Dog Breed Profile: Health and Fitness Tips for French Bulldogs
The French Bulldog, commonly named ‘Frenchie’, is one of the world’s most popular small dog breeds.
Originating from the English Bulldog in the late 18th century, they were bred down in size from cross breeding and brought to France where the French Bulldog was developed over time.
Whilst they share similar characteristics to the English Bulldog, their bat-like ears are a distinguishing feature that makes them unique. Their unconventional appearance and charming personality gained widespread popularity in the 1800s and 1900s, particularly in France, America and Britain, where they were often referred to as a status symbol and featured in many famous paintings.
An integral part of the family, French Bulldogs today are very popular amongst city living people because of their small size and with families because of their caring, affectionate and friendly temperament. A small nose, compact appearance and a large head, French Bulldogs are lap dogs with big, joyful personalities who make adorable companions.
Size & Colour
Both male and female French Bulldogs are generally 11 to 13 inches tall and weigh between 16 to 28 pounds. While they are a small dog, they are not a member of the toy dog group but rather one of the smallest members of the non-sporting dog group. Their heads are square and large but their build is more sturdy than the average small dog.
The French Bulldog has 5 colours which are fawn, brindle, white, cream and black. They can be a combination of any of the colours like fawn and white, brindle and white, fawn, brindle and white. They commonly have a black mask surrounding their nose and muzzle and may feature a white chest.
A smooth, short coat, most French Bulldogs have a single layer coat with some brindle breeds having a double layer. Due to having a short, single coat, they don’t do very well in cold temperatures which is why you would often see Frenchie's in coats during the Winter months.
Considered a low shedding dog, French Bulldogs shed less often than most breeds. However, they will still typically lose their coat twice a year, once in the Summer to keep them from overheating and once in the winter so their thicker coat can come through to keep them warm.
While their shedding is minimal, double layered French Bulldogs will shed double the amount of hair due to having two coats, but their hair is so fine that it is generally very easy to manage.
Although they are a low shedding breed, occasional grooming and weekly brushing is recommended to stimulate new hair growth and to keep their coat healthy and clean. Never use a hard brush because of their hair being so fine - use a soft, brittle brush or a rubber grooming mitt which will remove the hairs gently. Since they shed in Spring and Autumn, so you may want to brush them more during these times to help remove shedding hair.
Generally a very clean breed, French Bulldogs will only need a bath when visible dirty. Prone to skin allergies and issues, you should use a vet recommended shampoo when bathing and try to avoid getting their face wet. The reason for this is that the folds in their face are prone to infections when moisture is trapped.
Their deep skin folds will need attention and wiped down with pet friendly wipes like the Unscented Earth Rated Pet Grooming Wipes, to get rid of dirt and debris and then dried thoroughly to avoid trapped moisture.
When grooming, you should always check for signs of infection or irritation in their folds and keep an eye out for any redness because they may be having an allergic reaction to something in their environment. While French Bulldogs are less susceptible to ear infections, checking their ears should also be a weekly occurrence just in case.
Checking their nails is also an important part of grooming, not just for French Bulldogs but for all dogs. You should regularly trim their nails to prevent overgrowing which can be painful.
To stay in good shape and healthy, French Bulldogs will need at least two 15 minute walks a day. They don’t need an extensive amount of exercise because they are small dogs who can easily overheat due to their flat face features which can make it harder for them to breathe.
With that being said, they are active and playful dogs who need consistent exercise and activity every day to prevent boredom which can lead to destructive behaviour.
Besides their daily walks, they should have time during the day to play. Games like tug of war which is a great muscle building exercise. Toys like our Knotty Doggy Range are great for thrashing fun and the Small Bite Rope & Ring Toy for puppies.
They also love fetch and frisbee games with ideal toys including the Chuckit Sport 12 Pocket Ball Launcher Medium 30cm and Latex Piggies that go hyper fast! Overall, if you mix two less intensive strolls in the day with a burst of play, French Bulldogs will spend the rest of the evening snoozing and satisfied.
It’s important to note that French Bulldogs are not very good swimmers. Whilst all dogs instinctively know how to swim, meaning that they can paddle, dogs who are brachycephalic like French Bulldogs, Pugs and Bulldogs struggle in water mainly to do with their short nasal passages and flat skulls.
It’s difficult to raise their heads up in water whilst trying to breathe. However, it’s still possible to swim with your French Bulldog as long as they have a dog life jacket and they are slowly introduced and trained.
The life expectancy of the French Bulldog is between 10-12 years and because they are a brachycephalic breed, their short noses don’t cool air as well as dogs with longer noses, making them prone to heat exhaustion, especially so in the Summer. It is advised that during the Summer months, you should avoid taking them out for their daily walk when the Sun is at its peak which is between the hours of 11am and 3pm.
A genetic issue in French Bulldogs, skin and food allergies is fairly common. While it takes time to diagnose these allergies by slowly adjusting and evaluating their food, once the allergy has been figured out, it is easy to avoid and alter their diet or environment. Common symptoms include a dry, flaky skin, biting their skin and sores and lesions.
French Bulldogs are also prone to inflections in their folds so make sure you clean and dry them thoroughly to prevent infection with gentle pet wipes.
Other health issues in French Bulldogs can include dental problems and eye problems, especially conjunctivitis which is caused by bacteria. Keep an eye out for symptoms including discharge from the eye, redness, swelling and blinking excessively.
A common health problem in many breeds, French Bulldogs are also susceptible to hip dysplasia where the ball and socket of the hip doesn’t form properly. It’s a long-term disease but larger dogs who suffer rapid growth are more prone to this.
Are You a Match for a French Bulldog?
Although they are a small breed, French Bulldogs have a big, adorable personality who enjoy affection and being around people. Known for being more of a lapdog, French Bulldogs can suffer from separation anxiety if left for long periods of time on their own. It’s essential for this breed that you provide the attention they need to be a happy and healthy dog.
They are a wonderful breed for all families, especially ones with younger children because they have a kind, good-natured temperament. Highly adaptable dogs who do well in smaller homes, they are ideal for city living families as long as you have the time to give them the attention and affection they need and deserve.
It’s important to remember not to over exercise French Bulldogs due to their brachycephalic faces which makes it harder for them to breathe. So if your a very active person who is looking for a companion that can join you on your intensive walks and activities, French Bulldogs are not the breed for you.
A low shedding breed, they don’t need a lot of grooming but you should brush weekly to remove dead hair and clean their folds thoroughly and check for signs of infection. A lively and lovable breed, French Bulldogs would be a friendly, welcoming companion if you take the time to look after them properly.
Want to know more about other dogs breeds? Check out our previous profile on the Cockapoo.