The one-of-a-kind French Bulldog, with his large bat ears and even disposition, is one of the world’s most popular small-dog breeds, especially among city dwellers. The Frenchie is playful, alert, adaptable, and completely irresistible.
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 6 of 192
- Height: 11-13 inches
- Weight: under 28 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
- Group: Non-Sporting Group
About the French Bulldog
The French Bulldog resembles a Bulldog in miniature, except for the large, erect “bat ears” that are the breed’s trademark feature. The head is large and square, with heavy wrinkles rolled above the extremely short nose. The body beneath the smooth, brilliant coat is compact and muscular.
The bright, affectionate Frenchie is a charmer. Dogs of few words, Frenchies don’t bark much—but their alertness makes them excellent watchdogs. They happily adapt to life with singles, couples, or families, and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise. They get on well with other animals and enjoy making new friends of the human variety. It is no wonder that city folk from Paris to Peoria swear by this vastly amusing and companionable breed.
In the mid-1800s, a toy-size Bulldog found favor in some English cities, including Nottingham, then a center for lace making. The toy Bulldog became something of a mascot for Nottingham’s lace makers. This was the height of the Industrial Revolution in England, and such “cottage industries” as lace making were increasingly threatened. Many in the lace trade relocated to northern France, and of course, they brought their toy Bulldogs with them.
The little dogs became popular in the French countryside where lace makers settled. Over a span of decades, the toy Bulldogs were crossed with other breeds, perhaps terriers and Pugs, and, along the way, developed their now-famous bat ears. They were given the name Bouledogue Français.
Paris eventually discovered the delightful new breed, and thus began the Frenchie’s reputation as city dog par excellence. The breed came to be associated with Paris café life, and with the bon vivants and fancy ladies who sought nocturnal pleasures in Parisian dancehalls. Edgar Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec depicted the Frenchie in paintings of the Paris demimonde.
By the end of the 19th century, the Frenchie’s popularity had spread across Europe and to America. The breed was tougher sell in England. The Bulldog was a national symbol, and it rankled many Englishmen that their age-old rivals, the French, would dare adapt it to their purposes.
American devotees of the early 1900s contributed to the breed by insisting that the bat ear, as opposed to the “rose ear,” was the correct Frenchie type. It is by this distinctive feature that the Frenchie is instantly recognizable the world over.
A high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) will have all the nutrients the breed needs. Frenchies are prone to obesity, which can damage their physical structure and puts them at higher risk for some of the breed’s health issues, so it is vital to watch their calorie intake and weight. If you choose to give your dog treats, do so in moderation. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods high in fat. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.
The Frenchie’s short coat sheds minimally. Weekly brushing with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will help to remove shed hair and keep him looking his best. Brushing promotes new hair growth and distributes skin oils throughout the coat to help keep it healthy. A Frenchie’s facial folds should be kept clean and dry. The Frenchie’s nailsshould be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can cause him pain.
A short walk or outdoor play session with their owner each day should provide enough exercise to keep the French Bulldog in shape. Frenchies enjoy participating in canine sports such as obedience, agility, and rally. As a flat-faced breed, however, they are prone to breathing difficulties and should never be allowed to exert themselves in hot or humid weather.
Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations will help him develop into a well-adjusted adult. Puppy training classes serve as part of the socialization process, promote good behavior, and help the owner learn to recognize and correct bad habits. Frenchies have big personalities and can need a fair amount of training to make them civilized companions. They can be stubborn, but at heart they’re people pleasers and therefore easy to train. The proper motivation (such as food) and making a game of the process will ensure their cooperation.
Because of their front-heavy structure, Frenchies cannot swim and should never be left unattended near a tub, pool, or body of water. Like all flat-faced breeds, Frenchies are prone to breathing problems and do poorly in hot or humid weather. Flat-faced breeds are also more sensitive to anesthesia. Frenchies occasionally have eye conditions such as cherry eye, juvenile cataracts, or entropion, and skin allergies and autoimmune skin disorders also are known to occur. A responsible breeder will take advantage of available tests to screen breeding stock for conditions that can affect the breed.