Despite its name, the French Bulldog originated in England. While there are different theories as to how this charming breed was developed, we can be sure that one of their ancestors was a toy variety of the English Bulldog.
These toy Bulldogs were bred down from the standard English Bulldog so they would fit easily in their owner’s lap. Many of them went to France with their families in the late 1800’s, when their owners migrated there looking for work. There they were crossed with other small breeds, and the resultant progeny were known as the Boule-Dog Francais, or French Bulldog.
These little dogs are now popular companions around the world, and were recognized by the AKC in 1898.
The French Bulldog shares some features with their English ancestor, namely their compact muscular build, short muzzle, and short, often corkscrewed, tail. Their expression is curious and alert. The two main distinguishing characteristics of this breed are their large bat ears, and relatively flat skull.
Frenchies, as they are affectionately known, have a smooth coat in a variety of shades, including brindle, red, black and fawn. They only grow to a height of 12 inches, or 30cm. For show purposes, there are two weight classes: up to 22lbs (10kg) or up to 28lbs (13kg). Weight is so important to breeders of French Bulldogs because a dog that weighs over 28lbs will be disqualified from the show ring.
These little dogs are lovely companions. They are affectionate, even tempered and playful. In fact, they are often known as the clown of the dog world. Their antics are very likely to bring a smile to anyone’s face.
Different individuals have different energy levels. Some Frenchies are hyperactive and play for hours, while others are happy to relax all day and enjoy the most comfortable spots in your home. They are not a good watchdog because their size isn’t intimidating and they aren’t particularly protective, but they will certainly let you know when the mail man has arrived.
Being a Bull breed, some individuals may be a little aggressive with other dogs, but early training and socialization will prevent that. They can be stubborn and set in their ways, but will respond to positive training methods.
While there are are some health issues that affect the French Bulldog, they are not common, and the Frenchie is generally a very sound breed. Prospective owners still need to be aware of these, and ask breeders what they are doing to prevent these diseases showing up in their puppies.
Von Willebrand’s Disease is a disorder of blood clotting that affects the Frenchie. Dogs with Von Willebrand’s Disease usually need blood transfusions before undergoing any surgical procedure. They may also have nosebleeds and hemorrhages on their skin. This disease is hereditary, and dogs should be tested to see if they are carriers before being used in a breeding program.
This breed can also suffer from mega-esophagus. In this condition, the esophagus doesn’t work as it should, and it doesn’t effectively move food from a dog’s mouth to their stomach. Affected dogs often vomit or regurgitate their food. One particularly dangerous consequence of mega-esophagus is that dogs may breathe in their food, and develop pneumonia.
Like the original English Bulldog, the Frenchie can develop cherry eye which will need surgical repair. Other eye conditions to look out for include glaucoma, juvenile cataracts and retinal disease. Breeding dogs should be screened for these conditions and registered with the Canine Eye Registration Foundation before they are mated.
Brachycephalic Syndrome is a condition that affects all dogs with short noses, including French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs and Pugs. These dogs can have several disorders in their upper respiratory tract, including cleft palate, hare lip, elongated soft palate and narrowed nostrils. This means that they can have trouble breathing, and have very little exercise tolerance. They also don’t tolerate heat well because they can’t pant effectively to keep cool.
The Frenchie can have spinal twists and kinks, which can affect them later in life. They can develop intervertebral disc disease and degeneration of the bones of the spine. Responsible breeders will x-ray their dogs’ spines before mating, and only breed those with good conformation.
The French Bulldog usually needs a cesarian section to give birth, because their puppies’ big head often doesn’t fit through the birth canal.
Frenchies are extremely low maintenance dogs, and are ideal for busy people or those who aren’t particularly active.
Their short fur doesn’t need bathing very often, and a weekly brush will remove loose hair and leave their coat shining. Make sure you clean the skin folds on their muzzle and under their eyes to prevent dirt accumulation and secondary infection.
They also don’t need a great deal of exercise, but will enjoy a regular walk with their owner. They enjoy a game, and can play for quite a long time. Do be careful to prevent overheating, because heat stroke can kill.
The French Bulldog is definitely an indoor dog, because they don’t tolerate heat, and with their thin coat, they don’t like cold. This is not a dog to leave in a backyard kennel. Their compact size and generally low activity level means they do very well in apartments. They play hard, and are sturdy enough to enjoy some rough and tumble games with children.
They are inexpensive to keep, and a delight to own. One disadvantage of their short nose is that they often snore and wheeze, which isn’t fun if you like to sleep with your dog at night.
These delightful little dogs will keep you company for 10-12 years.