The French Bulldog – Full Dog Breed Information

french bulldog

The following information is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not constitute pet medical advice. Clever Fur is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Reading Time: 16 minutes

Today’s French Bulldog are direct descendants of the dogs owned by Molossians, a tribe that existed in ancient Greece. These dogs were spread around the ancient world by some Phoenician traders. The English Mastiff was developed from British Molossian dogs. A dog used for bull-baiting, the Bullenbeisser, was a sub-breed of the Mastiff.

Since blood sports like bull-baiting became outlawed in England in 1835, these “Bulldogs” became unemployed. Breeding these dogs for non-sporting reasons became a thing since 1800 and so they were changed from being a sporting breed to being a companion breed.

Some Bulldogs were crossed with terriers, dogs considered to be the ratter dogs from the slums of England, to reduce their size. The Toy Bulldog became common in England by 1850 and had appeared in conformation shows since their inception around 1860.

The dogs weighed around 16-25 pounds (7.3 – 11.3kg) but there were classes also available for those that weighed under 12 pounds(5.4kg) at dog shows.
Lace workers from Nottingham who were displaced by the Industrial Revolution around the same time began to settle in Normandy, France and they brought along different types of dogs, one of which was the Toy Bulldog.

As these dogs became well known in France, a trade-in imported small Bulldogs came into existence, with breeders in England exporting Bulldogs that they thought to be too small, or had faults like standing ears to France. Due to the exploits of specialist dog exporters, by 1860, only a few Toy Bulldogs were left in England as they became very popular in France.

Over time, the small Bulldog type slowly became recognized as a breed and gained a name, the Bouledogue Francais. This Francization of the English name can also be seen as a contraction of the words boule (ball) and dogue (molosser or mastiff). These dogs soon turned out to be a highly fashionable dog as they were sought after by ladies of the society and Parisian Prostitutes, as well as creatives like writers, artists, and fashion designers.

Edgar Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec were recorded to have had French Bulldogs included in their paintings. These records however were omitted from the development of the breed as it further diverged from its original Bulldog roots. Terrier stock became integrated as it changed, to develop traits like the long straight ears of the breed.

Breed clubs and modern recognition

In the olden days, Bulldogs were very popular, most especially in Western Europe. It is descended from the English Bulldog. French Bulldogs were imported by Americans for a while, but it wasn’t until 1885 before they were brought over to start up an American-based breeding program.

Their owners were mostly Society ladies who initially had them on display at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show in the year 1896. The following year, they arrived with even more entries, where the judging of the breed would go on to have repercussions in the future. Mr. George Raper was the judge in question at the dog show.

Raper only picked winners with “rose ears”- ears that had folds at the tip, as a standard for Bulldogs. The societal ladies then went on to form the French Bulldog Club of America and set the breed standard in which it was stated for the first time that the “erect bat ear” was the correct type.

The breed remained popular in the high society in the early 20th century, with dogs being traded for as much as $3000 and they were owned by members of Influential families like the Rockefellers and the JP Morgans The breed was quickly recognized by the American Kennel Club after the breed club was established, and the French Bulldog was the fifth most popular dog breed in America by 1906.

The French Bulldog was ranked as the 10th most popular breed in the United States of America by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the year 2013. This skyrocketed their popularity ranking from 54th place in 2003, and in the year 2014, they had gone on to become the ninth most popular dog breed and by 2017, they became the fourth most popular AKC registered dog breed in the United States of America.
The first time the new Bulldog breed arrived in England was in 1893, they were brought in by English Bulldog breeders in an uproar because the French imports were not meeting the new breed standard set in place by that time and they did not want the English stock to crossbreed with the French. They were originally recognized by The Kennel Club as a subset of the existing bulldog breed instead of an entirely new breed.

In order to revive the Toy Bulldog in this period, some English breeders bred the French Bulldogs. A meeting was held on 10 July 1902, at the house of Frederick W. Cousens to establish a breed club so as to acquire individual recognition for the French breed.

The breed standard adopted was the same as the one that was already being used in France, America, Austria, and Germany.

Notwithstanding opposition from the Miniature Bulldog (the breed name that was adopted for the Toy Bulldog) and Bulldog breeders, the Kennel Club in 1905 changed its policy on the breed and acknowledged them as a separate breed from the English variety, firstly as the Bouledogue Francais, then the name was later changed to the French Bulldog in 1912.


According to The New Complete Dog Book, an official publication of the American Kennel Club and a book that has in it, the Official Breed Standard for all breeds recognized by the AKC,
The specifications for the French Bulldog goes thus; It must be a muscular dog with a soft and loose coat that forms wrinkles, the standard weight for a French bulldog is about 28 pounds’ maximum, and the head should be shaped squarely along with ears similar to bat ears.

The French Bulldogs are known to be a flat-faced breed.  AKC approved standard for French Bulldog eyes are dark-colored and almost to the point of being black. The AKC does not approve of any French bulldog that has blue eyes. The coat of a French bulldog is expected to be short, fine, and silky.

The color shades acceptable under the breed standard are different shades of fawn, brindle, cream, or white with brindle patches (this is also known as pied). The fawn colors can be any shade of light through the color red.  The most common colors according to frequency are brindle, then fawn and pied coming last as they are less common than the other colors.

Any other color or pattern is unacceptable by the breed clubs. The reason for this is that some colors are known to be linked to genetic health problems that do not usually occur in the breed. Colors like this include blue coloration because it is linked to a form of alopecia (loss of hair, baldness), which is sometimes known as the “Blue Dog Alopecia”.

It is a suggestion that the hair, health, and skin conditions are caused by color pigment (melanin) gathering in the hair shaft. Though some organizations have heavily disputed this suggestion. “Blue dog Alopecia” or canine follicular can easily affect other dogs as it is not limited to dogs that are blue alone.
Just like many other dog companion breeds, the French bulldog requires close contact with human beings, and as such, they may suffer from separation anxiety if they are left alone for more than a few hours. This is absolutely true when they are still puppies but still lingers as they mature into adulthood.

The French Bulldog has sometimes been referred to as a “Frog dog” or “Clown dog”. They are called “Frog dog” as a reference to their wide circular face and how they seat with their hind legs spread out. They are referred to as “Clown dog” as a reference to the fact that they are known to be fun-loving and they have indeed been referred to as the “clowns of the dog world”.
The French bulldogs are companion dogs and are kept as such. They are patient and very affectionate when it comes to their owners. They can also cohabitate with other breeds.

Not only are French Bulldogs agreeable dogs, but they are also human-oriented and this makes it significantly easier to train them despite the fact that they can be stubborn. The socialization of puppies, including the French bulldogs, can greatly affect the training of the dog positively and is highly recommended.

The French Bulldog is ranked 109th in Stanley Coren’s book; The intelligence of Dogs.  Although, there are some exceptions to this average level of intelligence among dogs; A French Bulldog known as Princess Jacqueline was said to have been able to speak twenty words and all in the right situations. She died in 1934.

 Health, Training and Exercise

Just like every other dog, the French bulldogs have certain health issues that their owners can invariably help them avoid with appropriate care. First off, they don’t need that much exercise but they do require short walks daily at least.

Since the French bulldogs are categorized as one of the “flat-faced dogs”, they cannot be involved in strenuous exercise that might result in heavy breathing, especially in hot temperatures. The French bulldogs are constantly at risk for obesity which can lead to deeper health issues. Though, weight gain can be avoided if they are walked daily and weighed daily, and if overfeeding and foods high in fat are avoided. 

Exercise is a tested and trusted method of keeping French Bulldogs healthy. It is essential and sternly advised that French Bulldogs should not be allowed near bodies of water because they are unable to swim due to the fact that their center of gravity pivots towards the frontal region of their bodies.

As a result of selective breeding, the French Bulldog is disproportionately affected by various health-related problems. According to a UK breed survey report on seventy-one dog deaths, the average lifespan of French bulldogs was reported to be 8 to 10 years, although the UK breed club suggests an average of 12 to 14 years. According to the AKC, the French Bulldogs only live up to an average of 11 to 13 years. 

A UK Medical study in the year 2013 reviewed the health of about 2228 French bulldogs that were under veterinary care. According to the study, 1612(72.4%) of the French bulldogs had at least one recorded health problem. “The most common health complications recorded are distributed as follows in percentages; ear infections (14.0%), diarrhea (7.5%), and conjunctivitis (3.2%).

The most commonly reported group of complications were skin issues (17.9%). This survey of over two thousand French bulldogs helps to zero in on the most important health concerns in French bulldogs living in the UK and can help with reforms in order to improve the breed’s health and general wellbeing.

Patella issues

Patellar luxation is essentially the disengagement of the patella. In dogs, the patella is a little bone that shields the front of the smother joint in its rear legs. This bone is held in position by tendons.

The patella slides in a groove in the femur as the knee joint has moved The kneecap may dislodge toward within (medial) or outside (lateral) of the leg. This condition might be the consequence of injury or inherent distortions. Any of the legs or both of them can easily be affected by patellar luxation.

Temperature regulation-related issues

The French bulldog is only equipped with a single short coat. which in addition to their undermined breathing system, makes it nearly impossible for them to control their temperature efficiently. This implies the dog may effectively get cold and are inclined to heatstroke in a blistering hot and humid climate. Regarding grooming, the French Bulldog requires regular nail trimming, brushing, bathing from time to time, and ear cleaning.

French Bulldogs are additionally inclined to allergies, which can cause dermatitis on the body.  Allergies can be brought about by the food they eat, bites from insects, and French Bulldogs can likewise be much of the time inclined to hay fever and ophthalmic illnesses. 

Since they are classified as a brachycephalic breed, several commercial airlines have restricted the transport of French Bulldogs due to the recorded numbers of deaths of the dogs while in the air. This is on the grounds that dogs with snub noses think that it’s hard to breathe when they are hot and under stress.

The temperature in cargo space in an airplane can become as high as 30 °C (86 °F) when the plane is still on the runway.

It is additionally suggested that French Bulldogs live inside and have access to cooling systems to control their internal heat level when outside temperatures are high.

Birth and reproduction

Over 80% of French bulldogs are not delivered naturally as French bulldogs need artificial insemination and most times Caesarean section in order to give birth. Many French bulldog stud dogs are unable to breed naturally and this is because of the way they are built, their slim hips make it impossible for them to mount the females and reproduce naturally.

For this reason, most breeders have to carry out the process of artificial insemination of female dogs. Erratic or ‘silent’ heat sometimes occurs in female French Bulldogs; a side effect of thyroid disease or impaired thyroid function.

Back and spine

French bulldogs are affected by a series of the back, disk, and spinal diseases and problems, the majority of which are said to be related to the fact that they were selectively picked from the dwarf example of the bulldog.

This condition is also known as chondrodysplasia. Congenital hemivertebrae (also known as butterfly vertebrae) is also something that is seen in French Bulldogs. It can be seen on an X-ray. More sophisticated technologies like myelograms, CT scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to detect spinal cord compression.

The UK French Bulldog health scheme was set up in October 2010. This scheme is a three-level scheme; Bronze, the first level consists of a basic veterinary check that covers all Kennel Club Breed Watch points of concern for the dog breed.

Silver, the second level makes use of DNA; The DNA test is required for checking for hereditary cataracts, a simple cardiology test, and patella grading. In the third and final level, Gold makes a requirement of a hip score and spine evaluation.

Moving from the screw, cork-screw, or ‘tight’ tail (this is an inbred spinal defect), the European and UK French bulldog fanciers and kennel clubs are returning to the short drop tail which the breed initially had.

According to the UK breed standard now, the tail should be “undocked”, short, set low and thick at the root, tapering fast towards the tip, preferably straight, and long enough to cover the anus and never curling over back neither being carried gaily.


Eye issues are very common in French bulldogs. Although it is seen more in Bulldogs, Cherry eye or an Everted eyelid has been recorded to affect the French bulldogs. Other conditions also are known to affect the French bulldog include Glaucoma, corneal ulcers, retinal fold dysplasia, and juvenile cataracts.

Instances of these diseases occurring in offspring can be eliminated by screening or prospective breeding candidates through the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF).  Tear stains are often seen on lighter-colored dogs and as such, the skin folds under the eyes of the French bulldogs should regularly be cleaned and kept dry.

Brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrom

Brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome usually occurs in French bulldogs and it makes them suffer from multiple side effects like breathing difficulties (examples of these are snoring and loud breathing). 

This syndrome happens because the French bulldogs have very narrow nostril openings and a long soft palate as well as fairly narrow tracheas. Sometimes if the French bulldogs do not undergo proper treatment, they can die from this condition.

A lot of factors should be considered; weather conditions, or if the dog has any allergies whatsoever, and if the dog has high energy levels. To treat these dogs, a smoother pathway to the lungs should be created, a medical procedure must be carried out to take out a portion of their soft palate. The procedure turns out with results of at least 60% better airway passage to the lungs.

Due to this brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome, French bulldogs must be well managed in hot weather conditions in order to ensure they have significant electrolytes and that they are kept track of.

It is recommended that the dog be cooled down if ever they show symptoms of overexertion and extremely labored and dangerous breathing. You can hose them down with cool water for about 15 minutes or till the dog shows signs of being calm.


 French bulldogs are ever ready to please their owners and this makes them very easy to train, although they can be stubborn from time to time. They are a very sensitive dog breed and as such, the best possible method of training is the positive reward-based training that needs to be implemented at a very early stage in their lives.

Due to their stubbornness, it is essential to be firm yet fair when training them and to make sure everyone in the household abide by the same training guidelines. First-time dog owners that have French bulldogs are advised to take them to accredited training classes.

If you pamper your French bulldog and give them everything they want, they will develop a diva side so it is advised to set clear boundaries from the onset and resist their puppy-dog eyes! If boundaries are not set, they can develop ‘small dog syndrome’ and make a lot of noise until they get whatever it is they want.

Socializing your French bulldog from a very young age is very important. You need to introduce them to lots of different people, dogs, sounds, and experiences. This helps in their development and helps them become confident adults and it also helps project their laid-back nature.

As they are known to be companion dogs, they are people-oriented and it is recommended to have someone around them for most of the day. They are very dependent on human company and could develop social anxiety if left to be by themselves. Normally, your french bulldog should never be left alone for more than over four hours and some of them are unable to cope with anything over this.

French bulldogs are a well-known pet breed for various reasons; they are very friendly and loving, they are active and intelligent, they adapt easily to all sorts of living conditions. From small apartments in the city to larger homes with a yard, the French bulldog will be comfortably happy and not only does it do well with other pets and children, but it would also rather be in a crowd than be by itself.

Training the French bulldog is a very tasking activity; the breed sometimes proves to be very stubborn to the point where it almost seems like they absolutely do not want to be trained. Regardless of their stubbornness, with the right approach and plenty of patience, you can successfully train your French bulldog and you can both cohabitate peacefully and lovingly.

There are six easy but important steps to be taken in order to train your French bulldog:
⦁ Potty train them as early as possible 
⦁ Make sure to use lots of verbal and physical praise and rewards.
⦁ Introduce a crate

  1. Potty train them as early as possible
    French Bulldogs are very smart and analytical dogs; this implies that they quickly assess their surroundings and develop habits. You can learn a great deal from The French Bulldog Guide; a great book with loads of information about your new dog and its temperament. You should begin potty training a French Bulldog puppy right from the moment you bring them into your home.
    Take your French bulldog to whatever spot you want them to go to the bathroom and allow them to explore until they go. Letting your French Bulldog go inside the house can develop into a bad habit.
  2. Make sure to use lots of verbal and physical praise and rewards
    Positive reinforcement is a very important and powerful tool. The French bulldogs are known to be people pleasers and as such, simple verbal praises or favorite toys or food treats go a long way in their training.  Using the keyword “potty” in a positive tone the moment your puppy goes and after which you reward it with a treat helps them learn faster.
    If your puppy mistakenly goes to the bathroom inside, make sure it immediately so your dog does not associate a specific place in your house as its bathroom.
  3. Introduce a Crate
    Introducing a crate can be one of the best methods to employ when training French Bulldog puppies. French bulldogs, just like many other breeds of dogs love to have a safe and confined space to retire to. Start by picking out a crate that is big enough for your puppy to grow into, then place some treats on the inside and allow your puppy to check it out by themselves before you close them in. Then stay close to then for a certain period of time before leaving them alone Some of these puppies would begin to whine and cry, and it is absolutely important not to give in to their cries and just leave them until they are calm, or else they would discover that they can get out of any such situations by crying. The crate also helps train your French bulldog not to pee inside as it would instinctively refrain from peeing in his sleeping area. Blue Haven French Bulldogs recommend the Potty Training Puppy Apartment that’s found on if it is impossible or inconvenient for your French Bulldog to go to the bathroom outside. It helps allocate an area your French bulldog puppy can be trained to go to the bathroom without having to leave the house.


Exercising your French bulldog sometimes is not as high maintenance as it would be for other dog breeds, although, Frenchies still love being busy, and exercise covers a great deal of that.

An hour of exercise every day is quite enough for your French bulldog. This time period should be split into short walks, coupled with some time to play off-lead in a safe space and to still have a good sniff here and there. In addition to the physical exercise, your French bulldog’s mind should be kept active with mental training and fun puzzle games that are sure to challenge them.

Being a flat-faced breed makes the French bulldog prone to overheating as they struggle to breathe really fast, especially in warm weather conditions. Recognizing the signs of heatstroke in your dog is very important and you should take extra measures to keep your dog cool in the summer and to avoid walks during the day when it’s the hottest. Going on walks very early in the morning or later in the evening are suitable times in the summer.


It is somewhat easy to groom a French bulldog and brushing is usually required because they have a short, fine, and silky coat. A French bulldog has many face wrinkles and it is advisable to always clean between the wrinkles and make sure to keep them dry.

Occasionally, it is needed to bathe for your French bulldog although brushing would usually be enough most of the time in order to maintain a natural coat shine by distributing the hair oils evenly throughout the dog’s coat.

Costs of a French Bulldog

The cost of a French bulldog can be broken down 
It costs a minimum of about £70 per month after purchase and setup costs to cater for your French Bulldogs and it costs over £12,000 grand total over their lifetime.

Costs to be considered are mentioned and broken down below 

Purchase cost

It is more cost-effective to adopt an adult French bulldog from a rescue center. This helps you save money for purchase and at the same time, provides a home to a pet without one. You can make requirements for the rehiring centers asking for donations for rehoming.

The cost of purchase should be considered if you’re acquiring a French bulldog puppy from a breeder. Be suspicious of unusually cheap puppies because they could originate from a puppy farm. It is recommended to search for a Kennel Club Assured Breeder if you are looking to purchase a pedigree puppy. Breeders like these always carry out extra health tests and meet higher breed standards.
1.) Puppy vaccines: When rescuing a dog, it will most times be vaccinated for you by reputable centers. In order to continue their immunity, ongoing vaccinations would be required. 

2.) Neutering: Though your vet will be in the best position to advise you when it is best to neuter your dog, you can make arrangements for it to be neutered at around six months old. Prices would range depending on the region you live in and your vet, so do well to check prices at your local practices. Sometimes you are saved of this cost as some rescue centers will neuter any dogs they regime.

3.) Equipment: Things like a lead, harness, collar, tags, dog beds, pet-safe toothpaste and toothbrushes, dog bowls, grooming brushes, and toys are needed. Note that if damaged or outgrown by your dog, all of the aforementioned would need to be replaced.

Continuous costs

1.) Food

2.) Preventive healthcare: routine visits to your vet should be budgeted for, as these visits help prevent any cases of illness or catching any health-related problems early. Your dogs also need annual check-up visits, vaccinations, and routine flea and work treatments. If your vet offers a healthcare plan that helps spread out the cost through the year, it is always easier to account for said cost. 

3.) “Vet bills” or pet insurance: costs can always exponentially increase if you don’t have some sort of pet insurance and your dog requires veterinary treatment for an illness or an injury of some sort. When comparing insurance policies, you should check what is covered and what is not covered.

4.) Accessories: This includes getting a lot of poo bags, buying doggy toothpaste, replacing damaged/worn-out toys, getting grooming accessories, and whatever extra needs they might have.

Other costs

1.) Training: it is absolutely important that your dog undergoes basic training and a formal class usually has a lot to offer. Some behavioral problems that your dog may have or develop are usually best handled by professional trainers.

2.) Boarding: sometimes boarding or dog sitting costs should be put into consideration if ever you are planning on leaving home for extended periods of time or for a holiday.

3.) Dog walkers/day-care: if you do not have the chance to go out with your dog as much as required, a professional dog walker can always be hired to help keep your furry friend happy and healthy and they can also be hired to look after your dog if ever you need to step out of the house for more than four hours. 
It is advisable to always make plans and budgets ahead or to get pet insurance in case your pet ever gets sick or injured.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top