French Bulldogs originated in France during the 1800’s. Most people agree that they were the result of a cross between English Bulldogs and ratter dogs. However, their origin is not clear, some people claim that Frenchies were the result of the cross of a miniature version of the English Bulldog with a French Terrier, while others claim that they originated from the cross of a tiny Toy bulldog with an English bulldog.
During the Industrial Revolution, lace workers from England migrated to France and brought a variety of dogs with them, including miniature Bulldogs. French people were immediately charmed by the small Bulldogs, particularly the ones with erect ears, a feature that was disliked by the English breeders.
As the miniature Bulldogs became popular in France, breeders in England began to export Bulldogs that they considered to be too small, or with faults such as erect ears. Parisians named the dogs “Bouledogue Francais” and the French breeders started selecting the dogs that had the “bat” ears. The French Bulldog became a popular breed among people from all classes and it was later named as “French Bulldog”.
Frenchies became popular in the United States in the late 1800s. An American French bulldog club was formed in 1898. By 1913, this breed was one of the most popular dogs in the United States. Although its popularity has decreased, many people are still devoted fans of this small and lovable breed.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), French Bulldog is the 6th most popular dog breed in the United States.
Breed Function: Companion
Also known as: Bouledogue Francais, Frenchie
Life span: 10 – 12 years
Average Size: 11 to 13 inches
Average Weight: 28 pounds
Family: Mastiff (bulldog)
Common Health Issues:
- Hip dysplasia
- Patellar luxation
- Stenotic nares
- Elongated soft palate (brachycephalic syndrome)
- Heat and exercise intolerance
- Intervertebral disc degeneration
French Bulldog Physical Characteristics
The French Bulldog, or Frenchie, is one of the smaller bulldog-breeds, weighing 20 pounds (9 kg) on average. French Bulldogs are adored for their funny bulging eyes, smashed faces, and erect ears. Their name, of course, refers to their country of origin, where Frenchies were first bred in the 19th century as fighting dogs. Often compared to clowns because of their comical expressions and love of play, Frenchies are nevertheless fairly even-tempered and make great family dogs, having a rare but distinctive bark.
- Robust and muscular body type. French Bulldogs have wide bones, wide shoulders, muscular short legs and moderate-sized feet with compact toes and short nails.
- Square shaped head. Their square shaped head features round, dark eyes, and “bat” ears. They have a square shaped head with round, dark eyes, and “bat” ears.
- Wrinkled smooth coat. One of the most attractive features of this small companion dog is its wrinkled smooth coat. Frenchies have a wide neck with loose skin and a straight or screwed tail. The short-haired coat comes in a variety of colors including brindle, fawn, and white, or brindle and white.
To read more about the French Bulldog’s breed standard, download Official Standard of the French Bulldog by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
French Bulldog Common Health Concerns
French Bulldogs are classified as brachycephalic (short-faced) and dwarf dogs, which makes them especially susceptible to various health issues. Brachycephalic dogs are less efficient at breathing than long-nosed breeds, for this reason, they have less heat, exercise, and stresstolerance. Anesthesia is riskier in short-faced dogs, for this reason, it is important to discuss the risk of anesthesia with your veterinarian before any surgery.
- Brachycephalic syndrome. Brachycephalic syndrome, which is a combination of tracheal collapse, narrowed nostrils (stenotic nares), and other congenital abnormalities that lead to respiratory difficulty. Dogs with brachycephalic syndrome have issues tolerating heat, exercise, and stress, have noisy breathing and sometimes spit foam.
- Cherry eye. Some dogs develop an inflammation of a gland associated with the eyelids, which can become distended and inflamed and considerable discomfort. The condition can usually be treated successfully with medication or, in more severe cases, surgery.
- Heat stroke. Brachycephalic dogs tend to have breathing difficulty and they cannot tolerate excessive heat or vigorous exercise. You should keep your Frenchie cool during warm weather, and avoid vigorous exercise.
- Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a congenital and hereditable condition in which the femur does not fit appropriately into the pelvic socket of the hip joint. French Bulldogs who suffer from hip dysplasia may exhibit pain and lameness on one or both rear legs. Arthritis can develop with time. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred.
- Entropion. This congenital condition occurs when the dog’s upper or lower eyelids roll inward toward the inside of the eye. French Bulldogs with this condition will show visible signs of abnormally rolled eyelids, pain and swelling of eyes. Treatment consists of surgical replacement of the eyelid. If left untreated, entropion may lead to corneal ulceration and vision loss
- Intervertebral Disc Disease. French Bulldogs and other dwarf breeds may have spine issues, such as vertebrae malformations and premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs. Although the spine is supported by good musculature, herniation of degenerated discs can occur, and most back problems are due to disc disease rather than to abnormal vertebrae.
- Patellar luxation. The kneecap or patellar luxation can occur for a variety of reasons, usually because of a congenital defect that prevents the patella from staying seated in its groove. Many cases of patellar luxation are mild and do not require surgical treatment, though, in more severe or persistent cases, surgery will be needed to prevent future complications.
|Avg. Treatment Cost|
|High||$200 to $1,500|
|Cherry eye||Medium||$490 to $1,050|
|Heat stroke||Medium||$205 to $2,315|
|Hip Dysplasia||Medium||$1,500 to $6,000|
|Entropion||High||$305 to $1,490|
|High||$2,500 to $7,000|
|Patellar luxation||Medium||$1345 to $2955|
Learn more: You can learn more about this is other genetic diseases in French Bulldogs and other breeds on the Guide to Congenital and Heritable Disorders in Dogs published by The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
French Bulldog Personality
French Bulldogs are excellent companion dogs. They are well-known for being affectionate, well behaved, lively, playful, easygoing, bright, patient, affectionate and sociable. This breed thrives on human contact; they are highly sociable and demand lots of attention. They generally get along well with everyone, including children. Occasionally the male French bulldog might be aggressive with other dogs.
Those who have owned a Frenchie know how attentive they can be; you will often find your French Bulldog quietly following you around and asking for your attention with a paw tap. Although they tend to be very quiet, when they do bark you should take it seriously, he or she is probably trying to alert you.
French Bulldog puppies are quite playful, and their play tends to be on the destructive side. They usually break their toys – or anything else they are playing with! Be especially careful with toys on which they could choke, like rawhides, small balls or any toy that they may swallow. As your Frenchie ages, he/she will become more sedentary but you should encourage physical activity to keep him/her healthy.
French Bulldogs are not built to be in the water – given their squat build and heavy head, most Frenchies cannot swim. Be careful if you have a pool at home and do not allow your Frenchie into the pool.
French Bulldogs do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. When left alone they may bark excessively, which may annoy neighbors, and they may suffer from separation anxiety. If you work during long hours outside of home, this may not be the best breed for you.
Frenchies can be noisy, they constantly snore, snort and grunt, and they are prone to flatulence. But most French Bulldog owners get used to the noises quickly and find this part of their personality quite amusing.
French Bulldog Training
Frenchies can be stubborn and difficult to train, although, when you use the appropriate technique, they can learn fast. Start training your puppy the day you bring him/her home and use gentle, positive techniques to motivate your new French Bulldog.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him/her home and use gentle, positive techniques to motivate your new French Bulldog. Even very young dogs can start learning, and the sooner you start the easier it will be on the long term. Your Frenchie can start taking obedience classes outside of home as soon as his/her vaccination schedule is complete – ask your dog’s vet before you start taking him/her to training lessons.
French Bulldogs lose interest in repetitive activities quickly. Training sessions should be short and the routine should be mixed up to keep your dog’s interest. Verbal rewards, affection, and treats are the best way to get positive results when training your French Bulldog. Punishment and yelling will be counterproductive with any dog.
French Bulldog Grooming
French Bulldogs do not require much grooming. They have a short and smooth coat that is easy to groom. It is recommended to brush them once or twice a week to remove dead hair. French bulldogs shed their undercoat twice a year (during the spring and fall shedding seasons). Baths can take place every two to four weeks depending on your dog’s lifestyle. The only other grooming required is nail trimming, ear cleaning and tooth brushing.
Pay special attention to the wrinkles when you bath your French bulldog — the wrinkles should always be clean and dry. You should clean your Frenchie’s wrinkles various times a week using a damp cloth or a baby wipe and then dry them thoroughly. When wrinkles are moist, they become an excellent place for bacteria and fungi to grow and this may lead to dermatitis and pyoderma (skin inflammation due to bacteria and fungi growth).
French Bulldog Energy & Exercise
Most French Bulldogs have lots of energy, and even though they should not perform a rigorous exercise, they can use all that energy to play. Given their size and temperament, French Bulldogs are considered “indoor dogs”, but they can be just as happy in a big home or on a farm with lots of wide open space.
A couple of 15 minute walks per day and a few sessions of playing ball will help your Frenchie stay in shape and it will prevent many diseases. Regular physical activity is also essential to have a well-behaved dog, because when your dog is “bored” he/she may start behaving inappropriately. French Bulldogs should not be exercised too hard in the summer months, as they are prone to heatstroke.
French Bulldog Nutrition & Feeding
Your best options for feeding your French Bulldog are commercial dry food (kibble) or canned food, and homemade meals. There are several types of commercial dog foods—how should you choose the best one for your Frenchie? You should consider your dog’s size, age, and activity level. It is important to understand that dogs, just like us, need a nutritionally balanced meal with an appropriate amount of calories.
Dog food contains a combination of ingredients, including meat, grains, vitamins, minerals, fats, and byproducts. This combination is balanced to meet the nutritional requirements of dogs. If you prefer to feed your Frenchie a homemade meal, you should make sure it is nutritionally balanced. Dr. Paula Terifaj from Founders Veterinary Clinic in California has developed a nutritionally balanced homemade dog recipe that you can use to feed your dog. You may also want to consult your dog’s veterinarian before you start feeding your Frenchie with homemade meals.
The amount of food that your French Bulldog should eat depends on the calories on that food. In general, if you are feeding a high-quality commercial dog food, your dog will need to eat less to get the amount of calories that he or she needs. To determine how much of a particular food, you should feed your French Bulldog, read the label on the dog food packaging or call the manufacturer for the information you need.
Small dogs such as French Bulldogs are especially prone to developing obesity. This is even more common in brachiocephalic dogs because they have limited exercise options – especially during hot weather. For this reason, it is very important to monitor your Frenchie’s weight and to feed him or her appropriately.
French Bulldogs can be prone to digestive distress and food allergies. Wheat products can cause digestive problems and lead to flatulence in some Frenchies. Many dog foods contain fillers such as corn and other carbohydrates, which are used to add mass to the product, but have little nutritional value and are difficult to digest. These fillers are often the culprits of food allergies in dogs, but certain proteins may also cause this health condition. Common signs of food allergies are skin irritation, rashes, itchiness, vomiting or diarrhea. If your Frenchie suffers from food allergies, your veterinarian will recommend the best food for him or her.
French Bulldog Pet Insurance
Different authorities offer different estimates of the average lifespan of French Bulldogs, with a range from 8 to 14 years. In addition to difficulty regulating their internal temperature, which makes them susceptible to heat and cold, Frenchies are known to suffer from a number of health conditions. There is no way to know if your Frenchie will suffer from any of these illnesses, but the possibility is always there, and every dog will require special care as it gets older. The right pet health insurance plan can help keep you from the added burden of financial worries when your dog requires medical care.
When choosing your pet insurance plan, it is a good idea to check if it covers the hereditary conditions mentioned above. Taking this precaution can save you lots of money and headaches. The following pet insurance chart allows you to choose a plan that covers hereditary or breed-specific conditions such as brachycephalic syndrome, hip dysplasia, and intervertebral disc disease:
Is A French Bulldog Right For You?
A French Bulldog may be right for you if you want…
- a small but sturdy dog – Frenchies are not delicate lapdogs
- a dog that requires minimal grooming
- a sociable dog that is good with kids
- a dog that does not need much exercise
- a quiet but attentive dog
- a playful dog
A French Bulldog may NOT be right for you if…
- you spend long hours working outside of your home
- you do not want to deal with potential health problems
- you do not want to deal with his/her snorting, snuffling, wheezing, snoring, some slobbering
- you are not willing to tolerate his/her gassiness (flatulence)
- you want a dog that is easy to train
For other types of dogs, check out our full list of dog breeds.