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Things You Should Know About French Bulldogs - French Bulldog Facts and History

Tan French bulldog sitting on a dark hardwood floor in front of gray counters

1. Origin of the French Bulldog

The French bulldog’s origins are murky, but most sources trace their roots to English bulldogs. Lace makers in England were drawn to the toy version of the dog and would use the smaller pups as lap warmers while they worked. When the lace industry moved to France, they took their dogs with them. There, the English bulldogs probably bred with terriers to create bouledogues français, or French bulldogs.

Read on to learn more facts about French bulldogs and their history.

2. They were bred to be great companions.

Frenchies are affectionate, friendly dogs that were bred to be companions. Although they’re somewhat slow to be housebroken, they get along well with other dogs and aren’t big barkers. The dogs don’t need much exercise, so they are fine in small areas and enjoy the safety of a crate.

3. They can't swim.

As a result of their squat frame and bulbous head, French bulldogs can’t swim, so pool owners should keep a watchful eye on their pups. Keep in mind that if you plan a beach vacation, your furry friend might feel a little left out.

4. Flying is a problem for them, too.

French Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have shorter snouts than other dogs. These pushed-in faces can lead to a variety of breathing problems. This facial structure, coupled with high stress and uncomfortably warm temperatures, can lead to fatal situations for dogs with smaller snouts. Many breeds like bulldogs and pugs have perishedwhile flying, so as a result, many airlines have banned them. 

Luckily there are special airlines just for pets, like Pet Jets. These companies will transport dogs with special needs on their own flights separate from their owners. There's a human on board to take care of any pups that get sick or panic.

5. They make great babysitters.

More French Bulldog Facts and History

6. They're sensitive to criticism.

Frenchies are very sensitive, so they do not take criticism lightly. If you scold a French bulldog, it might take it very seriously and mope aroundthe house. French bulldogs respond better to positive reinforcement and encouragement.

7. They're a talkative breed.

Originally, French bulldogs had rose-shaped ears, similar to their larger relative, the English bulldog. English breeders much preferred the shape, but American breeders liked the unique bat ears. When a rose-eared bulldog was featured at the Westminster Kennel Club in 1897, American dog fanciers were very angry.

8. A controversy led to the formation of the French Bull Dog Club of America.

The FBDCA was founded in protest of the rose-shaped ears. The organization threw its first specialty show in 1898 at New York City’s famed Waldorf-Astoria. The FBDCA website described the event: “amid palms, potted plants, rich rugs and soft divans. Hundreds of engraved invitations were sent out and the cream of New York society showed up. And, of course, rose-eared dogs were not welcomed.”

The somewhat catty efforts of the club led to the breed moving away from rose-shaped ears entirely. Today, French bulldogs feature the bat-shaped ears American breeders fought to showcase.

9. Most French Bulldogs are born through artificial insemination.

Due to their unusual proportions, the dogs have a little trouble copulating. Males have a hard time reaching the females, and they often get overheated and exhausted when trying to get things going. As a result, a large majority of French bulldogs are created through artificial insemination. While this measure makes each litter of pups more expensive, it also allows breeders to check for potential problems during the process.

French bulldogs often also have problems giving birth, so many must undergo a C-section. The operation ensures the dog will not have to weather too much stress and prevents future health complications.

10. Celebrities love Frenchies

Frenchies make plenty of appearances in the tabloids. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman, and The Rock have all been seen frolicking with their French bulldogs. Even Leonardo DiCaprio has one—aptly named Django. Hugh Jackman’s Frenchie is named Dali, after the way the dog’s mouth curls like the famous artist’s mustache. 

This article originally ran in 2015.

French Bulldog Personality

Just like humans, dogs’ personalities are shaped by their environment as well as their genetics. While we can generalize and draw patterns in certain canine personalities, each dog is going to differ. The truth is, their personality depends on everything from their parents’ temperament and personalities, their upbringing, breeding, and the amount of training they received in their youth. A dog’s developmental years are incredibly important, as it’s that very root which will shape their personalities and temperaments in adulthood.

Generally speaking, the tiny little French Bulldog is one of the most dynamic ‘apartment dogs’ around. So much so, that they’re in the top ten of the American Kennel Club’s most popular list of 155 dog breeds. Their overt cuteness and bat-shaped ears, paired with their loving rapport make them fantastic pets. They’re often sought after because not only do they fit in most living environments—being that they’re small and require little exercise—but they’re not avid barkers like most tiny dogs.

As a puppy, you should expect an incredibly energetic canine that likes to get in trouble. Although this vehement enthusiasm will wane, while they are puppies, they’re simply a handful. Especially because they like to play rough, which means they’ll chew through their toys and find their way into trouble.

One thing to note is that the French Bulldog is a particularly intelligent breed. They’re known to shock their owners by expressing a startling intuition, and also by how well they can adapt to their environments. Their personality traits vary in this department, as they can range from the calm attentive observer to the highly energetic adventurer (constantly stimulated by everything, although their adventures are usually just hopping on and off the couch).

But the overall point is, your puppy will know how to get himself into trouble. That’s why puppy classes and certain training techniques are so important.

As the French Bulldog puppy ages into adulthood, they lose quite a bit of their energy, but usually remain active socialites. They’ll bounce at any opportunity to sit on someone’s lap, aren’t unkind to other dogs, and love to be loved. A well trained French Bulldog should be the center of attention in the household, the active lover, and the dignified adult. And even as adults, they never lose that mischievous behavior that makes them such coveted pets. They’ll still love to play in the home or steal some attention whenever they see fit.

The French Bulldog personality might just be the best personality of any small dog. They’re fun, loving, and absolutely adorable and will turn into well-mannered and charismatic adults. But without the proper upbringing they can become reclusive, aggressive, and barky. This phenomenon occurs with every breed, which makes their puppy years so important.

Personality Differences Between Male & Female French Bulldogs

You’ll find a variety of differences between male and female French Bulldogs, and generally there’s a rule of thumb to follow: males are more prone to be rambunctious, playful, and assertive. Females on the other hand can often be a bit more timid, but incredibly more affectionate between the two. Females are also said to be more docile, while male dogs take longer to house train.

Just as well, females tend to be a lot nippier. They’re quicker to aggression if they’re tempted, and often a bit more temperamental in their early youth, but outgrow it as they age. Males can have this same problem, most often curbed by proper training, but they tend not to be as aggressive.

French Bulldog Temperament

Similar to their personality, French Bulldogs’ temperament largely depends on their early youth, how they were bred, and that of their parents. Let’s start by pointing out the good. First, Frenchies are relatively docile, meaning they’re easy dogs to train. While they do have extremely short attention spans, by in large they’re capable of learning quickly, and they have the capacity to be calm throughout their puppy years.

They’re not an aggressive breed, although they do tend to nip, and instead like to outpour affection rather than hold a reservation or suspicion of the world. This means that they’re good with children. They are constantly seeking validation, but not in an unhealthy or obsessive way.

With that being said, these dogs crave affection to the point that, although being commonly known as the perfectly adaptable home dog, they can often become anxious or depressed if they’re left at home for too long. They’re by and large confident animals, but that doesn’t make them impervious to becoming extremely dependent on the presence of their owners. This makes them a poor fit for an owner that is constantly away from his/her home, and a better fit for an owner with more time on their hands.

Not only that, but a Frenchie can become destructive in a home without proper guidance. They are ‘rough players’ for their size, and they love to chew through things, play tug-of-war against inanimate objects, and dig if the environment permits it. While your Frenchie might be the most dignified and confident couch potato you’ve ever seen, that doesn’t mean you should leave him alone for long periods of time, as he may be particularly prone to have extreme separation anxiety.

Where the French Bulldog temperament becomes a problem is often when it comes to their stubbornness. As they age, they become strikingly more stubborn, and if this isn’t treated with care then it becomes a problem. They can be stubborn to the point that they simply refuse to learn or follow the rules set before them, in which case they can also become aggressive. If this stubbornness isn’t managed early on, it manifests into poor behavior in other facets of their temperament.

Overall, French Bulldogs are well-tempered, friendly animals whose worst temperamental flaw is that they can have a stubborn streak. They’re affable by nature, and they’re not quick to aggression, and their separation anxiety comes exclusively from just how much they love their owners.

Tips for Raising a Well-Behaved French Bulldog

Puppy training classes are very important to ensure your dog is well-mannered. It will teach your dog obedience and work to produce the best French Bulldog personality possible. They can certainly be expensive, but the French Bulldog isn’t that hard to train, meaning there won’t be any specialization involved.

Due to their innate stubbornness, the mix between obedience classes and then your own ‘home training’, work to curb that overly dignified presence and enforce what you want them to learn. They’re docile, which will make them prone to responding to both their teachers and you as their owner, and as a bonus they’re intelligent enough to keep up.

At home, be affirmative but extremely sensitive to your French Bulldog’s feelings. He’ll have mischievous tendencies, and while these can be adorable or simply entertaining, it’s important to draw a line and ensure that he knows the differences between what is and what is not appropriate. Positive reinforcement and a steady reward system are the most effective techniques, as they don’t damage your Frenchie’s feelings.

Early socialization is also incredibly important when it comes to their personalities. Expose them to the world, other people, and other dogs early on to spark that social adaptability they’re known for. Be active about this one, as a French Bulldog that becomes accustomed to the world early-on often is a vastly different adult than one that stays indoors.

Outside of early-socialization and training, it is essential to know your French Bulldog breeder. If you do indeed decide not to rescue a French Bulldog but instead want a purebred, then do the proper research and ensure that you choose a reputable breeder who produces quality canines, and that the parents have received the proper health clearances before purchasing your puppy.

Acquaint yourself with your dog’s parents, as their personalities will often have an influence on the personalities of their offspring. Often, some personalities are simply hereditary and innate, and if you’re buying a puppy from poorly tempered parents, it can have an effect on your dog.

French Bulldogs are tiny, adaptable, and absolutely lovely pets for the household. They’re dignified, can be stubborn, but mostly they just want to love and be loved. They’ll find their way to receive attention when they want it, and they’ll give it to just about everyone.

They snore and can be a bit noisy. Since they have such huge hearts, separation anxiety is common in Frenchies. They’re mischievous in their youth, then often grow to become calmer in adulthood.

If not properly socialized and trained, stubbornness can become a big problem in their adulthood, making it all the more important to give them the proper attention early in their youth. Overall, French Bulldogs are astounding companion dogs and will bring a whole new light into any household


French Bulldogs make one of the best companion dogs in the world. They are small, easy to handle and are generally well behaved around new people and other animals. Frenchies have a reputation for being mischievous and clownish, stealing attention whenever and wherever possible. This little dog adores people and craves constant attention and companionship.

They don't need a lot of exercise, but love to chase balls and play (indoors or out) during the day, and at night are more than happy to curl up and relax on the sofa. This breed makes an excellent companion for the elderly, but they can fit in well with families of all sizes and ages. French Bulldogs may have faces only a mother could love, but to know a French Bulldog is to love a French Bulldog.

Activity Requirements

French Bulldogs need a couple of 15 minutes walks every day to maintain their physique, and a few sessions of playing ball to keep them entertained. Their size and activity requirements make them good apartment dogs, but they are just as happy in a big home or on a farm with lots of wide open space. Frenchies don't care so much about the size of their home, as they do the size of their owners heart.

French Bulldogs should not be exercised too hard in the summer months, as they are prone to heatstroke. Swimming pool owners should be alert – this breed can not swim and falling into a pool could be life-threatening to a Frenchie.


French Bulldogs can be a training challenge. They are stubborn and quickly lose interest in repetitive activities. Training should be conducted in short sessions, and the routine should be mixed up to keep the Frenchie's interest. Showering a Frenchie with affection and treats when training is the best way to get results from him. Discipline, punishment and yelling will cause this dog to stop listening all together.

House training is a long, drawn out process with a French Bulldog. It can take six months to fully train them, and many breeders recommend crating a Frenchies for that period of time.

Behavioral Traits

French Bulldogs are people dogs and don't like to be left alone for long periods of time. People who work long hours should not commit to a French Bulldog, as they can easily develop separation anxiety. This usually means uncontrolled barking while alone, which can alienate neighbors in close quarters.

Frenchies snort, snore and grunt 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are also prone to flatulence, which can bother some people, but most French Bulldog owners get used to the noises quickly and find them to be an endearing part of the Frenchie personality.


French Bulldogs are small and sturdy dogs with large, bat-like ears and pug-like noses. Their heads are flat but are not nearly as large as the head of an English Bulldog, and the forehead is rounded. Their soft coat comes in colors of fawn, brindle, white or combinations of brindle or fawn with white. They have soft, loose skin which makes petting a Frenchie an irresistible proposition. They have an underbite, large, round eyes and their tails can be straight or cork-screw. They are square in shape, with the height at the withers being approximately the same length as the withers to the tail. Though they are square, they are a bit pear shaped – wider at the shoulders than at the rear end.

Size and Weight

French Bulldogs are small, standing approximately 12 inches at the shoulder and weighing in between 25-28 pounds. In the show ring, any dog over 28 pounds is automatically disqualified by AKC standards, but other standards are less strict on the weight requirement. Companion Frenchies probably should not weigh much more than 28 pounds in order to maintain good health.

Coat and Color

French Bulldogs sport a short, shiny, smooth coat. They have loose, wrinkled skin at the head and shoulders. Frenchies come in a wide variety of colors including fawn, cream and brindle. The brindle may be black brindle, tiger brindle, or brindle pied, which is brindle and white. In the show ring, all colors are acceptable except solid black, liver, mouse and black with white or tan. None of these colors, however, disqualify a Frenchie from being a champion companion dog.

Grooming Needs

French Bulldogs are easy to groom at home, as they don't require clipping of the coat. Brush weekly to keep the moderately-shedding coat looking shiny and healthy. As a puppy, it is important to handle the Frenchie's feet as often as possible. They don't wear down their toenails naturally, so monthly clippings are a must. If the dog does not like to have his feet handled, this can require trips to the vet's office on a regular basis. They only need to be bathed as needed, and most owners can do this in the kitchen sink or a bathtub, with little fuss from the dog.

Brush the dog's teeth several times a week, as Frenchies can develop ripe halitosis. Regular brushing also keeps teeth and gums healthy and can prevent tooth loss later in life. Clean the dog's ears on a regular basis with a damp, warm cloth. Never stick a cotton swab in the dog's ear canal. If his ears are dry, a dab of baby oil rubbed into the edges will help sooth and heal the skin. This remedy can also be applied (sparingly) to a dry nose.

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