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French Bulldog Breed Information

The French Bulldog is a companion dog. The breed is small and muscular with heavy bone structure, a smooth coat, a short face and trademark “bat” ears. Prized for its affectionate nature and balanced disposition, they are generally active and alert, but not unduly boisterous. Frenchies can be brindle, fawn, white, and brindle and white.

​​Brief History
In the latter part of the 19th century, the lace makers of Nottingham, England, began selectively breeding a smaller toy Bulldog as a lap pet. Displaced by the Industrial Revolution, many of the lace makers crossed the English Channel, taking their small bulldogs with them to France. Some of these toy or miniature bulldogs made their way to Paris, where well-to-do Americans on the Grand Tour of Europe saw them and began bringing them to the US. In 1897, the French Bull Dog Club of America was formed, the first club in the world dedicated exclusively to the welfare of this wonderful breed.

​​Breed Standard
The AKC Breed Standard describes “an active, intelligent, muscular dog of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure. Expression is alert, curious and
interested. Colors are brindle, fawn, white, brindle & white or fawn & white (which are termed “pied”); chocolate/liver, blue, grey/mouse, black & tan, or merle colors.

​​General Care
French Bulldogs don’t require a lot of grooming and generally do well in small living quarters. They are not noisy and most of them are very fond of people, though there are individual differences in how well they get along with other animals. They should never be allowed to run free, and should only be allowed outdoors in a fenced yard or on a leash. French Bulldogs must never be left unattended around water, as they are poor swimmers and can easily drown due to their front-heavy structure. French bulldogs do best in moderate temperatures and should be carefully supervised in both high and low temperature ranges. Panting or shivering are both indications of excessive exposure. In warm and/climates or humid environments, (over approximately 70º F), air conditioning in the house and car are a must! Indestructible dog toys are best, as those powerful bulldog jaws can destroy less durable ones; and rawhide type chews should not be used because when they soften they can become lodged in a Frenchie’s throat.Occasional brushing keeps the coat shiny, and regular nail trimming is a must since many dogs don’t usually wear their nails down by running. Regular cleaning of the ears and of the deep facial folds will prevent these sensitive areas from becoming irritated, and regular checking of the anal sacs will prevent problems with these. Your vet can advise you on how to care for the ears, skin folds, and anal sacs as well as on feeding your puppy. It is important that dogs be kept at an appropriate weight; an obese French Bulldog is at a far higher risk for many of the breed’s health issues.

​​Health Care and Concerns
Find a good veterinarian, preferably one who has other short-faced patients; and provide your Frenchie with regular checkups, routine vaccinations, tests for intestinal parasites, heartworm prevention, and flea and tick control. Your vet should do regular dental checkups and care, and you should clean your dog’s teeth regularly at home as well.As a short-faced, (“brachycephalic”), and dwarf breed, (“chondrodystrophic”), French Bulldogs may have some health concerns that you should be aware of. The short face can make their breathing less efficient than that of long-nosed breeds, so Frenchies have less tolerance of heat, exercise, and stress – all of which increase their need to breathe. Keep your French Bulldog cool in warm weather, and avoid strenuous exercise. If your dog seems to overheat or become stressed too easily, with noisy breathing and sometimes spitting up foam, consult the vet and have its airway evaluated for pinched nostrils or an elongated soft palate. Anesthesia is also more risky in short-faced dogs, so be sure your veterinarian is experienced with such breeds should your Frenchie need to be anesthetized for any reason.The spine also merits special attention. Like other dwarf breeds, the stocky French Bulldog may also have abnormal vertebrae and/or premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs. While the spine is supported by good musculature, herniation of degenerated discs can cause major problems, and most symptomatic back problems are due to disc disease rather than to abnormal vertebrae. All dogs should have a thorough musculoskeletal exam by a veterinarian, but most Frenchies can safely engage in regular moderate exercise, which is essential to help maintain healthy weight and good physical condition.

A crate trained puppy is easier to housebreak. A dog regards its crate as its den, a safe haven and home. If you travel, the dog is safest in his crate in your vehicle and also when you stay in hotels or visit other people. If he should be ill or injured and need to be kept quiet, this is much easier if he is happy in a crate. In warm areas, cooling pads and fresh water should be placed in the crate too.You should take your French Bulldog to training classes as soon as your veterinarian feels he has proper immunity This will get him accustomed to being around other dogs and people, will teach you how to communicate your wishes to him, and will teach him such basics as walking well on a lead, sitting, staying, and coming on command. Although cute and cuddly-looking, a French Bulldog has a big personality and needs an adequate amount of training to make it a civilized companion.Contrary to the stereotype as “stubborn”, most Frenchies strive to please their owners and are therefore very trainable with the proper motivation (usually food). There are now many French Bulldogs who compete very successfully in obedience, rally, agility, and a few have even done field work (tracking, coursing, herding). They can also be excellent working dogs in all kinds of Therapy Dog roles in volunteer settings such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals.

​​Spaying/Neutering or Breeding?
If you bought your French Bulldog as a pet, you should consult with your veterinarian about the appropriate age for spaying/neutering. The American Kennel Club allows spayed and neutered dogs to compete in virtually all companion/performance events, but not in Conformation.If you are considering breeding your French Bulldog, and bought it with the breeder’s understanding that you intend to do so, please take this responsibility very seriously. Be sure
that your dog conforms well to the breed standard and has a good temperament, being neither overly aggressive nor overly shy. You should consider breeding only after careful study of the breed standard, educating yourself about the breed’s health issues, and honestly evaluating your dog’s conformation and health. If you are thinking of breeding your Frenchie, be sure that you will be able to place all puppies in good and loving homes, and should these placements not work out, that you would be able to take back the puppies.Whatever your plans for your new Frenchie companion might be, be prepared to be enamored with them in no time! Your “clown in the cloak of a philosopher” will fast become a treasured member of your family and keep you smiling all day long.

French Bulldog Frequently Asked Questions

​​Do French Bulldogs bark a lot?

Not more or less barkers compared to other breeds.  French Bulldogs are not typically excessive barkers.

​Are French Bulldogs good watch dogs?

French Bulldogs make good watch dogs and can become somewhat territorial and protective.

​A​re French Bulldogs good companion dogs?

They are fantastic companion dogs.  They are fun, entertaining and loving.  The French Bulldog is delightful, easy to groom, and requires little exercise.

​How do Frenchies take to apartment living?

Wonderfully.  This is one reason the French Bulldog has been popular throughout the history of the breed.  Frenchies like to be where you are and don’t take up too much space at all.  It is good to get in a good walk as much as possible for overall health and exercise.  If your Frenchie only gets the occasional walk to the grass outside, is at least something.

​Are French Bulldogs sociable?

All dogs seem to do better with exposure to other aspects of life, other dogs, and people too.  The French Bulldog should never be a mean, aggressive or a vicious animal.  It is often recommended and a good idea to take your Frenchie visiting and to various places.  This helps your dog be a better dog and not possibly overreact out of fear of the unknown.  It also builds confidence and character in your dog.  It gives you and the dog an easier time when separated or when traveling together.Your Frenchie should NEVER be penned up for long stretches of time.  He or she needs to be a part of your life.

​Are French Bulldogs good with children?

All young children need supervision around dogs, especially puppies.   This is often for the puppy’s sake as well.   That said, French Bulldogs are typically good around children.

​Are French Bulldogs good with cats?

That very much depends on the individual dog and whether the dog or the cat was introduced first to the household.  If you already have a cat be prepared for possible failure.

​Are French Bulldogs good with other dogs?

This is very much a matter of personality combined with experience.  For any individual dog, it is a question that must be tested to find the answer.  Be sure that the test is supervised at all times.Try using the X-pen to introduce your new Frenchie to other dogs.  While they are protected, get your other dog’s reaction and the Frenchie’s response.  Sooner or later, a puppy may attempt to establish dominance in some cases with smaller or more submissive dogs.

​Are French Bulldogs easy to train?

They can be very willing.  They can also be very stubborn and hardheaded too.  If you make it a game they’ll want to play all the time.  Frenchies are often considered people pleasers and love to be the center of attention.

​Do Frenchies snore?

Yes, Frenchies can snore and some are rather loud at it.  Snoring is  also aggravated by breathing deficiencies.

​What breathing problems?

Sometimes you may find a Frenchie that is noisy or has labored breathing.  They may have a longer tongue or an excessive soft palate that is obstructing their airway.  Smaller nose openings can exaggerate their already noisy breathing characteristics.Note:  Other symptoms of elongated soft palate are spitting up or regurgitating food or foam frequently.  Consult your veterinarian for corrective alternatives.

​What about feeding?

Use consideration to feed a French Bulldog properly.  Be aware of artificial preservatives and excessive protein and fillers.  Some dogs may have allergic reactions to certain commercial foods.  Read the label and know what suits your dog’s needs best.  Consult your veterinarian if your dog experiences food allergies.  Food allergies are not uncommon in Frenchies.A healthy Frenchie is not overweight.  Too many pounds can damage their physical structure and shorten their lifespan.Note: Wheat products are known to be flatulence producing in some French Bulldogs.  Corn products and fillers that are an additional source of protein may cause hives (skin rashes or irritations).

​P​otty training?

Some dogs are harder than others.  Crate training is very helpful in house breaking.  A dog perceives it as their “den” and will not soil it.    Develop a routine after they eat, before bed and first thing in the morning, and be consistent.  A minimum of three potty breaks a day are necessary.For puppies, potty breaks should be every two hours.  Remember a puppy’s little bladders may not be under control as quickly as we’d like so be positive.

​Do Frenchies shed?

Yes, but these dogs are single coated and shed less most other breeds.

​Are Frenchies easy to breed?

It can be difficult to impossible for French Bulldogs to breed naturally.  They often require assistance from a veterinarian or reproduction specialist.

​Whelping Puppies?

Due to the French Bulldog shape and large puppy heads, Frenchies are quite often born by c-section in a veterinarian hospital.  Educate yourself before deciding to breed French Bulldogs.

​How do I find a vet familiar with French Bulldogs?

We hope some day to offer a referral service for participating veterinarians familiar with the breed.  For now check with a breeder in your area.​​​

History of the French Bulldog Breed

In discussing the history of the French Bulldog, we should note the importance of three countries: England, France and America. England provided the foundation for our modern Frenchie: the old bulldog. Breeders in France developed the smaller bulldogs into a distinctly “French” type and American breeders set the standard that prescribed the all-important “bat ears.” We begin with the bulldog in England, where so many of our AKC breeds originated. The ancestral type was not our modern bulldog but the bulldog of 150-200 years ago: a strong, athletic dog, high on leg, and capable of being used in that barbarous activity called “bull-baiting.”Many English bulldog breeders began to change the breed around this time to a bigger, heavier dog with exaggerated features. Others crossbred them with terriers resulting in the bull-and-terrier breeds used for dogfighting, ratting, etc. Another group of breeders developed a smaller, lighter toy bulldog, around 12-25 lbs in weight, having either upright or rose ears, round foreheads and short underjaws—and perhaps a touch of terrier liveliness. These were quite popular with workers in the English midlands, in particular the artisans in the lace-making industry around Nottingham.When the Industrial Revolution closed down many of the small craft shops, these lace-makers emigrated to the North of France—and they took their little bulldogs with them. The popularity of these little dogs spread from Normandy to Paris and soon the English breeders had a lively trade, exporting small bulldogs to France where they began to be called Bouledogues Français. They were favorites of ordinary Parisians such as butchers, cafe owners and dealers in the rag trade and became notorious as the favorites of the Parisian streetwalkers, les belles de nuit. The famous artist Toulouse Lautrec depicted in several works Bouboule, a Frenchie owned by Madame Palmyre, the proprietress of a favorite restaurant “La Souris.”Society folks noticed these cute little bulldogs and before long they were a la mode. Most of the British wanted nothing to do with these French bulldogs so it was the French who were guardians of the breed until later in the 19th century. They developed a more uniform breed—a dog with a compact body, straight legs, but without the extreme underjaw of the English Bulldog. Some had the erect “bat ears’ while others had “rose” ears. Wealthy Americans traveling in France fell in love with these in love with these endearing little dogs and began bringing them back to the USA.  The Yanks preferred dogs with erect ears which was fine with the French breeders as they preferred the rose eared specimens, as did the British breeders.Society ladies first exhibited Frenchies in 1896 at Westminster and a Frenchie was featured on the cover of the 1897 Westminster catalog even though it was not yet an approved AKC breed.
At that show, both bat eared and rose eared dogs were exhibited but the English judge put up only the rose-eared specimens. This infuriated the American fanciers who quickly organized the French Bull Dog Club of America and drew up a breed standard allowing only the bat ear. At the 1898 Westminster show, the Americans were outraged to find that classes for both bat-eared and rose-eared dogs were to be shown despite the fact that the new breed standard allowed only the former.  They pulled their dogs, the American Judge refused to participate in the show, and the club organized their own show, for bat-eared dogs only, to be held at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria.

​​This was the famous first specialty of the French Bulldog Club of America — which, incidentally, was the first breed club anywhere in the world to be dedicated to the French Bulldog.  The winner of that first Specialty was a brindle dog named Dimboolaa, seen here.Popularity of Frenchies skyrocketed, particularly among the East Coast Society folks. After World War I the breed’s popularity began a decline that would last for the next fifty years.  The enormous popularity of another small brachycephalic breed, the Boston Terrier, probably contributed to this. Also many Frenchies had problems whelping naturally; it would be years before safe veterinary cesarean sections would be routinely performed. Hot summer months, before residential air conditioning became common, were rough going for the dogs. And interest in purebred dogs generally declined during the Depression of the 1930s. A small number of Frenchie breeders in America and Europe kept the flame alive but by 1940 French Bulldogs were considered a rare breed and only 100 were registered with the AKC. The years during World War II were difficult for all dog breeders and especially for those in Europe where many fine dogs starved or were put down for lack of food.Heretofore most Frenchies were brindle with a few pied and white dogs. Creams and fawns were rare and not particularly popular until the 1950s when a breeder from Detroit, Amanda West, began showing cream Frenchies with phenomenal success. Her dogs, mostly creams, tallied over 500 group wins and 111 Best in Show awards as well as 21 consecutive breed wins at Westminster. From then on, creams and fawns were more and more common in the show rings. But Frenchie registrations totaled only 106 in 1960 and an article in the AKC Gazette stated, “There are many advantages to owning a dog of this breed but there are very few bred and very few exhibited. If the trend keeps on, eventually the breed will become extinct. . . No one wants to see the breed overpopularized but certainly the breed deserves to be known and appreciated by the public.”The 1980s witnessed a rapid rise in Frenchie registrations due to a newly energized French Bull Dog Club of America that included younger breeders who transformed the annual specialty shows into major events and who contributed to The French Bullytin, a new magazine devoted solely to Frenchies. The 1980 breed registrations were 170 and by 1990 were 632. Since then, the popularity of these little dogs has soared and over 5,500 dogs were registered in 2006. Nowadays it’s not that uncommon to see Frenchies featured in ads, movies or in stories about celebrities. This skyrocketing popularity can be scary for those of us who love the breed and who fight a constant battle to maintain breed type and minimize those health problems to which Frenchies are subject. Unscrupulous breeders and importers complicate the picture. Let’s hope that today’s successes are not a passing fad and that many future fanciers will enjoy all that can be offered by this most companionable breed.


French Bulldog Breed Standard

General Appearance
The French Bulldog has the appearance of an active, intelligent, muscular dog of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure. Expression alert, curious, and interested. Any alteration other than removal of dewclaws is considered mutilation and is a disqualification.Proportion and Symmetry–All points are well distributed and bear good relation one to the other; no feature being in such prominence from either excess or lack of quality that the animal appears poorly proportioned.Influence of Sex–In comparing specimens of different sex, due allowance is to be made in favor of bitches, which do not bear the characteristics of the breed to the same marked degree as do the dogs.Size, Proportion, Substance
Weight not to exceed 28 pounds; over 28 pounds is a disqualification.
Proportion–Distance from withers to ground in good relation to distance from withers to onset of tail, so that animal appears compact, well balanced and in good proportion.
Substance–Muscular, heavy bone.Head
- Head large and square.
- Eyes dark in color, wide apart, set low down in the skull, as far from the ears as possible, round in form, of moderate size, neither sunken nor bulging. In lighter colored dogs, lighter colored eyes are acceptable. No haw and no white of the eye showing when looking forward.
- Ears known as the bat ear, broad at the base, elongated, with round top, set high on the head but not too close together, and carried erect with the orifice to the front. The leather of the ear fine and soft. Other than bat ears is a disqualification.
- The top of the skull flat between the ears; the forehead is not flat but slightly rounded.
- The muzzle broad, deep and well laid back; the muscles of the cheeks well developed. The stop well defined, causing a hollow groove between the eyes with heavy wrinkles forming a soft roll over the extremely short nose; nostrils broad with a well defined line between them.
- Nose black. Nose other than black is a disqualification, except in the case of the lighter colored dogs, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable but not desirable. Flews black, thick and broad, hanging over the lower jaw at the sides, meeting the underlip in front and covering the teeth, which are not seen when the mouth is closed. – — The underjaw is deep, square, broad, undershot and well turned up.Neck, Topline, Body
- The neck is thick and well arched with loose skin at the throat.
- The back is a roach back with a slight fall close behind the shoulders; strong and short, broad at the shoulders and narrowing at the loins.
- The body is short and well rounded.
- The chest is broad, deep, and full; well ribbed with the belly tucked up.
- The tail is either straight or screwed (but not curly), short, hung low, thick root and fine tip; carried low in repose.Forequarters
- Forelegs are short, stout, straight, muscular and set wide apart. Dewclaws may be removed.
- Feet are moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails.Hindquarters
Hind legs are strong and muscular, longer than the forelegs, so as to elevate the loins above the shoulders. Hocks well let down. Feet are moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails; hind feet slightly longer than forefeet.Coat
Coat is moderately fine, brilliant, short and smooth. Skin is soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming wrinkles.Color
Acceptable colors – All brindle, fawn, white, brindle and white, and any color except those which constitute disqualification. All colors are acceptable with the exception of solid black, mouse, liver, black and tan, black and white, and white with black, which are disqualifications. Black means black without a trace of brindle.Gait
Correct gait is double tracking with reach and drive; the action is unrestrained, free and vigorous.Temperament
Well behaved, adaptable, and comfortable companions with an affectionate nature and even disposition; generally active, alert, and playful, but not unduly boisterous.

A Healthy Frenchie is a Happy Frenchie!

​​French Bulldog Health Information 

​The most common and serious health problems currently among French Bulldogs include the following:
  • Spinal Conditions (vertebral malformations, disc disease),
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome (breathing problems associated with short faced structure),
  • Allergies (atopy, food allergies), and
  • Orthopedic Conditions (hip dysplasia, luxating patellas).


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