Smooshy face? Check! Bat ears? Check! Small size? Check! And big attitude? Absolutely!
Easily recognisable and one of the breeds that has gained the most popularity in recent years, it is the French Bulldog or affectionately called the Frenchie. They’ve taken Instagram, and our hearts, by storm. Known as an affectionate and playful breed, these goofballs make great companions for those who want a dog but don’t have the space for a large breed.
This highly adaptable breed can thrive in almost any living situation, whether you live alone, with children, the countryside or in an apartment. They are rambunctious and energetic dogs that love a good walk as well as being able to lounge around the house. Frenchies may be small but they have big dog attitudes.
How to recognise a Frenchie?
One of their most noticeable features is their huge ears that give the dog an alert look unlike their cousin the English bulldog’s morose look. Frenchies are also known for their flattened faces, called a brachycephalic face, which means they have shorter nasal passages and an excess of soft tissue that causes breathing problems. It also makes them snort and grunt, which is part of its appeal. Some Frenchies have more pronounced wrinkles than others which only adds to their character.
These small dogs are built very stocky and are somewhat front heavy. On average a French bulldog can weigh up to 14 kg, in males, whereas females are between 8-13 kg. Frenchies are like the little cousins to English bulldogs and stand between 24-35 cm.
Their coat is short, smooth and requires little brushing, and comes in a variety of colours such as: blue, fawn, brindle (striped), black, piebald, and merle.
Finally we come to their tail: it varies in length from a little nub to a few centimetres. The tail should be straight and when they wag, you’ll notice their whole rear end sways back and forth.
What is their character like?
Friendly, but somewhat boisterous, these dogs crave attention and will in fact demand it. They are playful dogs and will thrive in any family situation though if you have children be mindful to supervise very young children with the dog. Accidents can happen and the Frenchie will sometimes forget their own strength when playing. They also get along with other dogs as well as cats, if introduced carefully.
Because they love their humans so much, they are prone to separation anxiety so make sure you build up the time you spend away from your Frenchie and when you are home, spend lots of time with them.
They are independent and wilful dogs which makes them a bit challenging for first time dog owners. However, don’t be discouraged by this if you are choosing a Frenchie as your first dog. I would recommend going to regular dog training classes with your pet or getting help from a trainer if it’s your first time owning a dog. Luckily, like most dogs, Frenchies are food motivated. Though too many treats are also not good for them as excess weight can put pressure on their joints.
How do I take care of a Frenchie?
Because of their short nose and wrinkles it’s important you take the following into consideration. The wrinkles should be cleaned regularly with special pet wipes, and dried, to prevent yeast and other bacteria from growing. This could otherwise lead to skin irritation and bad smells.
Their brachycephalic faces mean that they have breathing issues especially during hot weather and play. Keep an eye on your dog’s breathing. If they are struggling to breathe then move them to a cooler location, give them plenty of water and allow them to rest. Putting a fan or airco on nearby can help keep air circulating around them. Check here for symptoms of heat exhaustion.
Grooming a Frenchie is easy as the coat is short though they do still shed. Because the hairs are short, they tend to bury themselves into fabrics and are sometimes hard to remove. A quick brush once a week with something like the zoom groom or equigroomer will remove dead hairs.
What is the history of the breed?
Lace workers from England who were displaced during the industrial revolution began to settle in Normandy. With them came a variety of dogs which also included smaller variations of the English bulldog, known as the Toy Bulldog. The French seemed to really like the smaller Bulldogs and breeders in England began sending over Bulldogs that didn’t meet the breed standards such as being too small or having erect ears. The trade in Toy bulldogs was in such demand that by 1860 there were hardly any left in England.
Gradually, and through selective breeding, the smaller Bulldogs became their own breed and were dubbed the Bouledogue Français. By adding terriers to the mix, they kept the French Bulldog’s ears straight and large. Eventually they diverged enough from their original Bulldog roots that they were considered their own breed.
In France French bulldogs were popular amongst high society ladies, artists, writers, and fashion designers. Their popularity spread throughout Western Europe and in 1885 they were brought over to North America. In 1896 the breed was shown at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Because of backlash from Bulldog and Miniature Bulldog (the new name of the Toy Bulldog), it wasn’t until 1905 that the breed was considered a separate breed from the English variety. The French Bulldog was given its modern name in 1912.
Frenchies are still a popular breed today, and in 2020 was the second-most registered dog in the UK. Their recent popularity does bring issues as these dogs are almost unable to reproduce naturally, requiring artificial insemination, and about 80% of puppies are born via Caesarean section. This makes the breed very expensive. Some dogs may also need an operation because of their brachycephalic faces to open up their airways and remove excess soft tissue. These are all things to bear in mind if you are thinking of getting a Frenchie. Many pet insurance companies will charge more for a brachycephalic dog and airline carriers are weary of transporting them due to their breathing issues on flights.
All in all ,the Franch Bulldog is a fun, affectionate little dog and great companion.
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