With a playful spirit, love of entertaining, and tendency to snort, French Bulldogs have earned the nickname “clown dogs.” Their distinctive bat-like ears are pretty amusing, too!
Of course, our Frenchie friends also have a reputation for being a high-class breed. You may recognize some French Bulldog parents, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga, and Martha Stewart.
Historically, the French Bulldog was so elite that one pooch named Gamin de Pycombe was one of only 13 dogs aboard the Titanic. So what are French Bulldogs really like? Want to learn some facts about Frenchies? Keep reading!
About the Breed
Classified as a companion dog, the French Bulldog is an incredible family dog and one of the top 10 breeds in the United States. These pups are sweet and friendly people pleasers who adore cuddling, enjoy following you from room to room, and love being the center of attention, especially when they have an audience.
Fully grown, the average, healthy weight for a French Bulldog is 16-28 pounds, and they stand approximately 12 inches tall at the shoulder. The average French Bulldog lifespan is 11-14 years, but life expectancy can be affected by many factors.
French Bulldog History
Ironically, the French Bulldog breed originated in Jolly Old England. These pups are cousins to the English Bulldog, which descended from the Bullenbeisser sport dogs, a subfamily of the ancient Greek Molossian breed that was originally used for bull-baiting.
When blood sports were outlawed in England in 1835, English Bulldogs emerged as companion dogs and were bred with terriers and Pugs to reduce their size. The toy size became very popular among the lace workers in Nottingham because these docile and loyal pooches would warm the workers’ laps by day and rid the workshops of rats by night.
The Industrial Revolution mechanized laceworks in England, and many of these skilled workers immigrated to France, taking their pups with them. The curious toy-sized, bat-eared bulldogs were an instant hit with the French bohemians. Soon writers, artists, fashion designers, and working girls all over Paris were requesting the lovable pups.
The English breeders couldn’t believe their luck—they’d always considered the breed’s ears a flaw. So, they happily began sending over all of the bat-eared bulldogs, whom the French began calling Bouledogue Francais, as in boule for “ball” and dogue for “mastiff” or “molosser.” Before long, the high-society ladies fell in love with the pups, too, and the French Bulldog became a status symbol.
The breed first appeared in the United States in the late 19th century. They were very well received, earning the nickname “Frenchie,” as well as the affection of notable pet parents like the Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan families.
Aside from their size and bat-like ears, what makes French Bulldogs unique? Plenty! In addition to the elongated ears, other key differences from the English Bulldog include more alert facial expressions, rounder eyes, and a wider range of motion.
French Bulldogs keep a low center of gravity with their compact, muscular build and large, square head, and they walk with a recognizable bow-legged gait.
A brachycephalic, or “flat-faced” breed, these pooches have those adorable smooshy faces that are just perfect for smooching. Their skin is loose and soft, forming wrinkles at the head and shoulders.
Frenchies have a short, smooth coat that comes in a variety of colors. Most commonly, their coat color comes in shades of brindle, fawn, or tan. They can also be white with brindle patches, an effect known as “pied.”
Although you may have seen these pups in movies or on the social media feed of your favorite celebrities, you may still be wondering, what is the temperament of a French Bulldog?
French Bulldogs are easygoing, fun-loving additions to any family. True companion dogs, they thrive on human contact. They are patient with children, friendly with strangers, and loyal to their pet parents—sometimes to the point of being overly protective.
Since they can be territorial, remember that socialization at a young age is a good idea. These social butterflies also enjoy the company of other canine companions.
Despite yearning for affection, Frenchies make excellent watchdogs because they hardly ever bark without reason. This trait also makes them a good fit for apartment dwellers who might worry about their pooch disturbing the neighbors.
Grooming and Care
With a short, fine coat, your Frenchie’s grooming needs will be fairly easy to maintain. You’ll want to brush your pal weekly with a rubber hound glove or soft bristle brush. During the fall and spring shedding seasons, you can remove any excess hair with a stripping comb.
French Bulldogs need a bath about once a month. Just make sure you use a high-quality doggie shampoo, and follow these tips for bathing wrinkly dogs. It’s very important that you keep your pup’s wrinkles clean and always check for scabs or lesions that could lead to infections. Make sure to clean their ears regularly with a damp cloth and keep up with nail trimming, too.
Special Care Tips
Frenchies are fairly low energy and don’t need a lot of exercise. However, make sure your pooch is still getting a couple of 15-minute walks a day and some low-key playtime. They don’t need a lot of room; just a ball and a little open space will do.
Be that as it may, it’s very important to know the signs of heat exhaustion in your dog. Due to your pal’s bulky shape, naturally compacted airway, and thin coat, they have a tough time regulating their body temperature and are thus susceptible to overheating.
If you live in a hot climate, your Frenchie will be safer if you have air conditioning in your home. Limit walk times to early mornings and late evenings when the temperatures are more comfortable. Also, always make sure your pup has access to shade and water if they are outside. Similarly, in cold weather, dress your canine companion in an extra layer to be safe.
If you’re planning a trip, be aware that some commercial airlines do not allow French Bulldogs to travel. Due to the low temperatures in the cargo space, it can be dangerous to your Frenchie’s health if they were to fly. Additionally, French Bulldogs are not good swimmers, so if you own a swimming pool, make sure your pup does not have access.
Training French Bulldogs
French Bulldogs are relatively intelligent little pooches, so training can be a positive experience for both of you, especially if you incorporate lots of food, praise, and play. Make training feel like a game, and remember that Frenchies are people pleasers by nature. They are sensitive and respond far better to rewards than criticism.
French Bulldogs are free thinkers, which can lead to stubbornness. This also means that they are not the best-suited breed for obedience and agility competitions. But with patience and consistency, housetraining and a few tricks should be easy enough to accomplish.