How to assess the temperament of a French bulldog puppy

How to assess the temperament of a French bulldog puppy

Education & Training

The French bulldog is the UK’s most popular dog breed by quite some distance, and thousands of new puppies of the breed are registered each year with The Kennel Club, most of which are quickly sold on to waiting buyers who have long dreamed of giving a Frenchie a forever home.

If you are one of these prospective puppy buyers, knowing which pup is the right one for you can be really hard, and making the right choice is very important.

You might choose your future Frenchie from just one litter, or view several litters before you find the right fit – and to make an informed decision and ensure that you choose a pup with the right kind of personality for your preferences and lifestyle, you need to have a plan.

The adult personality of any dog is something that takes time to develop and become apparent, and comes down to a combination of both nature and nurture. Being able to determine the core traits of a young pup who is still with their dam and littermates is not always simple, but there are several things you can do when you visit a litter to assess the pups’ temperaments that can help you to make a good choice.

In this article we will cover some of the things you should do when you visit a litter to get a better feel for the individual temperaments of the various pups within it. Read on to learn more.

Look at how the pups interact with each other and their dam

When you first go to see a litter, you should spend a while simply sitting back and observing them. Make your first contact with the dogs with their dam – say hello and pet her when she is ready, so that she relaxes around you and her pups will do the same.

Watch how the pups interact with each other and their dam, and which pups are playing, engaging with the others, and generally showing their personalities.

Identify which pups are more dominant or active

Simply observing pups from the same litter together can tell you a lot – which puppies are the more dominant, inquisitive or active, which are shyer or more reticent, and which tend to be first to the bowl at mealtimes and when something interesting is happening.

This can tell you whether or not your future French bulldog is likely to be more quiet and shy, or more outgoing and dominant.

Pet and pick up each puppy in turn

Spend time handling and paying attention to each pup in turn. Pick them up, handle them gently and check them over, and stroke them or pet them to find out what they like and tolerate. Try to encourage the pups to come to you when you do this, so that you can see which ones are more friendly and personable, and which may be a little shyer and so, may be less outgoing when older.

Pay attention to whether or not each pup enjoys contact with you and is happy to be picked up and played with, or whether they wriggle or make a fuss and don’t seem keen on your attentions.

Offer a toy or entertainment

Ask the French bulldog’s breeder for a toy or something that the pups like to play with, and try to get each pup to pay attention to it and interact with it. This can help to tell you which dog is likely to be the more playful and outgoing, and which are inquisitive and keen to have something to do.

Move the pup away from their dam and littermates

Move each pup away from their dam and littermates in turn for a short while – potentially into another room, depending on how old they are and how happy the dam is for you to do this.

Does a previously confident puppy seem out of their depth when you do this, or will a quieter puppy come into its own more without their littermates around in competition? Also, ask the breeder if the pups have been handled and separated in this way before, as if it is the first time this has been done, you might not get such an accurate read on the situation.

See how the pup reacts to strange stimulus

Throwing the pups a curveball and seeing how they handle the unexpected can be very telling, and this is definitely something that is worth trying out. Take a toy with a squeaker (ask the breeder if this is ok first) and activate the squeaking noise, or otherwise make an unusual but not obviously intimidating sound to see how the pups respond.

You will likely find some are alarmed, some inquisitive and some immediately want to check it out, which can help you to tell the basic differences between different pups in the litter.

If you have children, see how the pup reacts to them too

If you have children, it is important to see how the pups get on with them and vice versa before you make a final decision. Your children should of course be respectful and well behaved with dogs, and have a basic understanding of how to handle the puppies, so see how the pups interact with your children while you are there.

Many parents prefer to leave their children at home when viewing a litter, as children tend to want all of the pups and may be upset if they can’t have one of them. However, you should ensure that your kids meet and get on with your new Frenchie pup before you bring it home, even if you tell your children that you’re just visiting a litter as a treat and definitely aren’t getting a pup in order to reduce pleas for a pup!

Try to visit the puppies on at least two occasions before you decide

It is best to make at least two visits to any given Frenchie litter and repeat your temperament tests, as pups can change quite quickly when they are young, and so that you can ensure that conclusions you draw from your first visit are reliable.

On any given visit, some of the pups might be sleepy or otherwise behave in a certain way that might not fully reflect their growing personality, and making a couple of visits will help you to get a better feel for what your future Frenchie will really be like.

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