French Bulldogs are the Parisians of the dog world

Last Updated on April 22, 2023

Affectionately nicknamed Batpigs, French Bulldogs are ranked the fourth most popular breed by the American Kennel Club and it’s a no wonder why.

Frenchies are absolutely adorable, with their oversized bat-ears and perpetually grumpy face. 

a portrait of a French Bulldog strutting proudly on pavement

They are funny, affectionate creatures that are sure to make their family members laugh and are sometimes called Clown Dogs for this reason. They make amazing family pets and watchdogs despite their tiny stature.

Where did the French Bulldog originate? 

There would have been no French Bulldogs without the Bulldog, which was England’s national mascot.

These dogs were used in a violent sport that was beloved by the Englishmen. When bull-baiting was banned, the Bulldog went from gladiator champion to a rat chaser for lace workers

a portrait of a French Bulldog enjoying the fall leaves
A French Bulldog sitting in the middle of a leaf pile

During the industrial revolution, machines started replacing hard labor, and lace makers from Nottingham were forced to relocate to the French countryside where handmade lace was still prized.

Since they were fond of the toy bulldogs, they brought their furry friends along. 

With the help of Pugs and terriers, the toy English Bulldog was soon developed into the French Bulldog that we know and love today. The Frenchie Pug is actually one of the cutest designer dogs around.

Parisians immediately took to these Bouledogue Français, as they were once called, and that was that. Frenchies became part of the Parisian brand and everyone wanted one in their arms.

Coupled with baguettes and berets, these dogs soon became widespread all over Europe and strongly represented France, much to England’s dismay. 

England resisted their allure at first but soon gave way to their charm. Frenchies were so popular, they were featured in a stamp printed by Equatorial Guinea Series, circa 1974. 

America played its part in creating this iconic breed, too. Fanciers from the United States insisted that their bat ears were the correct standard and was met with much resistance from both British and Frenchmen. 

It wasn’t until the April of 1897 when the French Bulldog Club of America was founded to demand that the bat ears became the breed standard, did it eventually become a set standard for the French bulldog breed.

The late Carrie Fisher, famously known for her role in the Star Wars franchise as Princess Leia, outlived her Frenchie, Gary, who went on to become an internet sensation.

Many notable celebrities have been charmed by the Frenchie, including Madonna, John Legend, and Lady Gaga.

What do Frenchies look like?

A French Bulldog puppy or a Frog dog
Source: / IG

Being a part of the brachycephalic dog breeds, Frenchies have the squashed in appearance that’s unique to Pugs and Bulldogs.

This results in folds and wrinkles that extend over their necks, giving them the appearance of having flabby jowls. Paired with their funny tendency to sit with their hindlegs splayed, they are sometimes referred to as Frog dogs. 

According to the AKC, any Frenchie that doesn’t have bat ears or dark eyes will be rejected from a dog show.

French Bulldogs are born with blue eyes which should darken into brown. Any traces of blue or green will disqualify them as a show dog.

They are also born with floppy ears. Since every puppy develops at its own rate, there’s no telling when a pup’s ears will stand up. Normally, it should take place between 5 to 15 weeks.

When they start teething, you might notice their ears drooping today and up tomorrow due to the calcium distribution.

To give them a helping hand, some owners tape their ears. You can wrap the tape around the base of an ear and connect both ears with a long piece of tape so it offers support.

Another method is taping over a pinched ear and you can see how Frenchie breeder, Tami, does this:

The Frenchie has a unique short tail that comes in three distinct shapes. It can be straight and stumpy, screwed and stumpy, or thick at the base with a fine tip.

Regardless of which type of tail it has, it shouldn’t be raised over the topline. Instead, it often hangs over the anus like the polite little Frenchie he is.

Overall, these are compact-sized Bulldogs, with the same build which is heavy in front. This gives the impression that they might topple over at any given moment.

Is a French Bulldog a small or medium dog?

The AKC disqualifies any Frenchie that’s over 28 lbs (12.7 kg). They should also be as tall as they are long, which is usually around 11 – 12 inches (28 – 30 cm).

You can usually tell how big your dog will be when it’s around 9 and 15 months, although they technically stop growing at 24 months old.

These small companion dogs are one of the best breeds for apartment dwelling as they don’t require much space, nor do they bark much. 

What kind of coat does a French bulldog have?

The French Bulldog’s fur is sleek and short. Their short coat comes in white, cream, and fawn. These puppies have exciting patterns such as brindle and pied.

They can also have a variety of markings, including masks and sabling. Frenchies can have any mixture of the aforementioned colors, patterns, and markings.

They should never be solid black, merle, black and tan, black and white, blue, or liver.

This will automatically disqualify them from the show ring, although they still make wonderful pets. You can read all about French Bulldog colors here. 

You might find interesting: Is There a Fluffy Frenchie?

Personality: Are French Bulldogs good pets?

These hardy dogs have big personalities and may have a stubborn streak.

Bred for the companionability, it gives them a pleasure to entertain their owners although they won’t bend over backward as a Golden Retriever would. They are fairly trainable with the right kind of motivation.

a smiling and looking cute French Bulldog sitting
Source: @hugothebluetanfrenchie / IG

Food is big with Frenchies. They are absolute gluttons and would jump through hoops for some treats.

They probably won’t be an ideal candidate for agility or obedience trials as they are sure to inhale any treat they come across. However, this doesn’t mean that there haven’t been any champions.

Due to their short snouts and front-heavy stature, swimming is largely discouraged, unless they are supervised and wearing a life jacket. 

Are French Bulldogs aggressive?

Batpigs absolutely love companionship and they would like to be with their family all the time. They also get along swimmingly with children as they are just the right size and temperament.

However, you should always keep an eye on young children who have not learned how to behave around dogs as they could easily hurt each other.

Due to their possessiveness, Frenchies do get quite territorial and protective over their humans, especially around other dogs. This is why socialization is key to a well-behaved Frenchie.

While they are unlikely to develop separation anxiety, you shouldn’t plan on leaving them alone for extended periods of time.

They aren’t exactly demanding, but they do not appreciate the isolation and can get destructive or moody when left to their own devices.

They can get quite noisy with their grunts and snorts but they seldom bark or vocalize without cause. However, there’s always an exception to every rule.

Walter is an extremely talkative Frenchie who has amassed more than 100,000 subscribers on Youtube. Here he is screaming his head off in his most popular video: 

You can be sure that Frenchies will make great watchdogs, as they will alert you to any suspicious activities with their talent for vocalization.

Are French Bulldogs lazy?

These little furballs would love nothing more than to lie and snooze at your feet (or lap!) all day.

They are considered to be lazy, but it’s because they are prone to heat exhaustion and prefer to conserve their energy. When they are in the mood, they can run circles around you.

a French Bulldog puppy laying
Source: @frenchbulldogsfromparadise / IG

Their energy usually comes in short bursts, just perfect for short walks or a few games of fetch in your living room. They aren’t too demanding in terms of activity.

Often described as free-thinkers, French Bulldogs are easy to train when they are up for it. Make training fun by incorporating lots of rewards and praise.

Frenchies shouldn’t be that much harder to housebreak than any other breed but have been labeled as hard to potty train.

Their small size means that they will have to go much more regularly, especially when they are younger.

Crate training them has proven to be effective and can be something to consider, especially if you’re unable to supervise them regularly. 

It’s suggested to crate train Frenchies because they are inquisitive little dogs that might chew on things they shouldn’t.

Crate training a puppy will save you the heartache of replacing beloved furniture or sending your puppy to the E.R. 

Are French bulldogs high maintenance?

Yes, they are. They are low-energy which perhaps to some means they are low maintenance, but taking care of them requires lots of effort

Since they are prone to heat strokes, it’s best to keep them in a cool environment. That might mean air-conditioning in the hot summer months and morning walks. 

They are quite adept at drooling though. If you own a French Bulldog, you also own a couple of slobber-drenched sweaters. 

Exercising your French Bulldog

a French Bulldog walking and eating a leaf

Frenchie’s exercise needs are relatively low. They aren’t built for high-impact activities such as trekking, especially when it takes place under the hot sun. This isn’t the best breed to bring on adventures. They aren’t even recommended to fly.

Going for short 15-minute walks are much more ideal for your Frenchie. You can bring them once in the morning and once in the evening to avoid exposing your little French Bulldog to too much sun.

Grooming: Do French Bulldogs shed?

Some dogs have a double coat while others do not. It goes without saying that these single coated Batpigs will need more protection from the elements and will shed less.

They do renew their coats twice a year but since their fur is so fine, shedding is hardly noticeable.

However, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Frenchies are not a hypoallergenic breed and their smooth coats will need to be brushed once a week with either a mitt or a bristle brush.

Regular brushing will keep their coats tidy and healthy because it distributes the coat’s natural oils. 

When you brush them, be sure to check for broken or flaky skin, bald spots, scabs, or anything out of the ordinary.

Their nails, eyes, and ears should also be checked for irregularity. If you’re uncomfortable trimming your puppy’s nails, you can bring him to the groomers instead.

It’s their folds that require the most attention. It should be kept dry and clean, preferably wiped daily. Without proper care, it can start to smell.

They also need to have their teeth brushed at least three times a week to keep their breath fresh and their teeth plaque-free and healthy.

a French Bulldog puppy ready for a bath
Source: @meeko_finn_thefrenchie / IG

If you think that frequent baths will keep your Frenchie smelling fresh as a daisy, you’re wrong.

These cuties shouldn’t be bathed too often as it could strip their coats of their natural protection, resulting in overproduction and causing your Frenchie to smell worse.

However, allergic dogs might need a weekly bath as part of their treatment. In healthy dogs, you’re looking at a bath once every 1 – 3 months. They can be kept relatively clean with dry shampoo or wet wipes.

Feeding: How much food should I feed my French bulldog?

How much your dog needs is highly subjective and depends on their energy level. On a whole, an average adult should tuck away 1 – 1.5 cups of high-quality dog food per day.

Since they are such small dogs, you might want to split their meals into two so they get enough calories to sustain them for the entire day, rather than all at once.

They are prone to obesity, so it’s not a good idea to free-feed. Frenchies need some structure to keep their health in check. It can also help with housebreaking since you’ve got a fixed routine.

Do French bulldogs have lots of health problems?

As with a lot of unique-looking breeds, the French Bulldog’s cute appearance does come with its own complications. This doesn’t mean that all Frenchies will develop health issues.

But due to their physical attributes, certain disorders are more likely to appear in this breed. Some of them are born with cleft palates and often get put down for that imperfection. 

Also, you shouldn’t be surprised if your Frenchie snores! Brachycephalic syndrome and elongated soft palate are disorders that are found in dogs with smushed faces.

It’s an obstruction of the airways and can cause loud breathing, as well as snorting. If you find that your Frenchie is having difficulty breathing or eating, it’s worth a visit to the vet.

Due to the tail’s position over the anus, infections can set in quite easily. Called a tail pocket infection, it can cause redness, swelling, itching, and a bad smell. If left untreated, surgery might be needed. To prevent this, wipe them after they go potty so you can keep the area clean.

Dogs with short tails might develop hemivertebra, this can cause spinal problems which might result in incontinence, weakness, or pain in their hind limbs.

This disorder can range from mild to severe, and often manifests around the 9-month mark. 

Other bone-related disorders include intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), patellar luxation, and hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia can be a debilitating joint disorder that causes pain and in extreme cases, paralysis. 

They might also have allergies which can create itchy spots around their paws, ears, belly, and skin folds. Frenchies have large eyes that can be plagued by problems such as cataracts, distichiasis, entropion, and cherry eye.

Von Willebrand’s disease is also uncommon in Frenchies, it is a blood clotting disorder that might show up as bloody stools. 

White Frenchies are more predisposed to hearing loss, so if you’re getting one, make sure he is cleared from any hearing disabilities.

Reputable breeders will screen their dogs for inherited diseases which is why choosing a good breeder can help your Frenchie live a long and fulfilling life

The lifespan for these small dogs vary a bit, but the AKC places them to live about 10 – 12 years, which isn’t very long in a small breed dog. Keeping them in peak physical condition can extend their lifespans by 2 – 4 years. They most often die from cancer, neurological disorders, and old age. 

Buying: Why is the French Bulldog so expensive?

French Bulldogs hardly mate and deliver naturally. Dams are often artificially inseminated and often deliver via a cesarean due to their small hips.

Because of this, Female Frenchies can only produce 3 – 4 litters before they are considered too old to have puppies. 

At 3 pups per litter, that’s only 9 – 12 puppies for one lifetime. That’s a huge difference between, say, a Mastiff, which can produce 8 puppies a litter. With the risks involved and the higher cost of breeding French Bulldogs, it’s no wonder they come at a high price.

The price tag for a French Bulldog puppy can range from $1,500 to $15,000. This all depends on the breeder and the dog’s pedigree.

They should never be marketed for their appearance, especially sizes such as the Teacup French Bulldog or colors, such as the Blue French Bulldog. 

gray French Bulldog puppy smiling for a photo portrait
Source: @blue.and.lilah / IG

French Bulldog breeders

When hunting for a breeder, make sure that you take your time. A general rule of thumb is that reputable breeders seldom hard-sell their puppies. They inform that they have puppies available and leave it at that.

Breeders that try to convince you that their puppies are more expensive due to their rarity are often in it for the money and are not invested in the betterment of the breed.

You want to stay away from marketplaces or puppy mills. If it feels off, it probably is. Always go with your gut.

Ready to search for your new buddy? You can check out the breeders listing on the French Bulldog Club of America or check out one any of the kennels below:

  • North Star French Bulldogs (Wasilla, AK)
  • Blue Wonder Frenchies (Palm Beach County, FL)
  • Tato’s Frenchies (West Palm Beach, FL)

French Bulldog rescue / for adoption

Rescuing a Frenchie has got to be one of the most rewarding things in life. Not only do you give this cute and adorable Batpig another chance, but they will also return the favor with undying love and loyalty.

Sadly, finding a Frenchie up for adoption isn’t too hard. Not many owners do their homework prior to bringing one home and ignorance often leads to distress, especially with breeds that need special care like the French Bulldog.

Good on you for taking the time to discover more about this lovely breed and how to care for them. If you’re planning to rescue, kudos to you! Here are a couple of shelters you can check out: 

  • French Bulldog Rescue Network (Glen Allen, VA)
  • French Bulldog Village (Conshohocken, PA)
  • Bulldog Rescue Squad (Greater Dallas Fort Worth, TX)

Similar Breeds to French Bulldog

Not sold on a French Bulldog? Perhaps the Frenchie is not quite what you’re looking for. Here are a few other similar breeds that might just tickle your fancy. 

French Bulldog vs English Bulldog

a Chubby English Bulldog sitting in a dog couch
Source: @frankthebritishbulldog / IG

The OG who started it all. The English Bulldog is larger, heavier, and wrinklier. This means there’s more to love, but also more to clean. They are much calmer too, so if you’re looking for a true couch potato, you’re looking at him.

French Bulldog vs Pug

a Pug giving the smiles while playing on fall leaves

If you pull up his ears, the Pug could pass for a Frenchie. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the Pug has a tightly curled tail that’s held high and proud. Pugs also have double coats that will shed copiously in summer. Check out our guide to learn more about the differences and similarities between a Pug and a Frenchie.

French Bulldog vs Boston Terrier

a Boston Terrier puppy standing on one leg
Source: @boston_annie_ / IG

To the untrained eye, these two breeds are pretty much identical. The Boston Terrier is a distant cousin of the Frenchie but they are smaller and live longer, plus they aren’t as expensive.

Probably a better choice for active owners as these dogs are always ready to go. Plus, they are easier to train and are great for first-time owners.

Who should get a French Bulldog?

a French Bulldog relaxing with a neck pillow
Source: @hugothebluetanfrenchie / IG

This dog breed is perfect for people who don’t mind some drool here and there. Frenchies might have been marketed as lazy and low-maintenance dogs, but you’ll be surprised at how much time you need to invest in them.

From cleaning their folds to spending time lazing around with your pupper, they are the true definition of a lap dog and won’t be happy unless they are being fawned over.

Further reading: French Bulldog mixes

Frenchies are also used in some designer mixes in order to amp up their cuteness factor or to add something extra to the mix.

You’ve got the ultra adorable Frugs or Frenchie Pugs that are double the cute. For an even smaller dog, there’s the Bullhuahua. The Frenchton appeared out of a desire to create healthier Frenchies, with some success.

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