Breed group: Non-Sporting Group
The French Bulldog or "Frenchie" can be traced back to the mid-1800s, when toy-sized Bulldogs
became popular in England. The Industrial Revolution threatened the lace making industry, forcing professionals to relocate. Many went to northern France and brought their toy Bulldogs along, where they became popular in the French countryside. Over the next few decades, these little Bulldogs were crossed with other breeds - perhaps Pugs
for size and terriers for their pointy ears - and given the name Bouledogue Français.
The breed soon became popular in Paris, where it gained its reputation as a city dog and fashion icon. They became part of the Paris café life as well as the socialite life, often seen in dancehalls and nightclubs. People from all parts of society sought the breed, from the demimonde to creatives to prostitutes. The breed became such a part of society that they were depicted in paintings by artists like Edgar Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec.
By the end of the 1800s, the Frenchie's popularity rose across Europe (particularly Western Europe) and spread to America. French Bulldogs were imported to America in 1885 and the French Bulldog Club of America was founded in 1897 to establish a breed standard. Most important for the standard was that dogs of the breed had perky "bat ears" so distinctive to Frenchies today.
The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in the early 1900s and by 1906, it had become the fifth most popular breed in the country. Despite falling in popularity during the late 1900s and early 2000s, the Frenchie is again at the top of the list as the fourth most popular breed.
Height: 11-13 inches
Weight: 20 to 28 pounds (male), 16 to 24 pounds (female)
Coat colors: Brindle (most common), fawn (second most common; ranges from light to red) cream, white, brindle and white, fawn brindle, fawn and white, white or cream and brindle ("pied"), cream and white, white and fawn, black (not recognized by AKC), blue (not recognized by AKC)
French Bulldogs are small but sturdy canines, that are well-proportioned with heavy bones and a compact build. One of their most distinctive features are their long "bat ears," broad at the base and forming a rounded point at the tip. Their heads are large and square-shaped that look flat between the ears. Frenchies have dark brown eyes
that do not bulge but are set far apart (although some have lighter eyes, especially those with lighter coats). Their snouts are short (Brachycephalic), their nose
is almost always black and their large upper lips hang over the sides of their lower jaw, which is square and deep. Frenchies have broad chests, thick necks and some wrinkles due to loose skin around the throat, head and shoulders. Their legs are short, muscular and wide set, with slightly longer hindquarters than forequarters. And their tails
are short and thick, sticking out straight or tightly screwed.
Frenchies have short hair and smooth coats that come in many colors. The most common are brindle, followed by fawn (which ranges from light to red). There are also cream, white, brindle and white, fawn brindle, fawn and white, white or cream and brindle ("pied"), cream and white, white and fawn, black (not recognized by AKC), blue (not recognized by AKC).
The French Bulldog's coat is short and smooth with an undercoat that sheds seasonally.
Shedding: minimally year round; more heavily twice a year, typically fall and spring.
Brush: once a week, increase during heavy shedding.
Bathe: every one to three months (not more unless very dirty, as over-bathing strips the coat of natural oils and leaves the skin dry); increase bathing during heavy shedding season as necessary.
Shave: not recommended.
Trim nails: every two to four weeks.
Brush teeth: daily is ideal, two to three times per week is more realistic (Frenchies are prone to tooth and mouth diseases).
Clean ears: once a month (increase to once a week if your Frenchie has a history of ear problems).
Clean wrinkles: regularly up to a few times a week (to keep dry, remove bacteria and prevent infections).
Temperament & Personality
French Bulldogs are sociable, affectionate, patient, fun-loving, charming, loyal and sometimes stubborn. They were bred to be companion dogs and thus prefer to be close to their humans. Because they like consistent interaction, they can become too attached to their owners and develop separation anxiety. Some attached Frenchies will simply follow you wherever you go, while others may be more pushy. So the breed is not recommended for people who spend a lot of time away from home. But this desire for closeness, combined with their friendly and loving nature, means Frenchies make great family dogs. Especially because they tend to show affection to children and get along with other animals, such as cats. Some, however, can be territorial and unfriendly toward other animals, depending on the individual dog. Their territorial instincts and alertness make them good watchdogs because that will bark judiciously. That being said, French Bulldogs are social beings that love to play and usually like everyone they meet. They are also somewhat intelligent and some are mischievous, which may be surprising given their reputation and silly or clownish behavior.
Recommended: 20 minutes of light exercise and mental stimulation.
Because they were bred to be companions, French Bulldogs don't need much exercise. A short, daily walk once or twice a day is typically enough to keep Frenchies in shape. You can also opt for a play session outside or a short trip to the dog park. As French Bulldogs age, activity level decreases and thus will need less exercise. Like all dogs, Frenchies enjoy exploring and spending time outside. Regular outdoor activity is recommended, especially for those living in an apartment. French Bulldogs also enjoy canine sports like obedience and rally.
However, given that they are Brachycephalic, Frenchies are prone to breathing difficulties, which can lead to overheating. They should not overexert themselves, especially in hot temperatures or humid weather. Always watch for signs of overheating during exercise and opt for activities where you can bring water and find shade, if need be. It's recommended that Frenchies avoid swimming, stair use and jumping, as they aren't built for water and are prone to back issues.
- Walks (shorter)
- Nose work
- Obedience training / exercises
- Rally canine sport
- Play sessions (short)
French Bulldogs tend to be smart, food-driven people-pleasers. All of this means they'll be able to pick up on training relatively quickly. Use positive reinforcement, as Frenchies can be sensitive and respond better to rewards rather than criticism. They can also be stubborn, so it's recommended that owners make training feel like a game with plenty of play, food and praise. Their intelligence means they can figure out how to bend the rules and their stubbornness means they may not always oblige, so consistency is key.
In addition, socialization and puppy classes are recommended to expose Frenchies to a variety of people, dogs and situations. Begin at a young age to promote good behavior and help them become well-adjusted adults.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind the physical limitations of French Bulldogs during training. Don't allow overexertion or overheating and use small treats to avoid choking or weight gain.
- Begin early, between 8 to 12 weeks old.
- Choose to train in a place where there will be little distractions.
- Start simple, beginning with sit, stay and down.
- Use treats or attention (pats, verbal encouragement, etc.) to reward good behavior.
- Make training feel like a game to properly engage mental and physically.
Average life span: 10-12 years
French Bulldogs have some health issues that are commonly associated with the breed:
- Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
- Ear infections
- Intervertebral Disc Degeneration
- Hip Dysplasia
- Hemivertebrae Skin Fold Dermatitis
- Cherry Eye
- Pulmonic Stenosis
- Retinal Dysplasia
- Atopic Dermatitis
- Entropion Demodicosis
- Patellar Luxation
- Anesthesia Sensitivity
- Skin Allergies
- Autoimmune Skin Disorders
- Stenotic Nares (narrowed nostrils)
- Tooth and Gum Disease
- Spinal Malformations
- Von Willebrand's Disease
Suggested tests: hip, patella, eye, heart, musculoskeletal and spine.
Responsible breeders will screen for many of these health conditions. But it's important to go for routine vet checkups where they can undergo annual heart exams as well as hip, elbow, joint, eye and blood tests, among others.
Pro Tip: Know the signs of these issues so you can recognize them early on and seek treatment as soon as possible.
Interesting Facts / Did You Know
At the turn of the 20th century, some French Bulldogs sold for as much as $3,000, which is equivalent to $35,000 today.