What Exactly Is A French Bulldog?

Oct 6, 2015 | Dog Breeds | Designer Mixes

What Exactly Is A French Bulldog?

The French Bulldog is a small breed of domestic dog. In the 1800s, “Frenchies” were the result of a cross between bulldog ancestors imported from England and local ratters in Paris, France.

French bulldogs descend from the Molossians in ancient Greece. They were spread throughout the ancient world by Phoenician traders. British dogs were developed into the Mastiff. A sub-family of the Mastiff was the Bullenbeisser, a type of dog used for bull-baiting.

To reduce their size, some bulldogs were crossed with terriers, while others were crossed with pugs. By 1850 the Toy Bulldog had become common in England, and appeared in conformation shows when they began around 1860. These dogs weighed around 16–25 pounds, although classes were also available at dog shows for those that weighed under 12 pounds

At the same time, lace workers from Nottingham began to settle in Normandy, France. They brought a variety of dogs with them, including miniature Bulldogs. These dogs became popular in France and a trade in the imported small Bulldog was created, with breeders in England sending over Bulldogs that they considered to be too small, or with faults such as ears that stood up. By 1860, there were few miniature Bulldogs left in England, such was their popularity in France and due to the exploits of specialist dog exporters.

The small bulldog type gradually became thought of as a breed, and received a new name, the Bouledogue Francais. This Francization of the English name is also a contraction of the words “boule” (ball) and “dogue” (mastiff or molosser).

The dogs were highly fashionable and were sought after by society ladies and Parisian prostitutes alike, as well as creatives such as artists, writers and fashion designers. However, records were not kept of the breed’s development as it diverged further away from its original bulldog roots.

As it changed, terrier and pug stock may have been brought in to develop traits such as the breed’s long straight ears, and the roundness of their eyes.


The French Bulldog, like many other companion dog breeds, requires close contact with humans. They have fairly minimal exercise needs, but do require at least daily short walks. They are sometimes called ‘Frog dog’ or a ‘Clown dog.’ Frog dog is in reference to the way they sit with hind legs spread out. Clown dog is because they are known to be fun loving vivacious ‘clowns’ of the dog world.  Most French Bulldogs enjoy water. However it is recommended that they wear a flotation vest around pools or any deep water. French Bulldogs are excellent guard dogs as well.

French Bulldogs make excellent companions. They rarely bark. They are patient and affectionate with their owners, especially with children, who are especially protected by the females. French Bulldogs also get along well with other breeds.


The average lifespan of a French bulldog is 8 to 11 years as estimated by the UK breed club. The AKC lists the French Bulldog lifespan as 11 to 13 years.

As a result of their inherited airway disease (brachycephalic syndrome), French bulldogs suffer an innate inability to effectively regulate their body temperature. While a regular canine may suffer to some degree from the heat, to a Frenchie it may be lethal. Since they are a brachycephalic breed, French Bulldogs are banned by several commercial airlines due to the numbers that have died while in the air. This is because dogs with snub noses find it difficult to breathe when they are hot and stressed. The cargo space in an aircraft can rise as high as 30 °C (86 °F) when waiting on the runway. So this does not mean that a Frenchie cannot travel on the airlines it just means this gorgeous canine needs to have a seat next to you!

Birth And Reproduction

French bulldogs frequently require artificial insemination to conceive and a caesarean section to give birth, with over 90% of litters delivered this way. It’s another reason that this breed is so expensive compared to other normally whelped dogs. In addition, many French bulldog stud dogs are incapable of naturally breeding. This is because French Bulldogs have very slim hips, making the male unable to mount the female to reproduce naturally. Typically, breeders must undertake artificial insemination of female dogs. Female French bulldogs can also suffer from erratic or “silent” heats, which may be a side effect of thyroid disease or impaired thyroid function.

Interesting Factoids

While no French Bulldogs have been Best in Show at either Crufts or the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, there was one dominant Bulldog during the 1950s at Westminster. Ch. Bouquet Nouvelle Ami won Best of Breed for eight years in a row; the run only ended with the dog’s retirement after the 1960 show. The dog’s owner, Amanda West, went on to win Best of Breed with other French Bulldogs for a further ten years. In 2010, a Canadian French Bulldog named Ch. Robobull Fabelhaft I’m On Fire became the first of his breed to win the Non-Sporting Group and make it through for consideration at the Best in Show round, eventually losing to Scottish Terrier Ch. Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot.

For Jason Schwartzman’s French Bulldog, Arrow, made a cameo in his HBO detective comedy series Bored to Death in October 2010.

The only French Bulldog aboard the Titanic went down with the ship on 15 April 1912. Robert Daniel, a 27-year-old banker, had purchased the dog, named Gamin de Pycombe, for £150 (the equivalent of $17,000 in today’s prices). A surviving passenger was later quoted as having seen a French Bulldog swimming in the ocean after the ship sank.

Hypoallergenic: No
Scientific name: Canis lupus familiaris
Life span: 10 – 12 years
Higher classification: Dog
Temperament: Lively, Playful, Athletic, Alert, Easygoing, Bright, Keen, Patient, Affectionate, Sociable
Origin: France, England

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