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The French Bulldog: A Guide for Owners

The French Bulldog: A Guide for Owners.

The French Bulldog: A Guide for Owners.

The French Bulldog

Throughout the world, there exists only a handful of dog breeds that can be consistently described as playful, highly-intelligent, and adaptable. One of these is the French Bulldog. First bred in France (during the 1800s) for companionship purposes, this breed continues to fulfill this role in the modern-era and is a favorite of elderly individuals as well as family-based households due to its loving nature.

This work examines the French Bulldog and provides an in-depth analysis of the animal’s behavioral patterns, temperament, and general traits. This includes a discussion of the French Bulldog’s health concerns, grooming and training requirements, as well as water and nutritional needs.

It is the author’s hope that a better understanding (and appreciation) of this remarkable breed will accompany readers following their completion of this work.

Scientific Classification

  • Common Name: French Bulldog
  • Binomial Name: Canis Lupus Familiaris
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Canidae
  • Genus: Canis
  • Species: Canis Lupus
  • Subspecies: Canis Lupus Familiaris
  • Other Name(s): Bouledogue Francais; "Frenchie"
An adorable French Bulldog in a sweater.

An adorable French Bulldog in a sweater.

History of the French Bulldog

  • Life Span: 9 to 11 years
  • Group: Non-sporting Group
  • Area of Origin: France
  • Date of Origin: 1800s
  • Original Function: Companionship; Lapdog
  • Family: Mastiff; Bull

Origins

The French Bulldog is a relatively new dog breed that first originated in Paris, France during the mid-nineteenth century. Originally developed in the 1800s for companionship and lapdog purposes, early breeders were able to successfully create this particular canine through the selective breeding of Toy Bulldogs (imported from England) and local ratting breeds.

The end result of their hard work was the French Bulldog that we know and love today.

Although little is currently known (or understood) about the reasons pertaining to their development as a breed, many experts suggest that the outlawing of bull-baiting and the arrival of displaced lace workers from Nottingham (who brought with them Toy Bulldogs) may have served as motivation for breeders to develop a small and portable Bulldog variety.

With Toy Bulldogs becoming extremely popular in Paris, English breeders began to systematically trade large numbers of Bulldogs that they considered to be weak, faulty, or too small. This trade continued unabated until the 1860s, as England’s Toy Bulldog population quickly fell to unprecedented levels (resulting in a dearth of Toy Bulldogs in the country).

French breeders, in turn, were overwhelmed with small Bulldogs, and quickly set to work on crossing these lovable canines with ratting breeds to produce a smaller and more compact version of the Bulldog that could be utilized for lapdog purposes.

In the years that followed, the newly established French Bulldog breed (as they came to be known) became highly-fashionable in France, and were a favorite of high-society ladies, creative artists, writers, fashion designers, and even Parisian prostitutes. It is even believed that the artists known as Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec included a number of French Bulldogs in their various paintings.

In the years that followed their initial development, further perfection of the French Bulldog was sought by local breeders. As a result, breeders began to carefully cross French Bulldogs with terrier breeds to develop straighter ears (a highly-sought trait amongst individuals from this period).

The efforts proved to be fruitful, as these changes to the French Bulldog quickly garnered attention from abroad, prompting a number of Americans to import the breed to the United States during the 1880s.

Despite its popularity amongst society ladies and upper-class families (including the Rockefellers and J.P. Morgans), however, the French Bulldog was not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1906.

Function

In regard to the French Bulldog’s original function and purpose, this particular breed was originally developed for the purpose of companionship and lapdog purposes. In the modern era, the Frenchie continues to fulfill this role, and is a favorite of celebrities and family-based environments.

As of today (July 2022), the French Bulldog is currently classified by the American Kennel Club as the most popular dog in the United States, as they are one of the most charming, lovable, and easy-going breeds available for prospective owners. For the time being, this trend appears likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

French Bulldog smiling for the camera.

French Bulldog smiling for the camera.

Appearance and Characteristics

  • Weight: Less than 28 pounds (male and female)
  • Height: 11 to 13 inches (male and female)

The French Bulldog is a relatively small dog breed known for their small and compact appearance. Frenchies should possess a well-distributed and symmetrical body characterized by a muscular form. Likewise, the distance from withers to the ground should be directly proportionate to the length between withers and the tail.

Regarding their overall size and stature, few dogs within this breed exceed 28 pounds, or 11 to 13 inches in total height. Deviations from these rules are considered major faults that should be evaluated by a qualified veterinarian.

Overall head on the French Bulldog should take on a large and square-like appearance. Accentuating the skull is a broad muzzle that is both deep and laid back, with well-developed cheeks, a black nose, and well-defined stop.

Completing this region is a pair of rounded, dark brown (almost black) eyes that are set low on the skull, along with bat-like ears that are broad and elongated (maintaining an erect stance).

Forequarters

In regard to the Frenchie’s forequarters, this particular breed possesses a pair of short (but incredibly stout) legs that are both muscular and straight. Completing the forequarters is a pair of medium-sized feet that are characterized by compact toes, high knuckles, deep padding, and stubby nails (akc.org). Dewclaws can be removed if desired.

Hindquarters

The hindquarters on the French Bulldog follow many of the same traits of the front. Hind legs should be both strong and muscular in their overall appearance, and possess a slightly longer length than the front. Likewise, hocks should be relatively short (i.e. close to the ground). Completing the hindquarters is a pair of compact toes and feet that are well-padded and slightly larger than the front.

Tail

Tails on the French Bulldog can be either straight or screwed (but never curly). Likewise, tails are relatively short for this breed, with an approximate length of 3 to 5-inches for most. Roots, in contrast, are relatively thick and taper to a fine tip.

Regarding their appearance, tails on this breed are generally carried low. Deviations to these standards are considered major faults that should be evaluated promptly by a qualified veterinarian.

Coat and Coloration

Coats on the Frenchie are characterized as both short and extremely smooth. Generally speaking, the skin on this particular breed is both loose and soft (especially around the head and shoulders), providing the Frenchie with a wrinkled appearance (akc.org).

In regard to color, the French Bulldog comes in a variety of colors. These include white, cream, fawn, or a combination of these color groups. A number of markings and patterns are also common for this breed, including brindle, piebald, black shadings (especially around the face), along with various white patches.

Other colors are considered highly-undesirable by breeders, and are classified as “disqualifying” factors by the AKC.

Beautiful tan French Bulldog.

Beautiful tan French Bulldog.

Is the French Bulldog Right for Your Home?

General Characteristics

  • Energy Level: 3/5
  • Exercise Needs: 1/5
  • Playfulness: 3/5
  • Affection Towards Owners: 3/5
  • Friendliness Towards Other Animals: 3/5
  • Training Difficulty: 3/5
  • Grooming Level: 1/5

Note: Scale of 1 to 5 (1=Lowest, 5=Highest)

Temperament and Personality Traits

Generally speaking, the French Bulldog is typically described by experts (and owners) as an extremely laid-back breed. Possessing a natural affinity for fun and games, the French Bulldog makes for an excellent companion pet as they are extremely friendly and love to have a good time.

In spite of this, it is important to note that the term “Bulldog” was given for a reason, as Frenchies tend to think of themselves as being extremely “tough,” and possess a headstrong temperament (making them difficult to control at times). Likewise, they can also be quite reserved around strangers and other animals, and require a great deal of supervision when in the presence of others for the first time.

In spite of these negatives though, the French Bulldog is a remarkably loving breed renowned for their tendency to bond deeply with family members.

Are French Bulldogs Good With Children?

Yes and no. Generally speaking, the French Bulldog tends to do well with children (and even babies) due to their friendly demeanor and love for playtime. Nevertheless, it is vital that owners (parents) supervise their Frenchies when in the presence of children, as roughhousing and improper handling can result in aggressive reactions from your pet.

To remedy this, early socialization (performed during your dog’s puppy stages of development) will go a long way in preventing bad behaviors and poor relationships from forming. And while the Frenchie is well-suited for family-based environments, most experts agree that this particular breed is best-suited for homes with older children due to their small size and demeanor.

As with all dog breeds, parents should actively instruct their children on the proper way to handle and approach their French Bulldog companions. This includes forbidding children from pulling (or grabbing) their Frenchie’s ears or tail, poking their eyes, or approaching their dog when its eating or sleeping.

By ensuring these rules are followed, owners can help to establish a safe environment for their pet that is conducive to the formation of loving relationships.

How Smart is the French Bulldog?

The French Bulldog is a moderately intelligent breed within the canine world. As of July 2022, this breed is ranked #58 amongst the world’s smartest dogs. This places the French Bulldog side by side with the Pug, Brussels Griffon, and Maltese Terrier in regard to their overall intelligence level (Coren, 182).

Characterized by experts as a “fifth tier” breed, the Frenchie is generally capable of learning a new command after 40 to 80 repetitions of an action. Likewise, they will typically obey a new command (after learning it) 40-percent of the time for owners. For most Frenchies, owners will quickly discover that this breed is relatively easy to train as they love to please their owners.

Nevertheless, owners should not expect their French Bulldog to learn a new trick or command after only one or two repetitions, as training will generally require a significant investment of both time and energy on behalf of the owner.

Black French Bulldog.

Black French Bulldog.

Grooming Requirements

Brushing and Bathing

As a short-haired breed, the French Bulldog requires only minimal grooming to maintain its coat throughout the year. Regular brushing is a vital component to a dog’s well-being, and serves a number of basic functions. These include:

  • Removing dead skin cells, dirt, dead hair, and debris.
  • Stimulating the circulation of blood within the skin.
  • Stimulating nerve endings.
  • Spreading natural oils throughout your dog’s coat.

Since the French Bulldog’s hair is so short, brushing will not require a great deal of effort, and can be done in a matter of minutes by experienced owners. Ideally, individuals should plan to brush their Frenchie every day; however, once or twice a week will also suffice for most dogs (assuming they are kept relatively clean throughout the week).

Regarding equipment, most veterinarians and dog experts agree that a brush with rubber bristles works well for this particular breed, as they are flexible and gentle (due to their soft components).

Regarding baths, most experts agree that monthly (sometimes weekly) baths are sufficient for the French Bulldog. As a breed that is highly-susceptible to various skin issues (and allergies), regular baths will go a long way toward preventing skin issues.