Also known as the “Frenchie” and the Bouledogue Fran, the French bulldog is a sweet companion dog that thrives on attention and loves to play. Easily trained, this pint-sized pup makes a great first-time dog and fits seamlessly into the family unit.
- Low exercise requirements
- A highly demanded breed in the United States
- Seldom bark
- Intolerant of heat
- Family and companion dogs
The History of the French Bulldog
Despite its name, the French bulldog originated in England. Bred by fans of the bulldog, this breed was created by breeding British Bulldogs with “ratters” to create a miniature bulldog.
It wasn’t until a mass emigration of British lace workers from England to France, that the French bulldog, then referred to as the “toy bulldog”, found its way to France as well. As fabric workers moved to France to take advantage of the trending French fashion industry, they took their little dogs with them. Once in France, the toy Bulldogs were crossed with various small French breeds to create a French bulldog similar to todays.
The breed didn’t really take off until 1898, however, after a show for the breed was held in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel ballroom in New York City. Due to the publicity surrounding the event, the French bulldog soon became a status symbol and ownership became a social trend.
Appearance and Vital Stats
The French bulldog is a member of the “non-sporting” group. Bred for companionship, these small dogs have low exercise demands, need little grooming and are quite intelligent. Despite this intelligence, however, they can be particularly stubborn, making training a challenge at times.
A rather clean dog, the French bulldog loves to be the center of attention and thrives on human contact like all companion breeds. Fortunately for their human companions, Frenchies are rarely barkers and they adapt well to most living situations.
The French bulldog weighs between 16 and 28lbs and stands between 11” to 1’ at the shoulder. Although this is a small breed, the Frenchie is quite solidly built but requires a regular exercise routine to avoid obesity.
Male French Bulldogs are generally heavier and have larger heads than females, but they are not always taller.
The average lifespan of this small friendly dog is between 11 and 14 years.
The French Bulldog’s coat is quite fine and very short with a smooth and sleek shine. Unlike some breeds with quite “tightly fitted” skin, the Frenchie’s coat is loose and features characteristic wrinkles.
There are eleven standard colors for the French bulldog coat – brindle, brindle and white, cream, fawn, fawn and white, fawn brindle, white, white and brindle, white and fawn, cream and white, and fawn brindle and white. There are also five coat marking patterns – ticked, black masked, brindle markings, piebald markings, and white markings. Only the ticket markings are standard to the breed, however.
The tail of the French bulldog can be straight or screwed in appearance, but it should not curl. The short tail is low hung and tapers to a thin tip with a thick base.
The ears of the French bulldog are particularly large and are commonly referred to as “bat ears”. With a large base and a rounded top peak, the ears sit high atop the head facing forwards. Quite soft to the touch, the Frenchie’s ears are set quite far apart.
A moderately intelligent breed, the French bulldog can be easy to train provided they are approached with a firm hand. This small dog can be particularly stubborn, but will soon relent when made to feel the center of attention.
Unlike some breeds, the Frenchie does not have a very high prey drive, making it a poor candidate for any type of sporting activity. These dogs can also be particularly lazy which can make training tedious at times.
A particularly playful breed, the Frenchie is always ready for a game and can play with some intensity. A moderate energy level, however, means that playtime is hard and fast with plenty of breaks in between.
The French bulldog does well with apartment life. With no appetite for wanderlust, little propensity for howling or barking, and the ability to adapt to life in smaller spaces. The lighter weight of this dog also makes any short energy bursts quiet enough so as not to disturb downstairs neighbors.
Compatibility with Children and Pets
The French bulldog is a sociable dog that can do well with strangers, children and other dogs with good socialization and proper introduction.
It’s important to monitor children as they interact with the Frenchie. These small dogs can quickly tire of being picked up or feel threatened by constant prodding and become snappy.
It is also important not to baby this breed too much. When spoiled too much, the French bulldog can become demanding, jealous and resentful of other members of the family.
The French bulldog eats quite a small amount of food daily that should be divided into two meals. This is a breed that needs to be monitored carefully for obesity as it’s very easy for them to gain weight. That means that table scraps and too many treats are a definite no-no.
The short sleek coat of the Frenchie requires little grooming. A brush once or twice a week with a bristle brush will keep the coat shiny and dirt free.
Young French bulldog pups should be familiarized with brushing as early as possible since grooming plays a role in reducing dry skin build up. Grooming is also the best time to check your dog for any lumps, bumps, cuts or parasites so it should be made as stress-free and routine as possible.
Although their exercise needs are low, the French bulldog must receive regular daily walks. Without a strict walking schedule, the Frenchie is prone to obesity which places a lot of strain on their joints. Obesity for this short-nosed breed also contributes to respiratory trouble which is already a problem due to snout length. Dogs with short snouts have shorter airways, narrower nostrils, and often misshapen soft palates, all of which impair breathing.
During hotter months, this small breed should not be exercised outdoors until after sundown or before sun up. Again, this is due to the additional strain on their short muzzle which makes breathing much more difficult than in dogs with longer muzzles.
In addition to breathing difficulties associated with short muzzle length, the French bulldog is prone to a number of other health conditions. These conditions include hip dysplasia, allergies, hemivertebrae, patellar luxation, intervertebral disc disease, Von Willebrand’s disease, cleft palate, and elongated soft palate.
Intervertebral Disc Disease
Intervertebral disc disease happens when the spine herniates and pushes into the spinal cord. This affects nerve conduction along the spinal cord and can result in weakness or paralysis. In its beginning stages, this is quite painful and requires regular pain management. The effects of IDD may be permanent or temporary depending on severity. IDD is often the result of age, but it can also be the result of trauma to the spine.
French bulldogs and other short breeds are prone to this affliction due to their height. The shorter the dog is, the more shock their trunk is forced to absorb when they jump from high places. Larger dogs have a much lower distance to jump and their longer legs help to absorb the shock without it affecting the vertebrae of the spine.
This occurs when one of the vertebrae in the spine is malformed and winds up shaped like a triangle. Depending on the position of the deformed vertebrae it may have no effect on the dog’s health or it may lead to pain and eventually paralysis if the spinal cord is pinched.
Hemivertebrae is common in dogs that have a flatter face. These breeds tend to have between 10 and 15 fewer spinal vertebrae than larger breeds. These shortened spines are prone to malformation in which two halves of the vertebrae do not fuse together. These halves then developed unequally and produce wedge-shaped vertebrae which can compress the spinal cord.
A cleft palate is when there is a split between the hard and soft palate. This creates trouble feeding and depending on the severity of the cleft it can cause a number of other problems as well. Dogs with a cleft palate usually require the hole in the palate closing surgically for a normal quality of life.
Around 25% of dogs are born with cleft palate. Cleft palate is a genetic defect and is found more often (30%) in brachycephalic breeds due to the short snout and smaller face.
Elongated Soft Palate
When the soft palate is elongated it can cause an obstruction to the airway which results in breathing difficulties. A dog with an elongated soft palate must have the additional palate removed surgically.
Brachycephalic breeds like the Frenchie are more prone to an elongated soft palate due to their flat face structure and shorter snout area.
Although similar in appearance, the Boston terrier has longer legs, a rounder head, and pointed ear tips. This compares to the French bulldog which has rounder tipped ears, a squarer shaped head, and much shorter legs. Additionally, the Boston terrier is a few pounds lighter and has a slightly longer life expectancy.
Although to the trained eye these breeds are much different, to the amateur dog lover they can be confused. The pug is a heavier shedder than the French bulldog and has a much longer life expectancy by around three years. The French bulldog is 10lbs heavier as well as a couple of inches taller and has a lower prey drive than the pug.