Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a French Bulldog
Average Cost to keep/care for a French Bulldog
Breed Specific Buying Advice
Related to both the American Bulldog and English Bulldog, the French Bulldog is smaller in size and is an exceptionally playful and good-natured character that easily adapts to different lifestyles and home environments making them one of the most popular companion dogs not only in the UK, but elsewhere in the world too. Frenchies crave lots of attention and like nothing more than to spend time with their owners. One of their most endearing traits is their willingness to please and although they can be stubborn, when carefully handled Frenchies can be taught to do some amazing things.
French Bulldogs are known to be the clowns of the dog world, but they are quite intelligent with a mischievous and playful streak in them. They may become a little possessive and protective of owners and will occasionally need a gentle reminder about who is the alpha dog in a household. They are generally very good around children, although it is best to always supervise any encounters kids have with Frenchies, much the same as with any other breed of dog.
The modern French Bulldog we see today is a descendant of ancient dogs bred by an ancient Greek tribe called the Molossians. These dogs found their way to many regions of the ancient world having been introduced to these areas by Phoenician traders.
There is a lot of speculation on the actual origin of the French Bulldog, but it is likely that the breed originated from the miniature or toy Bulldog (a cross of English Bulldogs and Terrier type dogs) which were brought to France by Nottingham lace workers during the industrial revolution that took place in England during the eighteen hundreds. Other people believe the French Bulldog is descended from the Chincha Bulldog, a breed native to ancient Peru and which no longer exists today.
The first ever breed club was established in Paris in the late eighteen hundreds and a little later a breed standard was established. French Bulldogs were only admitted and accepted as a breed in 1905 here in the UK when they were called Bouledogue Francais, this was later altered to French Bulldog in 1912. Over the years, the breed standard has been continually updated with more colours being considered acceptable which includes the colour fawn.
Height at the withers: Males 30 cm, Females 30 cm
Average Weight: Males 12.5 kg, Females 11 kg
French Bulldogs are small yet extremely muscular and strong looking dogs. Heavy in bone with a smooth coat and compactly built, they are powerful little dogs. The head should be large and square with a slightly rounded skull with skin folds and wrinkles typically found around it.
The muzzle is broad and deep with a nose that should be extremely short and black in colour, except in the case of the lighter-coloured dogs, where a lighter colour is acceptable. The underjaw is undershot and turned up, but neat.
Eyes are wide apart, set low down in the skull, as far from the ears as possible, being round and moderate in size. A French Bulldog's ears are a distinctive shape often referred to as 'bat ears', they are broad at the base, elongated, rounded at the tops and set high on a dog's head.
A Frenchie's neck is well proportioned and thickly set, muscular and well arched, with loose skin at the throat leading to short, straight forelegs that are set wide apart. The body is short and well rounded, muscular and compact with broad shoulders leading into a deep chest which gives the French Bulldog their powerful appearance. Hind legs are notably longer than the forelegs giving the appearance of a higher rump than withers. The tail can be either straight or screwed, but never curly.
A French Bulldog's coat is short and fine and comes in a variety colours including the following:
The dominant color is brindle, then fawn with pied being less common than the other colours. Breed clubs do not recognise any other colours or patterns. A dog's skin should be soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming the French Bulldog's characteristic folds and wrinkles.
It is worth noting that "rare" colours do not exist in French Bulldogs and that merle, blue/lilac as well as black and tan coloured dogs are undesirable according to Kennel Club breed standards although a Frenchie may still be KC registered, but their official documentation will clearly state the following "Colour Not Recognised".
French Bulldogs are the perfect companion dogs much preferring to be around people than being left on their own. They crave human contact and enjoy nothing more than acting "the clown" whenever they can. They are considered to be of average intelligence but are able to learn new commands readily, once you get passed their stubborn streak. They are known to be easy-going and loyal companions to live with thanks to their sweet and affectionate natures. They are a good choice for people who live in smaller homes and apartments with the good news being they are not known to be "barkers" although they don't like being left on their own.
The French Bulldog is an ideal choice of pet for people who lead quieter lives because they will quite happily sit on the couch with their owner. However, these little dogs need to be given regular daily exercise and ideally this needs to be at least 1 hour a day otherwise French Bulldogs can quickly plough on the pounds. Obesity is a real problem for the breed which results in dogs developing all sorts of health issues and can shorten their lifespans considerably.
As previously mentioned, Frenchies are intelligent little dogs that rank 58 out of 79 breeds in many surveys. They love to please which means they are quite easy to train, providing their stubborn streak does not rear its ugly head. It pays to take things slowly and surely when training a Frenchie and being very patient will pay off in the end. Frenchies can be taught to do all sorts of things, some of which are highly amusing which adds to their label of being the "clowns of the dog world".
Positive reinforcement training is essential, but it’s important to monitor how many rewards a Frenchie is given during their education to ensure a dog does not put on too much weight, especially when they are still puppies or young dogs. Carrying too much weight puts extra pressure on growing joints and not fully developed ligaments which can lead to all sorts of bone deformities, a problem the breed is already known to suffer from anyway.
French Bulldogs are a great choice for first time owners because they are always so amenable and eager to please. They make wonderful companions and family pets because they thrive in a home environment loving nothing more than to be involved in everything that goes on in their surroundings.
French Bulldogs are known to have quite a high prey drive and they like to chase anything that moves especially if it's a smaller and weaker than them. As such, care should be taken when they are around small pets and animals they don't already know. When out on a walk, French Bulldogs should only be allowed to run free off their leads in areas where there is little chance of them taking off after any smaller animals they might come across. It's also important that French Bulldogs be well trained from the word go so they respond to the "recall" command rather than turn a deaf ear when called.
French Bulldogs are known to be very clown-like and love entertaining their owners which is just one of their most endearing traits and why the breed has become so popular over the years. They remain very puppy-like well into their senior years making them a joy to have around.
Frenchies are highly adaptable small dogs which means they are just as happy living in an apartment as they are in a house providing they are given the right amount of daily exercise that is. A bored French Bulldog would quickly find ways to keep themselves entertained which is often by becoming destructive and noisy around the house when they find themselves on their own.
Frenchies form very strong bonds with their owners and as such they can suffer from a condition known as separation anxiety if they find they are left on their own for any length of time. As such they are better suited to households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out.
French Bulldogs are not known to be that vocal, but should a dog feel neglected or left to their own devices for too long, they may well start barking for attention. The same can be said of dogs that are spoiled and therefore become more demanding. Frenchies need to be taught from a young age not to bark and this should always be done gently, but firmly without frightening dogs so they understand what is expected of them and therefore mature into well-balanced, quiet dogs.
French Bulldogs are not particularly fond of water and are not very good swimmers. In fact, it would be fair to say that a Frenchie would "sink like a stone" if they ever fell into a river, pond or other sort of water course which is why care should always be taken when they are being walked anywhere near water.
French Bulldogs are quite intelligent, but they do have a bit of a stubborn streak in them at times. The good news is that these little dogs like nothing better than to please which in short, means that with the right sort of handling they are easy to train. With this said, their training needs to start early and it's essential that it remains consistent throughout a dog's life.
The other thing about Frenchies is they can be boisterous when the mood takes them which usually means they act like real clowns and this can make training them more challenging. As such, it sometimes takes a lot of patience and a little more time to get them focused on what is being asked of them. The thing to bear in mind is that these dogs are smart and know just how to wrap their owners around their little paws which is something that should be taken into account when training them.
Thanks to their gentle natures and providing French Bulldogs are well socialised from a young age, they generally get on well with other animals and family pets. Early socialisation is essential as it will enhance their laid back but playful natures. They are also noted for being a breed that gets along extremely well with children of all ages because they always display a lot of patience and kindness towards younger members of a family, which is just another reason these little dogs have consistently remained high up on the list as a popular choice of family pet.
However, it always pays to take things slowly, quietly and smoothly when any dog first meets another animal or dog they have never encountered before to avoid any aggressive behaviours. If a Frenchie has grown up with a family cat, they generally form strong bonds with each other, but the same cannot be said of any other cats they might meet which they would happily chase away. Care should be taken when they are around small animals and pets thanks to their high prey drive.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life span of a French Bulldog is between 12 to 16 years when properly cared for and fed a good quality diet that's appropriate for their ages and any health issues a dog may be suffering from.
There are certain specific hereditary and congenital health issues the breed is known to suffer from and this includes the following:
Other health issues more commonly seen in the breed than other breeds include the following:
When giving birth, almost 80% of puppies have to be delivered via a cesarean section due to the larger size of their heads. Pups should always be delivered under the care of a vet who has enough experience to ensure the safety of both the dam and her puppies.
Frenchies are prone to putting on weight if they are not fed correctly or given the correct amount of daily exercise. Even when a dog carries a little more weight than they should, it can negatively impact their overall health and well-being. When they are obese, it can shorten their lives by several years and can trigger all sorts of health issues that often prove hard to treat. A healthy French Bulldog should show a little rib and they should have a waist. If you can't see your dog's ribs and they don't have a waist line, it's time to rethink a dog's diet and the amount of daily exercise they are being given. It's also important to cut down on the amount of treats a Frenchie is given which could be one of the reasons why they are ploughing on the pounds.
Frenchies suffer from thyroid issues which can affect their skin, but in general they have healthy skin although some dogs can suffer from grass allergies which results in them chewing on their own feet. It’s a condition that is more commonly seen in "pied" coloured Frenchies. Vets often recommend that Frenchies that suffer from this type of allergy should be treated accordingly and exercise on wet or spring grasses should be avoided.
Stenosis is a condition that's been seen in the breed and fortunately it is easily recognisable when it affects the outer part of the nostril, but less easily identifiable when it is the interior that is negatively impacted. The condition affects a dog's breathing and leads to them having to breath open-mouthed. A dog suffering from the condition is 20 times more at risk of developing BOAS as such corrective surgery is needed to widen an affected nostril as soon as the condition is noticed and correctly diagnosed.
Some French Bulldogs can also suffer from deafness which is commonly seen in dogs with white or pied coloured coats and they can be deaf in one or both ears. The good news is that Frenchies can be tested using a BAER test which can be carried out when a puppy is 6 weeks old. The reason it’s important to wait before testing for deafness is because dogs ear canals do not open until they are around 2 weeks old. The other thing worth noting is that dogs must be KC registered and microchipped before they can be BAER tested for deafness.
The Kennel Club keeps records of all dogs including French Bulldogs when they have been BAER tested and these results can be found on the Health Test Results Finder on their website. If you are thinking about sharing your home with a Frenchie, it is advisable to check with the breeder and to make sure their breeding stock is Kennel Club registered, that they have been tested for deafness before being used in a breeding programme and that puppies have also been registered and BAER tested for deafness. You can then confirm this information by checking it with the Kennel Club's Health Test Results Finder.
All French Bulldog owners can take part in the health scheme which includes anyone who is not a member of French Bulldog Clubs. However, to participate Frenchies must be registered with the Kennel Club and they must either be micro chipped or have permanent tattoo identification. Dogs must be 12 months old before they can take part in the health scheme.
As with any other breed, French Bulldogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise so they stay fit and healthy. On top of this, Frenchies need to be fed a good quality diet throughout their lives to ensure all their nutritional needs are met.
French Bulldog puppies are boisterous and fun-loving as well as being incredibly cute. The good news is that they are easy to housetrain and will quickly learn where to do their "business" when given the right sort of gentle guidance and direction. However, there may be an accident or two along the way which is to be expected from a young puppy when they first arrive in a new home.
It is important not to leave puppies alone for too long when they first arrive in the home. As such it’s best to bring them home when people are going to be around for a few days. The thing to bear in mind is that a puppy would have just lost the company of all their litter mates and their mother which in short, means they are going to be feeling stressed out, all alone and vulnerable. Having you around will help them feel less anxious and should help them through the transition period of having left their group and settling into a new home.
Setting up a quiet area is also important because puppies need lots of napping time in between bouts of boisterous play. This should be in a corner of a room that does not have too much traffic while at the same time being in a place that's not too isolated so that puppy knows people are around and you can keep an eye and ear on them too. You can either set up a dog basket or a crate, whichever is the most suitable for your circumstance bearing in mind that a bed needs to be well made just in case puppy decides to chew on it and that crates should be large enough for them to move around freely without being too big so puppy feels lost in it.
It is also important to start a puppy's education as early as possible which should include grooming them, touching their paws, nails and ears as well as getting them used to wearing a collar or a harness in preparation for them being taught how to walk nicely on a lead. The best way to do this is to make it fun so that your Frenchie enjoys the experience every time. However, it's also important not to "spoil" your dog too much which could lead to behavioural problems later on.
Laying down ground rules and boundaries as well as setting up a feeding routine is all part of the process of getting a puppy used to their new surroundings. Puppies need to be fed more frequently than an adult, mature, older dog which in short means they need to be fed 3 or 4 times a day following a breeder's guidelines. The thing to remember is that a puppy is still growing which they do in bursts and as such they need the right levels of vitamins and minerals in their diet to ensure healthy growth. Spreading the meals to 3 or 4 a day helps ensure that a puppy's blood sugar levels don't rise too dramatically in between meals which in turn helps maintain energy levels and the amount of nutrients in their systems too.
When a puppy is around 6 months old, they can be fed 3 times a day which is a routine that can be continued throughout their lives because the more frequently a Frenchie is fed throughout the day the less they are at risk of developing any sort of gastric disorder. With this said, it's important not to overfeed a dog either because French Bulldogs will happily eat too much if they are given the opportunity even when they are puppies.
A Frenchie needs regular grooming and ideally this needs to be done on a weekly basis paying special attention to under a dog's tail. They have what is known as "deep tail pockets" which need to be kept clean of any dead hair, skin and other debris to avoid the area becoming sore and irritated. If left dirty, it could result in a painful infection taking hold. The best way to clean under a dog's tail is to use a damp cloth and to towel dry the area gently, but thoroughly afterwards,
Having a short, compact coat, a Frenchie is quite easy maintenance on the grooming front. They tend to shed more during the Spring and then again in the Autumn which is when they may need more frequent brushing. However, because they have lots of folds and wrinkles around their faces and other parts of their bodies, it's always a good idea to make sure these are kept free of any debris and dead skin which means using a clean damp cloth and regularly wiping the folds before thoroughly drying them with a clean towel. It's important to remove any moisture from the wrinkles and folds because if any moisture remains, it provides the perfect environment for bacteria to take hold and thrive in.
Being a brachycephalic breed, the Frenchie should not be over-exercised during very hot weather because not only would they would have trouble breathing, but they could quickly overheat and this could lead to a dog suffering from hypothermia, a serious condition that should never be taken too lightly. They are energetic and lively little dogs which means they need to have a minimum of 1 hour's daily exercise for them to remain fit and healthy or they might start to put on too much weight. They do better when given several shorter walks rather than fewer long walks but they also benefit and enjoy playing lots of interactive games throughout the day in between being taken out for walks.
It's also a good idea to keep these little dogs mentally stimulated by playing lots of interactive games with them, something the Frenchie really enjoys and it helps strengthen the bonds they form with their owners. Frenchies are not built to take part in canine sports and their temperament does not really suit things like obedience competitions because they are such independent thinkers by nature.
Frenchies do a lot better when a fed a good quality varied diet because they quickly get bored with their food if they are fed the same food day in and day out. It is better to feed them two smaller meals a day rather than a single large one.
French Bulldogs are not greedy dogs although they will put on weight all too easily if not given a correct, good quality, nutritious diet to suit their ages and not given the right amount of daily exercise. They are not known to be fussy eaters, but again their diet needs to be monitored, paying careful attention to what a dog is given to eat should they start to gain weight. This is especially true of younger Frenchies that still have a lot of growing and developing to do. Any extra weight young dogs carry puts a lot of strain and pressure on their bones, joints and ligaments.
If you get a Frenchie puppy, the breeder would recommend you feed them the same diet they have been used to. You can then gradually change their diet over a period of a few weeks to avoid them suffering from any sort of tummy upset. It's important to feed puppies good quality food that's been specifically formulated for puppies because it contains all the extra nutrients they need to develop properly. Puppies also need to be fed at regular intervals and ideally this needs to be 3 to 4 times a day until they are anything from 14 to 18 weeks old. After which time they can be fed once in the morning and then again in the evening.
Older Frenchies should be fed a good quality nutritious varied diet and ideally fed twice a day, but the amount should correspond with the amount of daily exercise they are given to avoid dogs putting on any weight. Like all dogs, Frenchies always need to have access to fresh clean water twenty-four hours a day.
If you are looking to buy a French Bulldog, you would need to be prepared to pay anything from £1000 to well over £1500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. As a rough guide, the cost of insuring a male 3-year old Frenchie in the north of England would be just over £48.65 a month for basic cover, but this rises to £156.54 a month for a lifetime policy (quote as of August 2017). It's worth noting that lots of things are factored in when an insurance company calculates a dog's insurance premium and this includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether they have been spayed or neutered.
When it comes to food costs, you would need to buy the best quality dog food whether wet or dry to feed your dog throughout their lives and it needs to suit the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £20 - £30 per month. On top of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Frenchie and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their annual health checks. All of which can quickly add up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the total average cost to keep and care for a Frenchie would be in the region of between £100 - £150 a month depending on the type of pet insurance you opt to buy, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree French Bulldog puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure that you see the puppy with its mother and that you verify that the dog has been microchipped.
When buying a French Bulldog however, there are more specific advice and questions to ask below :
Click 'Like' if you love French Bulldogs.