The French bulldog is the UK’s most popular dog breed bar none – both in terms of the number of new pedigree puppies registered with the Kennel Club in the last year, and in terms of demand for dogs of the breed from puppy buyers.
This is now potentially the most commonly owned pedigree dog breed in the UK, and the Frenchie’s undeniable appeal means that every single day, new fans of the breed begin shopping around to find a Frenchie to add to their families.
However, the French bulldog is a complex breed, and one that is very high-profile in terms of its health. The breed generates a lot of controversy amongst both Frenchie owners, other dog lovers and veterinary experts, and this is something that all too many first-time buyers are unaware of when they make a purchase.
If you are considering buying a French bulldog, you won’t have any problems finding a wide range of them offered for sale. But before you commit to a purchase of a dog of the breed, you need to do your homework, and ensure that you make a sensible choice of dog, and don’t unwittingly buy into a lifetime of stressful and expensive health issues.
In this article we will share ten things that you need to know about French bulldogs before you buy one. This article is not intended to provide you with all of the information you need to make a purchase, but it will provide you with a good starting point to find out more – which you should always do BEFORE you buy, and not afterwards!
First up, that distinctive French bulldog appearance with the large eyes and flat face is correctly referred to as being brachycephalic, and it results in a shorter than normal muzzle and soft palate.
This means that French bulldogs are not one of the most athletic dog breeds, and whilst they are often very lively and fun-loving, they’re not a good fit for highly active dog owners or those looking to get involved in canine sports.
Brachycephalic dogs can vary considerably in terms of the degree of shortness of their muzzle, and in moderate examples of dogs of the breed, the impact of this is negligible. However, a very short, flat face can cause significant problems for affected dogs, such as exercise intolerance and overheating, which can develop quickly and be very serious.
French bulldogs are one of the most expensive dog breeds to buy, even given how popular they are and how many of them are around.
The average advertised prices for French bulldogs advertised on Pets4Homes in 2018 were £1,335 each for pedigree dogs of the breed, and £1,155 for non-pedigrees, which is higher than the vast majority of other dog breeds. Top quality examples of the breed often change hands for much more than this too.
As well as having a high average purchase price, French bulldogs can often be quite expensive to keep too. The cost of insuring French bulldogs tends to be higher than for other breeds of an equivalent size, and this reflects the higher-than-normal occurrence rate of various different types of health issues that are prevalent within the breed as a whole.
This mean that whether you insure your dog or pay for their veterinary care out of your own pocket, you should not ignore the potential expense involved in doing so.
If you browse French bulldog adverts, you will soon begin to spot adverts for dogs in all manner of colours, many of which are described as rare or unusual. These colours are ones that fall outside of the breed standard, which means that said colours cannot be registered with the Kennel Club.
Some non-standard Frenchie colours can be registered as “colour not recognised,” but others disqualify dogs from registration at all, as they come accompanied by a higher risk of health issues.
Learn more about so-called “rare” French bulldog colours and the risks and limitations that come with them within this article.
BOAS or brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome is a common complication of a brachycephalic face in dogs with very flat faces, and represents a combination of conformation defects that can have a significant impact on the dog’s quality of life and longevity.
Extreme presentations of BOAS can only be corrected surgically, and the care implications for dogs with BOAS can be acute. Learn more about BOAS in French bulldogs here.
Responsible French bulldog breeders undertake a number of pre-breeding health tests on their parent stock, to ensure that preventable conditions are not passed onto their litters.
However, by no means all or even most Frenchie breeders undertake health testing, and this practice is even less common amongst breeders producing non-pedigree dogs. Always choose a breeder whose parent stock is health tested and whose litters are bred for health, not exaggerations.
French bulldogs are excellent companions, but they still need to be trained and managed appropriately as dogs and not toys.
They won’t thrive if left alone at home for long periods of time, they need at least a couple of reasonable length brisk walks each day, and they need to be taught basic commands to ensure that they are well behaved and nicely mannered.
Like any small dog breed, Frenchies can become dominant and unruly if they aren’t properly trained and have all of their needs met, so plan for this before you buy your new dog.
As a breed that is very much in demand in the UK and also one that attracts high average sale prices, Frenchies can be an appealing target for dog thieves.
Never leave your dog tied up outside of a shop or in a car on their own, and always supervise them if they are out in the garden.
All puppies are incredibly cute and hard to resist, but when you view litters, you need to be able to assess the conformation of the dam (and sire if available) and the pups themselves to make sure you pick a healthy dog.
Conformation exaggerations that can compromise the dog’s health are common in the Frenchie breed, and learning how to spot them takes time and practice. Avoid puppies whose own appearance or that of either parent incorporates a very flat face, narrow nostrils, a corkscrew tail, or any other obvious extremities.
Buying a pedigree French bulldog is no guarantee of quality or health, but when it comes to non-pedigrees, this can be even more challenging. Whilst many breeders of non-pedigree Frenchies are responsible breeders that produce healthy lines and place welfare above all else, this is not always the case.
Unscrupulous French bulldog sellers might be sourcing their pups from puppy farms either within the UK or abroad, or be producing dogs that are ineligible for Kennel Club registration due to their health history, the presence of harmful colour genes, or in order to circumvent breeding restrictions designed to improve animal welfare.
Choosing a non-pedigree Frenchie isn’t a sure-fire way to get a bargain, and it may cost you more than a good quality, moderate pedigree in the long run.