The Frenchie is derived from Britain’s native bulldog, which was much bigger and used for bull baiting! Now when this was banned in the 1830s, instead of disappearing, the Bulldog was kept for it’s companionship. But over the years they changed from a dog that was able to grapple with a Bull to the compact, squashed face companion we are so familiar with today. The fighting nature of the original bulldog was slowly bred out and replaced with an overall personality rooted in a love for human companionship. For an unknown reason, they were extremely popular with the female lacemakers, whilst we’re not sure of the reason why, who could blame them??
Whilst they have become one of the most popular breeds of dog due to their affection for their human family members, it is important to remember that all dog breed have evolved from wolves. Now, it is easy to forget this as the Frenchie is a world away from a wolf but it is key to remember that a wolf’s survival was heavily dependent on a prey drive for survival! So whilst a French Bulldog was bred and cultivated to become the perfect human companion, their ancestral traits can always remain! It’s a classic argument of nature over nurture, all dogs can potentially revert back to basic instincts. But in this video, we’re focused on how high that chance is in a Frenchie when it comes to their prey drive!
The Frenchie is a companion dog through and through. This little dog much prefers the company of people to being isolated. They are extremely affectionate towards their family, wanting to be a part of everything you’re doing. Their affection is arguably what has made them one of the most popular breeds today but it’s worth noting that they may become possessive or protective of their owners. This can sometimes translate into some aggression or need to dominant any other pets at home. Which isn’t technically a prey drive, but it is worth noting should you want to introduce them into a home that already has a cat or another small dog. As a couple, you can tackle the possessive nature by training in equal parts and spending as much time with your Frenchie as your partner. But it is up to you whether you want to try and dampen their protective instincts! When training these little dogs, be prepared to come across an intelligent pet with a stubborn and mischievous side. Due to this, you may need to remind them on occasion where they are in your family ‘pack’ but consistent training should reduce the need for that.
Their stubbornness can hinder their training, and test your patience. However, for their owner, they will be eager to please. It’s always best to discover if your dog is more food or praise orientated early on so they associate training with a reward they want from a young age. A firm hand is what is going to be needed to train your Frenchie but harsh correction is unlikely to produce a well trained dog. French Bulldogs respond best to positive reinforcement! Recall on a stubborn dog can be a task that may take you months or even years to master. It is worth the effort though. Until this is set in stone, I’d be reluctant to let a Frenchie truly off-lead. Instead, whilst you don’t have 100% confidence in your dogs’ recall, a long line, simply a lead that can be 5-10ft, will be your safety net. Recall is the best tool to prevent them from tearing off after a squirrel or rabbit in a lapse back into hunting mode. Whilst not all Frenchie’s will display this prey drive, it’s always best to be prepared and have those preventative measures in play!
As a puppy, once they’re cleared to meet and greet other people and other dogs, it is so so important to socialise them correctly. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean meeting as many dogs and as many people as possible! It’s more that they need to explore the world around them in a positive way to ensure you have a well-rounded dog that’s less likely to be reactive. Taking this mischievous little dog into places like cafes and dog parks and teaching them from a young age not to beg or not to charge over to every dog they see is crucial to a happy life with them. Whilst they aren’t the most intimidating breed to look at, their stuck up ears and alert eyes can come across as confrontational body language to another dog. The last thing you want is for them to think is that bounding over to all the other dogs that they see as good manners. It will get them into trouble should they approach a nervous or reactive dog. Giving them the correct socialisation, letting them know that smaller dogs ect aren’t something to chase, will also help to dampen that need to chase ‘prey’. Again, this won’t always be an issue with French Bulldogs but it is always best to teach them to respect all breeds of dogs no matter the size!
Let’s recap what we’ve gone through today.
Whilst the Frenchie has been cultivated over the years to be a loyal companion dog, their origins and ancestry can make it possible for them to have some level of prey drive. It isn’t typically something that is seen in Frenchie’s but it is always best to keep in mind that all dog breeds have the capacity to display this behaviour. Being aware of their history and temperament means you can alter their training to hopefully help to control that drive should they start presenting that behaviour.