Everything you need to know about: French Bulldogs
Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Louisa Lane
11th May 2022
6 min read
A unique little dog with a big personality. French Bulldogs are one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK, but their distinctive and extreme body shape makes them much more likely to suffer from serious medical issues compared to other breeds.
28 to 33cm
9 to 13kg
10 to 12 years
45 to 60 mins
Cheeky, affectionate, playful
Despite their name, French Bulldogs originated in England as a smaller or “toy” version of the Bulldog that was better suited to being a companion animal.
Frenchies were popular with lace workers from Nottingham, who later moved to France to find work in the Victorian era.
The French loved the tiny Bulldog and bred dogs to have a certain look with large heads and ears, big eyes, and squashed noses. This created the flat-faced (brachycephalic) French Bulldog that we know today.
French Bulldogs are small and stocky dogs, with a lot of muscle packed on a little body.
They have short sleek fur, short curly tails, and upright “bat ears”. However, they're best known for their flat faces, with short snouts and wrinkles.
French Bulldogs are usually brindle or fawn with white markings or black masks. You can also get pied bulldogs, which are white with patches of darker colours.
What colours are French Bulldogs?
The French Bulldog colours accepted inthe breed standard
- Light brindle
- Dark brindle
- Brindle and white
- Fawn and white
- Fawn pied
- Fawn with black mask
Although blue French Bulldogs are highly sought after, it isn’t a recognised colour according to the breed standards. (Neither is white or cream.) You might still see one on a walk though!
French Bulldogs are cheeky dogs with huge personalities despite their small size. The typical French Bulldog temperament is curious, mischievous, and playful. They’re also very loving and affectionate with their families.
French Bulldogs temperaments can also include a strong-willed and stubborn streak, which means they’re not the easiest dog to train or the most obedient. However, they are smart and a little greedy (“food-motivated”,) which can help to make training easier.
Remember, genetics plays a part in your dog's personality because puppies inherit temperaments from their parents. A good French Bulldog breeder should only breed healthy dogs, but they must focus on breeding good temperaments too. You can find out how to find a good breederwith this blog post
How much exercise do French Bulldogs need?
French Bulldogs are typically clownish, mischievous, and lively.
Some people claim the breed is “lazy”, however this is often a sign that a dog has a serious health issue - like Brachycephalic Syndrome - which makes breathing hard and exercise unendurable.
French Bulldogs need 45-60 minutes of exercise a day. This helps to keep them fit and prevent obesity.
In warm weather, you will need to exercise your French Bulldog carefully because brachycephalic dogs are prone to overheating.
How to groom a French Bulldog
French Bulldogs have short, sleek fur which doesn’t require a lot of grooming, but you could brush it every now and again to remove dirt and dust between baths.
Occasionally you may need to bathe your Bulldog. You might have to use a medicated shampoo or a prescribed ear cleaner if they develop skin infections due to allergies, which French Bulldogs are prone to.
In addition, their wrinkly folds of skin trap dirt and bacteria easily. These folds may need regular cleaning under the direction of your vet to prevent infection.
You will also need to trim their claws at least once a month to prevent them from overgrowing.
Common French Bulldog health problems
Because they are a brachycephalic breed, French Bulldogs are prone to certain medical conditions due to their extreme shape.
You can find out more about the health of brachy breeds and how owners can contribute to ethical breeding and the health of future puppies by listening to our podcast.
French Bulldogs are a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed, which makes them prone to breathing problems.
Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for them to develop upper and lower respiratory tract infections such as aspiration pneumonia, which is an infection in the lung. This is usually a result of BOAS.
French Bulldogs suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).
BOAS is a combination of physical features such as a flat face, stenotic nares (tight nostrils), and an elongated soft palate and tongue which contribute to the severe breathing issues we see in French Bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds
BOAS is what causes French Bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds to have noisy breathing and snoring. It cannot be cured. Many dogs with BOAS require surgery to relieve their symptoms and allow them to breathe more normally.
French Bulldogs are commonly affected by severe skin allergies and almost ⅕ of dogs suffer from skin complaints. Their skin folds on their nose and tail are particularly vulnerable to infection.
Common skin problems affecting the breed include skin fold dermatitis and pyoderma. Their paws also suffer from a lot of problems including pododermatitis, and interdigital cysts or furunculosis, which are painful cysts between their toes.
Because French Bulldogs frequently suffer from skin allergies, this often manifests as recurrent and painful ear infections called “otitis externa”. They also have smaller ear canals than other breeds of dogs, making inflammation and infection more problematic.
French Bulldogs are prone to dental problems because they have very short jaws but the same number of teeth as any other dog breed. All those teeth become overcrowded which can cause discomfort, retained deciduous teeth, periodontitis, anddental disease.
Because of their brachycephalic nature, a French Bulldog’s eyes are incredibly exposed and vulnerable and they can develop conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers.
One of the reasons they develop ulcers is because they often develop entropion, a painful condition where the eyelid rolls inward and the fur irritates the eye.
Their flat faces also make them prone to cherry eye which often requires surgery to correct.
French Bulldogs are often born with malformed spines, and brain and spinal cord disorders are common in the breed.
Intervertebral disk herniation (IVDH) and intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) are extremely common in French Bulldogs. This can result in slipped, ruptured, or bulging discs in their spine, often in their necks and upper backs.
Problems like IVDD can be costly to fix because they require MRI scans to diagnose and surgery to treat it. But without treatment, dogs will be in pain and struggle to walk or become unable to walk altogether.
Many small breeds, including the French Bulldog, are predisposed to luxating patella which means their kneecaps dislocate or move out of place.
Mild cases may not require treatment, but severe cases will require surgery to correct the joint, prevent osteoarthritis, and allow the dog to move freely and without pain.
Frequently Asked questions
Are French Bulldogs good with kids?
French Bulldogs can make good family pets because they’re gentle, playful, and adaptable. That means they usually get along well with older children as long as your dog is well socialised and your children are taught how to interact safely with dogs.
However, due to the French Bulldogs’ fragile backs, they could become seriously hurt by any rough play or a tumble off the sofa.
It’s also important to consider the health of this breed, as they aren’t long-living dogs and cases of ill health can be distressful and disruptive to family life.
Do French Bulldogs shed?
Yes, French Bulldogs shed. They only have a single coat of fur so they don’t shed a lot, but they lose hair throughout the year so you can always expect to find a few strands of fur on your clothes and furniture.
Are French Bulldogs easy to train?
French bulldogs aren’t the easiest breed to train because they can have a stubborn streak, but they aren’t difficult to train either. A firm and consistent approach is key, along with plenty of positive reinforcement. Treats can help aid training too, as many Frenchies are food motivated.
When are French Bulldogs fully grown?
Most French Bulldogs reach their adult height by the time they’re 9 months old, but they often won’t reach their adult weight until they’re 12 months old.
Fully grown French Bulldogs reach 28 to 33cm tall and typically weigh 9 to 13kg, and male Frenchies tend to be taller and heavier than females.
When do French Bulldogs’ ears stand up?
French Bulldogs are born with floppy ears which eventually stand up when they’re 2-4 months old. A puppy’s ears often stand up when they start teething.
Can French Bulldogs swim?
Because of their top-heavy shape with big heads and deep chests but short legs, French Bulldogs aren’t strong swimmers. You should never let your French Bulldog swim unsupervised and they might need a life jacket to help them to stay afloat.
French Bulldog vs Boston Terrier
Both breeds have big ears, large eyes, and flat faces. However, French Bulldogs are stockier, with broader heads and rounded “bat” ears. Meanwhile, Boston Terriers have longer, thinner legs, pointed ears, and bulging “bug eyes”.