The French Bulldog, like many other companion dog
breeds they require close contact with humans. They have fairly minimal exercise needs, but do require at least daily walks. As a flat faced breed, it is essential that owners understand that French Bulldogs cannot live outdoors. Their bulk and their compromised breathing system makes it impossible for them to regulate their temperature efficiently. In addition, Frenchies are top heavy and therefore have a difficult time swimming. Precautions must be taken when exercising a Frenchie during hot or humid weather, as well.
French Bulldogs can play too roughly for some smaller children, and should be monitored at all times during play. As well, children should be cautioned not to pick French Bulldogs up, as the dogs' small size can mask how heavy they are. They can look unmuscular but in reality they are very strong.
French Bulldogs are essentially a bull and terrier breed, and as such, it is not surprising to learn that canine aggression can sometimes occur. Generally, this takes the form of same sex aggression. Owners considering adding a second dog to their household are usually cautioned to choose one of the opposite sex. Spaying or neutering can do much to curb aggressive tendencies before they begin. The French Bulldog energy level can range from hyperactive and energetic to relaxed and laid back.
The same characteristics that make the French Bulldog so appealing, flat face, big ears, stubby bodies, short tails, are the same ones that make them prone to some pretty serious health conditions. Choosing a breeder who does health testing and screening does cut down on the chances of many of these problems, but even the most conscientious breeder can occasionally have one or more of these conditions arise. Anyone considering the purchase of a Frenchie needs to be aware of these potential problems.
There are several congenital diseases and conditions to which French bulldogs are susceptible, although they are still considered among the healthiest of the bull breeds. Frenchies can suffer from Von Willebrand's disease (VWD), a bleeding disorder that is also found in humans and is similar to hemophilia, 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 time.
French bulldogs suffer from brachycephalic syndrome, which is what creates the flat faced appearance of the Frenchie. As a result, 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 labored breathing to severe condition that can cause the affected dog to pass out from moderate exercise.
French bulldogs can also suffer from a condition called mega esophagus
, a term which collectively describes several esophageal disorders and malformations in any combination from single-to-double or multiple. One of the more serious complications in a dog affected with mega esophagus
is passive regurgitation, in which the affected dog vomits up food or phlegm after eating or exercise.
As a result of the compacted airway of the French bulldog, they may develop an 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. This condition is also referred to as chondrodysplasia. 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 used for breeding, 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 veterinarian or breeder who has seen quite a few bulldog breed spinal x-rays, to avoid eliminating dogs unnecessarily.