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French Bulldog

 Photo of French Bulldog
Photo: courtesy of Carole Maychell

French Bulldog Books

Group: Utility - Breed Standard


While theories abound about the the exact origin of the French Bulldog, the most prevalent opinion is that around the mid 1800's Normandy lace workers from England took smaller bulldogs with them when they sought work in France. In the farming communities north of France that the lace workers settled in, the little Bulldogs became very popular as ratters and loyal family companions and their population began to swell. These little bulldogs were in fact "culls" of the established Bulldog Breeders in England, who were generally more than happy to sell these undersized examples of their breed to fanciers of the "new" breed in England. This was especially true of the "tulip" eared puppies that cropped up at times in Bulldog litters.

As the new, smaller Bulldogs gained popularity in France, they became favorites of the Parisian "Belles De Nuit" - the street walkers. Breed historians can still sometimes turn up notorious "French Postcards" bearing images of scantily clad French prostitutes posing with their little "Bouledogues Francais." The aura of notoriety that ownership of the little dogs conveyed made them a fashionable way for the well to do classes to show off how daring they could be, and they soon became favorites of the "artistic" set across Europe.

Photos dating to around this time show photos of the Russian Royal family posing along side their French Bulldogs, and they imported several of the little dogs from France. Other famous fanciers included Toulouse-Lautrec, the author Colette and King Edward VII.


Ideal weight: dogs: 12.5 kgs (28 lbs); bitches: 11 kgs (24 lbs).

French Bulldogs are a compact, muscular dog with a smooth coat, snub nose and solid bone. Their physical appearance is characterized by naturally occurring 'bat ears' that are wide at the base and rounded at the top. Their tails are naturally short, not docked.


The French Bulldog is a gentle breed that typically has a happy-go-lucky attitude. Like many other companion dog breeds they require close contact with humans. They have fairly minimal exercise needs, but do require at least regular daily walks. Sedentary Frenchies can tend to become obese. Their calm nature makes them excellent choices for apartment dwellers, as does their usually sensible attitude towards barking. As flat faced breed, it is essential that owners understand that French Bulldogs cannot live outdoors. French Bulldogs can play too roughly for some smaller children, and should be monitored at all times during play. As well, children should be cautioned not to pick French Bulldogs up, as their size can mask how truly heavy they actually are. In general, Frenchies are aimiable, good natured, playful dogs, and make excellent companions for families, single persons and the elderly.

Breed Health

There are several congenital diseases and conditions that French Bulldogs are prone to, although they are still considered among the healthiest of the Bull Breeds. Frenchies can suffer from Von Willebrand's disease (VWD), a bleeding syndrome similar to Hemophilia in humans which can impede their clotting. In conjunction to this, French Bulldogs may also suffer from thyroid condition. Many breeders follow a program of testing younger dogs for VWD, and only testing for thyroid at that time if the VWD factor is low. In this program, the breeder tests thyroid again just prior to using the dog for breeding. Other breeders test both VWD and Thyroid at the same time.

French Bulldogs suffer from Brachycephalic syndrome, which is what creates the charming flat faced appearance of the Frenchie. As a result, one of the most common defects in French Bulldogs is elongated soft palate or cleft palate. Puppies affected with Cleft palate are generally put down at birth, as it is generally considered to be an almost impossible condition to correct. Elongated soft palate can manifest as anything from a mild condition causing labored breathing to severe condition that can cause the affected dog to pass out from moderate exercise.

French Bulldogs can also suffer from a condition called megaesophagus, a term which collectively describes several esophageal disorders and malformations in any combination from single-to-double or multiple. One of the most disgusting possibilities in a dog affected with megaesophagus is passive regurgitation, in which the affected dog vomits up food or phlegm after eating or exercise. A frequent and sometimes lethal complication of passive regurgitation is aspiration pneumonia.

Another result of the compacted air way of the French Bulldog is their inability to effectively regulate temperature. While a regular canine may suffer to some degree from the heat, to a Frenchie it may be lethal. It is imperative that they be protected from temperature extremes at all times, and that they always have access to fresh water and shade.

French Bulldogs can also suffer from an assortment of back and spinal diseases, most of which are probably related to the fact that they were selectively chosen from the dwarf examples of the Bulldog Breed. This condition is also referred to as chondrodysplasia. Some breeders feel that only dogs that have been X-rayed and checked for spinal anomalies should be bred from, but this is a difficult position to take sides on. While it is true that no dog affected with a spinal disease should be bred from , there is a great deal of variance in the appearance of a French Bulldog's spine as compared to, for example, a Labrador Retriever. If possible, such decisions should be left to either a Vet or breeder who has seen quite a few Bulldog Breed Spinal Xrays, to avoid eliminating dogs unnecessarily.

In North America, French bulldogs frequently require Caesarean section to give birth. As well, many North American French Bulldog stud dogs are incapable of naturally breeding, requiring breeders to undertake artificial insemination of bitches. French Bulldog bitches can also suffer from erratic or 'silent' heats.

Those considering the purchase of a French Bulldog would be well advised to ask what disorders breeders are testing for, and beware of any breeder who cavalierly states that "They don't have any of those problems in their lines." Reputable breeders are struggling to produce dogs that are as healthy as possible, and while these tests are expensive for the breeder to do, they can help to save the puppy purchaser hundreds or even thousands of dollars in potential vet bills.


Be cautious when excercising your Frenchie during hot or humid weather, as their bulk and their comprised breathing system makes it impossible for them to regulate their temperature efficiently


French Bulldogs can be stubborn, and early and consistent obedience training is highly recommended. Housebreaking can be problematic, and crate training is generally the only effecient method to ensure your carpeting isn't ruined for life. See our books on training

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Last link added: 07 Apr, 2008