Popular miniature bulldog with bat ears and often too short a muzzle.The French Bulldog is a short-legged and muscular miniature bulldog with bat ears and a short muzzle. It is very friendly, lively and playful, whilst also being a watchful, intelligent dog that barks quite infrequently. However, the stubbornness of some Bulldogs should never be underestimated. "Frenchies", as they are affectionately called, are especially popular as city dogs, as they are adaptable and do not require too much exercise. The short muzzle and very stocky build unfortunately bring with them some illnesses and limitations that you should be aware of. French Bulldogs often suffer from respiratory distress and are therefore not very enduring; they struggle to tolerate heat, cold or high humidity, and are one of the few dog breeds that can swim only poorly or not at all. When buying, look for a responsible breeder and healthy puppies.
- The French Bulldog - a breeding of defects?
- French Bulldogs are non-swimmers
- Bullies are guardians but not protectors
- Very friendly nature and lively
- Very sensitive and intelligent: happy when they have been psychologically trained
- They bark very little and yet are rarely quiet
24,0 - 35,0 cm
8,0 - 15,0 kg
short, easy-care coat
friendly, lively, playful, alert
Very people-oriented and happy little cuddle-balls
The French Bulldog loves to be close to its human and enjoys cuddles. They also love to be on the sofa. Preferably all day long. Physical closeness and sometimes a somewhat rough body check are high on the list of priorities for these fierce little cuddlers.
They want to be with you everywhere and are a very pleasant companion. They are usually in a very good mood and show it: their little tail often rotates with joy like an aviation rotor. They are funny dogs who often like to play tricks. The disadvantage of their affection, however, is that being alone is something that needs to be learned through training.
Small Molossian with Terrier Blood
Even though French Bulldogs have old fighters as ancestors, they are absolutely harmless and not classified as a dangerous dog breed. With the prohibition of animal fighting around 1836, their ancestors became companions and, after cross-breeding with terriers, also rat catchers.
The French Bulldog has inherited the Terrier’s temperament and the Bulldog’s penchant for comfort. If one looks at their breeding history, the fighting dog past of their ancestors is very long gone, replaced with a demand for small companion dogs with a friendly character. It is considered almost certain that Pugs were also involved in the creation of the French Bulldog, and they too love people.
These little temperamental and muscular dogs were professional rat catchers. This is still in the blood of some of them so they are quite happy to chase a mouse, a rat or even a cat, as long as their health permits the exciting chase.
Frenchies are funny, curious and playful dogs. They love to play with children and compete with them in the garden. They are also extremely patient with children and will join in with every joke. Due to their friendly and funny character, Frenchies are very suitable as family dogs.
Temperamental and eager to please
French Bulldogs are intelligent and eager to please. With a little patience, consistency and lots of positive reinforcement, it is relatively easy to train a Frenchy. They have a kind of "will to please" but they do not demand that you work with them. As hyper as they can be in play and fun, they can also exude calmness and composure in the house.
These little powerhouses can be very agile, persistent and athletic - provided they come from a healthy breed - but they are not athletes. However, if they suffer from too short a muzzle or have been bred too small, they simply cannot live out their temperament physically, which is of course sad.
Independent and self-reliant: some call it stubborn
A strong sensitivity and friendliness are very pronounced in most Bullies. They do not tolerate punishment and pressure and turn inwards, which some call stubbornness. In some, the terrier may stand out more, being not only livelier and more chase-driven, but also more headstrong. If they have set their minds on something, they can be creative and persistent in achieving it, sometimes to the owner's regret.
Many Bullies have a certain independence that is common to all Bulldogs and also Bull Terriers. If they don't want something they won't do it, unless you can motivate them with fun and games. Nevertheless the small and cheerful Bullies can be guided very well, even by a (motivated) beginner.
Alert but not protective
French Bulldogs are curious and also watchful; however, these small dogs, which are usually very friendly towards strangers, are not protectors. Some though can become too territorial and start defending objects or food. You should stop this immediately or find a good trainer.
Bullies are very bright and intelligent.
French Bulldogs are attentive, but can also display a stubbornness
French Bulldogs are lively and playful dogs, but due to their physical disposition they are usually unable to move around much or accompany their owners during sporting activities.
Due to their temperament and playfulness, Bullies like to move around a lot, but unfortunately they can't always do so in warm weather due to their health restrictions. In any case, they always want to be around and, as intelligent dogs, need mental tasks that keep them busy.
Sensitive French Bulldogs are intelligent and often underestimated. All dogs need to exercise their minds as much as their bodies, which is understandable given their origins as strategic and problem-solving hunters; however, many French Bulldogs are woefully underused in everyday life.
Especially for these dogs, who are often physically unable to move much, the following dog sports are very effective and positive ways to keep them occupied and busy:
- Agility for small dogs without large obstacles or speed
- Therapy dogs
Suitable for flats
French Bulldogs are very well suited to being kept indoors, but there are a few restrictions and requirements that must be met.
Climbing stairs is not for Frenchies: their joints, which are often damaged, and their shortness of breath, which is often due to their short snout, do not allow them to climb stairs every day. With a weight of up to 15 kg, you can still carry them if necessary, but you certainly don't want to do this several times a day for the rest of their lives. A lift should be available or the flat should be at ground level.
However, French Bulldogs do not like to be left alone and can cry and "sing" heartbreakingly when they feel abandoned. This will not please housemates; separation must be practised with the dog.
Permission to keep a dog must be obtained
In a rented flat, there should always be written permission from the landlord to keep a dog. Even if you own the flat, the owners' association must agree to the keeping of a dog in the building.
Loyalty & friendliness
French Bulldogs are very friendly and love to be with their owner or with their family.
French Bulldogs are said to have little hunting instinct, but this can be quite different in reality if, for example, the terrier they have been crossed with historically comes through more strongly.
Many Frenchies do have a natural prey drive, which can be directed at mice, rats, cats, rabbits or even deer. However, this hunting instinct should be easily controlled through consistent training in daily life. Good training from puppyhood onwards is required. Sadly, many Frenchies would love to hunt but cannot because of their shortness of breath, which is very frustrating for some.
French Bulldogs are very affectionate by nature and prefer to be with their owner or family at all times. Staying alone needs to be practised with them intensively and from an early age.
Dogs should generally not be left alone for longer than four hours.
French Bulldogs are extremely alert, but they rarely bark. Of course, the exception can prove the rule, but the probability remains low.
However, when French Bulldogs are frightened or don't like something so much, they will bark. Some say they "sing", as the barking or howling can sound almost melodic and eerie.
Bullies are very lively, intelligent and alert.
Due to their small size and great friendliness, they are not suitable as guard dogs.
Most French Bulldogs get along well with their fellow dogs. Despite this the unusual breathing sounds of the Frenchies can be irritating and therefore sometimes critical in encounters with other dogs, and can even be misinterpreted as aggression.
Due to their short tail, communication with other dogs is also limited, which can irritate some other dogs.
Their "bravado" and agility also makes them inclined to rush towards other dogs, who may not always approve. In addition, because of their shortness of breath, they are often not as physically fit as they would like to be. This is frustrating and they may take this frustration out on other dogs.
Good socialisation and training are necessary here, as with all dogs. In arguments, some Frenchies do not let themselves be taken "off the hook" and may even bite once in a while.
The hunting instinct in French Bulldogs is considered to be low, but this definitely does not have to be the case. The French Bulldog can also enjoy chasing cats, and all rodents can fit very well into their prey pattern. There is no certainty here, only familiarisation, training and watching out.
French Bulldogs make very good family dogs due to their friendly and playful nature, and they get on very well with children. As they remain small and do not weigh too much at up to 15 kg, there is also little danger of them knocking over small children.
Children should have learned how to handle a dog and also to give it breaks and rest periods. A Frenchy in particular is playful and does not know its physical limits.
Some French Bulldogs are somewhat territorial and focused on one person in the household. This can lead to them aggressively defending objects or, of course, their food from children.
Regardless, small children should never be left unsupervised with dogs.
Openness to strangers
French Bulldogs are alert but tend to remain friendly towards strangers.
Character & Compatibility
Health and Care
Short-headedness and the stocky body are major weaknesses
Unfortunately the French Bulldog is not one of the healthiest dog breeds, and due (mostly) to its stockiness and its too-short head (brachycephaly) it can suffer from various limitations and diseases. Operations are often necessary to enable this breed of dog to breathe normally in adulthood.
Apart from respiratory distress syndrome, which only becomes apparent in adulthood, there are many other secondary diseases caused by the short head.
French Bulldogs suffer greatly from their short snout
There are breathing problems in most French Bulldogs. However, these symptoms usually only appear when the Frenchy is fully grown and, if left untreated, get worse and worse. The dogs are no longer full of life and move less and less, because a little exertion leaves them out of breath and exhausts them. Excessive cold or heat are torture for the poor Frenchies.
It is not without reason that health and surgery insurances are almost twice as high for French Bulldogs as for other dog breeds and often the dogs are not taken in at all.
Short-headedness with a muzzle less than a third of the head leads to various illnesses, especially respiratory problems, eye diseases and dental problems, but also skin and stomach problems. These animals are not very resilient and they sleep a lot. Their symptoms intensify in heat and cold. These can be the health consequences:
- Brachycephalic respiratory distress syndrome (BAS)
The upper airways are too short, the nasal concha, larynx and soft palate are not formed normally. Surgery is often necessary to allow the French Bulldog to breathe properly. The earlier treatment occurs the better. Otherwise, problems with the larynx and even laryngeal collapse can occur. It can also lead to irritation of the mucous membranes and the stomach lining. In addition short-headed dog breeds have an increased risk of lung cancer if they live in smoking households..
- Eye diseases
Exposed eyes make them more susceptible to injury and disease:
- Exposure keratopathy syndrome: eye injuries and inflammation
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye)
- Entropion (rolled eyelid)
- Ectropion (drooping eyelid)
- Prolapse of the nictitating gland (cherry eye)
- Primary lens luxation
- Abnormalities of the eyelashes (growing inwards or outwards)
- Dental problems
Due to the shortened head, which has to accommodate the whole set of teeth, dental malpositions, dental diseases and jaw malformations occur.
- Skin problems
If the skin on the face wrinkles, dermatitis can quickly develop in the wrinkles.
- Strong sensitivity to temperature
Because short-headed breeds cannot regulate their body temperature very well, problems occur when they are too hot or too cold. In heat, they can quickly suffer heat stroke, and in cold, breathing problems increase.
The breathing problems of French Bulldogs are usually not even noticeable in puppies and young dogs. It is only when they reach adulthood that the problems begin, and unfortunately they often increase rapidly.
The French Bulldog is actually a fun-loving and robust dog, BUT.... due to their physique, and because of their popularity and the resulting unprofessional breeding of ever more compact dogs, they are unfortunately often unhealthy and can be prone to many physical limitations and illnesses.
The following additional limitations and diseases are unfortunately more common in the French Bulldog than in other dog breeds:
- Hip joint dysplasia (HD))
- Elbow dysplasia (ED)
- Dislocation of the patella (patella luxation)
- Congenital changes in the spine (wedge vertebrae), which can cause pain and movement problems. They can also cause problems with defecation and urination in old age
- Thyroid diseases
- Heart disease
- Chronic inflammatory bowel disease (CED) or also called Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
- Brain tumours
- Willebrand-Jürgens syndrome
- Severe births (caesarean section)
- not all males can procreate naturally (artificial insemination)
- Caution: French Bulldogs either cannot swim at all or only swim very badly!
Here's what to look out for when buying a French Bulldog or puppy:
Our Tips for buying a dog without a rude awakening..
- Buy from a responsible breeder whose breeding dogs are subject to appropriate health tests and breeding requirements. This is the case with VDH breeders. The animals used for breeding must pass the following tests in almost all clubs:
- Respiratory stress test
- Heart ultrasound
- Spinal examination
- DNA test and barcode registration
- Test for patellar luxation
- Examination and approval by the Breeding Commission
- Requirements that bitches may only have one litter per year on average and only between the ages of 15 months and 8 years
- To prevent later symptoms of respiratory distress syndrome, only parents who do not have respiratory distress syndrome in their adult state will help. Unfortunately, you cannot always tell this from the outside and even longer muzzles (about one third of the length of the head) do not guarantee that the dogs can breathe well. That is why there is a test and an examination to check the parents:
- The stress test for breeding approval.
- A CT scan of the entire respiratory tract of the parent animals can provide the best information on this. However, this is expensive and not obligatory for breeders
- Cross-breeding of healthier breeds into the French Bulldog is controversial with breeding associations, but some lovers of the breed swear by it. For example, the Frenchton is a healthy cross between the French Bulldog and the Boston Terrier. Maybe this would be the right dog for you?
- Visit the breeders and ask at least to see the mother dog and her health certificates..
- Do not buy a dog with fashionably unusual colours, which may signify extra diseases.
- The parents should be of standard size and weight and not below. Frenchies that are too small, also known as Pocket Bullies, are not advisable because these dogs suffer a lot.
- KDo not buy on the Internet, because many cruel breeders are well camouflaged here. The result will be sick and expensive puppies that will cost you a lot in anxiety and vet bills, as well as the emotional support your new dog will require to recover from the cruelty of its former parents.
- Do not buy from hobby breeders who cannot show health certificates; check these health certificates carefully. If, for example, the vaccination certificate comes from abroad, absolute caution is advised!
Due to their short-headedness and the respiratory problems more or less associated with it, French Bulldogs do not tolerate exercise in the heat.
Often the airways are too short and the soft palate, larynx and nasal concha are not normally developed. As a result, the French Bulldog cannot regulate its body temperature like other dogs with a normal muzzle.
Since they cannot cool themselves via the mucous membranes like other dogs with a longer head, their risk of heat stroke is greatly increased. Therefore, exercise in the heat or even sporting activity should be avoided at all costs and is life-threatening.
Conclusion: French Bulldogs cannot regulate their body temperature well - heat can be life-threatening for them.
Due to their short coat and lack of undercoat, French Bulldogs freeze relatively quickly and do not tolerate cold very well, especially as they cannot move quickly "to warm up".
Cold often exacerbates respiratory problems, so French Bulldogs should not be challenged in excessively cold conditions.
Conclusion: French Bulldogs are sensitive to cold and often find it harder to breathe in cold conditions.
Grooming tips for the French Bulldog
The grooming requirements for a Frenchy's coat are not very high, as the short smooth coat only needs occasional brushing.
- Scin care: However, French Bulldogs are prone to infections of the skin folds (e.g. under the eyes and above the nose), because these are relatively deep and the Frenchy's coat is rather thin. Therefore, these must always be kept dry and cleaned regularly. After walks and activities, the wrinkles on the face and neck must first be cleaned with a damp cloth and then dried very well. Failure to do so may result in quite lengthy and difficult skin infections, which may even require surgery.
- Paw Care: The paws should be checked regularly and groomed if necessary. Excessively long claws should be shortened. Reading tip: Paw care in dogs.
- Ear care: Fortunately, the ears of the French Bulldog are not particularly prone to inflammation (as long hanging ears can be) but you should examine and care for them regularly nonetheless. Reading tip: Ear care in dogs. Lese-Tipp Ear care in dogs
- Eye Care: Look into your French Bulldog's eyes daily and clean them as needed. Bullies can unfortunately be prone to eye problems as the eyes are very exposed and the eye-nose canal can be narrowed. Reading Tip Eye care for dogs
- Dental care: You can do a lot for the health of your dog's teeth, especially as periodontitis can promote dangerous diseases of the organs. Dental care is particularly important in French Bulldogs, as the teeth are very close together in the short head. Here are our tips: Here our tips Dental care in dogs.
- Protection from ticks and fleas: You should protect your dog from parasites such as ticks and fleas, as they can not only be a nuisance but can also bring dangerous diseases. Reading tip: Tick protection: How to protect your dog from ticks.
- Worm check, you don't need a prophylaxis against worms; it's better to check your dog's faeces regularly.
French Bulldogs definitely do not need to be bathed and shampooed regularly. However, if they smell, either because the coat has become too greasy or the dog has been rolling around in something smelly, then a bath is due simply from the owner's point of view. It is best to use a dog shampoo with natural ingredients that takes into account the different pH values of the dog's skin (dog: 7.5 - human: 5.5) and has a moisturising effect. Baby shampoo or shampoo for humans is not appropriate due to this different pH value and there are often chemicals in the shampoos. This is particularly bad for dogs as they lick themselves.
After giving Frenchies a bath, it is advisable to dry the skin folds on the face and neck very thoroughly, as they tend to get infected.
Combing & Brushing
As the French Bulldog has a short smooth coat with no undercoat and is not prone to heavy shedding, it rarely needs brushing.
The French Bulldog is subject to seasonal coat changes, but sheds relatively little.
Clip & Trim
A French Bulldog does not need to be clipped or trimmed.
Although French Bulldogs do not shed heavily, they are subject to seasonal coat changes and are therefore no more suitable for allergy sufferers than other dog breeds.
Reading tip: If you are looking for a dog that triggers fewer allergies in people or live with a dog despite dog allergies, we have this reading tip for you:
Dogs for allergy sufferers: Living with a dog despite allergies
French bulldogs can be prone to drooling.
Health & Care
Pay attention to overweight
The diet of the French Bulldog, as with all living creatures, has a very great influence on their health. They should be fed a balanced, varied and natural diet.
French Bulldogs can tend to become overweight. Excess weight exacerbates existing health problems such as shortness of breath and resulting gastrointestinal problems.
Owners should responsibly ensure that their "Bully" maintains a healthy weight while consuming all important nutrients in optimal amounts and types.
Long-term studies on Labradors have shown that overweight dogs can lose up to 20% of their lifespan and die earlier - this certainly applies to the French Bulldog.
Therefore, the amount of food and the diet should definitely be adapted to the dog's size and degree of exercise. Especially in the hot season, the Bully will tend to rest more, to which his food quantities should also be adapted. Many French Bulldogs also tend to have allergies and a sensitive gastrointestinal tract, which require a particularly natural and meaty food.
French Bulldogs can be very voracious, but being overweight is even more detrimental to their health than other dog breeds. Due to their short stature, this can lead to increased respiratory problems.
Compact little Molossian with too short a muzzle and bat ears.
The French Bulldog is a typical, small-sized Molossian, i.e. a mastiff dog
Its very strong, short and stocky body with a round and short-nosed face has a very short tail by nature.
The coat is also short and the trademark of this small Great Dane is the large prick ears, also called bat ears.
The eyes of the French Bulldog should be dark brown.
The coat of the French Bulldog consists of close-fitting, shiny and soft short hair and has no undercoat.
Officially, according to the breeding standard, there are only a few colour variants of the French Bulldog, but there are unfortunately many more that are not recognised and therefore may also come from less professional breedings with higher health risks.
These colours are officially permitted by the UK Kennel Club
The coat of the French Bulldog is beige to light brown ("Fawn") from the base colour and can be either brindle with a dark cross current, which gives the Bullies the typical mackerel coat colour, or brindled. According to the breeding standard, white patches are also possible. The nose is always black (never brown or "blue") in all coat colours.
- Brindle – Colour pattern caused by a mixture of black hairs and fawn hairs. White markings permitted provided that brindle predominates. Eye rims, eyelashes and lips black.
- Fawn – Clear, self-coloured fawn with or without a black mask. White markings permitted, provided that fawn predominates. Cream and red shades less desirable. Eye rims, eyelashes and lips black.
- Pied – Brindle Pied: White predominates with brindle patches. (The brindle as defined above). Fawn
- Pied: White predominates with fawn patches.
Colours that may carry an increased risk of health restrictions (as of October 2019):
- White bullies (with black nose and black eyelid rims) are also acceptable, but they have a genetically increased risk of hearing loss and are therefore undesirable
- Black with red blaze ("black and tan")
- Mouse grey ("blue") is, according to currently accepted knowledge, based on a genetic defect which can bring other diseases with it
- Similarly, light coloured claws and light coloured "boots" suggest increased health risks
History and origin
Molosser and English Bulldogs of the fighting arenas as ancestors
The country of origin of the French Bulldog is France. This is also where their breeding standard is defined.
Like all mastiffs, the French Bulldog is almost certainly descended from the Molossians of the Roman Empire and ancient Greece. They later evolved into the English Bulldogs, which are among the ancestors of today's French Bulldog.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, they were used to amuse spectators at so-called "bear and bullbaiting" and dog fights in specially built arenas. The name bulldog also comes from this period. The muscular dogs had to force the bulls to the ground by biting their noses. What sounds unbelievable nowadays was a kind of popular amusement at the time and there were many bets on the outcome of these fights.
On 9 September 1835, dogfighting was officially banned in England and Wales. These fights were also banned in most other countries at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century at the latest. Illegal dogfighting certainly still exists in some countries today, largely due to the high stakes involved.
Smaller and more peaceful is in demand: English Bulldogs become companions in London
With the official ban, the breeding and role of the English Bulldog took a new turn. Instead of the big, strong and not very peaceful fighting dogs, smaller and more peaceful dogs were now in demand and the Toy Bulldog was born, which also became popular in Belgium and France. In France, these Toy Bulldogs were crossed with terriers and sometimes used for hunting. At this stage these dogs were already brindle, like many French Bulldogs today.
The English Bulldog was a working-class dog. In particular, weavers and lace makers from East London and Nottingham kept these dogs. When large lace factories were established in Calais, many English lace makers emigrated and took their little bulldogs, which had become family dogs, with them to France.
The French liked the little beefy dogs. They were very popular in the working-class districts of Paris and could often be found in the markets and slaughterhouses.
Dog breeds are crossed, the "Terrier Boules" is born.
At that time, it was not yet possible to speak of regulated breeding. The Mini Bulls were crossed with other breeds. It seems very likely that Pugs were among them, which is indicated by the short twisted tail and the protruding eyes.
But Griffons and other terriers are probably also among the ancestors of the French Bulldog. At that time, however, they were still called "Terrier Boules". Certainly, people wanted to keep the small beefy dog both as a companion and guard, but also as a practical rat catcher. At the first dog shows there were even rat catcher tests for the French Bulldog.
The special feature, the "bat ears", was first deliberately bred in France and then much later in England. When the small bat bulldogs came back to England around 1900, the English were not at all pleased about these ears and stigmatised them as ridiculous. In England, small miniature bulldogs were also bred. The French, in turn, crossed them again with their terrier boules.
Working class rat catchers become expensive and socially acceptable
In contrast to the English reaction, these ears were particularly well received in the USA around 1888, so the ancestors of the French Bulldogs were very expensively traded in America. For a long time they had been dogs of the lower class, but now they became "presentable". The English King Edward VII (1841-1910) got himself a white French Bulldog with "bat ears", bent tail and somewhat crooked front legs. The Russian Tsar's daughter Tatyana also kept a small French Bulldog, which was later found in the mass grave of the Tsar's family, who were murdered in 1918.
The French Bulldog also became very popular with many celebrities from the worlds of art and science in the following decades:
- The writer Colette owned several Bullies
- The opera tenor Caruso was accompanied by a Frenchy on his tours
- Josephine Baker was the proud owner of a French Bulldog
- Anna Sacher, who owned the world famous Café Sacher in Vienna, had a whole breed of French Bulldogs
- Yves Saint Laurent owned a Frenchy
The breeding history of the French Bulldog at a glance:
The progenitor of the present type is considered to be the male "Loupi", who lived to be about 15 years old and appears in almost all pedigrees.
In 1836 small bulldogs were shown for the first time at an exhibition
1880 first club of the dogs called Terrier-Boules at that time was founded in Paris
1885 first stud book and first registrations
1887 first French Bulldog presented at a show
1898 first standard created and recognised by the Société Centrale Canine
1904 recognition by the British Kennel Club as a separate breed
French Bulldog summary
Friendly, intelligent and agile, but often a "Qualzucht" (torture breed)
The French Bulldog is an intelligent, fun-loving and friendly little dog, but it is increasingly confronted with health restrictions and illnesses. Here it is very worthwhile to look out for reputable breeders who value larger dogs with longer muzzles. The Bully is usually not a good companion for sporting activities, but always wants to be there. His owner should keep him busy with "thinking sports". Not every Bully is without hunting instincts and not every fellow dog is always enthusiastic about the stormy and noisy nature of the French Bulldog. Airlines usually no longer take short-headed dogs on board.
Short-headed dogs like the French Bulldog are not transported in the cargo hold by most airlines. In the passenger cabin, the transport container including the dog is often only allowed to weigh 8kg, where most French Bulldogs should be above that. Anyway in general there are a small handful of airlines that allow dogs to fly in the cabin or as checked baggage when leaving the UK.
Equally Eurostar doesn't allow dogs on their trains therefore the only way to transport your frenchie into the UK is by car.