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- For novice owners
- Apartment living
- Exercise needs
- Family friendly
- Stranger friendly
- Dog friendly
- Overall health
- Amount of shedding
- Grooming needs
- Ease of training
- Prey drive
- Watchdog ability
French Bulldog history: What were French Bulldogs originally bred for?
The French Bulldog shares much of its history with their English counterpart, the Bulldog. Originating from powerful mastiffs, the Bulldog found its calling in the bull-baiting arena, bringing down powerful, enraged bulls for sport. Once this gruesome practice was outlawed in 1835, Bulldogs lost their use.
In an attempt to save the beloved Bulldog from going extinct, he was repurposed. Some went on to become the much adored, soft-tempered Bulldog we see today, while others were cross-bred with terriers, to develop new breeds altogether. As a result, the 1850s saw the emergence of ‘miniature’ Bulldogs, with some weighing as little as 12 lbs (5 kg).
When English artisans began leaving their homes due to poor work opportunities, many found themselves in France, with their miniature Bulldogs at their side. The local French people were quite taken with these quirky little dogs and called for more to be sent over the channel. English breeders were only too happy to oblige, as miniature Bulldogs were considered undesirable and riddled with ‘faults’ (like erect ears).
Informally renamed Bouledogue Francais, miniature Bulldogs quickly caught the attention of high society, creatives and street-walkers alike. By crossing them with French terriers and perhaps even Pugs, the Bouledogue Francais become even further removed from the Bulldog – developing higher ears, straighter backs and rounder eyes. In 1905 the Bouledogue Francais was acknowledged as a separate breed by the Kennel Club and later renamed to French Bulldog.
Across the Atlantic, the French Bulldog was adored by the social elite – the Rockefellers and J.P. Morgans included. By 1906, they were the fifth most popular breed in America
Affectionately known as Frenchies, French Bulldogs are a muscular, heavy-boned, small to medium-sized breed of non-sporting dog with a large head, dark, round eyes and iconic bat ears. A short, smooth coat covers a compact, wide-set body.
French Bulldogs are brachycephalic, which means that their faces are shorter, muzzles are flatter, and skulls are more compressed than most other breeds of dog.
French Bulldog size; How big are French Bulldogs?
There is no precise height or weight range in the French Bulldog breed standard, however dogs and bitches over 28 lbs are immediately disqualified from competing in conformation. The following is just a guide, as French Bulldog size can vary from individual to individual:
Weight: no more than 28 lbs (12.7kg)
Height roughly 12 in (30.5 cm) at the shoulder
Teacup French Bulldogs and their size
Teacup French Bulldogs are not an official breed or title. The term Teacup is given to French Bulldogs who remain very small when fully grown (sometimes under 10 lbs/4.5kg). Unsuspecting buyers fall for the promise of a permanent puppy, but sadly the reckless breeding of undersized dogs (often runts) to produce miniature puppies has largely resulted in sickly offspring riddled with congenital diseases, structural deformities and dramatically reduced lifespans.
Supporting breeders of Teacup breeds perpetuates the suffering, as puppies born through undersized parents have higher incidences of respiratory issues, heart defects, liver shunts, brain abnormalities and more.
Of course, not everyone who buys a Teacup dog will experience the heartache (and vet bills!) of a chronically ill pet, but discerning buyers may appreciate being aware of what they’re potentially getting themselves into.
If you’d like to view the full-length AKC breed standard for the French Bulldog, click here.
The French Bulldog is an affectionate, lively, even-tempered dog. They are often described as easy-going and patient but are also known for being playful, and clownish without being overly boisterous.
French Bulldogs are often mislabelled as stubborn. However, many are eager-to-please and merely need sufficient encouragement. Some can be challenging to housebreak, so consistency is a must. Fair, force-free methods of training such as positive reinforcement are advised to keep their motivation up and demonstrate what’s in it for them. It’s not unheard of for French Bulldogs to succeed in competitive obedience.
Are French Bulldogs good pets? Are they good with kids?
If raised with children, French Bulldogs can make great family dogs. They are wonderfully affectionate with their loved ones and are not as delicate as other small breeds. Excited or young Frenchies may accidentally knock over young toddlers unintentionally – supervision around children is always recommended, regardless of breed.
French Bulldogs are generally quiet, and may not make ideal watchdogs. They tend to be reserved with strangers, but not at all hostile, often preferring the attention of their owners.
French Bulldogs tend to get along well with other pets in the home, especially if raised with them, including the family cat. Some Frenchies are social with other dogs, while others can be assertive and pushy, instigating scuffles.
Owners of all breeds are urged to socialise and expose their pups to a number of people, sounds, children, animals, surfaces and other scenarios while they’re young, curious and impressionable. Ensure their experiences are safe and positive, to prevent negative associations later on.
French Bulldogs are a low to moderate energy breed, requiring light exercise. A short daily walk is recommended for adults to keep them healthy and moving.
Due to their brachycephalic skulls, French Bulldogs can have trouble breathing and regulating body temperature in particularly hot or cold weather. They are especially susceptible to heat stroke, so utmost care should be taken on hot days.
The French Bulldog coat is short, smooth and single-layered. The lack of undercoat renders Frenchies vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
French Bulldogs come in a number of recognised colours and patterns, including:
- combinations of the above
Disqualifying colours include solid black, mouse, liver, black & tan and black & white (without brindle).
French Bulldog care
How much do French Bulldogs shed?
French Bulldogs are moderate shedders, which means you will often find hairs on your clothes and furniture. Groom your French Bulldog regularly to minimise the impact of shedding.
The Frenchie’s short coat is low maintenance.
Skin folds should be wiped through regularly with a damp cloth to prevent infection and skin irritations.
Avoid bathing too often with harsh shampoos. Instead, opt for gentle dog-specific shampoos as needed, to preserve natural protective oils on the skin.
Inspect ears, nails, skin folds and teeth as part of your regular grooming routine, maintaining as needed. Many French Bulldogs are not active enough to wear down their claws naturally. Condition them from a young age to enjoy having their paws and feet handled. This will make nail clipping easier, and less fear-inducing down the line.
French Bulldog health
Unfortunately, French Bulldogs are known to suffer from a number of conditions, including:
- Allergies and general skin trouble – both environmental and diet-related.
- An assortment of eye conditions including Corneal Ulcers, Glaucoma, Cataracts and Cherry Eye.
- Brachycephalic Syndrome. The shape of their skulls causes a host of respiratory problems, including smaller nasal cavities, which hamper the French Bulldog’s ability to breathe and regulate body temperature. This can become deadly in particularly hot or cool temperatures.
- Cancer. Particularly brain tumours, lymphoma and liver.
- Hemivertebrae. Abnormally shaped spinal bones resulting in misalignment. This can cause pain, instability and, in some cases, paralysis.
- Hip Dysplasia – 30% of French Bulldogs are afflicted with hip dysplasia, a heritable condition in which the ball and socket joint forms incorrectly, causing rubbing and grinding instead of smooth sliding.
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). Bulging or bursting of spinal vertebrae cushioning discs, which go on to interfere with spinal nerves. This can cause pain, nerve damage and, potentially, paralysis.
- Patellar Luxation– spontaneous and periodic dislocation of the knee.
Many diseases faced by French Bulldog are inherited, and therefore avoidable. By choosing a breeder, who conducts relevant screenings and health clearances, and only breeds physically and temperamentally sound Frenchies, you are dramatically improving your chances of having a strong, happy, healthy French Bulldog of your own.
French Bulldog lifespan
On average, French Bulldogs live 8-10 years. This is very low in comparison to other breeds in its weight range. However, if well-bred and cared for, it’s not unheard of for French Bulldogs to live more than 10 years.
What is it like to live with a French Bulldog?
Bulldogs commonly demonstrate a number of quirky traits, including wheezing, snoring, flatulence and slobber, as well as an assortment of snorts, grumbles and grunts.
Some consider this to be a needy breed, which is hardly a surprise, as they were bred to be companions! They do not do well living alone outside, or with owners who work long hours.
While not as prone to as many health issues as their English counterpart, consider keeping a rainy day fund for your French Bulldog as they known to have ongoing vet costs.
Energy levels can vary from individual to individual. Some French Bulldogs are known to sleep for most of the day, while others can be very playful. For overall health and well being, it is recommended that you provide some form of daily activity to your Bulldog. This is not a breed to go jogging or cycling with however – their brachycephalic skulls do not allow for efficient breathing and heat regulation. Similarly, never leave your French Bulldog outside in the sun, or in a warm car, unattended, as they can quickly overheat. Keeping ice or cooling pads on hand is common practice for Frenchie owners.
Interesting facts about French Bulldogs
- French Bulldogs are one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S!
- Sadly French Bulldogs are not strong swimmers. Some love water, but swimming is not a safe activity for these dogs for more than a few moments, as they invariably go under with little way of keeping themselves afloat. In addition, due to their short snouts, they struggle to keep their faces above the water even when wearing life vests.
- More than 80% of French Bulldog litters are born by caesarian section.
- Of the 12 dogs aboard the Titanic on 15 April 1912, one was a French Bulldog. His name was Gamin de Pycombe and he had been bought by a young banker for $17 000 (in today’s prices – £150 at the time).
- French Bulldogs are 1 of 31 registered brachycephalic breeds. Other common examples include Boxers, Bulldogs and Pugs.
- While the French Bulldog originated in England and was adored in France, the breed is largely thought to have been perfected in the U.S.
Buying a French Bulldog from a breeder
If you’d like to get a purebred French Bulldog as a puppy, be sure to look only at reputable breeders who care for the welfare of the puppies they breed. You can determine whether a breeder is reputable by observing whether they go through the effort of health testing their breeding stock for hereditary conditions like those above, and only breed dogs who are physically healthy, and emotionally sound. They should be involved in particular avenues with their dogs – be it conformation, obedience, service, therapy, or any other activity that showcases their dogs’ temperament and suitability for companionship and breeding.
Often puppies from reputable breeders cost more money upfront due to the breeder’s high expenses. However, poorly bred dogs from breeders who do not conduct health screening can have hidden costs in the form of silent (at the time of purchase) health and mental conditions that should never have been allowed to be passed on. This can be heartbreaking, and terribly expensive to deal with as an owner, on top of causing unnecessary suffering and a shortened lifespan for the dog.
French Bulldog rescue and adoption
As one of the most popular breeds around, French Bulldogs and Frenchie-mixes are not hard to find in rescues and shelters. If you would like to adopt a Frenchie in need of a new home, search for French Bulldog rescue organisations in your area. Alternatively, you could take a look pet-rehoming websites like Petfinder.
References and recommended reading:
- Evans, K. M., & Adams, V. J. (2010). Proportion of litters of purebred dogs born by caesarian section. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 51(2), 113-118
- Coile, D. C., & Earle-Bridges, M. (2005). French bulldogs: Everything about purchase, care, nutrition, behavior, and training. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s.
- UFAW. Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals. Universities Federation of Animal Welfare. Retrieved from http://www.ufaw.org.uk/
- KC. Making a difference for dogs. The Kennel Club. Retrieved from http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/
- FBCA. Frenchies and the Titanic. French Bulldog Club of America. Retrieved from http://frenchbulldogclub.org/
- Summary results of the Purebred Dog Health Survey for French Bulldogs. The Kennel Club and British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee. Retrieved from http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/16454/french%20bulldog.pdf
- Dog Breed Health. A Guide To Genetic Health Issues for Dog Breeds: French Bulldog. Retrieved from http://www.dogbreedhealth.com/french-bulldog/
- OFFA. Hip Dysplasia by Breed. Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Retrieved from http://www.offa.org/stats_hip.html
- AKC. The most popular breeds in America. Retrieved from http://www.akc.org/