Everything You Need to Know about the French Bulldog
French Bulldogs, when you first meet one, you may not be sure what the fantastical little beast is who’s bringing a smile to your face. In fact, I would be a millionaire if I had a nickel every time someone asked me my Pugs name.
Not that I don’t love pugs, but French Bulldogs, also known as Frenchies, are definitely not one and anyone interested in owning a French Bulldog should be aware of the funny little spitfire they are bringing into their lives.
As you can imagine, this breed is known for being clownlike and fearless, which can be both comical and terrifying as your 20 pound friend meets large dogs head on. Of course, everyone will fall in love with them and their bat like large ears. If they aren’t smiling, then they have the most comical of grumpy faces you’ll ever seen.
And for such a small dog, there is a lot packed into them. So, sit back and learn everything you need to know about the French Bulldog. You are going to be delighted you did, especially if it means one or two…or maybe even four…of these delightful dogs become part of your life.
The Interesting Appearance of the French Bulldog
Males and Females: 11 to 13 inches (27.94 to 33.02cm)
Males: 20 to 28 pounds (9.07 to 12.70kg)
Females: 18 to 26 pounds (8.16 to 11.79 kg)
It should be noted that any French Bulldog over 28 pounds (12.70kg) is considered to be too heavy and can be disqualified against the breed standard.
Accepted Breed Standard Colors
- White: With or without markings
- Fawn: Ranging from light silver to dark red fawn
- Cream: Ranging from a light apricot to a dark red apricot
- Brindle: Black with brindling of fawn or apricot
- Piebald: A mostly white dog with colored markings.
- Black Masks: Dark mask on the muzzle, nose, around the eyes. Ears can be black as well.
- White Markings: White markings can appear anywhere on the dog.
- Black Shadings: Shading of fur on a fawn dog that makes the dog smutty looking.
Disqualified Breed Standard Colors
These colors have become very popular over the last few years but buyers should beware with purchase these colors. First, there are not “rare” colors so they should not be more expensive. Second, some colors are linked to health problems, which we will go over in the health section of the French bulldog.
- Black: Any solid black with no sign of brindling.
- Blue Fawn: A fawn with a silverfish blue color to the coat.
- Black and White: Black dog with white markings unless brindled.
- White and Black: White dog with black markings unless brindled.
- Tan Points: Found in blue, blue fawn or black, tan points on French Bulldogs are similar to the points Dobermans have on the eyebrows, legs, under the tail, muzzle and chest.
- Liver: Can range from a light liver color to a deep chocolate.
- Lilac: A light grey/brown color.
- Blue: Light to dark greyish blue or blue/brown.
- Merle: A coat that is mottled colors in a solid or piebald coat. Merle’s can also have miscolored eyes.
Known for being a sturdy little dog, that is exactly what you should be looking for in a French bulldog. They are a small breed of dog that should have a compact and stocky body.
When you pick them up, you should notice some weight, however, they should never be overweight or more than 28 pounds (12.70kg). The overall look should be of a square dog that is the same length as he is tall.
The back should be level and the hips should be narrower than the chest and shoulders, giving him a tapered look. The French bulldog has a short straight or corkscrew tail. The chest of the dog should be broad and is very deep.
When it comes to their head, they should have a short, broad muzzle with a definite stop. They are a brachycephalic breed, which means the muzzle is extremely short. The head should be square and the upper lips should hang over the lower.
The forehead should be slightly rounded and they should have large, round eyes that are set wide apart. For breed standard, darker eye colors and a black nose are desired, although the nose can be lighter in light colored dogs.
But one of the most important features of a French bulldog are the large, bat like ears that are set high on the head. They should form a triangle with the base wide before it narrows to the tip. They should be held so they point forward.
The coat of the French bulldog should be short and smooth. Some French bulldogs have a single coat while others have a double coat, which consists of a thicker, shorter coat. Double coated French bulldogs shed more than the single coat, however, both are considered average shedders. There should be loose skin on the dog and your French bulldog should have wrinkles around the head and shoulders.
Finally, the French bulldog comes in many different colors and color patterns, however, be aware that only a few colors are accepted for the breed standard. See above for a full list of colors.
The French Bulldog’s Fun and Fantastic Temperament
If you are looking for a pup that is full of charm, then this is the breed for you. French bulldogs are known for how charming they are and they will make anyone fall in love with them. The breed is very sociable and are always up for an adventure, especially if they can do it with their favorite person.
They are very loving and will fit into their families happily. In fact, they prefer to be with their owners and will even follow you around the house so they can be with you. The French bulldog is a playful breed and they are also quite athletic. It can be surprising just how quick they can run when they see something interesting.
In addition, the breed is very alert and while they aren’t known for being barkers, they will give a bark when there is something for you to check out. This makes them excellent watch dogs; however, their temperament and size doesn’t make them a great guard dog.
Finally, the breed is known for being a very patient breed. They tend to be calm and easygoing and while they can be lively and funny, they are just as happy curled up under a blanket with their owners.
Temperament Differences Between Males and Females
Although many breeds don’t have a huge difference in temperament between the genders, French bulldogs have a noticeable difference. Both are still amazing dogs; however, males tend to be more playful. This can also be seen as being more rambunctious. They can be cuddle bugs but they are also prone to being more independent than female dogs.
On the other side, females are usually more docile. They can also be a bit more volatile than males, especially when they are younger. A female French bulldog usually has no problem letting you know when she’s not happy. However, females are often considered to be more affectionate than males but this can differ with each individual dog.
To avoid negative temperament differences, purchase from an educated and reputable breeder that raises their litter with ample socialization that helps curb these qualities so you have a well rounded and confident puppy regardless of their sex.
A Child’s Best Friend
With their playful and funny nature, it is only natural that a French Bulldog would be a child’s best friend. The breed is known for being loving and gentle with children of all ages.
They are not a really delicate breed and can do well with even young children who may be a little rough with them. However, they can still be injured so make sure you always supervise play with them.
All in all, however, Frenchies are very patient with children. They are also very protective of the children that they bond with and will protected them. This is great on a regular basis but can pose problems if the French bulldog is not properly socialized to accept your child’s playmates.
While they are excellent with children, French bulldogs can have a strong chase drive for smaller pets. However, with training, they will happily accept cats and other dogs of all sizes. They work well in a home with multiple types of animals.
But the breed is known for having a jealous streak so if you are trying to fit the French bulldog into your family, be sure that you have enough time to give to him to help avoid jealous behaviors such as pooping in your bed.
Little Dog, Big History
Believe it or not, the French Bulldog has quite the history. In fact, the breed can be traced back to ancient mollosser dogs and have ancestry through the English Mastiff. However, the breed was developed much later through breeding English Bulldogs.
In 1835, many dog sports were outlawed in England. This included bull-baiting, dog fighting and bear baiting among other sports.
When the sports were banned, many of the dog sport breeds shifted into companion dogs or found other jobs in the dog world that was not as violent or cruel. The English Bulldog breed survived by becoming a companion breed.
And with that, some effort was made to reduce their size slightly. However, some of the smaller dogs were bred to terriers, although it is unclear which terrier breeds were used to reduce the size. By the 1860’s, a small bulldog was established and even began being shown in dog shows.
Originally known as toy bulldogs, the breed gained a lot of popularity in France, especially when lace workers settled in the middle of Normandy, France. Breeders began breeding the smaller bulldogs with a focus on the large, erect ears that was not seen in the English Bulldog.
They quickly gained popularity with French aristocrats, artists and writers and they were even a popular favorite of Parisian prostitutes. As they gained more popularity, the breed was renamed Bouledogue Francais and then, eventually, the French bulldog. It was clear as they neared the 1900’s that the French Bulldog had diverged from the English Bulldog and was its own breed.
The French Bulldog was first imported into North America and was considered a symbol of wealth as many puppies during that period were more than $3000 at that time.
The breed club of America was founded in 1898 and the French Bulldog has continued to gain popularity. Today, it is ranked as the 4th most popular breed in America.
The Health and Lifespan of the French Bulldog
Life Expectancy: 11 to 14 years
While French Bulldogs have a long lifespan, they are a breed that is known for having a large number of health problems. In fact, the breed is known for having a large number of them and efforts are being made by responsible breeders to improve the overall health of the French Bulldog.
Unfortunately, the breed still has a long way to go and there are a number of color related problems that are becoming more prevalent as “rare” colors become popular. Before you choose to have a French Bulldog, make sure you are aware of the medical costs that can be associated with them.
As with all breed, make sure that you choose a puppy that comes from health tested parents. In addition, finding a breeder who offers a two year health guarantee will ensure that your puppy has the best start in life.
Before we look at health risks in the breed, let’s take a look at some of the color related health problems that are seen.
Color Related Health Problems:
Blues and Blue Fawns:
- Color Dilution Alopecia: Thin hair or severe hair loss.
- Skin Inflammation: This often increases the risk of them developing Staph and other skin infections.
- Poor Immune Systems: Blues have been linked to having weaker immune systems.
- High Birth Mortality Rates
While white is an accepted color, there is an inherited disability that can occur in some white dogs.
- Deafness: White coats often increase the risk of deafness in all dog breeds, including the French Bulldog.
Breeding merle to merle cause many health problems and should be avoided. Never purchase a pup from a breeding of two merles. In addition, Merles are believed to have occurred by crossing Chihuahuas into the pedigree so there is a lot of debate on whether these French Bulldogs are purebred or not. Health problems they are known to have are:
- Structural Defects:
- Eye Anomalies and Abnormalities
- High Birth Mortality Rates
Conditions that are seen in French Bulldogs regardless of color are the following:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
- Brachycephalic Syndrome
- Elongated Soft Palate
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- Von Willebrand's Disease
- Patellar Luxation
- Cherry Eye
- Tracheal Collapse
- Laryngeal Collapse
- Heat Stress
- Stenotic Nares
- Cleft Palate
- Autoimmune Thyroiditis
As you can see, the French Bulldog has a large number of health risks but it is important to realize that some lines are healthier than others. In addition, owners should realize that French Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed. What this means is that their short snouts can make breathing difficult.
They are prone to heat exhaustion and can collapse from heat stress and heat stroke with very little exposure. For that reason, it is important to keep them cool in the warmer months and to avoid a lot of exercise during the hottest parts of the day.
Since they are a small breed, they can be prone to serious injuries to their joints and limbs if they are allowed to jump off high areas when they are young.
For that reasons, stairs and high furniture should be restricted for French bulldogs. In addition, your pup should be trained to ramps to get off of beds so they can avoid being injured.
Finally, like many breeds, the French bulldog can become obese quite easily. Always make sure that you monitor their weights and always factor in treats when you count your pup’s daily calories.
Living with the Antics of a French Bulldog
Have I mentioned that Frenchies are a very funny breed? Obviously, the answer is yes and anyone who owns a French bulldog is sure to spend a lot of time laughing. In addition, this affectionate little breed loves their owners so living with the antics of a French bulldog is a wonderful way to spend a day.
Of course, even with the funny little antics, the French bulldog does require daily care. While they are not overly energetic, they have a good level for their size and will require daily exercise.
One or two 15 minutes a day will help keep them happy, however, the key to a French Bulldogs heart is daily play times. They love playing and exploring so it is great to provide them with daily opportunities for both. However, they don’t need a huge yard and will happily exercise with a game of fetch down a hallway.
They can be very fearless so it is important to make sure your house is puppy proof as they can get into their own shenanigans and don’t think about their safety at all. When exercising, be wary of the heat as French bulldogs are prone to heat exhaustion.
They are prone to separation anxiety and thrive when they can be with their owners. If they are left alone for long periods, French bulldogs can become quite destructive.
For that reason, this isn’t a pup for people who are away from home for extremely long hours and they should be crate trained to keep them from getting into things when you are gone.
Training can be a bit difficult with this breed. They usually take longer for house training but this is often due to their size. They are eager to please but they can be quite stubborn.
In addition, many French bulldogs feel their way is the right way, which can mean they are less than focused on you during training. Be sure to train your pup every day for 10 to 15 minutes and keep training fun so your pup stays focused on it.
Grooming a French bulldog isn’t that difficult but they do need daily grooming. Their coats are short and smooth and can be kept clean when they are brushed on a weekly basis. You can also wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove dirt and debris.
However, the breed is known to have bacterial infections in the folds of their skin. For that reason, wipe down the wrinkles on a daily basis and keep wrinkles dry.
Bathing only needs to be done on a monthly basis if you are keeping up with daily grooming. However, always make sure those wrinkles are dry after a bath or you could end up with problems and hot spots. Ears should be cleaned as necessary and your pup may need drops to keep their eyes moist. Nails should be clipped whenever necessary; usually once or twice a month.
As with all breeds, French bulldogs do very well with a high quality dog food. They don’t eat a lot per day, usually 1 to 2 cups depending on the type of food, however, always watch your pup to make sure that he doesn’t overeat. They are prone to obesity and are experts when it comes to getting a few extra morsels from their owner’s plate.
Funny, playful and loving, the French bulldog is an amazing breed that will bring laughter and love into their owner’s homes. They are exceptional companion dogs and while they can be a little bit stubborn and jealous at times, even those negative traits just make the breed even more endearing.