French Bulldog

French Bulldog dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The French Bulldog is like a small man with a strange face. It is the type of dog that you either love or you are not drawn to it at all. Its so called “bat face” is irresistible to some people who offer their unconditional love to the French Bulldog. Its attitude and appearance are both funny, so it has an incredible distressing effect. The French painter named Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec thought so too since it has captured the image of a French Bulldog in its works of art. Also, Rembrandt Bugatti, an Italian sculptor, made a beautiful statue of this dog. Back in our days, celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon and Christina Ricci own at least one Frenchie.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsAbove Average

Dog Breed Group:Companion Dogs
Height:Generally 11 inches to 1 foot tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 16 to 28 pounds
Life Span:11 to 14 years

The French Bulldog dog breed was created in the mid-nineteenth century in England. The breeders aimed at creating an adorable companion dog. After a while, this dog was taken to France where it has evolved as a breed because it was mated with terriers. That is when it got the straight ears that made it famous in Paris and internationally in North America.

The French Bulldog is generally an energetic and affectionate dog that creates a strong bond with its owner. As a pet, it is faithful, a great guard and always happy to spend as much time as possible with its owner. This dog breed doesn’t have the tendency to be sportive, so it doesn’t need active owners.

Compact and robust, Frenchie has ears similar with those of a bat, fact which makes it impossible not to recognize. This distinctive feature is appreciated by numerous people who see the cute side of this small sized dog. Kids love its happy face as well.

The French Bulldog is not allowed to go outside if the temperatures are too high and it should be protected from the sun. Since physically speaking it is not strong enough to adapt to climate changes, it must be kept inside a house or an apartment.

Like almost any small sized dog, the French Bulldog shows very low resistance to anesthetics, so any intervention of this kind is particularly risky. Therefore, it would be best to avoid exposing it to any harmful factors that might get it sick.

Main Highlights
  • The French Bulldog looks like a miniature mastiff with broad shoulders, deep chest and thick neck. Its body is shaped like a pear, with a wider thorax and a narrower basin. It is a dog with a well-developed musculature.
  • The ears of a Frenchie are particularly interesting because they have the exact shape of bat ears, pointing up and slightly rounded at the end.
  • Each French Bulldog has a unique personality and independent natures. They are intelligent, with a subtle Machiavellian tendency.
  • If a Frenchie gets too fat, it may have trouble breathing due to its increased abdominal volume. In addition, this dog breed cannot swim because of its body shape.
  • It was shown that people who own a French bulldog leave the impression of elegant and sociable persons.
  • About 80% of all French Bulldog pups are not born naturally, but with the help of a caesarean surgery. Breeders often resort to artificial insemination for this dog breed.
  • If a French Bulldog is left alone, it will develop emotional problems and nervous system diseases, such as allergies and diabetes.
  • Frenchie is a great companion, guard dog and an excellent hunter of mice.
Breed History

The history of the French Bulldog officially begins in the eighteenth century, England. Many dog experts believe that this dog breed was created by taking miniature copies of the English Bulldog and reproducing them successively in order to obtain cute and funny looking specimens. Another possibility regarding the French Bulldog’s origin is that it comes from a Pit Bull and a Pug. This is because it shows significant anatomical similarities with both aforementioned breeds. A more bold theory is based on studies carried out in 1937 by professors Richard N. Wagner and Max Hilzheimer on several mummified skeletons of dogs that were found in a burial site from the center of Peru, South America. Excavations of large tombs in Ancon revealed mummified skeletons of dogs that were very similar, physically speaking, with the French Bulldog known today. The only difference was that those dogs had pear shaped heads, not round heads. The canine breed found in Peru was named Chincha Bulldog and lived until the year 1400. However, a final conclusion was not yet issued, so the real origin of the Frenchie remains shrouded in mystery.

In the early nineteenth century, French Bulldogs were very popular especially in the Nottingham area. It seems that workers in the textile industry, especially those that manufactured various items out of lace were particularly fond of this dog breed. This aspect is really important because between 1850 and 1860 these workers had to move to France to look for jobs. The textile industry from England suffered serious turbulence due to the implementation of machines in the production process. Therefore, people had to move in order to find a job. They were welcomed with open arms by the French people, along with their cute dogs. These adorable canines were very useful for hunting mice and rats, which, at that time, were present in a large number in suburban areas. Therefore, France became this dog’s adoptive country and that gave it a name. Thanks to their amazing personality and special appearance, all of them were taken from England and transported to France. Until 1860, all French Bulldogs were moved to France. Their recognition got to Paris in a short period of time. Artists and aristocrats purchased numerous copies that were improved thanks to the crossbreeding processes with Terriers and possibly with Pugs.

Artists such as Toulouse Lautrec and Degas surprised French Bulldogs in their paintings. 1887 marks the first participation of a French Bulldog in a canine exhibition. Around the same time, American tourists discovered this dog breed and took a few copies with them back home. The wave of sympathy for the Frenchie was huge and triggered in a very short time. These dogs became favorites of the Russian royal family and of King Edward VII. Starting with the twentieth century, France, USA, England and Germany paid a lot of attention to this dog breed, trying to improve it, preserve it and develop it. The first club dedicated to the French Bulldog was founded in the US, in 1897. They established general standard characteristics for this dog breed, which have remained almost unchanged since.


The French Bulldog is a small dog breed. When it comes to height, there isn’t a notable difference between female specimens and male specimens. Both should be about 11 to 12 inches tall. As for weight, females are much lighter than males. A standard female French Bulldog should weigh between 16 to 24 pounds. In case of a male the standard weight ranges from 20 to 28 pounds.

Personality and Character

The French Bulldog was called many names over time. Basically it is considered a clown, but not the silly kind. Its philosophical side is also recognized by lovers of this dog breed. Small and adorable, Frenchie is an exceptional companion. It is extremely affectionate with its owner and acts possessive and jealous at times. It definitely has its reasons, like seeing its owner being too friendly with another dog or not paying attention to it because it is preoccupied with something else.

Intelligent, with a subtle Machiavellian tendency, this dog breed is excellent for the elderly. However, this doesn’t mean that it is not suited for families. On the contrary, it loves being in the center of attention and play a lot. It is said that it is impossible not to love a Frenchie as soon as you meet one.

This small dog breed has a malleable character and needs minimal exercising. It is ideal for the elderly or for those people who live in an apartment. The French Bulldog is independent and doesn’t like to be among other dogs. It needs to be spoiled and receive attention from everybody. It cannot stand to share its owner’s attention with another dog.

Since it is a Bulldog, Frenchie is also characterized by stubbornness and a strong sense of ownership. Vivacity and humor are among its qualities too, but its behavioral traits really depend on the environment it has to live in and on the training received as a pup.

Health and Potential Problems

The French Bulldog is prone to the following affections: stenosis of the nostrils, extended soft palate, hypothyroidism, obesity, dermatitis, degeneration of intervertebral discs, disc herniation, dislocation of the patella, cherry eye, degenerative myelopathy and malignant hyperthermia. The latter 2 are hereditary diseases that can be detected with the help of genetic tests.

  • Stenosis of the nostrils and extended soft palate. These affections appear in all French Bulldogs, but in a mild form. It actually means that the respiratory channel get narrower, factor which determines a dog from this breed to snore and breathe heavily. Some puppies are born with severe forms of these disorders and as they get older, these respiratory problems worsen, often leading to death. Veterinarians recommend surgery for correcting such defects during a puppy’s early life. Preoperative tests are needed.
  • An affection of the thyroid gland, this is a disease which is manifests by dry and brittle hair, seborrhea, obesity, lethargy, cold intolerance and many other nonspecific signs. It usually occurs at an average age and can be inherited.
  • A consequence of hypothyroidism or not, obesity is a real problem in case of French Bulldogs and sometimes owners are the only ones to blame. Such dogs have an uncontrollable appetite. They would eat all day long without stopping and it seems that some people think they look funny when they are fat. However, they put their dogs in danger by feeding them too much and then forcing them to live with breathing problems, walking problems and other more serious health problems. 2 extra pounds are enough to make this dog’s life harder and less happier than it was before gaining weight.
  • Dermatitis. The French Bulldog is prone to dermatitis, that can be allergic, bacterial or fungal. Depending on the symptoms, the vet can perform various tests in order to diagnosis the type of dermatitis. The treatment is different for every type of dermatitis. To avoid this affection, you should feed your dog with high quality food, bathe it with special shampoo and clean its face wrinkles often.
  • Degeneration of intervertebral discs and disc herniation. These are diseases commonly found in French Bulldogs because of their body conformation. The predisposition to these diseases is transmitted from parents to puppies. Dogs that are affected should not be reproduced.
  • Dislocation of the patella. The Patella or the kneecap is part of the knee’s joint. In case of dislocation, the patella moves from its normal position. Bilateral dislocation is the most common, but it may also occur in one joint. Puppies can be affected after the age of 2 months. This is also an affection that may be passed from parents to puppies.
  • Cherry eye. This means that the lacrimal gland of a French Bulldog prolapses and appears in the inner corner of its eye. It is a common problem in mastiff types of dogs that can be remedied surgically.
Care Features

The French Bulldog is a dog type that feels good in a house or apartment near its owner. It likes to be part of the family and it should not be left alone for too long. It has a low to medium level of activity, so taking it out for short walks would be enough. However, some of them may like to run, play and accompany their owners everywhere. It needs socialization and training early in its life.

At the beginning, there are no rules for a French Bulldog. This whole new world can be constructed the way they feel like it or the way you know it should. If you do not act soon enough, this type of dog will not recognize you as authority and it will be very difficult to teach it what to do and what not. Specialists say that avoiding conflict with a French Bulldog is best, because it is simply too stubborn to do what they’re told. It doesn’t react negatively, behave hysterically or struggle. It will simply not do what you ask it do. Therefore, you should not give the opportunity to a Frenchie to make its own rules, but train it to comply with yours.

The French Bulldog is one of those dogs that manage to keep an adorable look after its grows up. So, you might find it difficult to forbid it different things. However, seeing things in perspective is a better idea. Training should start at the age of 2 or 3 months, but you should not expect fabulous results until 8 to 9 months. It is important not to lose patience, resort to harsh punishments or yell. Use intelligent training methods based on rewards and be gentle, perseverant and show affection. This is the only way you can have an obedient, manageable and cooperative Frenchie.

Feeding Schedule

The ideal amount of food for a French Bulldog is 1.5 to 2 cups per day, divided in 2 equal meals. This type of dog can become overweight or lose weight very fast, so keeping a fixed feeding schedule and choosing a balanced diet is really important. One other important aspect is for its food to be served at room temperature. Indigestion, intestinal blockages or gastric torsion may occur if its food is too cold when it eats.

Frenchie loves to eat, but you have to limit its food intake in case you notice it gains weight. Because of its type of nose, it will have problems breathing if it gains weight. Overall, it would be a very bad decision to let it get fat. Increase walking time if you notice any weight gain and don’t do any dietary changes unless exercising is not effective.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The colors of a French Bulldog’s coat can be beige with or without white or black stripes, combinations of white, red, black, brown, cream and white. The copies admitted to exhibitions must have brown or white stripes on black. Frenchie’s coat is short, smooth, soft and shiny. Its skin is also soft and elastic, forming wrinkles on its neck and shoulders. Caring for it requires minimal effort as it only needs to be brushed once per week. However, the creases formed on its neck, face and shoulders should be cleaned often and kept dry in order to prevent infections and wounds. The shedding rate of a French Bulldog is moderate. It should only be washed when necessary.

Because of its flat snout, the French Bulldog tends to drool. So, its mouth should be cleaned regularly. In addition, you should pay particular attention to a Frenchie’s teeth. Since it is a dog with a very flat nose, its teeth are not properly distributed on its maxillary. This is something that favors the accumulation of plaque and food debris. Therefore, you need to wash its teeth and take it to the vet regularly in order to avoid complicated surgeries that require anesthesia.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The French Bulldog is essentially a small Bull Terrier, so certain combative tendencies should not be surprising. In general, these reactions occur in dogs of the same sex, especially between males. So, a Frenchie owner should not buy a dog of the same sex. Sometimes sterilization is a better solution than having 2 same sex French Bulldogs in the same house. Socialization has a very important role in case of a Frenchie’s compatibility with other dogs. When it comes to other pets, this dog specimen gets along just fine with them as long as its owner’s attention is not seized by them.

A French Bulldog may become too harsh when playing with little children. This could happen because Frenchie is a proud fighter and thinks that children are its equals, so it treats them without concessions. Therefore, this dog should be supervised when playing with kids and kids should be taught not to argue with it over toys. It is a muscular and powerful dog, but even so, older kids might find it too easy to maneuver and that might not be too pleasant for this dog.

The French Bulldog is an intelligent and affectionate dog, extremely funny and very good playmate for middle aged children. Thanks to its adorable appearance, it can be very charming and win over the toughest people. It is very fond of its owner, so it is always around ready to brighten his or her day. Because of all these features, it makes an ideal companion dog especially for elder people since it doesn’t have special needs when it comes to exercising. Frenchie’s life expectancy is quite generous, but it is still prone to developing certain diseases that are best to be prevented.

English or French, this dog is too cute and funny for anyone to really care who its ancestors are. Because it was especially bred to be a companion dog, it doesn’t have behavioral issues such as aggressiveness or violence. However, the French Bulldog is a stubborn dog that needs training to get rid of that hard to control habit. Taming such a dog is easy if it learns what to do at a very young age, starting as soon as 2 months after birth. Gentle, loving and available people are ideal owners for a dog like this.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.