French Bulldog – The Complete Breed Guide & More

Once you’ve seen them, you’ll never mistake the bow-legged gait and perky ears of the French Bulldog for any other dog breed. Any French Bulldog owner will tell you their dog is the most adorable and clever breed they’ve ever had.

Also lovingly called the Frenchie, its unique features and sweet demeanor make this breed an excellent companion. This breed will make you laugh and offer you comfort, no matter what the situation is. Read on to learn more about what makes this adaptable and charming small breed so unique!

French Bulldog Characteristics 

I have two words for you: bat ears. The enormous size of the Frenchies’ broad ears is just one of the many stand-out features on these little dog breeds. The space between the ears is a flat-shaped skull, an uncommon trait known uniquely among this dog breed.

Frenchies are known as brachycephalic dogs, characterized by shallow, wrinkly, and squashed faces. Their flat faces attract enthusiasts because it causes this breed to snort and snore, which some find appealing.

The French Bulldog’s short, stalky frame also adds to their overall bulky look. Many dog lovers seek out this breed specifically for its cute, compact, and muscular look. The French Bulldog is sometimes mistaken for the Boston Terrier or Bulldog, two breeds with similar faces and body features.

frenchie on the beach

French Bulldog Size

French Bulldogs stand 11-13 inches tall and weigh no more than 28 pounds. On average, males are about an inch taller than females. A typical, healthy weight for a Frenchie should stay at about 25 pounds.

Although built strong and muscular, the French Bulldog breed is meant to be a lapdog. They’re small enough to fit on an adult lap or tucked between your side and arm, where they feel safe.

French Bulldog Personality



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The Frenchie is a fun and loving dog who thrives on attention. They might even demand it if you go long enough without showering them in affection, making them quite needy. If your Frenchie can’t sit on your lap, they’ll find another lap that welcomes them with open arms.

French Bulldogs are ideal for a homebody – the breed doesn’t do well with owners who are gone for a long time. Their level of attachment and attentiveness means this breed should not live outside or in the garage. Lack of attention can cause their stubbornness and negative behavior to become prominent.

When a Frenchie plays, they like to cause mayhem and destruction. They will maul their toy and leave any stuffed animals without a trace of fluff. Raw hides, dental chews, and pig ears are among certain types of toys that could cause choking, so avoid giving these to your Frenchies.

There’s no need to worry about small dog breeds’ continuous barking when it comes to the Frenchie. They only get yappy when genuinely excited and playful. The rest of the time, you’ll only hear them snorting and snoring (which can be just as loud as barking at times).

A fun fact about the French Bulldog’s playful personality is that they like to play hide and seek by hiding things and making their humans look for them.

French Bulldog Exercise

If you’d like a dog that doesn’t need a long walk, the French Bulldog is perfect for you. Still, French Bulldogs need about one hour of exercise daily to maintain their weight. These adorable dogs are prone to weight gain, so you should balance their activity level and caloric intake.

The good news is that you don’t need a lot of space to give your Frenchie a workout! These dogs are pretty active indoors, and an inside play session can burn a ton of energy. Since these dogs don’t like to walk long distances, you may only need to venture around your block once or twice (a few times a day) to give them the exercise they need.

Multiple short walks and play sessions are ideal for this breed because of their brachycephalic status. It’s best to avoid long, strenuous exercise since French Bulldogs can’t cool themselves down as easily as other dogs. A walk should not exceed 20 minutes.

The Frenchie’s low-maintenance exercise needs make them an increasingly attractive option for city-dwellers. They do best as indoor pets because they are sensitive to heat.

Although their bat ears would stand out in a show, Frenchies are not very athletic and aren’t likely to compete in sports. The American Kennel Club (AKC) classified this dog as a non-sporting breed.

French Bulldog Training

Breeders usually send a French Bulldog puppy to their new home when they are 9 or 10 weeks old. Frenchie puppies can become demanding little tyrants if they don’t spend optimal time with their mother and littermates. This early socialization teaches them how to behave towards people and other dogs.

Like any dog, proper training is recommended from a young age. Starting young ensures that bad habits aren’t developed. Luckily, the French Bulldog is intelligent (albeit a little stubborn) and not too difficult to train.

Frenchies have a reputation for being a little hard to house train because they are willful at times. The key to conquering a headstrong French Bulldog is to motivate them correctly and begin training ASAP.

The good news is that a French Bulldog will comply if you use gentle, positive techniques. Positive reinforcement encourages them the most. However, you may find that your Frenchie likes to put its own spin on tricks or commands, especially when it’s for an audience.

There are some essentials to remember when training a Frenchie. Here are the top five to get your pup ready for house-living in no time:

Start Potty Training Immediately

Because these are smart and analytical dogs, they develop habits early and stick to them. If your French Bulldog gets used to going potty inside, this will become the norm. Consistent trips to their designated spot outside with positive reinforcement will make all the difference.

Familiarize Crate Training

This breed has an innate need to feel safe, so introducing a crate is a perfect way to meet these criteria. Crate training helps dogs feel more secure when they’re alone by getting them accustomed to isolation. Here’s what you need to do to crate train your Frenchie:

  • Begin by setting up a comfy box in your home. Your dog must approve of the area and the crate. They won’t be inclined to stay in their designated box if they feel uncomfortable or scared!
  • Once you’ve picked a place, set up the box, place your puppy in the crate, and leave them alone. It’s best to do this when your dog is already in a calm, restful mood. The first period of isolation should last about 10 minutes.
  • When your dog can go for 10 minutes without whining for attention, you can gradually lengthen the alone time. Eventually, your dog will become more tolerant of solitude.

Keep Command Lessons Short

The easiest way to get your French Bulldog puppy to learn and listen is to use one-word commands when training. Keep it simple by using short cues like “sit,” “stop,” or “potty.” Reward them only once they have done the command correctly, and keep the lessons short to avoid frustration or loss of interest.

Use Plenty of Praise and Rewards

This breed thrives on positive reinforcement. French Bulldogs aim to please their owners and respond well to treats or their favorite toys. And of course, seeing you happy after they’ve obeyed a command will create an instant association!

Socialization

Once your puppy has all of its shots, you should introduce them to other people and animals ASAP. Don’t worry about too much socialization for this breed- it’s what they thrive on. Socialization is one of the most important things to remember when raising a happy Frenchie.

Related: How to Socialize a Dog No Matter the Age, Breed, or Aggression Level

French Bulldog History

The French Bulldog originated in Nottingham, England, in the mid-1800s. The first breeders were lacemakers in Normandy who took to various toy-size bulldogs and refined the lines. When the lacemaking industry slowed down, the lacemakers relocated to the French countryside and brought their dogs along.

In France, the lacemakers continued to breed selectively certain traits in these smaller bulldogs. Eventually, the modern French Bulldog was created. The Frenchies became hardy companions that also chased away the rodents.

Frenchies are believed to have developed their bat-like ears due to crossbreeding with either terriers or pugs. Their adorable appearance led them to become favorites among the Parisian high class. From there, they became a favorite across all of Europe’s high society in the late 1800s.

One French Bulldog traveled aboard the Titanic and was insured for an incredible sum of $750, which would equal about $20,000 during that time.

Related: Most Expensive Dog Breeds: The Top 10 Priciest Pups

frenchie with toy

French Bulldog Health Problems

The average life span of a Frenchie is between 10 to 13 years, although some have been recorded to live 18 years. Although they live about the same as other breeds, this non-sporting breed has some health issues worth noting. It’s important to be aware of the following conditions when you own a French Bulldog.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS)

Brachycephalic dogs have a higher risk of BAS because of their compressed facial bones that may cause obstructed breathing. These breeds typically have an elongated soft palate, laryngeal collapse, narrowed nasal cavities, or other related problems that lead to difficulty breathing.

Dogs with brachycephalic syndrome can’t tolerate excessive heat, either. If you can’t see their structural defects, you can still tell by the dog’s labored breathing after minimal exercise. In more severe cases, your dog may need surgery to improve airflow and breathing.

Patellar Luxation 

Patellar luxation is a common problem in smaller dogs. This condition occurs when the patella bone (knee cap) slips out of its usual position. The dislocation causes lameness or an abnormal gait, and the continual rubbing caused by patellar luxation can lead to joint pains or aches.

Mild cases of patellar luxation typically don’t need any treatment. However, your dog might need surgery if there is lameness or obvious pain. Fortunately, chances of a full recovery are extremely high, and your dog should regain full use of their legs.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is an inheritable condition that occurs when the femur doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint’s pelvic socket. The ill-fitted structures grind against each other, causing bone degradation and pain. Some dogs exhibit hip dysplasia in one or both rear legs.

Some common symptoms of this health condition are:

  • Decreased activity and movement
  • Lameness
  • Difficulty moving, walking, or running
  • Stiffness or awkward gait

Although hip dysplasia is typically inherited, it can also result from injury or obesity. Luckily joint supplements or physical therapy can be sufficient treatment in most cases. If the condition becomes severe, a veterinarian may recommend surgery to correct the hip dysplasia fully.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) 

IVDD is a predisposed condition that occurs when a disc in the spine ruptures or herniates and pushes into the spinal cord. When this happens, nerve transmissions can’t travel along the spinal cord. IVDD can result from trauma, age, or even a physical jolt that occurs when a dog jumps off the couch. When the disc ruptures, the dog feels pain, and the ruptured disc may lead to weakness and paralysis.

In most cases, IVDD will require steroidal treatment or surgery to prevent further injury. Early detection is critical for recovery, and in some cases, surgery may still not be enough to restore function. Physical rehab is required in all cases to improve the prognosis.

Allergies

All dogs are prone to allergies, but the French Bulldog tends to be extra-sensitive to some substances. Common allergies include animal proteins and byproducts.

The skin on your French Bulldog’s feet, belly, and ears will be the most affected. Symptoms can occur between the ages of one and three, with increasing severity in the following years. They will experience itchy skin, and you will notice them frequently licking their paws or rubbing their face and ears.

Luckily, you can manage their allergies through many available treatment options! 

Dental Disease/Infections

Dental issues are common amongst dogs, but unfortunately, this breed is even more susceptible. It usually starts with tartar buildup, which progresses to gum infections. If left untreated, your Frenchie can suffer damage to their kidneys, heart, liver, and joints.

Remember to brush your dog’s teeth consistently, if not daily, to prevent dental diseases (and bad breath!).

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

This immune system disorder is very prevalent amongst French Bulldogs. IBD occurs when their intestinal lining becomes overrun with immune system cells called lymphocytes and plasmacytes. The affected stomach and intestinal lining thickens, which inhibits nutrient absorption.

Symptoms of this condition include chronic vomiting and diarrhea. Stress and diet may worsen symptoms. Check with your vet if these signs appear with no apparent cause. Inflammatory bowel disease can be controlled through special diets and medications.

How to Care for a French Bulldog

Step one: lots of love, attention, and cuddles! However, before you can get to step one, you need to ensure that you’ve adopted a healthy French Bulldog. You do this by carefully selecting the breeder from whom you purchase your dog. Professional and responsible breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest pups.

Sometimes, a puppy will develop health conditions despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that the dogs can still live a good life, in most cases. If you decide to get a Frenchie, ask the breeder about their health issues that run in the direct line.

A French Bulldog’s life span can be lengthened by daily non-strenuous exercise and limiting exposure to extreme temperatures. These loving, even-tempered, and intelligent dogs are eager to please and easy to train as long as you are consistent and firm.

Nutrition and Feeding for French Bulldogs

It is recommended to give your furry friend 1-1.5 cups of high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals or more. Puppies under a year old should eat up to one cup of food daily, split into three meals.

The standard amount can vary depending on your dog’s metabolism, health, and activity level. For French Bulldogs, higher-quality food can make a tremendous difference in their happiness and health.

Since Frenchies are so prone to allergies, it may take time to find a kibble that doesn’t trigger an allergic reaction. You can always consult your vet for an allergy test or give your dog an allergen-free kibble that contains a moderate level of protein.

Coat Color And Grooming

Coat color options vary widely from fawn to cream and various brindle shades, such as black brindle and tiger brindle. The AKC and UKC have different standards for acceptable coat colors, but both organizations deem black, liver, gray, and black with white or tan non-standard.

The Frenchie has only one coat layer, meaning they can get cold quickly. You can quickly warm them up with a little dog jacket or socks. The single-layer coat is short, smooth, and shiny with a smooth texture. The skin is loose and wrinkled, especially at the head.

The grooming process is relatively easy. A Frenchie doesn’t shed too much, but they lose more hair in the fall and spring seasons. Teach your dog to grow accustomed to brushing, and don’t forget to clean between their skin folds. Always take the time to check their skin for scabs, bare spots, or signs of infection.

You should check the ears, eyes, and teeth for bad smells or anything abnormal. You can clean their ears with a damp, warm cloth. As for the nails, this dog doesn’t have natural wear, so they will need to be trimmed regularly. After bathing, take the time to dry them between the folds and only use a high-quality shampoo. Frenchies should be bathed about once a month.

Children And Other Pets

When introduced from a young age, these little social butterflies will get along great with children and pets. French Bulldogs are quite playful with kids, and their small size poses little threat to a child.

On the other hand, very spoiled Frenchies may be jealous of other dogs, especially if they get more attention from their owners. However, the jealously rarely turns to aggression if they are adequately socialized.

frenchie by the fireplace

Rescue Groups

When a French Bulldog is acquired without knowing what goes into owning one, they often end up abandoned and left at rescue groups. This leaves the breed in need of loving fostering and adoption. A rescue group is an excellent place to find your canine friend because it saves a neglected dog from poor circumstances. So many dogs need a great home and loving owners! Check out these groups to see which ones work best for you:

Breed Organizations

Today, the Frenchie ranks 21st among the breeds registered by the American Kennel Club, up from 71st just 20 years ago. French Bulldogs didn’t appear in the United States until the late 1900s, where they were first recognized as a breed by the French Bulldog Club of America (FBDCA) in 1897. Just one year later, the dog breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

More About This Dog Breed

French Bulldogs are endorsed by some big-name celebrities, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martha Stewart being two examples. When a Frenchie is the right match for you, you’ll find it’s impossible to have just one. These loving little pups bring joy to any household, and their silliness will keep you smiling for days!



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