Frenchie is no exception. Aside from mild infections that clear up after short treatment, your dog can catch parvo, rabies, and similar serious illnesses. Make sure to vaccinate your Frenchie and keep it happy and healthy!
How to Take Care of a French Bulldog
As we’ve already mentioned, Frenchies are prone to obesity, so you need to be rather careful about your pooch’s diet. No matter how much it gives you the puppy eyes, don’t let it eat more than two times a day.
However, it’s equally important to give your dog high-quality food with enough calories to sustain it. To determine how much your dog needs to eat, consider its size, activity level, age, and build. Puppies typically need to eat more often, but less than adult dogs and active Frenchies need more food than couch potatoes. If you’re not sure how to feed your dog properly, consult your vet.
There are several feeding options for Frenchies — commercial dry food, canned food, homemade meals, and raw food. Aside from meat and grains, commercial dry food and canned food contain minerals and vitamins that your dog needs, so these two options are typically the best. Keep in mind that canned food comes with a lot of water — so your Frenchie might need to eat more to obtain enough calories.
Raw foods and homemade meals are a little tricky — your French Bulldog might react well to them, or it might have digestive issues. Before you opt for either of these two, consult your vet.
French Bulldog isn’t the easiest of breeds to take care of, but at least you’ll have no trouble with its coat. It’s short and smooth, so it doesn’t require any trimming and needs only to be brushed once a week.
Start grooming your Frenchie from a young age, so that it would get used to the process. Teach it to stand still on the floor as you brush it, and be thorough. Use this opportunity to check for any scabs, lesions, rashes, or ticks — especially if your Frenchie likes to explore bushes and tall grass. That way, you’ll always be aware of potential changes and skin problems.
Grooming doesn’t involve just the coat, so take the time to examine your dog’s ears, nose, and eyes. If anything smells bad or you notice some suspicious discharge, take your Frenchie to a vet.
However, even if everything’s in order, make sure to clean your dog’s ears. Use a cotton swab and carefully run it along its ear canal, but don’t stick it inside. Wash the rest of the ears with a damp, warm cloth.
Bathing and Nails
Like most dogs, French Bulldogs don’t require a lot of bathing — just once a month is perfectly acceptable. Of course, if your dog rolls around in the mud, you should wash it even if it’s not bathing time. But otherwise, just keep its coat groomed, and it will be clean enough.
When you bathe your Frenchie, make sure to use a high-quality dog shampoo. These shampoos are specifically made to protect your dog’s skin and not strip the natural oils in the coat.
When you finish, carefully dry your pup and pay special attention to the folds on the face. If water gets trapped in them, bacteria may grow and cause an infection.
Bathing time is a perfect opportunity for trimming nails as well. You may not consider it necessary — but if the nails grow too much, they may tear your Frenchie’s feet! So take the time to trim them every three to four weeks.
If you find yourself struggling with clipping your Frenchie’s nails, don’t hesitate to take it to the vet or a certified pet groomer. After all, that’s what they’re here for!
As we’ve already mentioned, Frenchies have sensitive teeth and may suffer from serious dental issues. Thus, you need to be particularly careful with their dental hygiene. Brushing your French Bulldog’s teeth at least twice a week is an absolute must, but you might be wondering how to achieve that with an uncooperative dog.
Of course, it’s always best to start early — get your Frenchie used to brushing while it’s still a puppy. However, even adult dogs can be trained to endure it, especially if you provide them treats or use a tasty toothpaste. And no matter what you do, don’t use human toothpaste — it contains fluoride, which is poisonous for dogs.
Aside from regular brushing, you can use dental wipes, treats, and chewing toys to keep your pup’s teeth healthy. Most Frenchies like chewing on treats and toys, so it’s a win-win situation!
French Bulldogs may look like real couch-potatoes, but they still need their share of exercise. In fact, they become quite active when they’re outside — they run, jump, fetch, and explore their surroundings.
Ideally, your Frenchie should get some exercise every day. Take it around the block or to the park — or if neither is possible, play with it at home. Frenchies only need around 15–20 minutes of exercising a day, so fitting a walk with your pup into your schedule shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Be careful not to overexert your French Bulldog, though. Since it is brachycephalic and prone to heat stress, make sure to observe it carefully while it plays. If you notice excessive panting or other signs of exhaustion, get your dog to calm down and make sure it drinks plenty of water.
As you can see, the French Bulldog is quite a high-maintenance breed. You have to give it lots of attention — both for its physical and mental well-being. Frenchies are quite sickly and need constant monitoring and care, as well as frequent trips to the vet. If you’re not prepared for that much responsibility, it’s best to opt for a different dog.
But the French Bulldog is popular for a reason. Its loveable, goofy look and amiable, easy-going personality make it a perfect companion both for adults and children. In the end, all that effort pays off — you get a loyal best friend for life!