French Bulldog (Frenchie): Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

French bulldog standing indoors in profile

The Spruce / Kevin Norris 

The French bulldog (or Frenchie) is a sturdy, compact dog breed with a large head, short snout, and bat-like ears that was, of course, first bred in France. This breed is lively, lovable, and playful. The French bulldog is a smaller, distant relative of the English bulldog; while the two share some similarities, each breed has its own distinct characteristics.

Overall, the French bulldog is a cute, affectionate dog that makes a wonderful pet for all kinds of families. Their small size means they can do well in smaller homes, but they are more sturdy than the average small dog. This is a loyal, intelligent breed that typically gets along well with children and other animals as an excellent family dog. The Frenchie is truly a joyful and friendly companion.

Breed Overview

Group: Non-sporting

Height: 11 to 13 inches

Weight: 19 to 28 pounds

Coat: Short, smooth fur

Coat Color: Brindle, fawn, white, or combinations of brindle and white or fawn and white

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Temperament: Playful, friendly, loyal, affectionate, lively, sociable

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: France

Characteristics of the French Bulldog

French bulldogs are very affectionate, family-oriented dogs that do best when spending plenty of time with their family. Be aware that your Frenchie will crave your company and won't do well if left alone for long periods each day. This is a playful breed that loves to be around its owners and children (along with other pets in the household, in most cases).

French bulldogs typically only bark when there is something that truly needs your attention, which makes them a good breed choice for apartment living. Your Frenchie will enjoy playing in the house or yard, but overall, these dogs do not require much exercise to stay happy and healthy.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Low
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium
1:33

Click Play to Learn More About the Lovable Frenchie

History of the French Bulldog

Some controversy surrounds the French bulldog's origins, but the breed undoubtedly originated from the English bulldog. It is believed by many that the English bulldog was bred down in size and then brought to France, where the French bulldog was developed over time. There were many toy English bulldogs being bred around the time that some groups of workers were displaced from England to France, and it is thought that they took the small dogs with them.

A distinguishing feature of the French bulldog is its bat-like ears, as opposed to the rose-shaped ears of the English bulldog. French fanciers of the toy English bulldogs readily accepted those that had erect ears, which were considered less desirable in England. It is possible that other breeds contributed to the bloodlines of the French bulldog, perhaps including some terriers and the pug.

French bulldogs became popular with society women in the United States in the late 1800s. The breed standard of the French Bull Dog Club of America was written to say that erect bat ears were the correct ear type.

The French bulldog has always been known as a beloved companion and quite the lap dog. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1898 and has gradually become more popular since then, rising to a top 10 breed in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States in modern years.

French Bulldog Care

French bulldogs require notably less exercise and grooming than many popular dog breeds, but some can use a little extra training (depending on your specific dog's needs). As long as your Frenchie is properly socialized with new people and other animals when first adopted, they should become a friendly and happy companion in your household.

Exercise

In general, the Frenchie is more of a lapdog than a jogging partner, but routine exercise is still important with caution. This breed can easily overheat due to its short, stubby nose and potential airway problems. Daily exercise is very important, but don't overdo it: Playing with toys in the house or running around the yard for limited periods of time is best. The French Bulldog Rescue Network notes that Frenchies are poor swimmers, and you will need to supervise this breed around a pool or other water sources.

Grooming

Frenchies are smooth-coated dogs that tend to shed at a moderate rate. The breed requires little more than basic routine grooming, including weekly brushing. They lose their undercoat in the spring and fall, so owners may want to brush them more during those seasons.

If your Frenchie is prone to skin issues, then baths with skin-soothing shampoo and regular ear cleaning may help. The deep skin folds might need a little attention to rid them of debris using a damp cloth or baby wipe, followed by being thoroughly dried.

Trim your dog's nails every few weeks to prevent them from cracking or splitting. It's also recommended to practice preventative oral hygiene by brushing its teeth two to three times per week; this can help keep the breed's common gum infections and dental problems at bay.

Training

Frenchies are smart and willing to learn, and teaching them consistently is a great way to strengthen your bond. This breed also tends to be food-motivated, which is especially helpful when training your dog. French bulldogs can also be difficult to housetrain: Crate training is one way to address this problem, and it's recommended by the AKC.

Socialization is equally important to ensure your Frenchie is well-adjusted to their environment. You can begin teaching this breed basic obedience as early as eight weeks old, and it's helpful to take your puppy to training and socialization classes when they're ready. This is a great way to teach your dog new commands while helping it become more comfortable around new people and other dogs.

Most French bulldogs can coexist happily when raised with other pets, but some are prone to chasing cats or small dogs. A Frenchie who hasn't been socialized with other animals may show aggression towards dogs of the same sex. This breed can also show jealousy and competition in a multi-dog household. Most are friendly with children, but when rescuing a dog, it's always important to discuss their history with children and pets to ensure they're a good fit for your household.

Safety Tips

Along with its limits on exercise, the French bulldog's face shape also affects the safety of some other common situations like travel. Take extra precautions when traveling with this breed to ensure your Frenchie doesn't overheat, especially noting to never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle. The French Bulldog Rescue Network notes that if air travel is required, your Frenchie should ride with you in a carrier in the passenger compartment.

portrait of a French Bulldog
The Spruce / Kevin Norris 
French bulldog sitting on gray and brown chair in front of pink throw pillow

The Spruce / Kevin Norris 

Closeup of a French Bulldog's fur
The Spruce / Kevin Norris 

Common Health Problems

Responsible dog breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred with these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions, but some hereditary health problems can still occur in the French bulldog breed. The following are conditions to be aware of:

  • Brachycephalic syndrome: Typical in many "flat-faced" dog breeds, Brachycephalic syndrome is a condition that can affect your dog's airway and breathing.
  • Hip dysplasia: While it's more common in larger dog breeds, hip dysplasia can also affect French bulldogs. This condition is caused by abnormal developments in your dog's hip joints. Veterinarians can usually provide treatment to help dogs with hip dysplasia live comfortably.
  • Skin issues and allergies: These conditions can affect any dog, but French bulldogs may be more prone than some other breeds. Infections, allergies, and dermatitis are common causes of itchy or irritated spots.
french bulldogs as pets illustration
Illustration: The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy 

Diet and Nutrition

French bulldogs should typically be fed two meals a day. Provide up to 3/4 cup of dry dog food per meal or homemade dog food supervised by a veterinarian. More specific amounts of food your dog requires will depend on its size, activity level, age, and medical history, so it's best to discuss these nutritional needs with your veterinarian to develop a meal plan suitable for your Frenchie's physique and lifestyle. It's also important to monitor your dog's weight, as canine obesity can shorten a dog's life and create uncomfortable living conditions at any age.

Where to Adopt or Buy a French Bulldog

While there are many responsible breeders of French bulldogs located nationwide, this breed can also be found in local shelters and breed-specific rescues. If you plan to adopt a Frenchie from a breeder, be sure to work with one that readily provides verified medical records and references for their dogs. Consider starting your search through one of these credible rescue and breeding associations:

French Bulldog Overview

Pros
  • Friendly and affectionate

  • Good family pet

  • Infrequent barkers

Cons
  • Can easily overheat

  • Cannot partake in a lot of running/exercise or high-intensity activities

  • Prone to breathing issues

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you think the French bulldog could be the right dog for you, be sure to do plenty of research before adopting your next best friend. Talk to other Frenchie owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more. If you are interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare:

There are plenty of different types of dogs that can join your family—explore a variety of dog breeds to find the best fit for you!

FAQ
  • Are French Bulldogs Aggressive?

    French bulldogs are widely known as friendly, lovable companions for single owners and families alike. As with many breeds, it's important to socialize your dog with other pets and new people when you first bring them home to ensure they feel comfortable in various situations.

  • Is the French Bulldog a Good Pet to Have?

    French bulldogs make great pets, as their lovable personalities can suit many different lifestyles. This is also a great breed choice for apartment living, as they don't require much exercise. It's best to adopt a French bulldog if you can provide it with plenty of quality time since this breed does not like to be left alone for extended periods.

  • Do French Bulldogs Bark a Lot?

    Unlike many other small dog breeds, French bulldogs are typically very quiet at home. They tend to bark only in cases that they truly need to get their owner's attention.