French Bulldog Temperament: Ideal companion dog overshadowed by controversy
The French Bulldog, or "Frenchie" as they're lovingly called, is a famous dog breed that has been increasing in popularity in recent years. Their compact size and loving temperament contributed to their shot to fame, especially in urban areas. So if you're thinking about adding one to your family, this blog post can help you decide if the Frenchie is the right dog for you.
French Bulldogs are fun-loving and affectionate dogs who make great family pets. They're known for their loyalty, companionship, and sweet demeanour, but it's essential to understand their temperament and the controversy before bringing one home.
French Bulldogs can be wonderful pets, but there are some things to consider before deciding.
They are unique dogs with a lot of personalities but come with some severe health issues. #EndTheTrend and #SaveOurBreath are only two campaigns calling for a ban or an overhaul of breeding standards for this dog.
Are you ready for all that comes with owning a French Bulldog? Then, let's dive right in.
French Bulldog History
Surprisingly the ancestors of the French Bulldog weren't French, and they weren't small and cute either. The French Bulldog is actually of British descent.
The ancestor of the French Bulldog is the Old English Bulldog, a dog bred for bullbaiting. These dogs had to be robust, agile and basically able to take down a bull. They used to look more like a Staffordshire Bullterrier than the English Bulldogs we know today.
Bullbaiting was banned in 1835 in England and made space for Dog shows that relied more on looks than abilities. During that time, the more fashionable Bulldog had a short muzzle, squished face and lower jaws. They probably went through the most dramatic physical change as they were bred for more exaggerated features and smaller sizes.
But even back then, breeders realised the health issues that the Bulldogs displayed due to these selective breeding practices. Can you imagine? Already 100 years ago, health issues were called out in brachycephalic breeds.
A dwarf Bulldog was first bred in Nottingham and became especially popular with the artisans in the lace-making industry. However, during the industrial revolution, when machinery became more prominent for lace making, the traders had to move to France and bring their toy-sized English Bulldogs.
France is the country where the French Bulldog was bred to look more like they look today. It is believed they were crossed with more miniature Terriers and Pugs to retain their small size or to become even smaller. The Terriers were responsible for giving these little dogs their terrier liveliness.
The new Frenchies quickly became the favourite accessory of women working in the oldest profession in the world, also called Les Belles de Nuit – streetwalkers.
Some had erect "bat ears' while others had "rose" ears. Wealthy Americans in France fell in love with these charming little dogs and began bringing them back to the USA. Naturally, the Americans preferred dogs with erect ears, undisputed by French and British breeders, who chose the rose-eared specimens. So the Americans quickly set up the AKC registered breed that only allowed Bat ears.
What made this little dog explode to such popularity?
It's known as baby syndrome. Big eyes, squishy face and tiny frame, are just so cute and the perfect accessory for a night out in town.
However, by 1940 the French Bulldog was considered a rare breed, threatened by recession and World Wars and their inability to give birth naturally. It would be years until the C-section was advanced to let little puppies see the light of the world.
Over the last decade, UK registrations for French Bulldogs have risen by 1,682 %. It is a meteoric rise in popularity. In 2021, the Frenchie was the second most popular dog breed in the UK, right after the Labrador Retriever.
So it's common to see them in the hands of celebrities on Instagram and in adverts.
This worries people who would like to see the breed thrive with reduced health issues and an updated breed standard to improve the dog's breathing.
Unfortunately, 90% of Frenchies today have restricted breathing due to unscrupulous breeders, puppy farms and years of breeding for exaggerated features.
The below numbers show that the Covid pandemic also contributed to the rise of the French Bulldog. Q3 2022 showed a slowing in new Frenchie registrations compared with the pandemic year 2021.
Source: UK Kennel Club https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/2407/quarterly-breed-stats-utility.pdf January 2023
The UK Kennel Club recognises a few breed standard colours.
Brindle, Light Brindle, Dark Brindle
Brindle & White
Fawn & White
Fawn with Black Mask
Now that we have a rough idea about their breeding history let's dive into how your life with a Frenchie might look.
What is the Temperament of the French Bulldog?
Frenchies have a loving and family-orientated temperament. Those little dogs love life!
They're known to be extremely loyal and loving toward their owners, making them an excellent choice for families of all sizes. They're affectionate and will quickly form an emotional bond with all family members.
A French Bulldog will stick by its owner's side no matter what and provide unconditional love and loyalty.
French Bulldogs are little Velcro dogs. They don't like being alone and can develop separation anxiety if left without training or introduction periods. If you're unable to be around most of the time, this dog breed is not the best choice.
Today Frenchie is mellow and kind-hearted. They're not the best choice when looking for a guard- or watchdog. Their loving little hearts will make them welcome strangers into the home without ringing alarm bells.
They're highly adaptable and can live in an apartment or small house with or without a garden. Hence, their popularity, especially for the city-dwelling population. Usually, they don't tend to bark too much and will be tolerated by your neighbours if you live in an apartment. Frenchies can be vocal, however, and let their disdain show with a loud sigh.
Frenchies are of average intelligence and can pick up many commands quickly. They do come with a stubborn streak, though. Luckily, they are of biddable temperament as well and like to please their owner. When training, rely on the positive re-enforcement training method; you should be fine in most cases.
Many owners praise the clownish side of these little dogs. They seem to have little quirks that make these dogs very adorable with unique personalities.
Frenchies are fantastic with children. They like the attention and will happily engage with them. However, it is recommended to constantly teach your child how to approach any dog. Although the Frenchie is a happy dog, they won't suffer fools gladly if lines are crossed. However, this is the case with most dog breeds.
Their small size makes them a dog easy to handle by children or the elderly with minimal pulling strength. Due to the Frenchie being a brachycephalic breed, always use a harness.
The biggest downfall of the Frenchie is the health issues that come with the breed. They do not cope well in hot weather and can be constantly uncomfortable when it's warm.
The Frenchie is a brachycephalic breed with a squashed and shortened muzzle like a Pug or English Bulldog. These dogs have obstructed breathing due to the shape of their skull, with poor breeding practices worsening the trait. Therefore, many vets and animal welfare organisations are calling for a ban on certain brachycephalic breeds.
Due to exaggerated breeding features, the Frenchie comes with various health issues, which we will list further below.
Cambridge University has further studied health issues in brachycephalic dog breeds. They have researched BOAS, which stands for brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, in over 214 French Bulldogs, 201 English Bulldogs and 189 Pugs.
The poor standard of these breeds became visible. For example, 93% of Pugs, 90% of Frenchies and 85% of English Bulldogs are affected by breathing problems. In addition, 45% of all Frenchies had severe stenosis, which means their nostrils were almost completely closed.
If you want a healthy and robust dog and can't afford vet bills, then the Frenchie shouldn't be considered by you.
If you're looking for a jogging companion or a hiking partner in crime, this dog is also not the right choice. They are at risk of overheating quite quickly, and their stamina is more for shorter walks.
Costs are another consideration when it comes to owning one of these dogs. Despite their small size, medical bills can be high due to the many health issues that can come with the breed. If you can't afford this dog, don't get one.
The French Bulldog is undoubtedly an expensive love affair, but their kind-hearted, people-oriented and companionable temperament can make it worthwhile.
Let's now look at some common French Bulldog questions.
Is breeding French Bulldogs cruel?
Each person needs to decide for themselves with the right amount of research. Campaigns openly call for a ban on advertising French Bulldogs, which we, as a company, support.