French Bulldog

Melissa Boldan, DVM
Written by:
Published: September 30, 2022
French Bulldog

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French Bulldogs, or “Frenchies,” are easy-going, happy little dogs that make loving companions. Their good-natured temperament, bright personality, and compact size have made them become one of the most popular dog breeds in America. Originally from France, the breed derived from English Toy Bulldogs that came to Paris with English lacemakers.

Caring for a French Bulldog

French Bulldog Characteristics

French Bulldogs are compact, small dogs with a short muzzle; a wide, flat face; and large, bat-like ears. They typically have a broad, heavily muscled chest and petite body. This distinctive appearance makes Frenchies susceptible to several health-related conditions.

The flatness of their face makes them less tolerant to high heat and humidity, so care should be taken to prevent a Frenchie from overheating. Additionally, their face has many skin folds that should be wiped regularly. Finally, they cannot swim well because of the uneven distribution of their muscle mass and, therefore, should never be left unattended near a body of water.

French Bulldog Health Issues

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Like other flat-faced dogs, including Pugs and Pekingese, French Bulldogs are vulnerable to a condition called brachycephalic airway syndrome. This syndrome is a combination of abnormalities that affect the respiratory tract, including narrow nasal openings; a long, soft palate in the mouth; and a narrow trachea (windpipe). These changes result in increased effort and noise when breathing.

Affected dogs may struggle to catch their breath when exercising, prefer to breathe out of their mouth than nose, and tire easily, especially when it’s hot. Because of these changes, it is important that you watch your French Bulldog closely when she’s exercising, to prevent overexertion. Avoid exposing your Frenchie to extreme heat, and avoid long walks or play sessions on extremely hot days.

Sensitive Skin

French Bulldogs also have very sensitive skin, making them more prone to allergies. Signs of allergies may include:

  • Licking or chewing the feet

  • Scratching

  • Head shaking or ear infections

  • Skin infections

  • Redness or bumps on the belly

  • Runny eyes, sneezing, reverse sneezing

Some allergies may be very mild and easily managed with a dermatologic diet, antihistamines, and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Other allergies may be more severe and cause skin or ear infections. Depending on how severe they are, managing your Frenchie’s allergies may require frequent visits to the vet for the duration of your dog’s life. Keep in mind, allergies in dogs can only be managed and not cured.

Ear Infections

Ear infections, including both yeast and bacterial infections, are another common ailment among French Bulldogs. Ear infections may be a sign of underlying allergies, or they may be caused by the shape of the ear canal.

Symptoms of an ear infection may include head shaking, scratching, pain, odor, and inflammation. If you suspect that your Frenchie has an ear infection, make an appointment with your veterinarian. They will likely swab the ear canal and look under the microscope to see what is causing the discomfort. Regular ear cleanings with pH-balanced ear cleaner specifically for canine ears can help reduce the frequency of ear problems.

Back Injuries

French Bulldogs are also prone to back injuries, especially if they are overweight and not getting enough exercise. Avoid letting your Frenchie jump from high surfaces and instead train them to use steps to climb onto high furniture or couches. Ensure their weight is managed and provide plenty of exercise to build muscle tone and protect the back and joints.

Birthing Issues

Finally, French Bulldogs are rarely able to give birth naturally due to the shape of their pelvis and size of their head. A C-section is generally required. If you are planning on breeding a French Bulldog, be sure to establish a good working relationship with your veterinarian. Emergency C-section procedures can be costly, so it’s important to consider this expense before breeding your French Bulldog.

What to Feed a French Bulldog

French Bulldog Special Nutritional Considerations

French Bulldogs should be fed a balanced life stage–appropriate dog food. Avoid overfeeding, as obesity increases their risk for back injuries and may aggravate any underlying airway issues.

How to Feed a French Bulldog

French Bulldogs should be fed 2-3 small meals a day. Be sure to feed a life stage–appropriate, complete diet. Puppy food is recommended until they are 1 year old. Adult food is recommended from ages 1 to 8 years old, and a senior diet is recommended after 8 years of age. Again, avoid overfeeding and switch to a calorie-restricted diet if your Frenchie is becoming overweight.

How Much Should You Feed a French Bulldog

The exact amount fed varies by the brand and nutrient profile of your dog food. Look on the back of the bag for guidelines of how many cups to feed per day based on a healthy weight and then divide that by 2-3 feedings. The average French Bulldog eats between 1.5-3 cups of food per day. Always consult with your veterinarian when changing your pet’s diet or if you have questions about their food intake.

Nutritional Tips for French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs may benefit from a quality omega-3 supplement that supports their skin and coat. Omega-3 essential fatty acids bolster the skin’s natural ability to resist overgrowth of bacteria and yeast. Additionally, essential fatty acids can reduce inflammation and support healthy joints.

Behavior & Training Tips for French Bulldogs

French Bulldog Personality and Temperament

French Bulldogs have fun-loving and outgoing personalities. They are bright and happy dogs that play well with others. They usually get along well with most people and pets. They have a moderate energy level and enjoy social walks.

French Bulldog Behavior

French Bulldogs are curious and enjoy games. They love to be the center of attention and are usually not found too far away from their families. While they can be territorial, proper socialization usually keeps this from being an issue, as their natural temperament tends to be more laid-back.

French Bulldog Training

French Bulldogs thrive in a training environment rich in positive reinforcement. They love games and do well when training is fun. Frenchies can be quite stubborn if training is presented in a manner that is not conducive to their fun-loving approach to life. While Frenchies may thoroughly enjoy obedience and light agility training, care should be taken to ensure they do not overheat or exhaust themselves.

Fun Activities for French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs may enjoy short walks, obedience training, agility, fetch, tug-o-war, and hide-and-seek games. 

French Bulldog Grooming Guide

  • French Bulldogs have a short coat and are average shedders.

  • Their skin folds should be kept clean and dry.

  • Frenchies’ coats only require occasional maintenance with weekly brushing.

  • Eyes should be wiped as needed to keep clear of any drainage and to avoid moisture accumulating in the skin fold between their eyes and nose.

  • Ears should be cleaned weekly with a canine ear cleanser.

French Bulldog FAQs

Is a French Bulldog a good family dog?

French Bulldogs make excellent family dogs. They typically get along well with children and other pets.

Are French Bulldogs smart dogs?

French Bulldogs are smart and playful dogs. They are generally easy to train if their training is rich in positive reinforcement.

What are the drawbacks of a French Bulldog?

French Bulldogs may be prone to airway issues, allergies, and problems with their back. Maintenance can be costly and require regular veterinary intervention. They are very sensitive to extreme heat, cold, and humidity. They are not good outdoor dogs and cannot swim.

How much does a French Bulldog cost? Why are they so expensive?

The cost of a French Bulldog varies by region, but the average price in the U.S. is between $1,500 and $3,000. They are expensive because they are good-natured, easy-going companions, and can happily adapt to a small apartment. Additionally, they are easy to train and have very few behavioral issues.

Are Frenchies high maintenance?

Frenchies can be high maintenance due to required regular cleaning of the skin folds and ears. If a Frenchie has allergies, they may also require additional medications and veterinary visits to keep their skin healthy and clear. Their physical requirements are significantly less than many other breeds, with 15-minute walks and/or play sessions being all that is needed twice daily to keep them fit.

Can French Bulldogs go on long walks?

French Bulldogs should not be taken for excessively long walks. Short walks are ideal to keep their mind and body fit without exhausting them. Frenchies are not resistant to extreme temperatures and should not be out in hot or cold weather for long periods of time. 

Featured Image: iStock.com/Tatyana Consaul


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