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The French Bulldog is a companion dog. The breed is small and muscular with heavy bone structure, a smooth coat, a short face and trademark "bat" ears. Prized for its affectionate nature and balanced disposition, they are generally active and alert, but not unduly boisterous. Frenchies can be brindle, fawn, white, and brindle and white.
In the latter part of the 19th century, the lace makers of Nottingham, England, began selectively breeding a smaller toy Bulldog as a lap pet. Displaced by the Industrial Revolution, many of the lace makers crossed the English Channel, taking their small bulldogs with them to France. Some of these toy or miniature bulldogs made their way to Paris, where well-to-do Americans on the Grand Tour of Europe saw them and began bringing them to the US. In 1897, the French Bull Dog Club of America was formed, the first club in the world dedicated exclusively to the welfare of this wonderful breed.
To learn more about the history of the French Bulldog, click here.
The AKC Breed Standard describes “an active, intelligent, muscular dog of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure. Expression is alert, curious and interested. Allowed colors are brindle, fawn, white, brindle & white or fawn & white (which are termed “pied”); chocolate/liver, blue, grey/mouse, black & tan, or merle colors are not acceptable coat colors.
To view the complete French Bulldog Breed Standard, click here.
French Bulldogs don’t require a lot of grooming and generally do well in small living quarters. They are not noisy and most of them are very fond of people, though there are individual differences in how well they get along with other animals. They should never be allowed to run free, and should only be allowed outdoors in a fenced yard or on a leash. French Bulldogs must never be left unattended around water, as they are poor swimmers and can easily drown due to their front-heavy structure. French bulldogs do best in moderate temperatures and should be carefully supervised in both high and low temperature ranges. Panting or shivering are both indications of excessive exposure. In warm and/climates or humid environments, (over approximately 70º F), air conditioning in the house and car are a must! Indestructible dog toys are best, as those powerful bulldog jaws can destroy less durable ones; and rawhide type chews should not be used because when they soften they can become lodged in a Frenchie's throat.
Occasional brushing keeps the coat shiny, and regular nail trimming is a must since many dogs don’t usually wear their nails down by running. Regular cleaning of the ears and of the deep facial folds will prevent these sensitive areas from becoming irritated, and regular checking of the anal sacs will prevent problems with these. Your vet can advise you on how to care for the ears, skin folds, and anal sacs as well as on feeding your puppy. It is important that dogs be kept at an appropriate weight; an obese French Bulldog is at a far higher risk for many of the breed’s health issues.
Health Care and Concerns
Find a good veterinarian, preferably one who has other short-faced patients; and provide your Frenchie with regular checkups, routine vaccinations, tests for intestinal parasites, heartworm prevention, and flea and tick control. Your vet should do regular dental checkups and care, and you should clean your dog’s teeth regularly at home as well.
As a short-faced, (“brachycephalic”), and dwarf breed, (“chondrodystrophic”), French Bulldogs may have some health concerns that you should be aware of. The short face can make their breathing less efficient than that of long-nosed breeds, so Frenchies have less tolerance of heat, exercise, and stress - all of which increase their need to breathe. Keep your French Bulldog cool in warm weather, and avoid strenuous exercise. If your dog seems to overheat or become stressed too easily, with noisy breathing and sometimes spitting up foam, consult the vet and have its airway evaluated for pinched nostrils or an elongated soft palate. Anesthesia is also more risky in short-faced dogs, so be sure your veterinarian is experienced with such breeds should your Frenchie need to be anesthetized for any reason.
The spine also merits special attention. Like other dwarf breeds, the stocky French Bulldog may also have abnormal vertebrae and/or premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs. While the spine is supported by good musculature, herniation of degenerated discs can cause major problems, and most symptomatic back problems are due to disc disease rather than to abnormal vertebrae. All dogs should have a thorough musculoskeletal exam by a veterinarian, but most Frenchies can safely engage in regular moderate exercise, which is essential to help maintain healthy weight and good physical condition.
A crate trained puppy is easier to housebreak. A dog regards its crate as its den, a safe haven and home. If you travel, the dog is safest in his crate in your vehicle and also when you stay in hotels or visit other people. If he should be ill or injured and need to be kept quiet, this is much easier if he is happy in a crate. In warm areas, cooling pads and fresh water should be placed in the crate too.
You should take your French Bulldog to training classes as soon as your veterinarian feels he has proper immunity This will get him accustomed to being around other dogs and people, will teach you how to communicate your wishes to him, and will teach him such basics as walking well on a lead, sitting, staying, and coming on command. Although cute and cuddly-looking, a French Bulldog has a big personality and needs an adequate amount of training to make it a civilized companion.
Contrary to the stereotype as “stubborn”, most Frenchies strive to please their owners and are therefore very trainable with the proper motivation (usually food). There are now many French Bulldogs who compete very successfully in obedience, rally, agility, and a few have even done field work (tracking, coursing, herding). They can also be excellent working dogs in all kinds of Therapy Dog roles in volunteer settings such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals.
Spaying/Neutering or Breeding?
If you bought your French Bulldog as a pet, you should consult with your veterinarian about the appropriate age for spaying/neutering. The American Kennel Club allows spayed and neutered dogs to compete in virtually all companion/performance events, but not in Conformation.
If you are considering breeding your French Bulldog, and bought it with the breeder’s understanding that you intend to do so, please take this responsibility very seriously. Be sure that your dog conforms well to the breed standard and has a good temperament, being neither overly aggressive nor overly shy. You should consider breeding only after careful study of the breed standard, educating yourself about the breed’s health issues, and honestly evaluating your dog’s conformation and health. If you are thinking of breeding your Frenchie, read our Breeding a Frenchie page. Be sure that you will be able to place all puppies in good and loving homes, and should these placements not work out, that you would be able to take back the puppies.
Whatever your plans for your new Frenchie companion might be, be prepared to be enamored with them in no time! Your “clown in the cloak of a philosopher” will fast become a treasured member of your family and keep you smiling all day long.
The French Bulldog has the appearance of an active, intelligent, muscular dog of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure. The hallmarks of the breed are the square head with bat ears and the roach back. Expression alert, curious, and interested.
Proportion and Symmetry - All points are well distributed and bear good relation one to the other; no feature being in such prominence from either excess or lack of quality that the animal appears poorly proportioned.
Influence of Sex - In comparing specimens of different sex, due allowance is to be made in favor of bitches, which do not bear the characteristics of the breed to the same marked degree as do the dogs.
Size, Proportion, Substance: Weight not to exceed 28 pounds; over 28 pounds is a disqualification. Proportion - Distance from withers to ground in good relation to distance from withers to onset of tail, so that animal appears compact, well balanced and in good proportion. Substance - Muscular, heavy bone.
Head large and square. Eyes dark, brown or approaching black in color, wide apart, set low down in the skull, as far from the ears as possible, round in form, of moderate size, neither sunken nor bulging. Lighter brown colored eyes are acceptable, but not desirable. Blue or green eye(s) or any traces of blue or green are a disqualification. No haw and no white of the eye showing when looking forward. Ears - Known as the bat ear, broad at the base, elongated, with round top, set high on the head but not too close together, and carried erect with the orifice to the front. The leather of the ear fine and soft. Other than bat ears is a disqualification. The top of the skull flat between the ears; the forehead is not flat but slightly rounded. The muzzle broad, deep and well laid back; the muscles of the cheeks well developed. The stop well defined, causing a hollow groove between the eyes with heavy wrinkles forming a soft roll over the extremely short nose; nostrils broad with a well-defined line between them. Nose black. Nose other than black is a disqualification, except in the case of creams or fawns without black masks, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable but not desirable. Flews black, thick and broad, hanging over the lower jaw at the sides, meeting the underlip in front and covering the teeth and tongue, which are not seen when the mouth is closed. The underjaw is deep, square, broad, undershot and well turned up. Wry mouths and any bites other than undershot are serious faults.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is thick and well arched with loose skin at the throat. The back is a roach back with a slight fall close behind the shoulders, gradually rising to the loin which is higher than the shoulder, and rounding at the croup. The back is strong and short, broader at the shoulders, and tapering to the rear. The body is short and well rounded. The chest is broad, deep, and full; well ribbed with the belly tucked up. The tail is either straight or screwed (but not curly), short, hung low, thick root and fine tip; carried low in repose.
Forelegs are short, stout, straight, muscular and set wide apart. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet are moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails.
Hind legs are strong and muscular, longer than the forelegs, so as to elevate the loins above the shoulders. Hocks well let down. Feet are moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails; hind feet slightly longer than forefeet.
Coat is brilliant, short and smooth. Skin is soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming wrinkles. Coats other than short and smooth are a disqualification.
Acceptable colors: white, cream, fawn (ranging from light fawn to a red fawn), or any combinations of the foregoing. Markings and patterns are: brindle, piebald, black masks, black shadings, and white markings. Ticking is acceptable but not desired. Brindle ranges from sparse but clearly defined black stripes on a fawn background to such heavy concentration of black striping that the essential fawn background color barely shows through (“black brindle”). Only a trace of the background color is necessary; in a brindle piebald, a trace of the brindle patterning in any patch is sufficient. All other colors, markings or patterns are a disqualification. Disqualifying colors and patterns include, but are not limited to, solid black, black and tan, black and white, white with black, blue, blue fawn, liver, and merle. Black means black without a trace of brindle.
Correct gait is a “four tracking” foot pattern with the front track wider than the rear track. The movement should have reach and drive and is unrestrained, free and vigorous.
Well behaved, adaptable, and comfortable companions with an affectionate nature and even disposition; generally active, alert, and playful, but not unduly boisterous.
Over 28 pounds in weight.
Blue or green eye(s) or any traces of blue or green.
Other than bat ears.
Nose other than black, except in the case of cream or fawn colored dogs without black masks, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable.
Coats other than short and smooth.
All coat colors other than those specifically described (e.g., Solid black, black and tan,
black and white, white and black, blue, blue fawn, liver, and merle). Black means black without a trace of brindle. All other patterns and markings other than specifically described.
Responsible French Bulldog breeders strive to produce both a quality dog that exhibits the historical structure of a French Bulldog, and a healthy dog...thereby improving quality of life and longevity.
Every breed registered with AKC, has what is known as a “Standard of the Breed”. This standard was approved by a ⅔ majority vote of the membership and is recognized by FBDCA as the “Only standard by which French Bulldogs should be judged”. The purpose of a breed standard is to help insure breed type.
french bulldog works closely with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals in providing breeders with statistical analysis, Education and resource databases related to French Bulldogs as well as comparative analysis with all other dog breeds. In 2016 over 1300 health tests on French Bulldogs were submitted to OFA to be added to the breed’s database. This provides specific information for breeders to make more informed breeding decisions in order to reduce the incidence of inherited disease. OFA also provides breeders with a vast selection of educational resources.
OFA also assists french bulldog in collecting test results in new health areas to help research studies funded by FBDCA. french bulldog supports the AKC Canine Health Foundation by distribution of research information to french bulldog members and funding research grant requests in areas that affect the French Bulldog breed.
french bulldog currently has several Databases for French Bulldogs that have been health tested and evaluated to help breeders to make good sound breeding decisions that improve the overall health and longevity of the breed.
For example, in 2009, French Bulldog research was started by the Animal Health Trust to identify the gene responsible The initial research data revealed 24% of all French Bulldogs tested, carried at least one copy of the gene french bulldog members
responded to the problem. They DNA tested their dogs, and used the test results in making breeding decisions which has reduced the occurrence of the HSF-4 gene to less than 2% improving the health of the breed!
The use of health testing information in making breeding decisions has improved the French Bulldog’s general health enabling them to excel in performance activities and increasing their longevity by 30% over the past ten years. french bulldog is currently seeing French Bulldogs live to be over 14 years of age.
A combination of breeding to the Standard of the Breed and performing important health testing helps to ensure, not only a beautiful dog, but a healthy one.
The standard of the breed is available on this site, please avail yourself of the opportunity to read though it to insure you understand French bulldog type. We also offer breeder referral, and education about the breed.
Dog Shows, Trials and Field Events give dogs and their owners the ability to have fun, show off their training, and experience teamwork. With more than 22,000 annual AKC events, there is an abundance of opportunities to get involved in a number of sports.
If you think that you would like to compete in AKC events with your French Bulldog, you can learn about the various types of competitive events on the AKC website. There you will find descriptions of Conformation (how well your dog conforms to the Breed Standard); a variety of french bulldog which includes Rally, Obedience, Agility, and Tracking; and french bulldog , competitions for young people aged 9 to 18.
Before you can compete in any kind of an event, your Frenchie must be trained! Your breeder should be able to advise you about what kind of training the dog will need and how to locate the appropriate class and trainer. Your local all-breed club may also offer classes if your breeder is not familiar with what is available in your area. If your Frenchie is being shown in any event, but particularly in conformation, it’s important that s/he be presented in good condition: healthy, clean, toe nails clipped, ears cleaned, etc.. Once you get involved in training your dog for some type of competition . . . show handling, obedience or agility . . . your trainer may also be able to advise you on upcoming shows and matches in the area, or you can visit the AKC Events Search website.
The AKC website explains the rules for the various competitive events, and it is essential that you understand these. Also, many dog shows have the same information available as printed brochures for new exhibitors, and you can pick these up free of charge at the shows. These materials are also available as downloadable publications from the AKC website. Many dog shows offer briefings for new exhibitors, usually held at the Saturday show, and presented by the AKC Representative and a member of the Show Committee. Check with the Show Chairman to find out whether such a briefing is scheduled, and if so, when and where it is to be held.
To learn about showing in Conformation, Companion events, or Junior Showmanship, please see the links that are given in the following sections: Competing in Conformation, Competing in Companion Events, and Competing in Junior Showmanship.