What are French Bulldog's like?
Stocky, sturdy, and small, the little French Bulldog has seen huge popularity in recent years as one of the most famous dog breeds around. These dogs are easily recognisable (and pawsitively adorable) thanks to their short, wrinkly noses, big eyes, and large bat-like ears. As well as their cute features, these pooches make paw-some family pets, so it’s no wonder they’re so pup-ular.
French Bulldogs are classed as a small breed and their size doesn’t differ much between male and female dogs. However, the genders do differ in weight as male Frenchies are usually much heavier than females. They have a short coat which they will shed, but you won’t usually notice much hair lying around your house because their hair is so fine. French Bulldogs will moult twice a year in time with seasonal changes, so you might notice more fur around your house at these times.
Here’s a chart of all the key statistics of the French Bulldog:
| | Male | Female | | ------------------------ | ------------------ | ------------------ | | Size | Small | Small | | Average Height (Withers) | 28-33 centimetres | 28-33 centimetres | | Average Weight | 9.1-12.7 kilograms | 7.3-10.9 kilograms | | Lifespan | 11 to 13 years | 11 to 13 years | | Coat | Short | Short | | Hypoallergenic | No | No | | Sheds | Yes | Yes |
French Bulldog history
The history of the French Bulldog breed is colourful, to say the least. It’s also quite misleading because, despite their name, the breed’s origins are actually found here in Britain. Although Frenchie puppies can now command a high price tag, these dogs were once the product of the working class.
French Bulldog origins
The Frenchie's origins have a bloody start. Bulldogs were bred and used to fight bulls and other animals for sport, hence their name. But once these blood sports were outlawed in the 19th century, the dogs needed a new purpose.
As with many dogs, people began trying to crossbreed them into different shapes and sizes to fit a new role. Sadly, some breeders could only see more bloodsport in the bulldog’s future. They tried to turn the old bulldog into the perfect dogfighting dog by breeding them with terriers, long associated with the working class. This crossbreeding created the early version of the English Bulldog we know today.
On the other hand, some breeders saw another possibility from these crossbreeding efforts. Another result in breeding bulldogs and terriers together was producing a smaller-sized version of a bulldog that could be kept as a companion animal. These breeders kept breeding smaller and smaller pups, trying to create the paw-fect pet, until the “toy bulldog” breed emerged.
Sadly, the toy bulldog is now an extinct breed, but not before they could move across the channel with emigrating lace workers.
No one really knows why toy bulldogs were the favoured furry friend of lace workers, but the two went together like bread and butter. These workers were mostly from Nottingham, and many lost their jobs during the industrial revolution. Like our beloved bullies, these artisans found themselves needing to find new jobs. Having been displaced by modern machinery, the lace workers then moved to the Normandy region of France where their skills were still in high demand, and they took their toy bulldogs with them.
The toy bulldog becomes French
The French couldn’t get enough of these cute and cuddly pups. Before long, a successful trade between England and France began. Dogs bred in England that had “faults” and didn’t fit the breed standard for an English Bulldog were sent across the channel to find their fur-ever homes. This meant that a lot of dogs that were too small, or that had upright ears, began to be shipped to France. They were so pup-ular there that by the time there were only a few toy bulldogs left in Britain, there were so many in France that they began to be bred and standardised into their own breed. And so, the French Bulldog was born.
The Frenchie became a sought-after companion for all manner of French society. They were as popular with the upper classes as they were with the bohemian underbelly, but were especially associated with the latter.
During the decadent Belle Époche period in Paris, Frenchies were a favoured fur-iend for many artists but were most famously linked with brothels and owned by many of the women working within their walls. At one point, Frenchies were so associated with these women that postcards of prostitutes would even feature the familiar snub-nosed dog. (We said they had a colourful history!)
French Bulldog temperament
French Bulldogs share a nickname with Cockapoos in that they are both called the “clowns” of the canine world. Frenchies are a fun-loving breed and many owners will admit that they are quirky little characters. However, being a brachycephalic (short-nosed, flat-faced) dog, they aren’t very energetic.
French Bulldogs are usually quite easy to train, but they are notorious for being quite stubborn. (But not as stubborn as their cousins, the English Bulldog.) This independent streak means that training is essential to prevent unruly behaviour. Your Frenchie will also benefit a lot from socialisation, which has been known to have a paw-sitive impact on their training. French Bulldogs are known to be quiet and patient, so you shouldn’t have to deal with a lot of barking. They are very “talkative” though, so don’t be surprised if your cheeky pup decides to make their voice heard!
As they were bred to be companion animals, it’s no wonder the French Bulldog temperament is incredibly loving and a little clingy. These dogs bond closely with their families and they do not do well with being alone for long. They thrive on human company, which means you’re sure to have a loving and affectionate best fur-iend who wants to be involved with everything you’re doing. Whether that’s playing in the park or cuddling up on the sofa.
French Bulldog appearance
The standard French Bulldog appearance is that of a small, muscular dog that has a tendency to be top-heavy thanks to its large head, big upright ears, and well-built shoulders. Their tails are not docked but are naturally a short corkscrew shape that sits close to their backside.
Paw-haps their most recognisable feature is their squashed face. French Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have a flat face with a very short snout. Their faces are usually wrinkly, however, this varies between a few wrinkles on their muzzle to full rolls of skin on their nose.
French Bulldog colours
French Bulldogs come in 9 accepted breed-standard colours and patterns. There are another 14 colours and patterns present in the breed, but they are not recognised by the Kennel Club within breed standards. That means there are almost two dozen colours and patterns your Frenchie’s coat could be.
The breed standard French Bulldog colours are:
| Brindle | Light brindle | Dark brindle | | ---------------------- | ------------- | ------------ | | Brindle & white | Fawn | Fawn & white | | Fawn with a black mask | Fawn pied | Pied |
The non-standard French Bulldog colours are:
| Black & tan | Black, tan & white | Blue | | ----------------------- | --------------------------- | ----------------------- | | Blue & tan | Blue with white | Blue fawn | | Blue fawn with white | Blue with white, sable, tan | Brown | | Brown with tan or white | Sable | Sable with tan or white | | Red | Cream | |
When will a French Bulldog’s ears stand up?
One of the characteristics of the French Bulldog is their large, upright ears. But believe it or not, these dogs are born with their ears flat. (They look much more like English Bulldogs before their ears spring up!) How long it takes for a French Bulldog’s ears to stand up will vary on the individual dog, but it usually takes somewhere between 4-8 weeks. The time it takes for their ears to stand up often correlates with the puppy teething period.
Some puppies may show signs of their ears perking up within a few days, but this is not the norm. You can expect that your Frenchie will have flopped-over ears for the first 2 months of their life, but some puppies’ ears might not stand up until they are 4 months old.
Their ears won’t always pop upright at the same time either, so your puppy could have one ear up and one ear down for a few days!
Why do French Bulldog’s ears stand up?
Back when people were trying to breed English Bulldogs, there was a set of standards for the most desirable dogs. Puppies that didn’t meet these standards were not wanted and often shipped across to France as popular toy bulldogs. One of the undesirable traits was upright ears. This meant dogs with "faults" like being too small or having upright ears were more often classed as "toy bulldogs" and traded to France. Over the years, the upright ears became synonymous with the toy bulldogs and emerging French Bulldog breed until eventually, it became the standard. So one undesirable trait for one dog became a much-treasured feature of another!
How long do French Bulldogs live for?
The French Bulldog lifespan is fairly average and you can expect your dog to live for at least a decade. Some dogs can even make it into their early teens. Generally, the average lifespan of a french bulldog is around 10-13 years.
Sadly, they are not an exceptionally long-lived dog. This is partly due to the fact that Frenchies are prone to many health problems, so it is unsurprising that some individuals have a shorter lifespan. But if your pooch is exercised regularly and fed a high-quality diet that combats the conditions the breed is prone to, you can expect your pooch to live a long and happy life.
French Bulldog facts
Another name for Frenchies
When the breed was beginning to be popularised in France, they received the name “Bouledogue Francais”. Surprisingly, “Bouledogue” is not a contraction of bulldog, but the combination of the words “boule” (ball) and “dogue” (mastiff).
The “ball” names didn’t end there. “Bouboule” was slang for being fat and round, and it was the name of the French Bulldog featured in several drawings by Toulouse-Lautrec. (The famous French artist forever linked with the Moulin Rouge.) The dog had a pretty interesting owner too.
Not so French after all
If you didn’t read about the history of French Bulldogs above, you might have missed that this breed actually has its origins in Britain. (More specifically, Nottingham.) They were popular companions for lace makers and when they moved to France to find work after the industrial revolution, the little dogs went with them.
Frog dogs who can’t swim
Despite being affectionately known as “frog dogs” because of how they lie down with their legs splayed, most Frenchies can’t swim. They are so top-heavy because of their large head and front-end, they have a tendency to sink. So if you’re taking your pooch to a pool party, make sure they have a life jacket.
Facts about famous Frenchies
French Bulldogs have been owned by plenty of celebrities over the years, but nowadays they can even be celebrities themselves. Manny the bulldog is one of the most famous dogs on Instagram and has over a million followers.
A royal following
Given how pup-ular French Bulldogs are, it’s no wonder they have picked up a few royal fans along the way. The English king Edward VII had a beloved Frenchie called Peter who was usually found at his heels. He even kept Peter’s son, Paul.
The ill-fated Romanov dynasty also had a fondness for Frenchies. Grand Duchess Tatiana was given a Frenchie puppy in 1914 and named them "Ortipo". Ortipo was frequently photographed with the family and often mentioned in Tatiana’s letters and diaries, once described as "overly cute" in one entry. The pup would even be honoured with a likeness created by Faberge.
The pooch would follow the family into exile along with two other dogs. The poor pup met as sad an end as the royal family. Some say Ortipo was killed outside the house for barking, while others claim the bulldog was bayoneted after trying to protect the Romanov’s bodies.
One brave bulldog
When we think of dogs serving in the armed forces, we usually think of Springer Spaniels as sniffer dogs, or German Shepherds working as guard dogs. But did you know that during the First World War there was a brave little Frenchie called Mutt who worked as a delivery dog on the Western Front. There’s even a short video clip of him getting ready for work. He belonged to the YMCA and delivered cigarettes to soldiers and boosted morale with his love and affection. He was even wounded twice in the line of duty.
Mutt managed to survive to the end of the war, but it wasn’t smooth sailing. Many animals were left behind when the war ended, but lucky little Mutt was smuggled on board a ship by a kind soldier. Even when the furry stowaway was found, he was saved from being tossed overboard because the soldier insisted he would go overboard with the dog. Mutt made it safely to New York and lived a few more years in comfort before passing away due to natural causes.
An artist’s muse
Plenty of artists have taken inspiration from the adorable Frenchie over the years such as Faberge, Toulouse-Lautrec, and even Andy Warhol. Warhol painted Moujik II, a French Bulldog owned by none other than Yves Saint Laurent. (He owned two Frenchies, both called Moujik.) Moujik II was the only dog ever painted by Andy Warhol, and his paw-trait was the last painting he completed before his death.
French Bulldog puppies
French Bulldog puppies are well known for their high price tag. This is partly due to their pup-ularity, but also because of how much work a good breeder must put in for healthy dogs. Not only must parent animals be screened for various health issues, Frenchies are notoriously difficult to mate and rarely give birth naturally.
This is because of the dogs' small hips, which make successful mating difficult for males and natural birthing a problem for females. The puppies’ large heads also make birthing a nightmare. So not only are almost all French Bulldogs the product of artificial insemination, over 80% of puppies are born by caesarean section. (That’s a big vet bill.) On top of that, Frenchies usually have very small litters of only 3 pups.
Once they’re in the world, French Bulldog puppies start to show their silly and stubborn personalities. Because of their independent spirit, it’s im-paw-tent to train and socialise your Frenchie puppy early on to build good habits. These dogs are also known to take longer than average to housetrain, so be patient and persistent.
French Bulldogs are notoriously good at understanding your tone, and are sensitive souls. You need to be gentle and patient with your pup as it is not uncommon to find a Frenchie moping for hours if they’ve been scolded.
When do French Bulldogs stop growing?
Your French Bulldog puppy should stop growing between the age of 9 and 12 months. However, they will continue to put on weight for a few months afterwards. Their heads might also change shape and become squatter and wrinklier. By the time your dog is 2 they should be fully grown and have reached their adult weight and shape.
Frenchies are prone to obesity, so during this growing stage it is im-paw-tent to make sure they don’t put too much weight on. If your pooch is packing on the pounds after their 2nd birthday, they will be on their way to being overweight. Obesity brings with it a lot of secondary health conditions, but it is especially bad for Frenchies as the breed is predisposed to suffering with luxating patellas (dislocating kneecaps). Too much weight will put more strain on their fragile knees, so make sure your pup is walked regularly and fed a healthy diet to stay slim.
French Bulldog names
There are hundreds of potential names for your new fur-iend. You could take some French inspiration when naming your pet, such as Bijou or Gaston, or you could even name your dog after one of the many famous Frenchies throughout history.
French Bulldog vs Boston Terrier
Telling the difference between these breeds can be tricky, as they look incredibly similar and even share ancestors. Boston Terriers tend to be leggier and a little shorter than Frenchies, with pointed ears and narrower heads with “bug-like” eyes.
French Bulldogs are more muscular and stocky compared to the Boston Terrier, standing slightly taller and having broader, more square-shaped heads. They also have more rounded ears.
Other than that, these dogs are similar in their size, lifespan, and grooming requirements. They’re prone to many of the same ailments too, as they are both vulnerable to heat and suffer from breathing issues due to being brachycephalic breeds.
How much space do French Bulldogs need?
Not a lot! French Bulldogs are not an active or energetic dog and they have low exercise needs. They do need daily walking to keep them healthy and to prevent obesity, but it only needs to be a short stroll once a day. This also means they don’t need a lot of room to run around in at home either, and they do exceptionally well with apartment living. Therefore a Frenchie can be paw-fectly happy at home even if you live in a flat or a small house and don’t have access to a garden.
How much exercise does a French Bulldog need?
As we said, Frenchies are not an active or energetic breed by any stretch of the imagination. They still need a daily walk to keep them healthy and to provide them with some enrichment, but they don’t need any more than an hour at most. A short walk around the block once or twice a day is paw-fectly fine for these pups.
Take care on Summer and Winter walks
It is advisable that you don’t walk your Frenchie in hot temperatures. Because of their short noses, they overheat easily, so your pooch is best kept at home in hot weather to prevent illness. (Here are some ideas on how to protect your pup from the heat.)
Meanwhile, you might want to buy some boots or a coat for your pooch come winter, because these dogs are just as susceptible to the cold. So when it comes to exercising throughout the seasons, stay out the sun, and bundle up for winter.
Do French Bulldogs have health problems?
Yes, sadly French Bulldogs are predisposed to a few health problems. These include:
- Breathing problems
- Cherry eye
- Sensitive stomachs and diarrhoea
- Sensitive skin
- Ear infections
- Anal gland issues
- Luxating patella
Some of these conditions, such as luxating patella, should be screened for in parent dogs before they are bred. (This is one reason why responsible breeding is required and why puppies can be costly.)
Other conditions are sadly just part and parcel with the breed. For instance, their flat faces and large eyes make them prone to breathing problems, eye issues, and makes them vulnerable in the heat.
A Frenchie’s big ears aren’t just open to the elements, they have very small ear canals. If something gets inside their ear and irritates it or your dog eats something they are allergic to, it can cause the ear canal to become inflamed and swell up. Since these canals are so small, the inflammation is a big problem and can effectively block up your dog’s ears. This makes it important to clean your Frenchie’s ears regularly and to make sure they are eating food which doesn’t cause them any allergic reactions or skin complaints.
Sensitive and problem-prone skin
In a study by the Royal Veterinary College published in 2018, 72.4% of French Bulldogs had a health condition. Of these, skin problems were the most common condition and affected 17.9% of the dogs studied.
One of the big problems was dermatitis, which was caused by the bulldog’s wrinkles and rolls of skin. These rolls and wrinkles were also prone to infection as bacteria and dirt can get stuck in the folds of their skin.
To combat the problem, some owners will wipe their dog down daily with antibacterial wipes. This isn’t an ideal solution since it creates a lot of waste and takes a lot of effort. It does not tackle the root of the problem either, since most recurring skin conditions are actually caused by a dietary allergy or intolerance.
Since Frenchies are known for having sensitive stomachs and being super susceptible to dietary intolerances, it’s no coincidence that many of these pups suffer from poor skin as well. Therefore it’s a good idea to investigate hypoallergenic foods that could help soothe your bullies sensitive skin.
Feeding your pooch dog food with a limited list of digestible ingredients will make the world of difference as you can monitor exactly what they are eating and avoid any irritants. Some recipes, like all of our Pure foods, avoid common allergens like grains and dairy which are known to cause problems with canine constitutions.
Sensitive stomachs and stinky back-ends
Another problem that plagues French Bulldogs is sensitive stomachs and GI issues, including diarrhoea and anal gland problems. Although not a health problem per-say, Frenchies are also notorious for farting a lot. We think that’s a shame since abundant flatulence is usually a symptom of a poorly stomach rather than a quirk of a breed.
These problems are all massively affected by diet. By finding a natural dog food without allergens or artificial nasties, you might find your pup’s sensitive stomach settles and put an end to farting and diarrhoea. Plus, plenty of fibre can help combat anal gland issues, as firm stool will help to express the glands naturally. Otherwise, you will need to take your dog to the vet every few weeks to have their glands manually expressed.
Pure uses only 100% natural, human-grade ingredients and plenty of fibre to help soothe sensitive stomachs. We’ve helped a whole pack of Frenchies like Boo and Coco say goodbye to upset tummies and foul farts.
Grooming your French Bulldog
Despite having short fur and relatively little shedding, your French Bulldog will still require regular grooming. A regular grooming regime will help to combat some common issues like skin and ear infections.
Although your dog won’t need lots of combing or trimming, you should still bathe them regularly. Regular washing will keep your pup clean and may even be a necessity, as some dogs need medicated shampoos to treat their skin conditions. Just remember when you bathe your bulldog you should put some cotton wool balls in their ears to prevent them getting wet and causing an infection.
Their upright ears do make Frenchie's ears prone to problems. They are open to the elements after all, and irritants or even water can easily drop inside them and cause an infection. To combat this, you should regularly rinse your dog’s ears with a special cleaning solution and then wipe them clean and dry with cotton wool.
Between baths, you will also need to wipe their wrinkles to keep their skin and fur in good condition. Their wrinkles and rolls might be cute, but dirt and bacteria can get trapped inside them easily. Get a damp cloth or wet wipe and carefully clean your dog’s wrinkles every week.
Less glamorously, you will also need to clean underneath your Frenchie's tail regularly. The breed’s short tail sits close to their body and most dogs have a “tail pocket” it sits in. Not only is this pocket dark and moist, an ideal bacterial breeding ground, it can also collect faecal bacteria inside it due to its proximity to the rectum. Again, you’ll need to gently wipe this area clean every week. If their tail is very short, you may need to get a wet wipe on your finger and gently run your finger inside the roll of skin surrounding their tail.
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