10 French Dog Breeds

All these breeds have a certain je ne sais quoi

Frenc Bulldog standing with front feet on a log

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When you think of French dog breeds, the incredibly popular French Bulldog may instantly spring to mind. They aren't, however, the only breed to originate in France.

We have listed below some of the most popular breeds native to the country, along with some details about their temperament and care requirements.

  • 01 of 10

    Basset Hound

    Basset Hound standing on a porch

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    These popular hound dogs were developed in France and Belgium with the objective of creating a close to the ground scent hound. The word 'basset' in French can mean low. Because of their excellent and persistent scenting talents, Basset Hounds became popular with french hunting aristocracy. These days they're known for being amiable, loyal and low energy dogs that are a popular choice as a family pet.

    Bassets can be stubborn, though, and a little extra patience may be required when it comes to training. Known for being very food orientated, care should be taken to ensure they get the right amount of food and exercise to help prevent obesity. With their long, pendulous ears, they can also be prone to developing ear infections and a good aural hygiene regime is recommended.

    Breed Overview

    Height: No higher than 15 inches

    Weight: 40 to 65 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Short-legged and heavy-boned, with long pendulous ears, sad eyes and a wrinkled brow; short, smooth coat that comes in combinations of black/mahogany, white, brown/tan, red, lemon

  • 02 of 10

    Berger Picard

    Berger Picard standing with side profile on grass

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    The Berger Picard was named after the Picardy region in Northern France where the breed has been around for hundreds of years. These herding sheepdogs were prized for their stamina, independent thinking and drive. They share strong links with two other french herders—the Briard and the Beauceron.

    Their numbers were decimated when the fields they worked in were ravaged during World War II, and they remain a relatively rare breed to this day.

    If you're looking for a loyal, intelligent and adventurous dog that will thrive accompanying you on daily hikes and getting involved in dog sports, the Berger Picard could appeal.

    They can have an independent streak and can be wary of strangers, so plenty of appropriate, early and ongoing socialization will be required to prevent them from becoming overly nervous or reactive.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 21.5 to 25.5 inches

    Weight: 50 to 70 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Distinctive large pointy ears; shaggy and rough outer coat with a soft, short, and dense undercoat; comes in fawn (tan) or brindle (light or dark base coat color with contrasting stripes)

  • 03 of 10

    Beauceron

    Beauceron head shot against blurred shrub background

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    Beaucerons get their name from the region surrounding Paris that they originated in—La Beauce. A very old breed, there's evidence of dogs resembling the Beauceron going as far back as the 16th century in France. These large dogs were traditionally used for livestock herding.

    Their strength, size, intelligence and bravery meant they were drafted into the World War efforts, and they're still used by the police and for search and rescue in France today.

    Despite being rare outside their native country, Beaucerons can make great companions in the right home. They're eager to please, loyal and calm. They do, however, need a lot of exercise and enrichment to prevent problem behaviors developing as a result of boredom.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 24 to 27.5 inches

    Weight: 70 to 110 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Sturdy, athletic, muscular large breed, with a short and dense coat; come in black and tan and harlequin (a mix of gray, black, and tan); double dew claws on their hind legs

  • 04 of 10

    Briard

    Briard headshot with tongue hanging out on blurred field background

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    Briards are often argued to be one of the oldest dog breeds still in existence, possibly dating from as far back as the 8th century. These dogs worked on the dairy farms in the Brie region of France and were known for their versatility. They're skilled herders, but they also protected the flocks from predators.

    Their stamina, courage and intelligence were also put to use during the war efforts, and they were named the official dog of the French Army during World War I.

    Despite their working background and independent natures, Briards are known for having very gentle dispositions, being eager to please and loving. They tend to get on very well with respectful children.

    Briards aren't for every household, however. They need a lot of exercise, they don't always get on well with other dogs, and their long coat needs a fair amount of grooming.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 23 to 27 inches (male); 22 to 25.5 inches (female)

    Weight: 55 to 100 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: CXoarse, dry, flat, long and wavy topcoat with a fine undercoat; come in black, gray or tawny; have long hair on their head that comes over their eyes

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Brittany

    Brittany Spaniel running shot

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    The Brittany comes from the North West region of France with the same name. Although they're often referred to as Spaniels, the Brittany is actually an unpretentious pointing breed that was favored by poachers and peasants from the 17th century. They were regarded as versatile and all-round hunting dogs, meaning their poor owners didn't have to keep two different breeds.

    These days Brittanys are popular in their native country and North America. They tend to be smart, playful and affectionate. They excel in dog sports and are very energetic, so would suit an active home.

    They develop strong bonds with their owners, but this can lead to separation anxiety, so they would be best suited to living in a home where they'll have company for most of the day. Their hunting instincts and tendency to roam when off the leash means you might have to put in some extra work on recall training.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 17.5 to 20.5 inches

    Weight: 30 to 40 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized, long-legged dog, athletic dog that can have a bobtail; flat or wavy, dense coat that comes in orange and white or liver and white markings and sometimes with roan patterns

  • 06 of 10

    Dogue De Bordeaux

    Dogue De Bordeaux standing in a grassy field

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    The Dogue De Bordeaux, sometimes called the French Mastiff, is another ancient dog breed. The breed was introduced to France by the Romans, who used these powerful dogs to fight in battles and in gladiator rings.

    Although they were traditionally prized for their fighting prowess, by the 17th century, they were commonly procured by French nobleman to work on their grand estates. They were primarily used as guard dogs, but they were also involved in hunting and herding too.

    The breed is known for being unfailingly loyal, protective and affectionate with their family. Dogues, however, won't generally be suited to novice dog owners. They're very strong, their protective instincts can become excessive without the right training, and they don't always get along well with other dogs. Be prepared for a lot of slobber too!

    Breed Overview

    Height: 23 to 27 inches

    Weight: 100 to 110 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Large, muscular dog with a wide skull and furrowed brow; short coat comes in various shades of fawn, ranging from light to dark red

  • 07 of 10

    French Bulldog

    French Bulldog walking through grass

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    Frenchies have soared in popularity in recent years and are now one of the most sought after breeds in the United States.

    These dogs were developed in France after lace makers from the UK brought over toy bulldogs when they relocated to the North of the country, and they were crossed with other breeds there. They soon became fashionable with the affluent ladies of Paris.

    Known for their fun-loving, affectionate natures, Frenchies make popular family pets. Unfortunately, because of their squat faces, they can be prone to respiratory issues and can overheat more easily.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 11 to 13 inches

    Weight: 19 to 28 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Small, squat and muscular dog with a wide head, short snout and large, bat-like ears; short, smooth coat in brindle, fawn, white, or combination of brindle and white or fawn and white

  • 08 of 10

    Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen

    Grand Basset Griffon Vendeens standing in snow

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    The Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen (GBGV) was developed in the Vendée region of France in the 16th century as a hardy, determined hunter capable of bringing down large game.

    By the early 20th century, two varieties of Basset Griffon Vendéen were recognized, the larger GBGV, and the smaller Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen.

    These days, outside of their native France, the GBGV is still rare. They're known for being loyal and affectionate, but they can also be stubborn, have a high prey drive, and they need a lot of exercise.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 15.5 to 18 inches

    Weight: 40 to 45 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Hardy, medium breed with a rough, scruffy, double coat that comes in various colors including tri-color, yellow, orange, black, and sable; have a distinctive longer beard and eyebrows

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Great Pyrenees

    Great Pyrenees

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    Great Pyrenees, as their name suggests, were bred hundreds of years ago to guard livestock against wolves in the snowy mountainous region between France and Spain. It's fair to say that their patience and courage is legendary. Their majestic appearance and calm nature meant that by the 17th century, they had become popular with the French nobility.

    The breed still works with the shepherds in these mountainous areas, and, despite their size and power, the Pyr has also become a popular companion dog. Pyrs are known for being incredibly calm, loyal and affectionate. They're usually gentle with children and other dogs. Their thick coat does shed a lot, though, and they're big, strong and energetic, and can be prolific alert barkers.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 25 to 32 inches

    Weight: 100 to 150 pounds (males); 85 to 110 pounds (females)

    Physical Characteristics: Large, powerful dog with a thick double coat in white (may have markings of gray, tan, badger, or reddish-brown)

  • 10 of 10

    Papillon

    Papillon lying on a beige sofa

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    Unlike the working dogs on this list, the little Papillon was developed during the Renaissance period in France as a companion dog for noble ladies. Their ancestors were referred to as dwarf spaniels, and this heritage means that Papillons aren't simply lapdogs.

    These happy, playful little dogs have lots of energy, are highly trainable, and often do very well in dog sports and competitive obedience. They can be rather spunky, though, sometimes a little needy, and they're known for being rather vocal.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 11 inches

    Weight: 6 to 10 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Small, fine-boned dog with distinctive butterfly-like ears; long, silky single coat; ears are feathered and their tail abundantly plumed; white with markings and a mask of color—usually red, sable, black or lemon

Many French dog breeds are popular the world over, but even those that are less well known have their charms.

If you plan to introduce one of these breeds into your family, as with any dog, make sure you seek out a reputable breeder or dog rescue organization. Be honest with yourself too about whether their traits will fit well with the lifestyle you lead.