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French Bulldog: The Ultimate Guide To The Frenchie Dog Breed - PawSafe

French Bulldog: The Ultimate Guide To The Frenchie Dog Breed

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

The French Bulldog

French Bulldogs, affectionately known as “Frenchies,” renowned for their compact size, distinctive bat ears, and playful personalities, these charming dogs have captivated the hearts of many, making them ideal companions for apartment living and loyal family pets. Whether you’re considering adopting a puppy, curious about the breed’s care, or simply a dog enthusiast, this guide will provide you with all the essential information.

In this article, we draw on insights from proud French Bulldog owners Sara and Ray Ruffin, who share their personal experiences with their beloved Frenchies, Ruka and Wilson. Their stories highlight the breed’s affectionate nature and even temperament, offering a glimpse into the daily joys and challenges of Frenchie ownership.

Additionally, we feature expert advice from Vincent Felder of Dogtown Bulldogs, a reputable breeder who offers puppies for sale. Vincent’s expertise will help potential owners understand what to look for in a healthy, well-bred French Bulldog and provide guidance on the best practices for care and training.

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These pups love being close to their humans, thriving on affection and company. Whether you’re living in a studio or a one-bedroom, a Frenchie can comfortably fit into your home and your heart.

Personality Plus

It’s all about the personality with these dogs! Described by their owners as “clown dogs,” French Bulldogs are sure to keep you laughing with their silly antics and playful behavior. Sara and Ray’s dogs, Ruka and Wilson, exemplify the breed’s fun-loving nature, with each having their own unique ways of bringing joy and giggles to everyday life. 

If you’re looking for a pet that’s affectionate and entertaining, a Frenchie might just be your perfect match.

But, It’s Not All Belly Rubs and Treats

Breathing 101: Brachycephalic Challenges

Before you fall head over heels for those adorable smooshed faces, it’s crucial to understand the health implications they can bring. French Bulldogs belong to the brachycephalic (flat-faced) family, which can lead to some serious breathing challenges. 

The Ruffins point out the importance of keeping these pups cool and calm, especially during the hotter months, to avoid respiratory distress.

Vet Visits and Your Wallet

Owning a Frenchie can also mean frequent trips to the vet. Due to their unique anatomy, they often face issues like allergies, skin conditions, and respiratory complications that can require ongoing care and sometimes, costly treatments. It’s something to think seriously about when considering a Frenchie as a new member of your family.

A lot of the Frenchie heath conditions also come from a lack of genetic diversity in the breed, finding an ethical breeder for this dog is vital. 

In short, French Bulldogs are undeniably charming and can make wonderful, loving pets in the right environment. But they do come with a set of needs and potential health issues that prospective owners need to be prepared for. If you’re up for the joys and challenges they bring, a French Bulldog could be a delightful addition to your life.

Pros and Cons of Having Frenchie

This table summarizes the key points that potential French Bulldog owners should consider, balancing the appealing traits with the important responsibilities and challenges associated with the breed.

Pros of Having a French BulldogCons of Having a French Bulldog
Compact Size – Ideal for apartment living and small spaces.Health Issues – Prone to breathing problems and other health concerns due to their brachycephalic nature.
Affectionate Nature – Extremely loving and forms strong bonds with family members.High Maintenance – Requires regular veterinary care and attention to manage health issues.
Low Exercise Needs – Does not require a lot of physical activity, suitable for less active owners.Heat Sensitivity – Can easily overheat due to respiratory issues, needs careful monitoring in warm climates.
Quiet – Generally not prone to excessive barking, which is great for living in close quarters with neighbors.Cost – Can be expensive to purchase and maintain due to health issues and their popularity.
Playful Personality – Known as “clown dogs” for their fun and amusing behavior.Stubbornness – Can be stubborn, which may challenge training efforts.

French Bulldog Temperament and Personality

pied French Bulldog puppy white with brown ear on pink background showing Frenchie personality

French Bulldogs are not just pets; they are full-fledged family members with personalities that can light up any room. According to Ray Ruffin, “The nickname for French Bulldogs is Clown Dog, and it definitely applies to our two.” This playful and humorous nature makes French Bulldogs beloved companions, always ready to bring a smile to your face. Sara adds, “Ruka definitely does a lot of tricks, likes to keep you happy. Wilson’s a little more spontaneous. He just finds random ways of doing things that make me laugh.”

A Deep Dive into Their Character

Studies have shown that French Bulldogs display high levels of calmness, with moderate trainability and a strong inclination towards sociability with other dogs. 

A research by Turcsán et al. highlights their personality traits, showing that Frenchies exhibit “high calmness, medium trainability, high dog sociability, medium boldness,” making them adaptable and amiable pets.

Loving and Loyal Companions

French Bulldogs are profoundly affectionate and loyal, often considered the most loving breed by their owners. They cherish physical affection, enjoying cuddles and playtime with their human families. 

“They are the most affectionate dogs I have ever encountered,” one owner expressed in a study, emphasizing the breed’s deep emotional connection with their owners. Sara Ruffin shares a similar sentiment, noting, “They love being held like babies and getting belly rubs.”

Humor and Playfulness

Their comical, clown-like nature is a standout trait that many French Bulldog owners love. These dogs are natural entertainers, often engaging in playful antics that are a source of constant amusement. 

“They are funny little clowns. I think they know they are funny,” mentioned an owner, highlighting how French Bulldogs intentionally engage in humorous behaviors to engage with their families.

Suitability for Families and Varied Lifestyles

French Bulldogs are well-suited for families, including those with children, and adapt well to various living situations due to their low exercise and space requirements. This makes them ideal for apartment living or homes with limited outdoor space. 

Their calm demeanor and playful nature make them excellent companions for children, often being gentle and protective. Research further supports this, noting that French Bulldogs are perceived as ideal for owners with less active lifestyles and smaller living spaces, making them versatile companions for a wide range of owners.

Frenchie Physical Characteristics

typical French Bulldog physical characteristics fawn adult laying next to Frenchie puppy

French Bulldogs are ideal for city living due to their compact and muscular build. As Sara Ruffin notes, “They don’t need a lot of space and are super drawn to people,” highlighting their suitability for smaller living environments like apartments. 

How Big Do Frenchies Get?

According to the AKC standard, these dogs should not exceed 28 pounds (about 12.7 kg), ensuring they remain manageable in size while being sturdy and well-proportioned.

Defining Traits in Appearance

The “bat ear” is a distinctive feature of the French Bulldog, characterized as broad at the base, elongated, with a rounded top, and set high but not too close together. This gives them an alert and curious expression. 

However, the short nose does make them prone to snoring.

“Their ears are definitely one of their defining features, always making them look ready for action,” Sara Ruffin explains. Their large, square head and slightly rounded forehead complement their short, well-defined muzzle and broad, deep-set jaws, contributing to their distinctive and expressive appearance.

Coat and Colors

The coat of a French Bulldog is smooth, brilliant, and moderately fine, requiring minimal grooming. Sara Ruffin appreciates this aspect, stating, “It’s great that they don’t need much grooming. Makes it easier for us.” 

The AKC recognizes a variety of colors and patterns, including all brindle, fawn, white, and brindle and white, while disqualifying colors like solid black, mouse, liver, black and tan, and black and white. 

For those interested in more unique shades, explore articles on rare French Bulldog colors such as white, lilac, and merle.

Caring for Your French Bulldog

Black and white pied French Bulldog on beach playing and exercise is key to caring for a Frenchie dog

So, let’s look at what you need to know about caring for a Frenchie.

Are Frenchies High Maintenance?

When it comes to grooming and daily care, French Bulldogs are relatively low maintenance, which is a relief for many pet owners. However, they do require careful attention in other areas, particularly their health.

Routine Care and Grooming

French Bulldogs don’t require frequent bathing or extensive brushing, which simplifies their upkeep. However, owners need to pay attention to specific areas to prevent health issues. 

Their tail pocket, for instance, should be cleaned regularly to avoid infections. Additionally, the wrinkles around their faces need to be kept clean to prevent skin fold dermatitis.

French Bulldogs may also need help expressing their anal glands, a common requirement for many small dog breeds that can prevent discomfort and potential medical issues. 

Regular nail clipping, about once a month, and routine ear cleaning are also essential to maintaining their overall health and preventing complications.

Veterinary Care: A Notable Consideration

While French Bulldogs are not high maintenance in terms of grooming and exercise, they can be when it comes to veterinary care. The Ruffins point out that while their dogs’ day-to-day care is straightforward, potential owners should be prepared for the likelihood of higher vet bills. 

“They are super lazy, which means they don’t need a lot of exercise, but you do have to keep an eye on their health,” says Ray. This breed is prone to several health issues, primarily due to their brachycephalic nature, which can lead to respiratory problems and other complications that might require regular veterinary visits.

Training Your French Bulldog

Owner playing tug with a French Bulldog how do you train a Frenchie

Training a French Bulldog can be a unique challenge due to their stubborn yet endearing personality. Ronnie Coblentz, a breeder from Woodland Frenchies, offers practical advice on training these charismatic dogs, emphasizing the need for consistency and creative engagement.

Consistency is Key

According to Ronnie, maintaining a consistent routine is vital when training a French Bulldog. He specifically recommends using innovative methods to simplify tasks like potty training. For instance, 

“We’ve introduced a bell on the door. When Stella needs to go out, she rings the bell. It’s a simple system, but it effectively communicates her needs, especially if we’re not immediately paying attention,” explains Ronnie. 

This bell training method not only aids in potty training but also helps in developing a communication channel between the dog and its owner.

Tailored Training Techniques

French Bulldogs may not pick up some commands as easily as other breeds due to their physical and personality traits. 

Ronnie shares his experience with his dog, Stella, “She had a hard time learning to lay down, which isn’t uncommon for Bulldogs. We observed her and rewarded her when she managed to do it on her own. It’s about adapting your training to fit their specific needs.” 

This personalized approach is crucial for effectively training French Bulldogs, who may require more patience and observation to learn new commands.

Incorporating Fun into Training

Ronnie believes that training should be enjoyable for both the dog and the owner. He suggests incorporating fun tricks that cater to the French Bulldog’s playful nature, “Stella learned how to skateboard, which was both fun for her and a unique way to keep her engaged with the training process.” 

By making training sessions entertaining, French Bulldogs are more likely to stay interested and respond positively.

Summary of Ronnie’s Training Tips For Frenchies

Ronnie Coblentz from Woodland Frenchies highlights several key aspects of training French Bulldogs:

  1. Use of a bell for potty training – A simple and effective method to help dogs communicate their needs.
  2. Observation and adaptation in training – Tailoring training techniques to accommodate the breed’s physical limitations and personality.
  3. Engagement through fun activities – Incorporating enjoyable and unique activities like skateboarding to keep training sessions lively.

Dietary Needs For Your French Bulldog

Caring for a French Bulldog involves understanding their unique dietary needs and ensuring you meet them with the right nutrition from puppyhood through to their senior years. Below, we’ll explore the essential nutritional guidelines for feeding your French Bulldog, with expert insights from Dr. Linda Case’s book on canine and feline nutrition, which can be found here.

Nutrition for Frenchie Puppies

From the moment you bring your French Bulldog puppy home, it’s crucial to choose a diet that supports their rapid growth and high energy needs. Fresh, minimally processed foods are generally preferable as they are less inflammatory and reduce the risk of allergies and diseases. However, these should be well-formulated to ensure they are balanced and meet all of your puppy’s nutritional needs, as outlined by AAFCO guidelines.

Macronutrient Requirements 

A balanced diet for a Frenchie  puppy should contain approximately:

  • Protein: 30%
  • Fat: 20%
  • Carbohydrates: 40%
  • Fiber: 4-5%

These macronutrients support their fast metabolism and help in their overall development and growth.

Feeding Schedule and Portion Control 

Given their propensity for hypoglycemia, Frenchie puppies may require multiple small meals throughout the day. It’s also important to maintain a healthy, lean weight to support their bone, joint, and cartilage development.

Transition to Adult Food

Most Frenchies will reach maturity between 10 and 12 months. As your French Bulldog transitions from puppy to adult, their nutritional needs will change. Adult French Bulldogs require less fat and fewer calories per pound than they did as puppies, but they still need nutrient-rich, energy-dense food.

Adult Macronutrient Profile 

For a healthy Frenchie  adult, the ideal macronutrient range is:

  • Protein: 20-25%
  • Fat: 10-20%
  • Carbohydrates: 50-55%
  • Fiber: 2-5%

Ongoing Health Considerations 

Continue to avoid artificial additives and look for food that includes antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C, and probiotics to support gut health. Quality animal proteins should remain a staple in their diet, and dietary diversity can help prevent allergies and ensure a range of nutrients.

Senior Nutritional Needs

As your French Bulldog enters their senior years, their dietary requirements will evolve once again. They may need fewer calories, especially if their activity levels decrease, but high-quality protein remains crucial to maintain muscle mass and support overall health.

Senior Macronutrient Profile 

For older dogs, the nutritional focus should include:

  • Protein: 30-40%
  • Fat: 10-20%
  • Carbohydrates: 30-50%
  • Fiber: about 4-5%

Special Considerations 

Ensure that their food contains lower levels of phosphorus and sodium if they have heart or kidney issues. Also, look for diets that include joint-supporting supplements like glucosamine and omega fatty acids to help manage arthritis and other age-related issues, including heart conditions.

Common French Bulldog Health Problems

Veterinarian examining a French Bulldog for health problems

French Bulldogs are adorable and loyal companions, but they come with a predisposition to certain health issues. The Ruffins have taken a proactive approach to managing their dogs’ health through careful diet and regular exercise, which can help mitigate some of these risks.

Cardiovascular Issues

Dr. Alex Gough highlights that French Bulldogs are particularly prone to cardiovascular (heart) problems such as pulmonic stenosis and ventricular septal defect. These conditions are significantly more common in French Bulldogs than in the general dog population.

Dermatological, Breathing, and Gastrointestinal Issues

Skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and demodicosis are also more prevalent among French Bulldogs. The breed’s compact facial structure contributes to brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), which not only affects their breathing but can also lead to gastrointestinal problems due to the strain it puts on their bodies.

Musculoskeletal and Neurological Concerns

French Bulldogs are at increased risk for issues like intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) and hemivertebrae, which can lead to severe pain and even paralysis. Their unique skeletal structure, while distinctive, predisposes them to these painful conditions, which often require surgical intervention.

Proactive Health Management

The Ruffins emphasize the importance of regular veterinary check-ups and a well-balanced diet to keep these issues at bay. “We make sure our dogs are not only active but also receive all the nutrients they need to support their overall health,” Sara Ruffin explains. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, reducing the strain on their joints and spine.

Lifespan – Expectations for Longevity

French Bulldogs typically enjoy a lifespan of around 10 to 12 years, depending on their health and care. The Ruffins are hopeful for a long and healthy life for their dogs, thanks to their diligent care regimen. “We’re doing everything we can to ensure Ruka and Wilson live the fullest, healthiest lives possible,” says Ray Ruffin.

Cost of French Bulldogs

merle Frenchie Bulldog puppy for sale are Frenchies expensive

French Bulldogs are among the more expensive dog breeds to purchase due to their popularity and breeding complexities.

Initial Purchase Price

The cost of French Bulldogs can vary significantly based on several factors such as pedigree, breeder reputation, color, and unique traits. Prices typically range from $3,000 to $70,000. 

For standard colors and regular traits, prices generally fall between $3,000 and $10,000, while exotic colors and rare features like fluffy fur can dramatically increase the price, sometimes exceeding $30,000.

Breeder and Lineage Influence on Price

Reputable breeders who focus on health, temperament, and adherence to breed standards often charge between $3,000 and $10,000. These breeders perform extensive health testing and are more likely to produce puppies that are less prone to genetic disorders.

  • Jolie French Bulldogs and McSham French Bulldogs are examples of show line breeders recommended by the French Bulldog Club of America, offering puppies within this price range.
  • Rockybound Frenchies and French Bulldogs LA showcase how varied pricing can be even within one breeder based on color and size, with some puppies priced as high as $30,000 for rarer traits.

Considerations for Exotic and Micro French Bulldogs

Micro or mini French Bulldogs, especially those with exotic colors or the ‘fluffy’ trait, command higher prices due to their rarity and the specialized breeding efforts required. These can range from $3,000 to over $50,000 depending on their specific characteristics.

Additional Costs Beyond Purchase

Beyond the initial cost, prospective owners should consider ongoing expenses such as:

  • Veterinary care: French Bulldogs are prone to health issues related to their brachycephalic nature, which can lead to significant medical bills. Regular check-ups and potential surgeries should be factored into the total cost of ownership.
  • Maintenance: This includes costs for high-quality food, grooming supplies, and possibly more frequent veterinary visits than other breeds.
  • Insurance: Given their potential health issues, pet insurance is highly recommended for French Bulldogs, which can add to the monthly expenses.

Ethical Considerations and Recommendations

While the allure of owning a French Bulldog can be strong, potential buyers should thoroughly research breeders and consider adopting from shelters or rescues as an alternativ-e-archive to purchasing from breeders. This not only potentially lowers the financial cost but also provides a home for a dog in need.

Bringing a Frenchie Home

Bringing a French Bulldog puppy home is an exciting time filled with joy and new challenges. Sara Ruffin’s experience with Ruka provides invaluable insights into the initial steps of puppy care. When Sara brought Ruka home, she was transitioning from college life to her first apartment — a significant life change that was made smoother with the companionship of her new Frenchie.

Essential Frenchie Puppy Care Tips

  • Prepare Your Home – Make sure your living space is puppy-proofed with hazardous items out of reach, and create a comfortable area where your new puppy can feel secure and loved.
  • Consistent Feeding Routine – Establish a consistent feeding schedule with a diet that meets the nutritional needs of a growing French Bulldog, which is crucial for their development.
  • Training and Socialization –  Early socialization and gentle training are key to helping your puppy develop into a well-behaved adult dog. Simple commands like sit, stay, and come are foundational.
  • Veterinary Care –  Schedule a veterinary check-up soon after bringing your puppy home to ensure they are healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations. Discuss a health schedule and preventive treatments.

Sara’s proactive approach, choosing a breed that fit her lifestyle and preparing her home for Ruka’s arrival, highlights the importance of understanding and meeting the specific needs of a French Bulldog puppy.

French Bulldog Breeders vs. Rescue

Choosing between a breeder and a rescue to obtain a French Bulldog comes with various considerations:

From Breeders

  • Pros: Purchasing from a reputable breeder can ensure that the puppy is healthy, has a known lineage, and meets the breed’s standard. Breeders can provide extensive health testing and genetic screening which can predict and prevent future health issues.
  • Cons: The cost can be significantly higher when purchasing from a breeder, especially for French Bulldogs with specific traits or colors. Additionally, supporting poor breeding practices is a risk if not thoroughly vetted.

From Rescues

  • Pros: Adopting from a rescue is often less expensive and gives a dog a second chance at a loving home. Many French Bulldogs end up in rescue due to the lack of understanding of their care needs, providing an opportunity to help dogs in need.
  • Cons: The history of a rescue dog may be unknown, and there may be pre-existing health or behavioral issues that could require additional attention and resources.

The Ruffins’ approach — thorough research and a commitment to their pets’ health and happiness — should inspire prospective owners, whether they choose a breeder or a rescue.

Conclusion

Owning a French Bulldog is both a joy and a responsibility. These charming dogs bring laughter and companionship but also require careful, proactive care to manage their health needs. Sara and Ray Ruffin’s experience underscores the importance of preparation, understanding the breed’s specific needs, and the lifelong commitment required to ensure a fulfilling life for both the dog and the owner.

“Bringing Ruka and Wilson into our lives has been incredibly rewarding, but it’s important to remember that they depend on us as much as we depend on them for love,” shares Sara Ruffin. “Prospective Frenchie owners should be ready for a rewarding challenge, full of snuggles, some snorts, and lots of love.”

The journey with a French Bulldog is filled with unique challenges and unmatched joys, making it a worthwhile endeavor for those who are ready to invest time, love, and resources into their four-legged family member.

References:

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.