When thinking about getting a French Bulldog, it’s easy to mistake them with other Bulldog sub-breeds. After all, they are all bulldogs, right?
French Bulldogs are one of the more unique and fascinating dog breeds out there and there’s a reason why they are frequently the 4th – 6th most popular dog breed in the world.
So, what do you need to know before getting a French Bulldog puppy? Here are a quick overview and the 9 most important factors to keep in mind.
What are the key characteristics that make French Bulldogs special?
French Bulldogs share a lot of characteristics with their larger English Bulldog cousins. If you know a bit about English Bulldogs or other bulldog sub-breeds, you already know a lot about the Frenchie:
- Frenchies are not a hyperactive breed but they are very affectionate and playful
- French Bulldogs have some possible health concerns you’ll need to watch out for, particularly ones revolving around their short noses.
- Like all other bulldogs, Frenchies are great with kids!
- Frenchies can’t swim! Their short legs and front-heavy bodies make them the worst swimmers in the canine world!
But Frenchies have a few distinct differences with their larger bulldog brethren as well:
- Frenchies are smaller – if you don’t want an overly large or even mid-sized dog, French Bulldogs are perfect for you. They grow up to 11 or 13 inches on average (28 to 33 cm) and they rarely weigh more than 8 pounds (13 kg).
- They are more active than the average bulldog breed – while they’re still not “hyperactive” by any stretch of the imagination, Frenchies are definitely more active and playful than their larger and heavier English Bulldog counterparts.
- They have adorably large bat-like ears – this is the signature trait of Frenchies, their hilarious ears. Funny enough, these ears were almost bred out of the breed a while back when many European breeders wanted to turn the Frenchies into a smaller version of the English Bulldog and mimic the English Bulldog’s ears. Fortunately, many American breeders insisted on continuing to breed Frenchies with their breed-defining bat-like ears.
- Longer lifespan. While, as a larger breed, English Bulldogs live up to 8 to 10 years on average, Frenchies live a bit more. On average, a French Bulldog can live up to 10 or 12 years. And, with good care and a bit of luck, they can live more than that too!
As you can see, French Bulldogs are not just miniature versions of their larger English Bulldogs predecessors.
So, what exactly do you need to know before getting a French Bulldog puppy? Here are the 9 most important points:
1. Frenchies don’t need too much outdoor exercise
One of the biggest factors soon-to-be dog owners need to consider is how much exercise time they’re ready to provide their dogs with. Many breeds require lots of outdoor time – walking, running, playing, etc.
Others are fine with just going out to do their “business” and spending the remaining 23.5 hours a day at home.
So, which group do French Bulldogs belong to?
They fall right in the middle.
Frenchies are fairly active and playful dogs, they love to jump around, run, and play but they also don’t need all that to be happening outside. They are usually fine with two quick walks outside per day and spending the rest of their time at home.
This doesn’t mean that they are snoozers, of course – they have lots of energy to spend, they’re just fine doing that at home.
Side note: Frenchies can’t swim! Not only do Frenchies prefer to stay at home, but they also should never be allowed close to a swimming pool, river, lake, the sea, or even a full bath. It’s not a matter of French Bulldogs “being stupid” and unable to learn to swim – their front-ended bodies are literally incapable of swimming.
So, even during your brief outdoor walks, make sure that you avoid large bodies of water. And if you have a swimming pool in your backyard – getting a French Bulldog might be a bad idea.
2. French Bulldogs are excellent with kids
If you have young kids or you’re thinking of having kids soon, French Bulldogs are one of the best breeds for you. Just like their English Bulldog cousins, Frenchies have many characteristics that make them ideal for young parents:
- While not a “small” or a “pocket” dog breed, French Bulldogs are still relatively small so they pose little to no danger for your kids. While with a large dog you can be at least a little worried about an accident, with a Frenchie you can rest assured that even an accidental bump with the dog won’t cause any damage.
- Frenchies are incredibly affectionate dogs. They love to be cuddled, petted, picked up, tacked, and kissed, as long as they trust the person, child, or baby they’re with.
- French Bulldogs are very playful and active dogs which makes them great for young kids who also need frequent interactions and playtime. Simply put, if you have a Frenchie and a baby under the same roof, you can be sure that neither of them will be bored.
- Frenchies are downright adorable – their short snout and large bat-like years are traits most kids love with a passion!
- French Bulldogs have a short and easy to care for coat so your kid won’t be bothered by too many long doggie hairs flying in its nose and mouth every day.
- While playful, Frenchies don’t need too much outdoor time which frees them up to exert most of their energy with your kids at home.
3. This is a very communicative breed but Frenchies, fortunately, don’t bark too much
If you like “talking” with your pets, you’d love interacting with a French Bulldog.
This is one of those breeds that have a vast “language” of different sounds they can use – yips, yawns, gargles, whines, soft barks, louder barks, and others. And they are happy to use their vocabulary every day too!
It won’t be long after getting a French Bulldog that you and your dog will soon learn to “communicate” – Frenchies are smart enough to recognize plenty of words, sounds, and gestures from their owners and you’ll quickly discover the Frenchies’ corresponding “answers” as well.
What makes this breed even better is that unlike other “talkative” dog breeds”, French Bulldogs aren’t as fond of barking at strangers or outside noises.
The reason here is that French Bulldogs aren’t an inherently “guard dog” breed – Bulldogs were used for bull-baiting, not for herding or guarding. So, they are not as jumpy as other breeds and they don’t need to investigate or alert you for every single noise outside of your door.
Frenchies will still alert you whenever they perceive danger, of course. As long as you’ve established a good connection with your dog, they’ll do everything to protect you – they just don’t have the instinct to bark at everything that moves.
This makes Frenchies a fantastic breed for condo and apartment dwellers as the Frenchie is unlikely to bother your neighbors or landlord.
4. The French bulldog is easy to groom
While not a strictly “hypoallergenic” breed, French Bulldogs are one of those breeds that are very easy to groom. There are multiple reasons for this:
- Frenchies have very short coats. So, even when they shed their coats, they don’t make too much of a mess.
- As French Bulldogs don’t need that much outdoor time, they get dirty less often. Not to mention that the little time they need to spend outdoors is usually spent just running on the clean pavement instead of rolling in the mud like certain other breeds like to do.
- Frenchies shed their coats seasonally or only twice per year. During these times you’ll have to spend a bit of extra effort to treat their coats and clean your home but the rest of the year should be much easier to get through.
- French Bulldogs require nothing more than occasional grooming. You can do this once or twice a month if you want to or once per week if you’ve taught your Frenchie to enjoy the grooming.
So, if you don’t want a ton of long dog hair sticking to everything in your home, French Bulldogs are a great option.
Still, keep in mind that Frenchies are not hypoallergenic. They’ll still irritate someone with dog allergies, they’ll just do so less often because they shed fewer dog hairs.
5. Like most highly intelligent dogs, this breed can be quite stubborn
Every wanna-be-dog owner thinks they want a “smart dog”. In fact, many dog owners love to compare their dog’s intelligence with each other in “my dog is smarter than yours!” kind of bets.
However, dog owners who’ve had to deal with truly intelligent dogs know that there is a toll that comes with all that intelligence.
If you have an intelligent dog breed such as a French Bulldog, you’ll have to make good use of that intelligence. You’ll need to:
- Play with your dog frequently to keep them mentally engaged.
- Come up with new games and new toys from time to time – intelligent dogs can still love their old toys and games but they need new ones. If you don’t give them new things to play with or do, they’ll find new items to chew on such as your furniture.
- Smart dogs need “jobs”. This doesn’t mean that you should train your Frenchie to herd sheep or hunt foxes of course. However, all bulldogs were initially used for bull-baiting which was a complex and physically-demanding job that required lots of quick thinking. If you want your Frenchie to be happy at home you’d do well to train him or her to perform certain tasks such as fetching you things, helping you pick up things off the floor, play with your kid, or anything similar.
- If you work out of the house and you have a Frenchie you absolutely have to give your dog extra attention before going out. Leaving a hyper-active and easily-bored dog alone for an extended period of time is a big No-No. So, you either have to play a lot with your dog right before going to work or you’d do well to get a bunch of interactive toys and puzzle dog feeders for your Frenchie to play with while you’re out.
Simply put, like all other intelligent dog breeds, French Bulldogs are prone to getting bored and even anxious or depressed when they don’t get enough mental stimulation. This is neither a negative nor a positive of the breed, it’s just something you should keep in mind when deciding whether a Frenchie is a right dog for you.
6. The French Bulldog has a fair number of possible health concerns to look out for
Unfortunately, as a flat-nosed or “Brachycephalic” dog breed, French Bulldogs have quite a few health issues you should keep in mind. This doesn’t mean that all Frenchies go through these problems nor that your French Bulldog will have either of them – many Frenchies are perfectly healthy throughout their life.
However, this does mean that you should keep these risks in mind in order to make sure that your French Bulldog doesn’t suffer from any of these issues. Or, that he or she gets through them quickly and easily.
So, don’t be intimidated by it, but here’s a list of the most probably French Bulldog health issues:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye)
- Cherry Eye
- Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome
- Stenotic Nares
- Tracheal Collapse
- Heat Stress
- Elongated Soft Palate
- Laryngeal Collapse
- Intervertebral Disc Disease
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- Patellar Luxation
- Von Willebrand’s Disease
- Cleft Palate
- Thyroid issues
What does this quite extensive list mean?
Simply put, it means that you’ll need to do several basic things:
- Feed your Frenchie well with quality and nutritious food
- Give your French Bulldog enough exercise – that’s easy, they don’t need that much physical activity
- Keep up your Frenchie’s hygiene – wash his or her coat when dirty and groom it from time to time. Cleaning your Frenchie’s eyes and ears when dirty is also a good idea.
- Check your Frenchie for visible health issues – pay extra attention to the face, teeth, eyes, and ears, as well as the dog’s genitals and anal area. Most possible problems will be insignificant if you catch them soon enough.
- Go to routine vet check-ups according to your vet’s instructions.
- Keep your French Bulldog away from hot or humid weather – as a brachycephalic (short-nosed) dog breed, French Bulldogs are prone to breeding problems. Also, be careful when flying with your dog or during periods of high stress.
And that’s about it. If you’ve bought your Frenchie from a responsible dog breeder, the dog should have little to no genetic predispositions and you should be given a health certificate as well. If you’ve adopted your Frenchie from a shelter or a rescue that might not be the case but you can still usually demand an extensive health check-up and guarantee before adopting the dog.
7. Frenchies are very playful and affectionate
One of the signature qualities of French Bulldogs that make them such a favorite of many households is their playfulness. Frenchies may not be the most energetic breed out there but every bit of energy they have, they want to spend with you.
This includes playing games, chasing each other around the house, snuggling and wrestling playfully, and so on.
When they’re not playing, Frenchies love to sleep in their owners’ laps or feet, they love to sleep in your bed every night, and they’ll literally hang from your arms like a cat while you’re trying to work on your home office desk.
Do French Bulldogs display all that affection to just one person?
That’s the best part – no they don’t!
Unlike most other “affectionate” dog breeds that focus their attention on just one family member and simply “get along” with the rest, Frenchies love everybody!
They’ll still listen to and love one member of the family more than the others, of course. Usually, that’d be the person spending the most time at home, the one who walks them out or feeds them, or the child they play the most with.
However, Frenchies will still love to sleep with, snuggle, and play with every member of the family every day as long as said family member has earned their trust.
8. This breed gets along very well with other dogs and pets after a bit of socialization
French Bulldogs aren’t known as “Dogs’ dogs” but they are still relatively good with other dogs and pets if you socialize them well.
What does this mean?
It means that you’d do well to make sure that your Frenchie spends enough time with other dogs and pets as soon as possible. This can be done easily enough in the dog park – instead of avoiding other pet owners, just allow your Frenchie to sniff a few butts.
Also, it’s a good idea to arrange the occasional pet date at home or at another pet owner’s home that’s looking to socialize their pet. Doing this will ensure that your Frenchie doesn’t fear other dogs and animals.
So, once you’re ready to finally get a second dog, a cat, or another pet – your French Bulldog won’t be caught off guard. Instead, he or she will be happy with the new company!
9. Frenchies can be great for single-pet households but need lots of attention and affection
While Frenchies can fare great with other dogs and pets, they are also one of the best breeds for single-pet homes. While many other breeds need a second dog with them to feel comfortable and happy, a Frenchie can be perfectly fine as the only furry four-legger at home.
However, this doesn’t mean that French Bulldogs are a breed you can just leave alone for 12 hours a day, 6 days per week. No, Frenchies need lots of attention, it’s just fine if all that attention is coming from humans.
Don’t forget that French Bulldogs are a highly intelligent dog breed. This means that they need lots of mental stimulation and that includes personal affection, playtime, and snuggling.
Who are French Bulldogs “right” for?
So, with all that in mind, is the Frenchie the right breed for you and your family? A quick summary of everything above tells us that Frenchies are right for people who:
- Spend a lot of time at home or have family members who spend a lot of time at home.
- Are not too outside-oriented. Frenchies need a couple of quick walks per day but prefer to spend the rest of their time at home with you.
- Love snuggling and sleeping with their dog. French Bulldogs love every type of affection and leaving them outside of the bedroom for eight hours a night can be depressing for them.
- Want to interact with their dog. Frenchies are both a talkative and a highly intelligent breed so they need communication, interaction, and mental stimulation.
- Know how to take care of a dog. French Bulldogs are predisposed to a few health issues so you need to know how to take care of your dog.
How to prepare for getting a French Bulldog?
The first and foremost thing new dog owners need to learn before getting a Frenchie is what the breed’s health issues are. If you’ve never had a Brachycephalic dog breed in your home, you should research it more in-depth. Those adorable flat noses need a bit of care and protection if your dog is to stay healthy.
Aside from that, the Frenchies are a relatively light-maintenance breed so you don’t need to do too much “prepping”. Just make sure to get a few toys for smart dogs such as puzzle feeders or other puzzle-type toys.