This guide will walk you through the ins-and-outs of what makes Frenchies such desirable pets, and how to best care for one.
The French Bulldog is arguably one of the most adorable dog breeds on Earth. Their short, stocky frame, bat-like ears, and perpetually pouty—yet somehow still cheerful—expression certainly make for quite a charming appeal! However, pet lovers interested in this breed should be aware that housing one can be quite a handful.
The Origin of the Frenchie
Countrary to what the name might lead you to believe, the French Bulldog actually originated in Nottingham, England, in the mid-1800s. Lacemakers took to a variety of toy-size Bulldogs and encouraged their selective breeding. This eventually led to them becoming mascots for the profession. When the lacemaking industry began to die out, many in the trade relocated to the French countryside where they continued to breed out specific traits in these smaller pooches. Eventually, what we now know as the French Bulldog was fully born.
Frenchies are believed to have developed their bat-like ears due to crossbreeding with either terriers or pugs. Their adorable appearance led to them becoming favorites among the Parisian high class, and from there they flourished across Europe.
Common Health Problems
The breeding of French Bulldogs is admittedly somewhat controversial. As one of the brachycephalic—or flat-faced—breeds, critics often cite the range of health problems that can occur with the skull shape. Flat-faced dogs occasionally suffer from respiratory problems, and may suffer from wheezing and excessive snoring. Most brachycephalic dogs are fine with a normal level of activity, but the restricted airways of a Frenchie can be dangerous, and even fatal, if the dog is overstressed or overheated. Often these dogs require surgery to correct the issues caused by their mushed-in faces.
French Bulldogs can also develop eye anomalies due to the shape of their skull. This most often appears as entropion, an inward-rolling eyelid that causes the eyelashes to scratch against the cornea. Tear staining is another common occurrence within the breed. Surgery can help with the former, but daily cleanings are the only mend for tearstains.
French Bulldogs are renowned cuddle buddies and often have the temperament of a small child. They’re playful, loving, and friendly—but can be quite needy. Though they don’t require as much exercise as larger breeds of dog, this is not a breed that takes well to being ignored. However, their small stature means that they generally do well in apartments, and the breed does great with kids. Unlike other small breeds, these guys aren’t known for excessive barking.
One thing to keep in mind is that Frenchies tend to rank toward the middle of the pack in breed intelligence, so they like to keep their owners on their toes.
Size and Lifespan
The French Bulldog is not particularly large, though it has a tendency to gain weight faster than other breeds. It’s important to strictly monitor the amount of food your Frenchie eats and how many snacks he’s sneaking throughout the day. The shorter legs and back aren’t designed to carry extra weight. Packing on the pounds can lead to severe health complications as your dog ages. A typical French Bulldog weighs around 25 pounds when full-grown. You can help keep the weight in control by offering a limited ingredient diet that only contains the protein and fat your pup needs to thrive.
The average lifespan of a Frenchie is between 10 and 13 years, though some have been recorded as living as long as 18.
Should you adopt a Frenchie?
So, are you considering adopting a French Bulldog but still on the fence on whether you can provide an appropriate home?
Frenchies do not require a ton of maintenance in terms of exercise, so they’re perfect for anyone who can offer the basic two walks a day. If you’re looking for a dog to go on runs or hikes, this isn’t the breed for you.
They’re great apartment dogs, and probably do better in homes without a lot of steps to climb. It should be noted that French Bulldogs, due to their health concerns, can be incredibly expensive to own. If you’re unable to provide the necessary care later in life, it might be best to look into another breed.
Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible.