The French Bulldog is a sturdy, compact, stocky little dog, with a large square head that has a rounded forehead. The muzzle is broad and deep with a well-defined stop. The nose is usually black, but may be lighter in lighter colored dogs. The upper lips hang down over the lower lips. The teeth meet in an under bite and the lower jaw is square and deep. The eyes are round, prominent and set wide apart. The bat ears stand erect, are broad at the base narrowing in a triangular shape and rounded at the tips. The height at the withers to the ground should be approximately the same as the length from withers to the base of the tail. The tail is left natural and never docked. It will be either straight or corkscrew from birth. The chest is broad and deep with the front of the dog being wider than the back end, forming a pear shape. The paws are nice and tight and should never be splayed. The dewclaws may be removed. The medium-fine coat is short and smooth with a minimal amount of shedding. The skin is loose, forming wrinkles around the head and shoulders.
The French Bulldog is a pleasant companion who is playful, alert and affectionate. They are enthusiastic and lively, without being yappy and loud. Curious, sweet and absolutely hilarious, they have a very comical personality and love to clown around. They are bright, easygoing and much smarter than people think. French Bulldogs get along well with strangers and other animals and enjoy being with their owners. They play well with other dogs if socialized when young. French Bulldogs that are allowed to believe they are alpha dogs may become dog aggressive. They are considered a "bully breed", so they do need leadership and will not thrive without it. When they sense an owner is meek or passive, they may become very stubborn and/or assume an alpha dog role in the relationship. Training needs to be done in a calm, firm, consistent and patient manner. French Bulldogs are very treat motivated and respond well to positive reinforcement. Proper human to canine communication is essential. Do not give affection or “sweet talk” them if they are displaying any type of unwanted behaviors. They need to be corrected sternly with an air of calm authority. Do not allow this sweet little bully to develop “Small Dog Syndrome”. French Bulldogs are clean, and most will try to avoid getting dirty. Most cannot swim, so take caution around water and use a life jacket as needed. French Bulldogs need little to moderate exercise. Contrary to popular belief, they can enjoy many outdoor activities (weather permitting). We take ours hiking and kayaking in the cooler months.
Many years ago, bulldogs known as Bullenbeissers were developed for bull and bear baiting. These were blood sports that were extremely popular in England and other countries for centuries. However, animal fighting was outlawed in England in 1835. The dogs no longer had any purpose so their numbers began to decline. Fortunately, some people had begun to breed Bulldogs as companions instead of for their fighting abilities. They were crossed with terriers, with Pugs, and by about 1850 a toy Bulldog had come into existence in England that weighed about 16 to 25 pounds.
At this time lace workers from Nottingham in England lost their jobs due to the Industrial Revolution and left England for Normandy in France. They took along a number of dogs with them, including some of the toy Bulldogs. These small Bulldogs became immediately popular in France. There was a great demand for the small Bulldogs in France and English breeders began sending over all they could. They sent over undersized Bulldogs and Bulldogs who had traits that were considered faults in Bulldogs in England, such as ears that stood up. The French loved them and kept taking them until there were no more small Bulldogs to send.
Eventually, the small Bulldogs in France were considered a separate breed. They were called the Bouledogue Francais (French Bulldog). They were popular with aristocrats, ladies of the evening, the artistic set – with everyone. By this point, people were developing the breed as they wanted and it’s likely that the dogs were interbred with small terriers and Pugs to produce the snub nose, the round eyes, and the bat-like ears that are found in the breed today.
By 1885 Americans had discovered the little French Bulldogs and they were charmed by them. They brought them back to America and they became very popular in the United States. Frenchies were recognized by the AKC in 1898.