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rec.pets.dogs: French Bulldogs Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/frenchbulldogs
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Last-modified: 11 Sep 2000

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.  
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).  
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other 
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is" 
without express or implied warranty.

                              French Bulldogs

   Carol Gravestock, Copyright 1995.
Table of Contents

     * Breed History
     * Appearance
     * Home Environment
     * Health Concerns
     * Frequently Asked Questions 
     * Resources
          + Suggested Reading
          + Breed Clubs
          + Rescue
Breed History

   While theories abound about the the exact origin of the French
   Bulldog, the most prevalent opinion is that around the mid 1800's
   Normandy lace workers from England took smaller bulldogs with them
   when they sought work in France. In the farming communities north of
   France that the lace workers settled in, the little Bulldogs became
   very popular as ratters and loyal family companions and their
   population began to swell. These little bulldogs were in fact "culls"
   of the established Bulldog Breeders in England, who were generally
   more than happy to sell these undersized examples of their breed to
   fanciers of the "new" breed in England. This was especially true of
   the "tulip" eared puppies that cropped up at times in Bulldog litters.
   As the new, smaller Bulldogs gained popularity in France, they became
   favourites of the Parisian "Belles De Nuit" - the street walkers.
   Breed historians can still sometimes turn up notorious "French
   Postcards" bearing images of scantily clad French prostitutes posing
   with their little "Bouledogues Francais." The aura of notoriety that
   ownership of the little dogs conveyed soon made them a fashionable way
   for the well to do classes to show off how daring they could be, and
   they soon became favourites of the "artistic" set across Europe.
   Photos dating to around this time show photos of the Russian Royal
   family posing along side their French Bulldogs, and they were said to
   have imported several of the little dogs from France.
   It is inarguable that without the influence of dedicated, turn of the
   century American fanciers the breed would not be what it is today. It
   is they that organised the very first French Bulldog Club in the
   world, and it was they who insisted that the "bat" ear so associated
   with the breed today was correct. Until that time, French Bulldogs
   were shown with either the "bat" or "rose" ear.
   As a point of historic interest, a French Bulldog, insured for the at
   that time astronomical sum of $750, was on board the ill fated
   Titanic. All in all, French Bulldogs truly are an International Breed,
   with fanciers of many nations being responsible for the creation of
   the loving dogs we know today.

   Contrary to the opinions of many Bulldog fanciers, French Bulldogs are
   not simply Bulldog Snobs. Neither are they simply miniature bulldogs
   with ears that stick up. The most frequent comparison owners hear is
   that they resemble either Pugs with their ears cropped, Boston
   Terriers on steroids or Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pigs!
   A smooth coated member of the Non Sporting Group, French Bulldogs are
   recognised by the FCI, The Kennel Club of Great Britain, the AKC and
   the CKC. While definitely not a rare breed, they are also not that
   commonly seen. For example, in April of 1995 27 French Bulldog litters
   were registered in all of the USA, as opposed to 2.512 litters of
   standard poodles, or 291 litters of Bulldogs. In 1994, French Bulldogs
   ranked 81st in popularity. Registrations have been climbing steadily
   for the last twenty years, although no one expects them to break in to
   the top ten most popular breeds any time soon - not that most fanciers
   want them to!
   According to the American and Canadian Breed Standard, the maximum
   weight for a French Bulldog is 28 Lbs. the Average weight for a male
   tends to be 24-28 Lbs, and for a female 19-24 Lbs. This size makes
   them a nice, sturdy, smaller sized dog, without the inherent frailty
   of so many of the Toy breeds. Their bodies are similar in type to the
   Bulldog, with less exaggeration. For example, while their jaw is also
   undershot, it is not to the same degree as the bulldog. Neither are
   their faces as wrinkled as their cousins the bulldog. They should in
   general resemble a sturdy, compact, cobby little dog.
   Their ears are of primary importance to the appearance of the breed,
   and should always be "Bat." Equally important is that elusive
   something known as expression. As a matter of fact, most fanciers will
   describe "that face" as being one of their primary reasons for
   choosing this breed. With their gently wrinkled brow, clear gaze and
   alertly intense gaze, almost no other bred can give as clear an
   impression that they not only hear you but can understand everything
   that you say - which is not to imply that they intend to listen!
   French Bulldogs come in a gorgeous array of colours. In fact, ALL are
   allowed in the show ring, with the exception of: Black (meaning with
   out a SINGLE white or other coloured hair; Black and tan (Doberman
   Type Colours); Liver and Mouse. The exact nature of these last two
   colours is the subject of some debate among fanciers, many of whom
   feel them to be rather ambiguous descriptions at best. Heavy ticking,
   such as that seen on many setters, is to be avoided. In reality, these
   colour distinctions are relevant only in the show ring. A dog with any
   of those characteristics could make as equally wonderful a pet as any
   of the more common Brindles, Creams, or Pieds.
   For a more detailed discussion of the standard for the French Bulldog,
   please consult the AKC Standard.
Home Environment

   Frenchies make excellent pets for either apartments or homes, and they
   are comfortable as either city dogs or country dwellers. Frenchies in
   any environment have one overwhelming need, and that is to be in close
   contact with the person they love. Due to their inability to tolerate
   either extreme cold or extreme heat, it is not a consideration to
   house a Frenchie outdoors. Regardless of temperature, a French Bulldog
   is happiest when with its owner, and they enjoy long walks or car
   drives as much as any breed of dog you may hope to meet. I personally
   take my dogs along with me to work on a regular basis, and find that
   they are quite a congenial addition to the office. The do have the
   rather disconcerting habit of sitting at the feet of any one who dares
   to sit in their in "their" chair and gazing at them unblinkingly until
   they move. They don't bark, beg or paw at them, they merely stare.
   It's a frighteningly effective tactic to get people to move.
Health Concerns

   There are several congenital diseases and conditions that French
   Bulldogs are prone to, although they are still considered the
   healthiest of the Bull Breeds. Frenchies can suffer from Von
   Willebrand's Disease (VWD), a bleeding syndrome similar to to
   Haemophilia in humans which can impede their clotting. In conjunction
   to this, French Bulldogs may also suffer from thyroid condition. Many
   breeders follow a program of testing younger dogs for VWD, and only
   testing for thyroid at that time if the VWD factor is low. In this
   program, the breeder tests thyroid again just prior to using the dog
   for breeding. Other breeders test both VWD and Thyroid at the same
   As a result of the rather cramped conditions that a Frenchie's flat
   face creates, one of the most common defects in French Bulldogs is
   elongated soft palate or cleft palate. Puppies affected with Cleft
   palate are generally put down at birth, as it is generally considered
   to be an almost impossible condition to correct. Elongated soft palate
   can manifest as anything from a mild condition causing laboured
   breathing to severe condition that can cause the affected dog to pass
   out from moderate exercise. One of the most disgusting possibilities
   in a dog affected with elongated palate is passive regurgitation, in
   which the affected dog vomits up food or phlegm after eating or
   exercise. It is generally advisable to ask breeders if either parent
   has elongated soft palate, or has ever been operated on for the
   Another result of the compacted air way of the French Bulldog is their
   inability to effectively regulate temperature. While a regular canine
   may suffer to some degree from the heat, to a Frenchie it may be
   lethal. It is imperative that they be protected from temperature
   extremes at all times, and that they always have access to fresh water
   and shade.
   French Bulldogs can also suffer from an assortment of back and spinal
   diseases, most of which are probably related to the fact that they
   were selectively chosen from the dwarf examples of the Bulldog Breed.
   Some breeders feel that only dogs that have been X-rayed and checked
   for spinal anomalies should be bred from, but this is a difficult
   position to take sides on. While it is true that no dog affected with
   a spinal disease should be bred from , there is a great deal of
   variance in the appearance of a French Bulldog's spine as compared to,
   for example, a Labrador Retriever. If possible, such decisions should
   be left to either a Vet or breeder who has seen quite a few Bulldog
   Breed Spinal Xrays, to avoid eliminating dogs unnecessarily.
   No matter who you buy your French Bulldog from, make sure to ask what
   disorders they are testing for, and beware of any breeder who
   cavalierly states that "They don't have any of those problems in
   *their* lines." Reputable breeders are struggling to produce dogs that
   are as healthy as possible, and while these tests are expensive for
   the breeder to do, they can help to save the puppy purchaser hundreds
   or even thousands of dollars in potential vet bills. Needless to say,
   any one who would consider the purchase of a French Bulldog from a pet
   store would be further ahead to just sign their life savings over to
   their vet. In spite of all this, French Bulldogs are still considered
   to be the healthiest of the Bull Breeds.
Frequently Asked Questions

   Are Frenchies Noisy?
     Actually, some owners tell of having owned Frenchies for as long as
     six months without ever having heard them bark. I personally owned
     one that barked so infrequently that when she did it actually
     sounded rusty! In general, though, most Frenchies as sensible
     barkers, doing so only if they feel that there is something worth
     really getting excited about.
   How Are they With Kids?
     Whenever I am asked "How are Frenchies with children?" I like to
     reply "How are your children with dogs?" As with most dogs,
     Frenchies will play and rough house happily with older children who
     have been carefully introduced and taught to respect a dogs
     limitations. Smaller children must be carefully taught to never
     pick a Frenchie up, as they are a head heavy breed that is easy to
     drop. Some fanciers believe that Frenchies may play too vigorously
     for the average child under 2 years, but there is always the
     exception to the rule. As with your children, it is the way your
     Frenchie has been taught that will be the deciding factor.
   How Much Do They Cost?
     Well, quite frankly, a lot. French Bulldogs tend to be rather
     expensive, for a number of reasons. They are generally able to
     deliver only by Caesarean, have very low litter sizes, and usually
     need to be artificially inseminated. All of this tends to keep
     their prices rather high. Please ensure that if you find one that
     seems to be a bargain that it wasn't by virtue of their care being
     skimped on.
   Do They Drool?
     No! They are French, and as such would never be caught dead doing
     anything as uncouth as drooling - they leave that to their British
     Bulldog cousins!
   Is A Frenchie Right For Me?
     While French Bulldogs may not have the easily trained disposition
     of Border Collies, they are easily trained to basic obedience
     commands, and quite a few have competed successfully in the
     obedience ring, even earning U.D. titles. Frenchies, with their
     gentle nature and love of attention, make excellent therapy dogs
     but are not the breed to choose, however, if you are seeking a
     vigorous jogging companion or highly athletic dog. Their joints
     were not made to take the stress of constant pounding, and their
     impaired breathing can make heavy activity life threatening in
     extreme weather conditions. If there was ever a couch potato
     Olympics, on the other hand, I am quite sure that most of the Gold
     Medal Winners would be French Bulldogs.
     If you enjoy leisurely walks , long drives or pleasant outings to
     the park then a Frenchie just may be the dog for you!

  Suggested Reading and Viewing
   The following are a short list of books, magazines and videos that you
   may want to take a look at before you buy a French Bulldog. With the
   lack of breed information on French Bulldogs you will find these
   sources to be invaluable, whether you want a Frenchie to show or for a
   pet. We find them to be indispensable!
   The Frenchy Bullytin
          Available from ARDESIGN
          Published quarterly in full color, this award winning breed
          magazine is not just for breeders or exhibitors, but for
          fanciers of French Bulldogs everywhere. Articles on rescue,
          health tips, feeding, fiction, tips from other owners and much
          more. Sample copies are available, see their web site for
   The French Bulldog AKC Breed Video
          A complete overview of what to look for in a show quality
          French Bulldog, and it also gives you a great indepth look at
          Frenchies in general! If you've only seen Frenchies in books,
          order this video and take a look at he real thing before you
          buy. Invaluable for those considering showing.
   French Bulldog Book and Video Store

          Listing of every known book, video or magazine featuring (or
          even mentioning!) French Bulldogs,including rare and out of
          print books.
   The French Bulldog
          By Steve Eltinge. Available from ARDESIGN at 612-454-9510 or by
          email to .
          This book is the first new book written on French Bulldogs
          since the 1950's. It was the winner of the prestigious Dog
          Writers Association of America Book of the Year award. It is
          invaluable for any one even thinking of purchasing a French
          Bulldog, containing Breed history, health tips, and lots of
          full colour pictures. We strongly suggest to all of our puppy
          purchasers that they obtain a copy.
   DOG FANCY MAGAZINE- The May 95 Edition
          Has a short breed Outline of the French Bulldog, written by
          Steve Eltinge.
  Breed Clubs
   The French Bull Dog Club of America

          Information regarding the French Bulldog, including Breed
   French Bulldog Fanciers of Canada

          Membership is open to all fanciers of the breed from any where
          in the world.
   The French Bull Dog Club of America Rescue League ( Contact the FBDCA for information
   on adopting a French Bulldog, or if you know of a French Bulldog in
   need of rescue or re-homing. Adoptive homes are selected to meet the
   needs of each individual dog, with the priority being the dog's well
   being. A donation is required.
   Please contact Carol Gravestock ( if
   you know of a French Bulldog anywhere in Canada in need of rescue,
   placment or re-homing. Please note that, due to the thankful scarcity
   of French Bulldogs in need of rescue in Canada, no waiting list for
   rescue homes is maintained. Please do not use this address to inquire
   about adopting French Bulldogs. Residents of Canada who wish to be
   informed of any dogs currently in need of homes within Canada can
   visit .
    French Bulldog FAQ
    Carol Gravestock,
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