Meet the Breeds: The French Bulldog
French Bulldogs are having a moment. Ranked the number 1 dog in Los Angeles, these bat-eared pups are a favorite among celebrities like Lady Gaga, the Rock, Reese Witherspoon, and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. Nationwide, French Bulldogs rank second in popularity, just behind the Labrador.
With their distinctive large ears and pig-like body, French Bulldogs, or Frenchies, as they are affectionately called, are a hit, especially among city dwellers. This breed is affectionate and charming and easily one of the most recognizable dogs in the world.
Key Traits of French Bulldog
The American Kennel Club (AKC) categorized the French Bulldog under the non-sporting group. They appear to be active and intelligent. The body is muscular and compactly built but with a soft, loose coat forming wrinkles. The breed hallmarks include the square head, bat ears, and roach back.
Height: An average adult French Bulldog stands between 11 to 13 inches.
Weight: A fully-grown French Bulldog ideally weighs up to 28 pounds.
Lifespan: The life expectancy of a French Bulldog is 10 to 14 years.
Appearance: The French Bulldog has a large and square head with eyes set wide apart and low down the skull. The famous bat ear is broad at the base with a round top, set high on the head and not too close together. The top of their skull is flat between the ears with a slightly rounded forehead. They have a thick neck, broad muzzle, and a short, well-rounded body. Frenchie tails are short and thick at the root but fine at the tip. The tail can be straight or screwed. Their legs are short, muscular, and set wide apart. The French Bulldog coat is short and smooth.
Temperament: French Bulldogs are generally well-behaved. They are affectionate companion dogs that are usually alert and playful.
Where did the French Bulldog Originate?
Contrary to the name, the French Bulldog originated from the United Kingdom. They were initially bred to be miniature Bulldogs. These “toy Bulldogs” were eventually taken by English lacemakers to Normandy, France, where they became popular. England began sending toy Bulldogs they considered too small or those with ears that stood up. By the late 1800s, very few toy Bulldogs were left in England, and the breed was named Bouledogue Francais. The French Bulldog became fashionable with society ladies and the lower classes alike.
In 1885, the adorable Frenchie was brought to America, where the breed standard was set for the first time. The flat-faced breed once served as excellent ratters but has since transitioned to the companion dogs we know today.
Physical Traits of a French Bulldog
The French Bulldog has many traits that make it easily distinguishable from other breeds.
Ears: The huge, bat-like ears are a hallmark of the Frenchie. The ears are broad at the base and taper up to a smaller but rounded tip.
Mouth: French Bulldogs have black flews that are thick and broad. The flews hang over the lower jaw's side and meet with the underlip at the front. They also cover the teeth and tongue, which should not be seen when the mouth is closed. The underjaw is undershot and turned up.
Eyes: The desired Frenchie eye is round and dark. It could be deep brown or approaching black in color. The size is moderate and neither sunken nor bulging.
Head: French Bulldogs' heads are large and square. The top of the head is flat between the ears, while the forehead is slightly rounded.
Nose: The breed standard for the French Bulldog nose is black. Any other color is undesirable, except for cream and fawn-colored Frenchies without a black mask. In these colors, a lighter nose is acceptable.
Coat Length: The Frenchie coat is short, smooth, and brilliant. Their skin is soft and loose and forms wrinkles.
Coat Color: French Bulldog coats come in nine standard colors: white, cream, fawn, brindle, brindle and white, fawn and white, fawn brindle and white, white and brindle, white and fawn. Rarer colors include merle (including fawn merle, blue merle), lilac, blue (including blue pied, blue fawn, blue brindle), tan points (including choco tan, black tan, blue tan, lilac tan), trindle (brindle with tan points), all black, and chocolate (including choco pied, choco fawn). These colors are called "fads" and automatic disqualification in dog show competitions.
Tail: The French Bulldog tail is short. It hangs low and has a thick root. It can be straight or screwed but not curly.
Behavior and Training Tips for French Bulldogs
French Bulldogs are undoubtedly cute and affectionate. However, they can still display a stubborn streak. This is usually evident during dog training. Their unwillingness to train and exercise can cause a Frenchie fur-rent a lot of grief. So, how can you get your French Bulldog to obey commands?
- Start ‘em young.
Training your Frenchie from puppyhood is best. You can start potty training as early as 8 weeks of age. Set a spot and stick to it. Take your pup to the spot every couple of hours, as puppies cannot hold their pee very long when they are young. Potty training teaches your pet manners early on. It also lets you set the stage for further training later.
- Use positive reinforcement.
Frenchies are quite emotional. They can get upset when scolded or anxious when left alone. This is why they would benefit most from positive reinforcement. Reward them generously, whether through treats or pets, whenever they can execute the command. Avoid shouting or scolding when they fail.
French Bulldogs love activity. When you bring them home, start exposing them to your household. Let them explore their new surroundings. Letting family members touch them desensitizes them and allows them to be freer and less anxious. You also want to expose your pet to other dogs early so they can learn to be with other animals without aggression.
- Use the right training equipment.
French Bulldogs are brachycephalic dogs. Because of this, using a regular collar may disrupt their airflow. Instead, use a dog harness so they can breathe more freely. You can also opt to use an e-collar to supplement dog training. An e-collar with a bungee strap has some give to it, stretching to accommodate pulls and helping avoid choking.
French Bulldogs are playful and intelligent. But they will do as they please unless trained otherwise. So, take the time to teach your dog proper manners, and you can have a healthy and positive time with your Frenchie.
French Bulldogs don't need a lot of exercises. While they seem like little furballs of energy, their flat faces mean a high risk of breathing problems. They are also prone to overheating. Because of this, exercise should be strictly monitored.
Short, 15- to 20-minute low-intensity walks are usually enough to keep Frenchies healthy. Some of the best exercises for a French Bulldog include:
- Socializing with other pets
- Free play with age-appropriate toys
French Bulldogs are not the best swimmers because of their front-heavy build. Never leave a Frenchie unattended near pools, tubs, or other bodies of water.
Things to Remember When Exercising Your French Bulldog:
- Use a harness instead of a collar.
- Avoid exercising in high heat or high humidity.
- Exercise before meals.
- Monitor for signs of fatigue. Stop if your Frenchie looks too tired to continue.
Caring and Management Tips for French Bulldogs
As they say, owning a dog is a responsibility. As a pet owner, you are responsible for caring for your dog and providing them with food, shelter, and more.
Grooming and Fur Brushing
Because the French Bulldog has short fur, they do not need regular trimming. The fine Frenchie hair is not hard to manage. Occasional brushing is usually enough. To promote hair growth, circulate skin oil, and remove dead hair, brush weekly using a rubber grooming mitt or hound glove.
French Bulldog nails need regular trimming. Start when they are small so, they get used to the process without feeling anxious.
Bulldogs are generally a clean breed. They don't need weekly baths, and scrubbing is usually needed only when they are visibly dirty. However, when you give your Frenchie a bath, choose a good, vet-recommended shampoo. These adorable batpigs are prone to many allergies. A few of them show as skin problems. So, not any regular shampoo will work.
When bathing your Frenchie, ensure that all their folds are dry, including the face folds and the divot in the tail. Irritation and infection may occur when moisture gets trapped there. You can also use talcum powder or cornstarch to help keep the folds dry.
Tear stains under the eyes happen when there is an overproduction in the tear ducts. While not harmful, stains can be unsightly at best and can lead to infection at worst. So, always clean around the eyes using a damp cloth. If you notice any redness, consult your veterinarian.
Use a damp washcloth to gently clean your French Bulldog’s ears, as they are fragile. Always check for any redness or irritation.
Many health problems start at the mouth, so regular dental care is needed. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste specially made for dogs. Aim to clean teeth when your French Bulldog has finished eating and has gotten most of their energy out. This will make them more compliant with your ministrations.
To clean your Frenchie’s teeth:
- Wet the toothbrush and put a small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
- Brush with soft circular motions. Pay attention to the back molars as they are usually the most covered in plaque.
- Once done, reward with a treat.
Diet & Care
French Bulldogs are notoriously fast eaters. However, eating too fast can lead to problems like obesity and puppy bloat. The bloat is especially dangerous and can be fatal. So, teach your dog to slow down.
When feeding your Frenchie, look out for these ingredients:
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Always check the pet food label. You may want to steer clear of any foods with preservatives, fillers, excessive protein, wheat, and corn.
Common Health Problems of French Bulldogs
The French Bulldog is known to have plenty of health problems. Health issues usually show up at around 2 or 3 years. The most common health issues that Frenchies suffer from include:
- Ear infections
- Skin Fold Dermatitis
- Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
- Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)
- Mobility Issues
What Type of Owners Will Do Well with a French Bulldog?
If you're looking for a funny and kindhearted breed, the French Bulldog is a sure winner. They do well in small spaces and are great with people, even children.
Is a French Bulldog a Perfect Match for You?
You might consider getting a French Bulldog if you want a dog that:
- Does not bark much
- Requires minimal exercise
- Needs little space to run and play in
- Does not shed a lot
- Is good with children and other animals
- Is very affectionate
However, if you prefer not to deal with -
- Breed-Related Disorders
- Clinginess and Separation Anxiety
- Skyrocketing Vet Bills
Then, sadly, a French Bulldog may not be suitable for you.
FAQs About the French Bulldog
Are French Bulldogs suitable as family pets?
Yes. French Bulldogs are good with children and other pets because they are very playful.
Is my French Bulldog overweight?
Obesity can be as much of a problem for dogs as it is for humans. Overfeeding a French Bulldog is especially easy because this breed loves to eat. Coupled with low activity, this can lead to weight gain. To assess your Frenchie's weight, check their body. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. The overall Frenchie shape from above is hourglass, not oval.
Are French Bulldogs hypoallergenic?
No, French Bulldogs can trigger pet allergies.
Are French Bulldogs aggressive?
French Bulldogs are not known to be an aggressive breed. However, some may still show aggression depending on training, environment, and personality.
Do French Bulldogs bark a lot?
French Bulldogs are not known to be big barkers, which is why they’re ideal for apartment dwellers. They’re one of the quieter breeds around. Of course, as they are also prone to anxiety when left alone for long periods, some may resort to howling, whining, and barking.
If you need help with barking issues, consider using a bark control collar. Here are our top picks for the best bark collars for a French Bulldog.
The waterproof Elite Little Dog Spray Bark Collar by PetSafe features a Perfect Bark® sensor that only recognizes your dog's barking. This ensures no accidental stimulation is issued when other sounds or animals are nearby. The ergonomic, QuickFit™ adjustable nylon collar strap with a buckle makes it easy to put on and off and find the perfect fit. Comes with one (1) correction level, sound, and vibration.
The PetSafe Lite Rechargeable Bark Collar is a mild, static stimulation collar with automatically adjusting correction levels. The correction level increases until your dog stops barking. At this point, the anti-bark collar will immediately return to the lowest levels. This no bark collar is ideal for small, sensitive, and shy dogs.
The PetSafe Vibration bark collar has 10 combinations of vibration correction. Your dog will be distracted from one of two vibration points, interrupting the barking pattern and facilitating behavior change.
The SBC-R is one of three SportDog bark collar models available (see how the SBC-R compares with other models here.) This bark collar for small dogs as small as 8 pounds is also powerful enough to handle bigger breeds. The three programmable corrections give you more control over how you want to train your dog.
E-Collar Technologies is mainly known for its Mini Educator ET-300 remote training collar. Most people don’t realize that they also have one of the best bark collars on the market. The BP-504 is a static stimulation anti-bark collar. It’s recommended for dogs as small as 5 pounds. It has the usual bark detection technology you’ll find in other collars. But what sets it apart is the adjustable bark sensitivity levels. No bark collars typically don’t address howling or whining. But with the bark sensitivity feature from low to high, small dogs with howling or whining issues are also covered.
If it’s dog training boost you need, however, consider our picks for the best shock collars for small dogs.
E-Collar Technologies makes some of the best shock collars in the market. The Micro Educator ME-300, with its distinctive purple remote, is 20% smaller and lighter than the rest of the Educator collar line-up. It offers lesser stimulation making it excellent for small and medium-sized dogs like the French Bulldog.
The Micro Educator ME-300 comes with:
- 1/3-Mile Range
- 100 Levels of Adjustable Static Stimulation
- 60 Levels of Boost
The ET-300 Mini Educator remote training collar is a favorite for pet owners and trainers. It is one of the most popular Educator shock collars. Like the ME-300, the ET-300 has a round remote transmitter that comes in three (3) color variants – yellow, black, and an Educator Zen 300 design.
- 1/3-Mile Range
- 100 Levels of Static Stimulation
- 60 Levels of Boost
No best shock collar list will be complete without a Dogtra shock collar. Dogtra has been making dependable remote trainers for over three decades. The Dogtra 200C remote training shock collar is perfect for basic behavior training. This is recommended for dogs with mild to medium temperaments.
The Dogtra 200C has:
- ½-Mile Range
- 100 Stimulation Levels
- High-Performance Pager
The SD-425X FieldTrainer is one of the smallest SportDog shock collars. It is recommended for field training and hunting with close-working dogs. While it is most suitable for sporting breeds, the 425X is still a great ecollar for basic small dog training.
The SD-425X remote trainer has:
- 500-Yard Range
- 21 Levels of Static Stimulation
The Dogtra 200NCPT is ideal for basic behavior training or fieldwork. This collar can help you control your dogs without limiting their freedom. Comes with:
- ½-Mile Range
- 100 Levels of Static Stimulation
- Audible Tone
Honorable Mention: Dogtra CUE
Currently only available on Amazon, the Dogtra CUE remote training collar is the newest in the Dogtra lineup. Boasting a trendy, carabiner-type remote transmitter, this small collar comes with an abundance of features, including:
- 400-Yard Range
- 24 Levels of Low to Medium Static Stimulation
- Nick and Constant Static Correction
- High-Performance Pager Vibration
- Convertible Receiver Fit