Focus on Frenchies - The adorable French Bulldog
Related to both the American and English Bulldog, the French Bulldog is smaller in size and is an exceptionally playful and good natured character that easily adapts to different lifestyles and home environments making them one of the most popular companion dogs not only in the UK, but elsewhere in the world too.
Frenchies crave lots of attention and like nothing more than to spend time with their owners. One of their most endearing traits is their willingness to please and although they can be stubborn, when carefully handled Frenchies can be taught to do some amazing things.
French Bulldogs are known to be the clowns of the dog world, but they are quite intelligent with a mischievous and playful streak in them. They may become a little possessive and protective of owners and will occasionally need a gentle reminder about who is the alpha dog in a household. They are generally very good around children, although it is best to always supervise any encounters kids have with Frenchies, much the same as with any other breed of dog.
The modern French Bulldog we see today is a descendant of ancient dogs bred by an ancient Greek tribe called the Molossians. These dogs found their way to many regions of the ancient world having been introduced to these areas by Phoenician traders.
There is a lot of speculation on the actual origin of the French Bulldog, but it is likely that the breed originated from the miniature or toy Bulldog (a cross of English Bulldogs and Terrier type dogs) which were brought to France by Nottingham lace workers during the industrial revolution that took place in England during the eighteen hundreds. Other people believe the French Bulldog is descended from the Chincha Bulldog, a breed native to ancient Peru and which no longer exists today.
The first ever breed club was established in Paris in the late eighteen hundreds and a little later a breed standard was established. French Bulldogs were only admitted and accepted as a breed in 1905 here in the UK when they were called Bouledogue Francais, this was later altered to French Bulldog in 1912. Over the years, the breed standard has been continually updated with more colours being considered acceptable which includes the colour fawn.
Height at the withers: Males 30 cm, Females 30 cm
Average Weight: Males 12.5 kg, Females 11 kg
French Bulldogs are small yet extremely muscular and strong looking dogs. Heavy in bone with a smooth coat and compactly built, they are powerful little dogs. The head should be large and square with a slightly rounded skull with skin folds and wrinkles typically found around it.
The muzzle is broad and deep with a nose that should be extremely short and black in colour, except in the case of the lighter-coloured dogs, where a lighter colour is acceptable. The underjaw is undershot and turned up, but neat.
Eyes are wide apart, set low down in the skull, as far from the ears as possible, being round and moderate in size. A French Bulldog's ears are a distinctive shape often referred to as 'bat ears', they are broad at the base, elongated, rounded at the tops and set high on a dog's head.
A Frenchie's neck is well proportioned and thickly set, muscular and well arched, with loose skin at the throat leading to short, straight forelegs that are set wide apart. The body is short and well rounded, muscular and compact with broad shoulders leading into a deep chest which gives the French Bulldog their powerful appearance. Hind legs are notably longer than the forelegs giving the appearance of a higher rump than withers. The tail can be either straight or screwed, but never curly.
A French Bulldog's coat is short and fine and comes in a variety colours including the following:
• Various shades of brindle• Fawn or white with brindle patches (known as pied)
The dominant colour is brindle, then fawn with pied being less common than the other colours. Breed clubs do not recognise any other colours or patterns. A dog's skin should be soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming the French Bulldog's characteristic folds and wrinkles.
French Bulldogs are the perfect companion dogs much preferring to be around people than being left on their own. They crave human contact and enjoy nothing more than acting "the clown" whenever they can.
They are considered to be of average intelligence but are able to learn new commands readily, once you get passed their stubborn streak. They are known to be easy-going and loyal companions to live with thanks to their sweet and affectionate natures. They are a good choice for people who live in smaller homes and apartments with the good news being they are not known to be "barkers" although they don't like being left on their own.
The French Bulldog is an ideal choice of pet for people who lead quieter lives because they will quite happily sit on the couch with their owner. However, these little dogs need to be given regular daily exercise and ideally this needs to be at least 1 hour a day otherwise, French Bulldogs have a tendency to plough on the pounds. Obesity is a real problem for the breed which results in dogs developing all sorts of health issues and can shorten their lifespans considerably.
As previously mentioned, Frenchies are intelligent little dogs that rank 58 out of 79 breeds in many surveys. They love to please which means they are quite easy to train, as long as their stubborn streak does not rear its ugly head. It pays to take things slowly and surely when training a Frenchie and being very patient will pay off in the end. Frenchies can be taught to do all sorts of things, some of which are highly amusing which adds to their label of being the "clowns of the dog world".
Positive reinforcement training is essential, but you have to monitor how many rewards you give a Frenchie during their education to ensure a dog does not put on too much weight, especially when they are still puppies or young dogs. Carrying too much weight puts extra pressure on growing joints and not fully developed ligaments which can lead to all sorts of bone deformities, a problem the breed is already known to suffer from anyway.
Intelligence / Trainability
French Bulldogs are quite intelligent, but they do have a bit of a stubborn streak in them at times. The good news is that these little dogs like nothing better than to please which in short, means that with the right sort of handling they are easy to train. With this said, their training needs to start early and it's essential that it remains consistent throughout a dog's life. The other thing about Frenchies is they are be a little boisterous when the mood takes them which usually means they turn into real clowns which can make training them a little more challenging. These dogs are smart and know just how to wrap their owners around their little paws.
Children and other pets
Due to their kind and gentle natures, as long as French Bulldogs are well socialised from a young age, they generally get on well with other animals and family pets. Early socialisation is essential as it will enhance a dog's laid back but playful nature. They are also noted for being a breed that gets along with children of all ages extremely well, always displaying a lot of patience and kindness towards younger members of a family, which is just one of the reasons these little dogs have consistently remained high up on the list as a popular choice of family pet. However, it always pays to take things slowly, quietly and smoothly when any dog first meets another animal or dog they have never encountered before to avoid any aggressive behaviours.
The average life span of a French Bulldog is between 12 to 16 years when properly cared for and fed a good quality diet that's appropriate for their ages and any health issues a dog may be suffering from.
There are certain specific hereditary and congenital health issues the breed is known to suffer from and this includes the following:
• Cleft palate and hare lips• Hemivertebrae
Other health issues more commonly seen in the breed than other breeds include the following:
• Hip Dysplasia
• Back problems - often seen in older French Bulldogs
• Spondylitis - the condition more often affects dogs in their senior years, but treatment is available and the prognosis is generally thought to be very good
• Cherry Eye
• Corneal ulcers
• Pannus - a condition that affects older Frenchies more than younger dogs
• Hypothyroidism - affects a small percentage of French Bulldogs• Epilepsy - typically affects male dogs more than females
• Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome - being a brachycephalic breed, the French Bulldog can experience trouble breathing, especially when the weather is hot and why it is never a good idea to over-exercise them during the warmer summer months. The other thing to bear in mind, is that care needs to be taken when anaesthetising any brachycephalic breed which vets would take into consideration should a dog need to be sedated for any reason.
When giving birth, almost 80% of puppies have to be delivered via a caesarean section due to the larger size of their heads. Pups should always be delivered under the care of a vet who has enough experience to ensure the safety of both the dam and her puppies.
Caring for a French Bulldog
As with any other breed, French Bulldogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise so they stay fit and healthy. On top of this, Frenchies need to be fed a good quality diet throughout their lives to ensure all their nutritional needs are met.
A Frenchie needs regular grooming and ideally this needs to be done on a weekly basis paying particular attention to under a dog's tail. They have what is known as "deep tail pockets" which need to be kept clean of any dead hair, skin and other debris to avoid the area becoming sore and irritated. If left dirty, it could result in a painful infection taking hold. The best way to clean under a dog's tail is to use a damp cloth and to towel dry the area gently, but thoroughly afterwards. Having a short, compact coat, a Frenchie is quite easy maintenance on the grooming front. They tend to shed more during the Spring and then again in the Autumn which is when they may need more frequent brushing. However, because they have lots of folds and wrinkles around their faces and other parts of their bodies, it's always a good idea to make sure these are kept free of any debris and dead skin which means using a clean damp cloth and regularly wiping the folds before thoroughly drying them with a clean towel. It's important to remove any moisture from the wrinkles and folds because if any moisture remains, it provides the perfect environment for bacteria to take hold and thrive in.
Being a brachycephalic breed, the Frenchie should not be over exercised during very hot weather because not only would they would have trouble breathing, but they could quickly overheat and this could lead to a dog suffering from hypothermia. However, they are energetic and lively little dogs which means they need to have a minimum of 1 hour's exercise on a daily basis for them to remain fit and healthy or they might start to put on too much weight. It's also a good idea to keep these little dogs mentally stimulated by playing lots of interactive games with them, something the Frenchie really enjoys and it helps strengthen the bonds they form with their owners.
French Bulldogs are not greedy dogs although they will put on weight all too easily if not given a correct, good quality, nutritious diet to suit their ages and not given the right amount of daily exercise. They are not known to be fussy eaters, but again their diet needs to be monitored, paying careful attention to what a dog is given to eat should they start to gain weight. This is especially true of younger Frenchies that still have a lot of growing and developing to do. Any extra weight a young dog carries puts a lot of strain and pressure on their bones, joints and ligaments.
If you get a Frenchie puppy, the breeder would recommend you feed them the same diet they have been used to. You can then gradually change their diet over a period of a few weeks to avoid them suffering from any sort of tummy upset. It's important to feed puppies good quality food that's been specifically formulated for puppies because it contains all the extra nutrients they need to develop properly. Puppies also need to be fed at regular intervals and ideally this needs to be 3 to 4 times a day until they are anything from 14 to 18 weeks old. After which time they can be fed once in the morning and then again in the evening.
Older Frenchies have to be fed a good quality nutritious diet at least once a day, but the amount has to correspond with the amount of exercise they are given on a daily basis to avoid dogs putting on any weight. Like all dogs, Frenchies need to have access to fresh clean water at all times.
Average cost to keep/care for a French Bulldog
If you are looking to buy a French Bulldog, you would need to be prepared to pay anything from £1000 to well over £1300 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. As a rough guide, the cost of insuring a 3 year old Frenchie in the north of England would be just over £37 a month for basic cover to over £113 a month for a lifetime policy (quote as of March 2016). It's worth noting that lots of things are factored in when an insurance company calculates a dog's insurance premium and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age.
When it comes to food costs, you would need to buy the best quality dog food whether wet or dry to feed your dog throughout their lives and it needs to suit the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £20-£30 per month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Frenchie and this includes their initial vaccinations, neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health checks.
As a rough guide, the total average cost to keep and care for a French Bulldog would be in the region of between £100 - £150 a month depending on the type of pet insurance you opt to buy, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree French Bulldog puppy.(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)