The French Bulldog, also known as the Boule-Dogue Français, the Bouledogue Francais, the Frogdog, Bat Ears and , more affectionately, the Frenchie, is perhaps best known for its bat-like ears, miniaturized Bulldog appearance and clownish personality. Frenchies are not normally noisy or snappy dogs. Early in their history, European breeders tended to prefer a dropped or "rose" ear. However, preservation of the bat ear is a hallmark of the modern French Bulldog due to the persistence of selective American and other breeders. The French Bulldog was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1898 as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.
The average Frenchie is approximately 12 inches at the withers and weighs between 22 and 28 pounds. Dogs or bitches weighing over 28 pounds are disqualified under the breed standard. Their short, smooth and brilliant coat is easy to care for, and a number of different coat colors are acceptable in the American Kennel Club conformation ring. The Frenchie's erect ears should be cleaned regularly.
The French Bulldog probably descends at least in part from the English Bulldog – likely from one of the toy varieties which were popular in England around the 1850s and 1860s, especially among lace-makers in the Nottingham region of the English midlands. Eventually, the small bulldogs fell out of favor with the English and were sent in large numbers to France, where they were crossed with assorted other breeds and finally became fashionable among both rural landowners and eventually wealthy women in the cities. Although some authors suggest that the French Bulldog's original function was the bloodsport of bull-baiting, this is highly unlikely. Evidence suggests that from the moment the Frenchie existed as a distinct breed, it was bred almost exclusively as a human companion and watchdog. It gained its French name when the lace-makers from England moved to France, taking their miniature companions with them. The tiny Bulldogs quickly became enormously popular in France, although European breeders tended to prefer rose-shaped ears rather than the large, erect bat-like ears that mark the modern breed. The bat ears add much to the highly distinctive appearance of the French Bulldog and are a predominant breed feature today.
The controversy over ear type led to the formation of the French Bulldog Club of America in 1897, the oldest organization devoted to the breed. It held a specialty show in 1898 in the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom in New York, the first show of its kind. After that, the diminutive bulldogs became all the rage in this country, and registration of Frenchies flourished. In 1913, the Westminster Kennel Club reported 100 French Bulldogs benched at its show. The dog that contributed the most to the breed in America may have been Ch. Nellcote Gamin, imported here in 1904 by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Goldenberg. Gamin helped to cement the French Bulldog's breed type, making the stock in America among the finest in the world, without need for further importation.
The French Bulldog Club of England was founded in 1902, holding its first show in 1903. The Kennel Club in London gave the breed official approval in January of 1906, as the Bouledogue Francais. In 1912, the English Kennel Club changed the name to the French Bulldog.
Frenchies declined in popularity after World War I, while the Boston Terrier's popularity skyrocketed. The Great Depression made purebred dogs even less accessible to many Americans. Fortunately, by the 1980s and 1990s, the French Bulldog's popularity in America took a turn for the better, and the breed's survival seems assured.
The average life expectancy of the French Bulldog is between 10 and 12 years. This is comparable with the median lifespan of most purebred dogs (10 to 13 years), and most breeds similar in size. Potential hereditary defects and disorders more commonly found, but not necessarily found, in the French Bulldog are as follows:
Allergies: Overreaction by the immune system to an allergen, which is any substance capable of inducing a reaction in that particular animal
Cataracts: Refers to any opacity of the lens of the eye. Dogs of either gender can develop cataracts
Cherry Eye: Condition in which the third eyelid falls down or slips out of place
French Bulldogs make one of the best companion dogs in the world. They are small, easy to handle and are generally well behaved around new people and other animals. Frenchies have a reputation for being mischievous and clownish, stealing attention whenever and wherever possible. This little dog adores people and craves constant attention and companionship. They don't need a lot of exercise, but love to chase balls and play (indoors or out) during the day, and at night are more than happy to curl up and relax on the sofa. This breed makes an excellent companion for the elderly, but they can fit in well with families of all sizes and ages. French Bulldogs may have faces only a mother could love, but to know a French Bulldog is to love a French Bulldog.
French Bulldogs need a couple of 15 minutes walks every day to maintain their physique, and a few sessions of playing ball to keep them entertained. Their size and activity requirements make them good apartment dogs, but they are just as happy in a big home or on a farm with lots of wide open space. Frenchies don't care so much about the size of their home, as they do the size of their owners heart.
French Bulldogs should not be exercised too hard in the summer months, as they are prone to heatstroke. Swimming pool owners should be alert – this breed can not swim and falling into a pool could be life-threatening to a Frenchie.
French Bulldogs can be a training challenge. They are stubborn and quickly lose interest in repetitive activities. Training should be conducted in short sessions, and the routine should be mixed up to keep the Frenchie's interest. Showering a Frenchie with affection and treats when training is the best way to get results from him. Discipline, punishment and yelling will cause this dog to stop listening all together.
House training is a long, drawn out process with a French Bulldog. It can take six months to fully train them, and many breeders recommend crating a Frenchies for that period of time.
French Bulldogs are people dogs and don't like to be left alone for long periods of time. People who work long hours should not commit to a French Bulldog, as they can easily develop separation anxiety. This usually means uncontrolled barking while alone, which can alienate neighbors in close quarters.
Frenchies snort, snore and grunt 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are also prone to flatulence, which can bother some people, but most French Bulldog owners get used to the noises quickly and find them to be an endearing part of the Frenchie personality.
The French Bulldog has the appearance of an active, intelligent, muscular dog of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure. Expression alert, curious, and interested. Any alteration other than removal of dewclaws is considered mutilation and is a disqualification.
Proportion and Symmetry--All points are well distributed and bear good relation one to the other; no feature being in such prominence from either excess or lack of quality that the animal appears poorly proportioned.
Influence of Sex--In comparing specimens of different sex, due allowance is to be made in favor of bitches, which do not bear the characteristics of the breed to the same marked degree as do the dogs.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Weight not to exceed 28 pounds; over 28 pounds is a disqualification. Proportion--Distance from withers to ground in good relation to distance from withers to onset of tail, so that animal appears compact, well balanced and in good proportion. Substance--Muscular, heavy bone.
Head large and square. Eyes dark in color, wide apart, set low down in the skull, as far from the ears as possible, round in form, of moderate size, neither sunken nor bulging. In lighter colored dogs, lighter colored eyes are acceptable. No haw and no white of the eye showing when looking forward. Ears Known as the bat ear, broad at the base, elongated, with round top, set high on the head but not too close together, and carried erect with the orifice to the front. The leather of the ear fine and soft. Other than bat ears is a disqualification. The top of the skull flat between the ears; the forehead is not flat but slightly rounded. The muzzle broad, deep and well laid back; the muscles of the cheeks well developed. The stop well defined, causing a hollow groove between the eyes with heavy wrinkles forming a soft roll over the extremely short nose; nostrils broad with a well defined line between them. Nose black. Nose other than black is a disqualification, except in the case of the lighter colored dogs, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable but not desirable. Flews black, thick and broad, hanging over the lower jaw at the sides, meeting the underlip in front and covering the teeth, which are not seen when the mouth is closed. The underjaw is deep, square, broad, undershot and well turned up.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is thick and well arched with loose skin at the throat. The back is a roach back with a slight fall close behind the shoulders; strong and short, broad at the shoulders and narrowing at the loins. The body is short and well rounded. The chest is broad, deep, and full; well ribbed with the belly tucked up. The tail is either straight or screwed (but not curly), short, hung low, thick root and fine tip; carried low in repose.
Forelegs are short, stout, straight, muscular and set wide apart. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet are moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails.
Hind legs are strong and muscular, longer than the forelegs, so as to elevate the loins above the shoulders. Hocks well let down. Feet are moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails; hind feet slightly longer than forefeet.
Coat is moderately fine, brilliant, short and smooth. Skin is soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming wrinkles.
Acceptable colors - All brindle, fawn, white, brindle and white, and any color except those which constitute disqualification. All colors are acceptable with the exception of solid black, mouse, liver, black and tan, black and white, and white with black, which are disqualifications. Black means black without a trace of brindle.
Correct gait is double tracking with reach and drive; the action is unrestrained, free and vigorous.
Well behaved, adaptable, and comfortable companions with an affectionate nature and even disposition; generally active, alert, and playful, but not unduly boisterous.
Any alteration other than removal of dewclaws.
Over 28 pounds in weight.
Other than bat ears.
Nose other than black, except in the case of lighter colored dogs, where a lighter colored nose is acceptable.
Solid black, mouse, liver, black and tan, black and white, and white with black. Black means black without a trace of brindle.
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Sources: American Kennel Club