Unlike its name suggests, the French Bulldog actually originated in England in the 19th Century. It was born out of a need for a lapdog version of the English Bulldog, which was achieved by crossing the breed with pugs and terriers to reduce its size. Its smaller stature is also why the breed was referred to as “Toy Bulldogs” at the time.
The name change came during the Industrial Revolution when displaced English lace workers and their toy bulldogs settled in Normandy, France. The breed was an instant hit in their new home and soon became the must-have dog amongst society ladies and creative types. In fact, it proved to be so popular that by 1860 most of the breeding had moved to France, with very few dogs left in England. This also led to the breed’s new name: Bouledogue Francais, or French Bulldog.
Both male and female Frenchies reach an average height of just 30cm. They are, however, quite stocky for their size and fall into two weight categories: 9-10kg and 10-13kg.
Apart from their miniature stature, French Bulldogs are also characterised by their large, round heads, flat noses, pointy, bat-like ears and big eyes. They are also born with very short tails due to an inbred spinal defect.
Frenchies are companion dogs and have a pleasant, easy-going nature about them. They are quite affectionate, lively and playful without being yappy or loud. These dogs love spending time with their owners and also get along great with other dogs and strangers.
They are in danger of developing Small Dog Syndrome and will need a firm and consistent owner to keep bad behaviours in check. Frenchies need leadership or they can be become stubborn or snappish.
French Bulldogs are quite a clean breed and average shedders. Their exercise needs are minimal, with a daily short walk being sufficient. They also don’t tend to bark much, making them the perfect breed for apartment living.
French Bulldogs have a number of health issues, so be prepared for a few vet bills. Their restricted airway and small build mean it is very difficult for them to regulate their body temperature, which can be fatal in extreme heat. Breathing difficulties also mean they can only do light exercise and tend to snore and wheeze.
Their small build makes natural reproduction and birth almost impossible. In fact, 80% of Frenchies are conceived by artificial insemination and Caesarean section.
Apart from these issues, Frenchies also tend to struggle with joint and spinal problems, cherry eye and food allergies. The latter is quite common, with many Frenchies unable to consume food containing grain or grain products. A raw food diet also helps to reduce the occurrence of itchy skin.
French Bulldogs have a life expectancy of between 10 – 12 years.