A French Bulldog is the kind of friend who is always ready to hang out. A casual walk? Great! A lazy afternoon with the Netflix set to autoplay? Fantastic! They’re up for whatever you want to do, as long as it doesn’t involve running—they’ll happily stay put on the couch and convince you to do the same. But when you are out on the town, be prepared to be the center of attention—it’s inevitable with a French Bulldog in tow. Who doesn’t love those adorable bat ears and that lovable, smooshy face?
MORE: 5 Things You Need to Know Before Bringing Home a French Bulldog
Temperament:Bulldog AttitudeBest Friend For LifeExuberant
French Bulldogs are best for a capable pet parent with some pup training and socialization know-how. High-energy people need not apply.
French Bulldog Traits
French Bulldog Temperament
They don’t call ’em “Bulldogs” for nothing! French Bulldogs may look cute, and they may be totally loyal to their squad, but beneath those endearing exteriors are dogs who think they’re pretty tough stuff. They have a headstrong temperament—some people might even say they’re stubborn. (But you didn’t hear that from us!) While they’re not known for biting, a French Bulldog puppy needs training and socialization early on to help them welcome any visitors (human or animal) to the home.
But make no mistake—French Bulldogs are totally friendly dogs who bond deeply with their people and love to have a good time! If you know what it’s like to miss someone even before they’ve left, then you understand how Frenchies feel. They can easily become so attached to their families that they become anxious when people are out of the house for too long.
The French Bulldog breed is good with kids and babies as long as they’re supervised. They can be fine with other dogs and cats, too, as long as proper introductions have been made. French Bulldogs aren’t much for barking but can be decent watchdogs since they’re so devoted to their family. For the same reason, they can be standoffish with strangers, although early socialization can help them be OK with new people.
How about jobs? The French Bulldog was intended to be (and continues to be) primarily a companion dog. You may not see them helping first responders or performing therapy work, but French Bulldogs bring smiles and laughter to people worldwide. And that’s a pretty wonderful thing to do with your life.
How to Care for a French Bulldog
Properly caring for a dog is no small task, but raising a French Bulldog is a very attainable goal, as they are actually pretty easy to have around. Sure, they’ve got that Bulldog attitude and need solid ground rules when it comes to training, but those short coats are easy to brush, and the dogs themselves really do want to please you. With the help of your veterinarian (and maybe a certified trainer to guide you along the way), you can successfully navigate your dog’s individual needs and personality.
French Bulldog Health
Your French Bulldog’s life expectancy is about 10 to 12 years, and unfortunately, they do suffer from some health issues. It’s important for pup parents to be aware of these concerns, so you can help your pup live a long, happy life.
- Allergies: Allergies are a common condition with French Bulldogs and can be caused by a variety of natural causes—pollen, dust, mold, food and insects, to name a few. Allergies often show up as itchiness, although a dry nose can also be an indication. Your vet can prescribe a range of treatments depending on the cause, including a change in diet or medication.
- Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS): One well-known Frenchie trait is their “snorting/snuffling/snoring” sounds; some pet parents even consider it an endearing part of their charm. While these noises may seem harmless, the fact is they are caused by their physical attributes. Brachycephalic breeds, including Pugs, Boxers, Pekingese and French Bulldogs, may actually develop difficulty breathing during exercise because their nostrils, airways and palettes are too small. Depending on the severity, it can be managed by maintaining a healthy weight; in more severe cases, surgery may be needed.
- Ear Infections: French Bulldogs are somewhat prone to ear infections (their ear canals are narrow). If your dog suffers from frequent ear infections, your veterinarian can show you how to properly and safely clean the ears to help prevent future infections.
- Underbite: Your pup’s squishy face may cause an underbite. Underbites may cause dental and gum problems or even make it difficult for pups to chew. Treatment may include ball therapy (where the pup is encouraged to carry a small rubber ball behind their teeth), removing teeth or braces.
- Skin Infections: French Bulldogs are so cute, and those charming wrinkles on your dog’s face are definitely part of their charm! However, those glorious folds can trap bits of food and moisture (so gross!). Bacteria may multiply there, leading to potential skin infections. Keep infections at bay by cleaning your pup’s folds every day. If you do see signs of infection (irritated or swollen skin), your vet may prescribe a topical treatment.
- Spine and Orthopedic Issues: Your French Bulldog may also be susceptible to common issues like intervertebral disc disease (IDD), hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation. IDD is a disease of the spinal cord. Depending on the severity, pain meds or surgery can be used to treat the disease. Hip dysplasia is when the hip joint doesn’t fit properly. Treatment can range from weight management to therapy to surgery. Patellar luxation is a knee issue where the knee slips out. Keeping your pup at a healthy weight can help; if it continues sliding out, surgery may be needed.
- Eye Problems: These pups aren’t without a handful of common eye issues, including cataracts and cherry eye. Cataracts cause blindness and can often be corrected by surgery. Cherry eye is a condition when the third eyelid slips out of place and swells (looking like a cherry). It can only be corrected through surgery.
French Bulldog History
Here’s a surprise: The French Bulldog actually originated in England. They were originally developed as a smaller type of Bulldog (aka English Bulldog) and were popular with people working in the lace-making industry in the 1800s. Their temperament made the toy-sized dog popular in Nottingham, a center for lace-making, and the pups became a bit of a mascot (and loving companions) for the lace-makers in town. After the Industrial Revolution changed the lace-making industry, many lace-makers moved to France, where their diminutive bulldogs became quite fashionable. (Fast fact: French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec even included the French Bulldog in his art.)
By the end of the 1800s, Americans were beginning to take notice of the charming bat-eared dogs, and the French Bull Dog Club of America was established in 1897. There was a bit of controversy in those days in regard to bat ears versus “rose ears” (ears that start upright, then fall to the side and back, the ear interior looks like a rose), and American enthusiasts favored those adorable bat ears. As in France, the French Bulldog was seen as quite fashionable in the US and was favored by American socialites.
Their popularity declined after World War II, but they started to be noticed again in the 1960s, and their popularity began to surge in the 1990s. In fact, the breed catapulted (dog-apulted?) to the No. 2 spot on the American Kennel Club’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds in 2020.
Are you considering a French Bulldog puppy as a pet? You can find a list of reputable French Bulldog breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. What’s the average price for a Frenchie puppy? Depending on the breeder, expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 for a pup, with some selling for even higher. But for that, you get a dog who’s been screened for health and temperament issues, and they might even come with pedigree papers. You can also reach out to French Bulldog rescue organizations or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter.
Are French Bulldogs hypoallergenic?
No, French Bulldogs aren’t hypoallergenic, although some French Bulldog mixes might be. French Bulldogs produce dander and saliva, and these, along with normal shedding, may trigger allergies in certain individuals.
Are French Bulldogs smart?
Your French Bulldog may have a smart appearance, but they don’t rank at the top of canine intelligence charts. But they’re no dummies—they’re motivated by food, and they want to please their people, which helps with their training.
Can French Bulldogs swim?
No, French Bulldogs can’t swim and should never be left alone near water. Their body structure and face shape make it difficult to keep their head above water, so outfit your Frenchie with an appropriately fitting doggy life vest whenever you’re near a pool, lake or other water source.
What are the most common French Bulldog mixes?
- French Bulldog-Boston Terrier mix (Frenchton)
- French Bulldog-English Bulldog mix (Free-Lance Bulldog)
- French Bulldog-Dachshund mix (French Bull Weiner)
- French Bulldog-German Shepherd mix (Frenchie Shepherd)
- French Bulldog-Labrador Retriever mix (Frenchie Labrador)
There’s no question about it: French Bulldogs are super popular—they’re likable, friendly, devoted companions who love the people in their life. Sure, there are some challenges to face—the occasional health concern, a bit of grooming work and that Bulldog attitude—but nothing worthwhile in life ever comes without some effort. If you’re willing to put time in, you can be sure your Frenchie will gift you with lots of love in return.
Expert input provided by veterinarian Margaret Hoffecker, DVM, and certified trainer Liz Randall, CPDT-KA, of Dogs Abound.
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