It’s impossible not to fall in love with a French Bulldog on sight, thanks to their distinctive bat-like ears, gorgeous smooshed faces (complete with wrinkles!) and large round eyes. Once you get to know them, you’ll love them even more. These pups are happiest hanging out with you, whether that’s a gentle neighbourhood stroll or an afternoon on the couch.
If you’ve got energy to spare and want a dog that’s going to come on long runs and bush hikes with you, a Frenchie isn’t going to be your ideal canine companion. But for everyone else, these friendly, devoted dogs with a strong independent streak are completely loveable. (Although make sure you invest plenty of time in training, grooming and getting up to speed on their health issues.)
Bred to be companion dogs, French Bulldogs are pocket-sized, growing to between 28 and 33cm tall. They’re solidly built though, with broad chests and squat, muscular bodies that show off their bulldog heritage. It’s really their bat-like ears that’ll get you talking though plus their playful nature.
French Bulldogs are so distinctive, thanks to their bat-like ears that proudly stand to attention on top of their head. Other tell-tale signs you’re looking at a Frenchie are the smooshed face, wrinkles, tiny flat nose and big round eyes. Their bodies are strong, compact and muscular (they’re bulldogs, after all) with short legs. While their large square heads can look big in comparison to the rest of their body.
Their low-maintenance coat is short and smooth and comes in four colours, including brindle, cream, fawn and white.
Don’t be fooled by their adorable butter-wouldn’t-melt appearance and small size, French Bulldogs are strong-willed dogs! The spirit of a tough fighter is inside that compact body which is surprisingly muscular. Although they’re not known as biters, early socialisation and training is key to a welcoming, friendly Frenchie.
That urge to be top dog and their independent attitude aside, French Bulldogs are playful, funny, bright and adaptable. They’re also absolute sweethearts who are typically super affectionate to their favourite humans. This includes children and other dogs but it’s important introductions are handled properly and you supervise them at all times. It can take them time to warm up to a new person but early socialisation helps them learn to become more accepting of newbies.
Frenchies tend to bond so deeply to their families that they can get quite anxious when left alone for too long. If you’re going to work outside the home, your Frenchie will need some company, whether that’s doggy daycare or a dog walker.
Quiet, they don’t tend to bark much, making them ideal for city dwellers or anyone with nearby neighbours. They adapt well to all kinds of living situations, from solo pet parents to couples or families, and as the only dog or one of two (or more). Exercising a French Bulldog is easy, they’re happy with gentle, short walks (and happiest when cuddled on the couch with you).
With all this good stuff, no wonder the French Bulldog is one of the world’s most popular small dogs!
To keep your French Bulldog safe, never leave them unattended near a bath, pool or water - they can’t swim because of their broad chests. Their flat face makes them prone to breathing problems and they don’t cope well with heat or humidity. Other health issues they can experience are eye conditions and skin allergies.
As well as distinctive ears, French Bulldogs have distinctive sounds - those snorting, snuffling, snoring ones. Depending on how loud they are, you can find this ridiculously adorable or borderline annoying, especially when you’re trying to sleep! Whatever your noise tolerance, unfortunately it’s not a harmless noise - it’s caused by their physical appearance. Their flat face means their nostrils, airways and palettes are too small. This can lead to them struggling to breathe when they exercise. It can be managed by keeping your Frenchie at a healthy weight. If it’s more severe, they might need surgery.
Like a lot of dogs, French Bulldogs are prone to developing cataracts, which is clouding of the lens. It can cause blindness although surgery can help. They’re also at risk of cherry eye. This causes the third eyelid to slip out of place and swell until it looks a bit like a cherry. Cherry eye needs to be fixed with surgery.
Their wrinkly faces are incredibly sweet, but wrinkles are a breeding ground for bacteria, especially when food and moisture can get trapped in them. Bacteria can lead to skin issues and infections - irritated or swollen skin is a tell-tale sign of infection. Take them to the vet for some antibiotics or cream. Daily cleaning of their face folds can help keep their skin healthy.
It’s not known why but a lot of French Bulldogs can suffer from allergies - anything from pollen to dust, mould or food can set them off. Your first clue might be skin itchiness or a dry nose. There are a range of treatments your vet can prescribe. This includes changes to their diet or using medication.
French Bulldogs can develop some spine and orthopedic issues, including intervertebral disc disease (IDD), hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. A disease of the spinal cord, IDD can be treated with pain meds or surgery. Hip dysplasia prevents the hip joint from fitting properly which weight management or surgery can treat. Patellar luxation causes the knee to slip out of its groove and again can be treated with weight management or surgery.
Frenchies’ bat-like ears feature narrow ear canals, which puts them at risk of painful ear infections. Proper and safe cleaning of their ears can help keep them healthy and infection-free - ask your vet to show you how to do this. It helps to have a pack of ear wipes on hand too.
With their small, smooshed faces, French Bulldogs can develop an underbite (their teeth don’t fit together properly). This can be uncomfortable for your pup and lead to dental and gum problems and difficulties chewing. There are lots of treatment options, including removing teeth or even doggy braces.
With their short, smooth coats that don’t need much maintenance, caring for your Frenchie Bulldog is more about training and establishing those ground rules for a healthy, happy life.
Brushing your Frenchie once a week with a brush or grooming tool is enough to keep their coat looking its best. Brushing removes dead hair and spreads oil throughout their coat. Bonus, it reduces the amount of loose hair floating around your home (although French Bulldogs are minimal shedders). Bath time can happen monthly, or more often if they get really dirty. When their paws and nails are soft is a good time to clip those nails too.
Remember those adorable face wrinkles? You’ll need to clean those daily and ensure they’re properly dry to avoid any smelly bacteria building up. Eyes should be wiped once or twice daily and ears weekly. Oh and focus on the other end too - they might need your help occasionally to keep their bum clean.
Other daily tasks include teeth brushing. The sooner you start, the easier it’ll be.
Although French Bulldogs will get all their nutritional needs from high quality dog food suited to their life stage (puppy, adult or senior), they are at risk of obesity. Because of their flat faces and breathing issues, it can be difficult for your Frenchie to exercise which in turn can make it hard for them to lose weight.
So, keep an eye on their calorie intake (you might need to get the measuring cups out), weight and how much exercise they’re getting. Your vet can help you tailor the right diet and exercise regime for your Frenchie. Treats should be given only occasionally and they’re better off with dog food than with the leftovers from your plate.
French Bulldogs were bred to be companion dogs and they love nothing more than snuggling up with you - their energy levels and exercise needs are low. But exercise is still important, especially for their mental health. A short but brisk walk around the neighbourhood or outdoor play session every day should be enough to keep them healthy and mentally stimulated.
Be careful of when you exercise them though. They’re a flat-faced breed and prone to breathing problems so they shouldn’t exercise when it’s hot or humid.
If there’s one thing to know about French Bulldogs it’s that they need proper training and socialisation from a young age. Getting them used to a wide range of people, places, dogs and situations will really help them become well-adjusted, friendly adults. Although they can be stubborn and headstrong, they’re intelligent and want to please you so training them can be fairly easy - especially because they love treats and positive attention from you!
It’s important to socialise your Frenchie puppy with lots of different dog breeds. With their bulldog tendencies, they can get overstimulated and even aggressive around other dogs which can cause problems.