French Bulldog Breed Information

Key facts and characteristics

Energy levels
 
Grooming
 
Easy to train
 
Exercise needed
 
Barking/likely to be vocal
 
Size Small
Average height 30 cm
Average weight 11-12.5 kg
Average lifespan Over 10 years
Minimum exercise (per day) 1 hour
Coat length Short
Minimum cost (per month) £70

French Bulldogs, or Frenchies, are small dogs with big personalities! They’re known for their large ears and adapt well to lots of different living situations, making them a popular choice as pets.

Frenchies were originally bred as a ‘companion’ breed, which means they’re very people orientated dogs and dislike being left alone for even short periods. Ideally they need owners around all day.

 

Common health problems in French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs are playful and fun-loving dogs who love spending time with their owners. Sadly, like so many other purebred dogs, they are at risk of certain conditions relating to their breed.

If you are thinking of buying a French Bulldog puppy, make sure the parents of your puppy have had the relevant health screening to reduce the chances of your puppy being affected by certain conditions. We’d recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured Breeder as they meet extra requirements which will benefit your puppy’s health.

Frenchies are a flat-faced breed, which can often cause breathing problems and means they overheat quickly especially when they exercise in warmer weather. If you’re looking for a dog to go on long walks with, a Frenchie probably isn’t the best breed for you! In general, we’d recommend considering a different breed or a cross-breed to try and reduce some of the problems Frenchies have. If you’re still looking specifically for a Frenchie, always make sure the parents of your pup have had all the necessary screening and try to pick a dog with a longer nose and wider nostrils.

Some of the conditions Frenchies may develop include:

  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) – this can cause severe breathing problems and is caused by their shorter faces. Parents should be screened before breeding.
  • Luxating patellas – where the kneecaps slipping temporarily out of place.
  • Dental problems – shorter faced dogs often have crowded teeth with can cause dental problems.
  • A range of eye problems, including cataracts (there is screening for this).
  • Back problems such as Intervertebral disc disease – where the discs that provide cushioning between the vertebrae (back bones) bulge or burst, pressing on nerves in the spine.
  • Skin conditions – particularly skin fold dermatitis where the skin in their wrinkles gets inflamed and sore or even infected.
  • Hyperuricosuria – a condition where stones or crystals can form in urine causing infections, difficulty passing urine or blood in urine.

If you want to minimise the risk of your dog getting problems due to exaggerated features, you can read our advice on choosing a pedigree dog.

 

Caring for your French Bulldog

Frenchies are loving dogs, known for being quite laid-back and happy to fit in with family life. They can make great pets in the right household if you’ve done lots of research into flat-faced breeds and how to best care for them.

French Bulldogs can be lower maintenance because they tend to prefer shorter walks, but they definitely have huge characters and personalities and will do anything for a bit of fuss and attention!

French Bulldogs and barking

As with any breed, your Frenchie is likely to make noise. How much they make is completely down to the individual, their training and personality. This said, they’re not known for being big barkers unless they are bored or something is wrong, so as long as your Frenchie is getting enough exercise and playtime you’ll likely find they are fairly quiet dogs. If you’re having problems with excessive noise or barking, we recommend seeking the advice of an accredited behaviourist.

Training and socialisation

French Bulldogs are eager to please their owners which can make them easy to train, but are also known to be strong-willed at times. They are a sensitive breed, so respond best to positive, reward-based training which needs to be started from an early age. Because they can be a little headstrong, it’s important to be firm but fair with training and make sure everyone in the household is following the same training rules. If you’re a first time owner, we’d recommend taking them to accredited training classes.

Frenchies are known to have a diva side if they are given everything they want, so you’ll need to make sure you set clear boundaries from day one and resist those puppy-dog eyes! Otherwise, you might find they develop ‘small dog syndrome’ and make a lot of noise to get what they want.

You’ll need to make sure you socialise your Frenchie from a young age with lots of different people, dogs, sounds and experiences. This will help them grow into confident adults and help their laid-back nature shine through.

As they’re so people-orientated, we’d recommend having someone around most of the day with your Frenchie. They thrive off company and so could develop separation anxiety if left alone. Ideally, you should never leave your dog for more than four hours and some Frenchies can’t cope with shorter periods than this.

Exercise

Although Frenchies are thought to be less high maintenance than some breeds when it comes to exercise, they still love to keep busy and exercising is a huge part of that.

Your French Bulldog will need up to an hour of exercise every day. This should be split into a few shorter walks, with time to play off-lead in a secure area and have a good sniff around. On top of this, you should try to keep your Frenchie’s mind active with training and fun puzzle games that will challenge them.

As a flat-faced breed, French Bulldogs can overheat and struggle to breathe really quickly, especially in warmer weather. Make sure you can recognise the signs of heatstroke in your dog. In summer, you’ll need to take extra care to keep your Frenchie cool and avoid walking them during the day when it’s hottest. Early mornings and later in the evenings would be better times to go for a walk in the summer.

Grooming

French Bulldogs aren’t known for shedding lots, so a weekly brush and keeping on top of any hoovering should be enough to keep their coat (and your house!) in good condition.

Due to the extra rolls of skin around their face, French Bulldogs are at risk of developing something called skin fold dermatitis. Because of this, it’s important to make sure their skin folds are kept clean and dry. You can clean them with damp cotton wool pads but always make sure to dry them thoroughly after.

French Bulldogs and children

Frenchies are known for being pretty laid back and adaptable, so they tend to get along well with children of all ages which makes them popular family pets. They are playful so you should always supervise your Frenchie with children to make sure playtime doesn’t get too boisterous.

Remember to make sure you can recognise your dog’s body language so you can put a stop to any potentially stressful situations before they escalate. Always supervise your dog with children and vulnerable adults.

French Bulldogs and other pets

As long as your Frenchie is well-socialised from a young age, they’ll get along fine with other dogs as they’re known for being tolerant and gentle. If you get your Frenchie as a puppy, it’s a good idea to take them to puppy socialisation groups to help them gain confidence around other dogs.

French Bulldogs do have a high prey drive. If they have grown up with a cat in the home, they will be fine with that cat but are likely to chase unfamiliar cats and smaller pets. You should always supervise your dog with family pets and introduce them slowly from a young age.

Food

Your French Bulldog’s diet will vary depending on their age. You’ll need to feed them a complete, balanced dog food to keep them slim and healthy.

Your vet will be able to tell you how much your Frenchie should be eating. You should feed them a good quality, commercially available, complete dog food. We usually recommend splitting their daily allowance into two meals. If you give your dog the occasional treat or use treats for training, remember to take this into account and reduce their daily allowance. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their daily calorie intake as this can unbalance their diet.

It's important to keep a close eye on you French Bulldog’s weight as they can be known to put weight on easily which can make exercising and breathing more of a challenge.

Flat-faced breeds such as Frenchies can suffer from reflux or struggle to swallow their food. Speak to your vet for more information about how to manage this at home.

Try to feed your dog at similar times every day as they like routine. Remember to leave a gap between eating and exercising.

 

The cost of owning a French Bulldog

You can expect your Frenchie to cost you a minimum of £70 per month after purchase and set-up costs and over £12,000 across their lifetime.

Costs you’ll need to think about include:

Purchase costs

Adopting an adult French Bulldog from a rescue centre may be a more cost-effective option, with the added advantage of giving a home to a pet without one – check if the rehoming centre you’re looking at asks for a donation for rehoming.

If instead you’re buying a Frenchie puppy from a breeder, you’ll need to factor in this cost. Beware unusually cheap puppies as they could come from a puppy farm. If you’d like to buy a pedigree puppy, we recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured breeder. These breeders must do extra health tests and meet higher standards.

Set-up costs

  • Puppy vaccines – if you rescue a dog, reputable centres will often vaccinate them for you. Remember that ongoing booster vaccinations will be needed to continue their immunity.
  • Neutering – you should usually arrange for your dog to be neutered at around six months old, though your vet will be able to advise you exactly when is best. Check prices at your local practice as these will depend on your vet and where you live. Some rescue centres will neuter any dogs they rehome, saving you this cost.
  • Equipment – including a collar and tags, lead, harness, dog beds, dog bowls, pet-safe toothpaste and toothbrushes, grooming brushes and toys. Keep in mind that all these will need to be replaced with wear or damage or if your dog outgrows or damages them!

Ongoing costs

  • Food.
  • Preventive healthcare – budget for routine vet visits to help stop your dog getting ill and catch any problems early. They need annual check-ups, vaccinations and regular flea and worming treatments. Check if your vet offers a health care plan as this can help spread the cost throughout the year.
  • Vet bills* or pet insurance – if you don’t have pet insurance and your dog needs veterinary treatment for an injury or illness, costs can rapidly mount up. Check what’s covered and what isn’t when comparing policies.
  • Accessories – including lots of poo bags, replacing worn toys and grooming accessories, buying doggy toothpaste and any other extras they might need.

Other costs

  • Training – basic training is very important and dogs can benefit from formal classes. Some dogs may have, or develop, behavioural problems which might need professional management.
  • Boarding – you may also need to budget for boarding or dog sitting costs if you are planning to go away from home on holiday.
  • Dog walkers/day-care – you might consider a professional dog walker to keep your dog happy and healthy if you’re unable to get out with your dog enough yourself, or to look after them during the day if you need to be out for more than four hours.

* It’s always better to plan ahead and budget or get pet insurance in case your pet gets injured or unwell. If you are having difficulty with veterinary costs, you can check if you are eligible for treatment at PDSA here.

If you’re considering pet insurance, our PDSA Pet Insurance could be a great option for you and it’s quick and easy to get a quote online.

Fun facts

  • An early version of the breed were used by lace makers in the UK shortly before the industrial revolution to warm their laps while they worked.
  • Frenchies aren’t actually French! It’s thought that the breed originally came from the UK.
  • French Bulldogs are known for their big, bat-like ears.
  • They’re not great swimmers – it’s best to keep your Frenchie on a lead near ponds and lakes!

 

Getting a French Bulldog

Do plenty of research before getting a French Bulldog. They are lovable dogs who fit easily into family life, but come with a lot of extra responsibility and potentially higher healthcare costs. Being a flat-faced breed, you’ll need to take extra care with your Frenchie to make sure they have a happy and healthy life with you.

Rehoming centres

There are plenty of rescue centres across the country where you may find a French Bulldog. Breed-specific rescues that specialise in French Bulldogs are also out there. You’ll need to ask any rescue centre about the dog’s history to make sure they will be comfortable in your home. Good rescue centres should let you know of any health and behaviour problems.

Breeders

If you buy from a breeder, make sure your puppy will be well socialised and have all necessary screening tests, health checks and vaccinations. It’s really important that French Bulldog puppies from a breeder get the right early socialisation so always ask the breeder about how they go about this.

 

Not sure if a French Bulldog is the right pet for you?