- Average Height: 11 to 14 inches
- Average Weight: 20 pounds
- Coloring: White, cream, fawn, black, white, or any combination of these
- Coat Type: Soft, shiny, short, smooth
- Dog Breed Group: Non-sporting
- Average Lifespan: 0 to 12 years
Key Personality Traits:
Once a favored companion of English lace makers and a fixture of the Paris nightlife scene, the French Bulldog has emerged as one of the nation’s most popular dog breeds.
Many people are drawn to that squishy face and wide-set eyes, but Frenchies are more than a pretty face. They have an affectionate, playful, adaptable nature, which means they’re a great fit for both singles or large families.
These portable pooches aren’t for everyone, however. They’re prone to a number of breed-specific health issues, can snore pretty loudly (a result of that endearing squishy face), and have a stubborn streak. For pet parents able overlook these factors and make a commitment to their care, French Bulldogs are well worth it.
History and Origin
The French Bulldog can trace its history to a powerful and fearless breed of Bulldog bred for the “sport” of bull baiting in 13th century England. After the British Parliament outlawed this brutal bloodsport in 1835, fans of the dog started breeding a smaller, gentler version. This new toy Bulldog became popular in cities across England, most notably as a favorite of home-based lace weavers in the city of Nottingham. When the Industrial Revolution replaced these small-scale workers with machinery, they migrated to France to find work.
These little Bulldogs were beloved throughout France—where they were formally named Bouledogues Français, or French Bulldog—and became a mainstay of Paris life. “The breed was believed to be companions to certain ‘Ladies of the Night,’” says Gina DiNardo, executive secretary of the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Wealthy Americans visiting Europe who had become smitten with the pups brought them back to the States, DiNardo says. By the end of the 19th century, Frenchies had become widely known throughout Europe and the U.S., and in 1898 the AKC officially recognized the breed.
While these pups make excellent companion animals, they’re also capable of taking on other impressive roles. “They can also be excellent working dogs in all kinds of therapy dog roles in volunteer settings such as schools, nursing homes, and hospitals,” says DiNardo.
Types of French Bulldogs
While there’s only one type of French Bulldog, some are selectively bred based on color and size.
Standard French Bulldog colors are white, cream, and varying shades of fawn -a yellow-tan color- or any combination of these. They sometimes come in what experts refer to as “fad” colors including black, chocolate, tan, blue (silvery gray), merle (blotchy patches), black and fawn, fawn brindle and white, and gray and white.
Experts generally discourage breeding French Bulldogs for these colors. While these rare colors can be produced naturally, they’re typically generated by breeding a separate gene pool, says Patti Rungo, director of NorCal French Bulldog Rescue based in Folsom, California.
There is evidence that this type of selective breeding can place Frenchies at risk for certain genetic disorders. For example, merle-colored French Bulldogs typically have blue or partially blue eyes, which increase their risk for eye disorders and deafness.
French Bulldogs are sometimes bred to be teacup-sized, a practice experts say compromises a breed already at a greater risk for a number of health issues. The dog’s short, flat nose for example makes breathing difficult, which is intensified when this feature is miniaturized.
French Bulldog Physical Characteristics
Don’t mistake the Frenchie’s small stature for fragility—these dogs are stocky, muscular, and heavy-boned.
Most French Bulldogs stand between 11 to 14 inches tall and weigh about 20 pounds, with males slightly larger and taller than females. There are exceptions, though. “We have seen French Bulldogs as small as 11 pounds to 46 pounds,” says Rungo.
French Bulldogs have unmistakably large heads, wide set eyes, and flat, short noses that while endearing, places them prone to overheating and respiratory issues. Another Frenchie trademark is the bat-shaped ears—rounded at the top and standing straight up. The French Bulldog tail is short and stumpy, and either straight or corkscrew-shaped.
Their coats are soft, short, shiny, and smooth, and come in cream, white, various shades of fawn, or any combination of these. They can also have markings that come in white, black, piebald (patches consisting of two colors), and brindle (brownish with streaks of other colors). Some possible French Bulldog color combinations might include cream, fawn, fawn and white, brindle and white, and white and brindle.
While it depends on the individual, DiNardo says Frenchies usually reach full physical maturity around 2 years of age.
French Bulldog Temperament
Although content to sit quietly on your lap, most Frenchies (especially French Bulldog puppies) also have a playful streak and will eagerly oblige you in a game of fetch. People who know the breed best also describe the French Bulldog temperament as affectionate, smart, and fun.
Because they’re adaptable, these portable pooches can thrive in either a home or apartment, and DiNardo says they make great companions for all types of families. Another plus if you live in an apartment is their inherent quietness. While they may bark at unknown sounds, French Bulldogs are not overly yappy.
But the beloved French Bulldog personality comes with a few flaws. They can be stubborn, but that doesn’t mean they are difficult to train. In fact, training a French Bulldog just takes some patience, repetition, and routine. Additionally, “French Bulldogs can be very ‘oral’ or mouthy, which can be misinterpreted,” says Rungo. “So they’re not always the best choice for a family with small children.”
Of course, every dog and family is different, and supervising any animal when near children is always advisable.
French Bulldog Care Guide
Before welcoming a French Bulldog into your home, it’s important to know what to expect when it comes to overall wellness and care. Follow these tips to keep your Frenchie happy and healthy.
Diet and Nutrition
While they don’t necessarily require special French Bulldog food, veterinarians recommend feeding a complete and balanced diet appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). A nutritional adequacy statement on the label from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) means the food meets or exceeds nutritional requirements and has been balanced for optimal benefit.
French Bulldogs are prone to obesity, which DiNardo says can put them at a higher risk for some of the breed’s health issues (like exercise intolerance) and damage their structure. “So it is vital to watch their calorie intake and weight.”
Dog treats should be given in moderation. Vets often recommend that treats comprise no more than 10 percent of the diet. “Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods high in fat,” says DiNardo.
Always talk to your veterinarian about a recommended diet and proper caloric intake requirements for your Frenchie.
Exercise and Activity
The level of activity needed for French Bulldogs depends on the dog, says Rungo. “Some require very little exercise. Others that are more Terrier-like require more exercise just to burn some high energy off.”
Generally, a daily short walk or outdoor play session should be sufficient for this breed, says DiNardo. “Frenchies also enjoy participating in canine sports such as obedience, agility, and rally.”
Given their front-heavy build, Frenchies are not natural swimmers. If you do want to experiment with the water, DiNardo recommends starting them off slowly, keeping flotation and safety devices on hand, and supervising them when in the water.
Whichever activity you choose, keep in mind that this breed is at an increased risk for labored breathing and overheating. Avoid strenuous exercise and keep your pup cool in warm weather, says DiNardo. If it looks like your Frenchie is overheating, becoming stressed too easily, is breathing noisily, or spitting up foam, consult your veterinarian, she adds.
Grooming and Nail Care
Frenchies don’t shed as much as other breeds do, but they still need to be brushed weekly with a medium-bristle brush, rubber grooming mitt, or hound glove to remove excess hair, says DiNardo. She also recommends keeping their facial folds clean and dry to prevent bacterial buildup. Most French Bulldogs need a bath once a month, on average, but individual needs can change.
Overly-long nails can cause pain, so should be trimmed regularly, says DiNardo. Many experts recommend a trim every eight weeks.
French Bulldog Health Issues
With optimal care and nutrition, a French Bulldog’s lifespan is generally between 10 to 12 years, although this is just a guideline. Due to their physical structure, French Bulldogs are at a higher risk for a number of health issues. Here are some of the most common.
Breathing Difficulties: Breathing is more challenging for dogs with short muzzles and flattened faces. Frenchies are prone to brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome, a disorder that can lead to exercise intolerance, respiratory distress, wheezing, blue skin, and even collapse. “This usually requires surgical correction,” Dr. Kayte Anderson, a veterinarian at Fairwood Animal Hospital in Spokane, Washington.
Neck and Spinal Issues: French Bulldogs can develop abnormal vertebrae and premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs, says DiNardo. Symptoms of intervertebral disc disease include pain, paralysis, loss of limb function, and numbness in the hind legs.
Skin Allergies: One study published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology found that skin problems were the most prominent health issue in Frenchies, which researchers attribute to their skin folds. “We see skin allergies, including on the face, ears, face folds, and tail folds,” says Rungo, who is also the office manager at Blue Ravine Animal Hospital, also in Folsom.
Anesthesia Complications: Frenchies have a narrower and smaller upper airway, making anesthesia riskier than in other breeds. Find a veterinarian familiar with brachycephalic breeds if your Frenchie should need surgery.
Birthing Complications: Breeding French Bulldog should be done by responsible dog breeders, but it’s worth noting that French Bulldogs are often unable to deliver puppies on their own, says Anderson. “The majority of the time they need assistance with artificial insemination and caesarean section for delivery of puppies.”
Interesting French Bulldog Facts
Thank Americans for the Frenchie’s trademark bat ears. They would have been bred out and replaced with folded-back ears, which DiNardo says would have resulted in a mini version of the English Bulldog.
A Frenchie, whose real name was Beatrice, played the role of Stella on the television show Modern Family. She was depicted as Jay Pritchett’s sidekick. Beatrice passed away just a few days after the show wrapped up filming its final episode. Before Beatrice, a Frenchie named Bridgette played the role of Stella until Season 4.
The French Bulldog has surged in popularity in the past decade, even earning a spot on AKC’s Top Ten list consecutively since 2014.
Along with other breeds, including a King Charles Spaniel and a Great Dane, a French Bulldog was one of 12 four-legged passengers on the Titanic.
French Bulldogs have captured the hearts of celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Martha Stewart, and Hillary Duff.
Popular French Bulldog Mixes
Predicting what a Frenchie mix or any designer dog will look and act like is not a sure thing. Much of it depends on which genes are dominant. But here are a few common French Bulldog mixes:
- Frugs (French Bulldog and Pug mix)
- Frenchton (French Bulldog and Boston Terrier mix)
- Frengle (French Bulldog and Beagle mix)
- Froodle French Bulldog and Poodle mix)
French Bulldog Adoption Tips
Because Frenchies are normally in high demand, they’re not often available in shelters, says Anderson. “So when there is one in a shelter they go fast.” And the majority at shelters are usually there due to medical or behavioral issues, adds Rungo.
However, even if a French Bulldog in a rescue or shelter has a medical or behavioral issue, he or she may make the perfect pet if you’re willing to put in the time, energy, and care needed.
It’s critical to do research before adopting a French Bulldog (or any breed) and to vet the rescue, shelter, or breeder.
French Bulldog Rescues
If there are no French Bulldog rescues in your area, one of these national networks might be able to guide you in the right direction.
French Bulldog FAQs
Frenchies have a lot of love to give and make great pets. But if you’re thinking about bringing one into your life, knowing as much information about this dog breed is important. Here are some common frequently asked questions about French Bulldogs.
Do French Bulldogs Shed?
Yes, French Bulldogs do shed, but minimally. Experts recommend a weekly brushing to remove excess hair.
How Big Do French Bulldogs Get?
French Bulldogs typically weigh about 20 pounds and no more than 28. French Bulldog size can vary, however. Some have been known to weigh as little as 11 pounds and as much as 46 pounds.
Can French Bulldogs Swim?
French Bulldogs are not natural swimmers, due to their front-heavy build. When in the water, they need to be supervised and fitted with a life vest or other flotation device.
Are French Bulldogs Smart?
Although subjective, fans of the breed say Frenchies are highly intelligent and can also be excellent watchdogs.
Do French Bulldogs Have Tails?
While it may seem elusive at times, Frenchies do, in fact, have tails. The French Bulldog tail is short and stubby. It can also be straight or curled.
Pictures of French Bulldogs
We can’t resist their squishy faces, pointy ears, and stocky builds. If you love Frenchies as much as we do, check out our gallery featuring pictures of French Bulldogs (including puppy pictures!). Browse through to see a variety of sizes, colors, and ages.
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