FRENCH BULLDOG 101
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Where does the French Bulldog come from?
Despite its name, this lovable breed does not originate in France, but in England. Its history can be traced back to a time when blood sports were commonplace in Britain. People bet huge amounts of money on the outcomes of matches between dogs and Bulls, or even dogs and Bears. Originally, the breed used for these contests was the now extinct Old English Bulldog. And, hard to believe, but true – this ferocious fighter is the ancestor of today’s Frenchie!
Since the dawn of recorded canine history, people have been busy trying to develop existing dog breeds into new breeds that would be better suited for their purposes. Same here: Back in the middle of the 19th Century in Nottingham, someone had the idea to create a breed of toy-sized Bulldogs, bred out of the Old English Bulldog. And even though we can only assume what these breeders’ goals were, they did succeed in creating the ultimate companion dog: a sweet-natured Bulldog, friendly to humans and small enough to be suited as companion dog. Due to their amusing looks and their delightful nature, these little dogs soon gained popularity in many English cities.
But how did this small English Bulldog from Nottingham end up being called “the French Bulldog”? Ultimately, we have a crisis in the lace making industry to thank for this name, because this is how the little Bulldog from Britain started its conquest of France: Back in the day, Nottingham was the centre of lace making, but, sadly, the Industrial Revolution threatened to extinguish this profitable trade. This caused many lace traders to relocate to France – along with their little British Bulldogs. Over the years, these dogs were crossed with French terriers and pugs.
So, we actually owe the unique appearance of today’s Frenchie to the French. In 1912, the name “French Bulldog” was officially established – and the rest is history: Today, the Frenchie is one of the most popular companion dogs on the planet.
In outer appearance, the French Bulldog can be easily recognised by its characteristic bat-like ears and its sturdy, compact little body. Frenchies have large, round eyes that are set in a flat, snub-nosed face. Their tail, even though uncropped, is naturally very short and thick.
Their short coat that comes in a wide variety of colours, such as black and white, brindle, brindle and white, fawn or tan. Frenchies can also come in blue or, very rarely, blue merle.
Adult French Bulldogs measure between 11 and 12 inches, and weigh between 20 and 28 pounds. That is between 28 and 31 cms in height and between 9 and 12 kilos in weight. As with any breed, the females are slightly smaller and lighter than the males.
What is their temperament like?
Frenchies are gifted with a very sweet, mild-mannered temperament. But at the same time, they are quirky and entertaining little dogs who seem to be born for clowning around. These innocent-looking Bulldogs can be quite mischievous, and rarely fail to make their owners laugh – and anyone else who happens to be around. And, speaking of other people around: Despite their small size, Frenchies have a big heart that can easily encompass their entire family, other pets included – and also their family’s entire circle of friends.
However, its immense love of humans, coupled with its quiet nature, makes the little Bulldog amazingly useless as a watchdog: If it was up to the Frenchie, everyone who wanted to could enter the home and help themselves to their owners’ possessions. Of course, with patient training, even the friendliest Frenchie can be motivated to sound an alarm if necessary.
All this makes Frenchies perfect canine companions for people living in apartments, and indeed, the breed is hugely popular among city-dwellers.
How intelligent and trainable are Frenchies?
As we just said, Frenchies can be trained to bark when appropriate, which brings us straight to the question just how intelligent and trainable these dogs are. Well, let’s just say that French Bulldogs are selectively intelligent and trainable. Which basically means that they are quite capable of learning new commands and perforingm medium-level obedience drills. IF they see fit, that is – so the challenge really lies in motivating your Frenchie to do what you want it to do.
Because of this stubborn streak that runs in the breed, you need to be creative in your training. Don’t expect your Frenchie to perform for you just because you give a command – it is not a German Shepherd, after all: Your French Bulldog will not feel the need to please you by doing your bidding. And it will most certainly not respond well to any kind of harsh correction.
BUT do not despair – the key word here is “positive reinforcement”. To make this work, find out what motivates your dog: Is it food? Play? Affection? Once you have established what kind of reward really gets your Frenchie going, teaching them manners and obedience becomes that much easier.
By the way, engaging them in obedience drills is great way to provide your little Bulldog with mental stimulation – because it tires them out more than plain physical exercise.
Are French Bulldogs healthy dogs?
Unfortunately, being a brachycephalic (which means short-headed) breed, French Bulldogs are not very healthy dogs. Because of this anatomic feature, many Frenchies suffer from reverse sneezing, shortness of breath and are prone to heat stroke.
Other health issues of French Bulldogs include allergies, skin and back problems and petellar luxations (which means the elbow joint temporarily slides out of place). Their large round eyes are prone to cherry eye. Other health problems running in the breed include deafness, hip dysplasia, elongated pallate and tracheal collapse. That said, Frenchies are still the healthiest among the bully breeds.
To maximize the chances for your puppy being as healthy as possible, you want to choose a French Bulldog breeder who tests their breeding stock for hip-, eye- and hearing conditions. You should ask your breeder to provide you with written documentation that your puppy’s parents have been cleared of all these health issues known to affect the breed. Also, feeding your dog a high-quality, grain-free diet can go a long way to keeping them as healthy as possible.
The average life span of the French Bulldog is between 10 and 14 years.
How much exercise does the French Bulldog need?
The French Bulldog does not require lots of exercise, which makes them a perfect fit for apartment dwellers – and for anyone fond of a sedentary lifestyle. But even though they don’t need long walks or extended runs off leash, Frenchies do enjoy low-key activities, like interactive playtimes or nice relaxed walks. To satisfy their love for entertainment and play, a few short walks and play sessions spread throughout the day are quite sufficient. As they are so friendly, Frenchies love to play with other dogs. However, being a snub-nosed breed, they sometimes have trouble breathing and overheat easily. Therefore, it is advisable to keep playtimes with other dogs relatively short – and to monitor your Frenchie so you can intervene, should it show signs of trouble.
A good way to keep your French Bulldog entertained is to provide it with a choice of different toys suited for smaller breeds. This especially comes in handy if you have to leave your dog alone in the house for a few hours. You could try out different smart toys which are specifically designed to keep canines occupied – for example treat-dispensing balls, Kongs or puzzle toys.
What are their grooming requirements?
In terms of grooming, Frenchies do not require much maintenance: Their short, tight coats hardly shed, and brushing them once a week is more than enough. The best tools for the little Bulldog’s very short coat are mitts and soft natural bristle brushes. Of course, as for every dog breed, spring and autumn are shedding season for the Frenchie. In these times, you might want to brush your dog at least once per day to keep its short hairs from getting onto your floors, on your furniture, and on your clothes.
To avoid skin infections, your Frenchie’s facial folds need daily cleaning. And the same applies to a certain little-known skin fold that is located between the dog’s stubby tail and its anus. Because of their large size, these dog’s ears need regular cleaning with a mild product.
However, if your Frenchie gets really dirty on a walk or during playtimes, you could gently spray it down in the shower or give it a bath. Because of its sensitive skin, you want to make sure to only use a mild dog shampoo for bathing your French Bulldog.
The wonderful French Bulldog is perhaps THE most adaptable, friendly, and charming among all the bully breeds. Highly adaptable, these lovable dogs are equally happy to bond with one single person, or with a huge family. They are perfect apartment dogs and never fail to enrich their owners’ life with their clowning around. And even though words are not enough to adequately describe these dogs’ endearing character, we can say that Frenchies are awesome companions who are a joy to live with.