ABOUT THE FRENCH BULLDOG

Description

Bat-eared but oddly beautiful, the French Bulldog has a unique appeal. 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 black, but may be lighter in lighter colored dogs. The upper lips hang down over the lower lips. The teeth meet in an underbite and the lower jaw is square and deep. The round, prominent eyes are set wide apart and are dark in color. 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 either straight or corkscrew. The chest is broad and deep with the front of the dog being wider than the back end, forming a pear shape. The dewclaws may be removed. The medium-fine coat is short and smooth. The skin is loose, forming wrinkles around the head and shoulders. 

Temperament

The French Bulldog is a "well behaved, adaptable, and comfortable companion with an affectionate nature and even disposition; generally active, alert, and playful, but not unduly boisterous". It is enthusiastic and lively, without being yappy and loud. Curious, sweet and absolutely hilarious, it has a very comical personality and loves to clown around. It is bright and easygoing. The Frenchie gets along fairly well with strangers and other animals and enjoys being with its owner. It plays well with other dogs. That love of play and relaxed attitude carry over into their training sessions. French Bulldogs are intelligent, and training them is easy as long as you make it seem like a game and keep it fun. Frenchies are loving companions who thrive on human contact. If you want an outdoor dog who can be left alone for long periods, the Frenchie is not the breed for you. This is a dog who enjoys lavishing love on his human companions as much as he loves the same treatment in return. They generally get along well with everyone, including children. They can, however, be territorial and possessive of their people, especially in the presence of other dogs. Socialization is a must for this breed, but with their easy companionship this is an enjoyable task. Those Frenchies that are allowed to believe they are alpha may become dog aggressive. With a nature that is both humorous and mischievous, the French Bulldog needs to live with someone who is consistent, firm, and patient with all the antics and idiosyncrasies that make him both frustrating and delightful. This breed needs leadership and will not thrive without it. The Frenchie cannot be owned and ignored. When it senses an owner is meek or passive toward it, it will become very stubborn and even snappish. They can be trained if the owner is calm, but firm, consistent and patient. Proper human to canine communication is essential. They are free thinkers and are not an ideal breed for competing in obedience or agility although some have risen to the challenge. This freethinking approach can also lead to a stubborn nature, and if they decide to dig in their heels there is no budging them. Do not give them affection or sweet talk them if they are displaying any type of unwanted behaviors; instead correct them sternly with an air of calm authority. French Bulldogs are clean, and most will try to avoid puddles. Most cannot swim so take caution around water. This breed does best with considerate children who know how to display proper leadership. This breed may drool and slobber; however a good percentage of them do not. They are also a relentless hunter of mice. Do not allow this sweet little bully to develop Small Dog Syndrome. He sports a short easy-care coat to accompany his easygoing personality. The Frenchie likes to play, but he also enjoys spending his days relaxing on the sofa. French Bulldogs make excellent watchdogs and will alert their people to approaching strangers, but it's not their style to bark without cause. They can be protective of their home and family and some will try to defend both with their life. French Bulldogs are wonderful companion dogs with a gentle nature. If you work at home, the Frenchie is happy to lie at your feet all day or follow you from room to room. People who love them describe them as mischievous goof balls and can't imagine life without them. They are a constant presence, and they'll love you with all the strength in their small bodies, proving time and again that beauty is on the inside.

Life Expectancy

About 10-12 years. French Bulldogs have a relatively moderate life expectancy under ideal conditions, especially compared to other small breeds, clocking in at around 12 years of happy, chubby, and healthy life. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and some French Bulldogs have been known to live up to 15 or 16 years, while others have tragically died much younger. French Bulldogs are replete with health problems within the breed and there are many factors to consider when trying to get a sense of how long your French Bulldog will live. If your Frenchie came from a suspicious breeder or a puppy mill, and you rescued them, then there’s a good chance that they’ll have health problems later in life that their responsibly-bred counterparts will not have. Kennel cough and other common canine ailments can severely degrade the length and quality of life your French Bulldog enjoys. The easiest way to ensure your Frenchie lives a long and happy life is to only work with AKC-registered breeders who are professional, clean, caring, and responsible.

Size

The French Bulldog is small but substantial in build with a powerful muscular body.

Height: ~12 inches (30 cm)
There are two weight classes of French Bulldog:

  • 19 - 22 pounds (9 - 10 kg)

  • 22 - 28 pounds (10 - 13 kg)

  • Over 28 pounds is a disqualification

 

Living Conditions

French Bulldogs are good for apartment life do not need a lot of room; they do very well in apartments or small dwellings. They can be fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard. A couple of 15-minute walks per day should keep them from becoming overweight. Keep the Frenchie in cool, comfortable surroundings. They do not do well in temperature extremes. He's susceptible to heat exhaustion and needs an air-conditioned environment. This is not a dog who can stay outside on a hot day.

Excercise

The French Bulldog needs to be taken on a daily walk, where the dog is made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as instinct tells a dog the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. Simply running around a large yard is not going to satisfy their migration instinct. Take care in hot weather. They love to run and play and can play for hours if you let them. Some have higher energy levels than others. 

Grooming

Very little grooming is needed. Regular brushings will do. This breed is an average shedder.

Health Problems

French Bulldogs are prone to joint diseases, spinal disorders, heart defects and eye problems. Dams often have to deliver pups by cesarean section, because pups have relatively large heads. They often have respiratory problems. Small throat & nose openings makes excessive exercise & heat dangerous to this breed. Their throats can swell during the  strain to get enough air into their body during these situations and the dog can suffocate quickly so be careful when pet is playing with children outside during warm months. These are not outside dogs and should never be left outside in hot climates for any period of time-just quick trips to go potty and back inside. They tend to wheeze and snore and have trouble in hot weather. This breed is prone to heatstroke. An overweight Frenchie may have trouble breathing, because of a swollen abdomen. Do not overfeed this breed. Putting them under anesthesia is risky because of their breathing issues. French Bulldogs are high maintenance and potential owners need to be aware that their vet bills may be high. Take this into consideration before choosing a Frenchie puppy.

 

BRACHYCEPHALIC SYNDROME  - click here to download more information about brachycephalic syndrome

Brachycephalic dogs have been bred so as to possess a normal lower jaw, that is, one in proportion to their body size, and a compressed upper jaw. In producing this cosmetic appearance, we have compromised these animals in many important ways and you, as an owner, must be familiar with the special needs of your pet. Brachycephalic breeds are characterized by "brachycephalic respiratory syndrome," which affects the different areas of the respiratory tract. Fortunately, most dogs do not suffer from all aspects of the syndrome but you should be aware of which your particular pet may have.

  • STENOTIC NARES - This is a fancy name for narrowed nostrils. The brachycephalic dogs begins by having very small nasal openings for breathing. If this is severe, surgical correction is possible.

  • ELONGATED SOFT PALATE - It is difficult to fit the soft tissues of the canine mouth and throat into the brachycephalic's short face. As a result, the soft palate, which separates nasal passage from oral cavity, flaps loosely down into the throat creating snorting sounds. Virtually all brachycephalics suffer from this but actual respiratory distress is rare except in English Bulldogs. The English Bulldog tends to have more severe symptoms in almost all aspects of brachycephalic syndrome. Excess barking or panting may lead to swelling in the throat which can, in turn, lead to trouble. Again, the soft palate can be surgically trimmed.

  • TRACHEAL STENOSIS - The brachycephalic dog's windpipe may be dangerously narrowed in places. This condition creates tremendous anesthetic risk and should be ruled out by chest radiographs prior to any surgical procedures.

  • EVERTED LARYNGEAL SACCULES - The normal larynx has two small pockets called “ventricles” or “saccules.” When a dog has increased effort in breathing, over time these little pockets will actually turn inside out inside the throat. When this occurs, the protuberances need to be surgically snipped. In fact, this finding indicates that surgery for the stenotic nares and elongated soft palate is also warranted lest it progress to a full laryngeal collapse.

HEAT STRESS 

Because of all these upper respiratory obstructions, the brachycephalic dog is an inefficient panter. A dog with a more conventional face and throat is able to pass air quickly over the tongue through panting. Saliva evaporates from the tongue as air is passed across and the blood circulating through the tongue is efficiently cooled and circulated back to the rest of the body. In the brachycephalic dog, so much extra work is required to move the same amount of air that the airways become inflamed and swollen. This leads to a more severe obstruction, distress, and further over-heating. BRACHYCEPHALIC DOGS ARE THE MOST LIKELY CANDIDATES FOR HEAT STROKE. Altogether, the upper airways of the brachycephalic dog compromises his or her ability to take in air. Under normal conditions the compromise is not great enough to cause a problem; however, an owner should take care not to let the dog become grossly overweight or get too hot in the summer months.

EYE PROBLEMS

With most of the nasal bones compacted, brachycephalic dogs tend to have trouble with the way their eyes seat in their heads. First, recognize the prominence of the eyes on these dogs. The boney eye sockets are very shallow. This means that any blow to the back of the head, even a fairly minor one, can cause an eye to pop from its socket and require surgical replacement. This can happen also with too much pulling against the leash if the pet is wearing a collar. You may wish to consider a harness for your pet. Sometimes, the eyes are so prominent that the lids cannot close all the way over the eyes. This will lead to irritation and drying of the center of the eye unless surgical correction is performed. If you cannot tell by watching your pet blink, watch as your pet sleeps. Dogs who sleep without closing their eyes all the way could do with surgical correction. Eyelid problems are common in these breeds. Look for persistent wetness around the eyes. In some dogs, the shape of the eyelids prevents normal tear drainage and there is an overflow. This problem cannot be corrected surgically and is not uncomfortable for the pet; however, there is a more serious condition which looks similar. This second condition involves the rolling inward of the eyelids such that the lashes rub on the eye. Surgery may be needed to correct this problem. Chronic irritation will show as a pigmented area on the eye surface, especially on the side nearest the nose. This is hard to see without a bright light but if it is noted, a search for the cause is warranted. Depending on the location of the pigmentation, surgery may be recommended.

OTHER CONCERNS

The normal dog has 42 teeth in its mouth. The brachycephalic dog also has 42 teeth but a lot less space to fit them in. This means that the teeth will be crowded and growing in at odd angles which, in turn, traps food debris and leads to periodontal disease at a far younger age than in non-brachycephalics. The earlier you begin using home care dental products, the longer you will be able to postpone full dentistry under general anesthesia. Skin fold infections are common amid the facial folds of the brachycephalic breeds. Be sure to examine these areas periodically for redness. The broad headed nature of these breeds makes reproduction a tricky matter as Caesarean section is frequently needed. Difficult labor is common and, as surgical assistance is often necessary, it is important not to breed females with tracheal stenosis (see above). Breeding is best left to the experts.

ANESTHESIA

Be aware of what degree of snorting and sputtering is usual for your individual pet plus, should your pet require general anesthesia or sedation, your vet may want to take extra precautions or take radiographs prior to assess the severity of the syndrome. Anesthetic risk is higher than usual in these breeds, though under most circumstances the necessary extra precautions are readily managed by most animal hospitals. French Bulldogs cannot tolerate intravenous anesthesia and should have pure gas to put them under during surgical procedures-i.e. spaying/neutering, teeth cleaning etc.  Isoflurane is the best gas for this use.  Note: A reversible intravenous anesthesia that lasts 20 seconds so the tube for gas may be inserted for gas administration should not be confused with using intravenous anesthesia through out the entire surgery. Non-Reversible Intravenous anesthesia can easily cause death in this breed. To be safe Frenchies should not be put under anesthesia for a lengthy time until 6 months of age except in case of an emergency. Young and old Frenchies are more prone to have adverse reactions to anesthesia.   

MEDICATIONS

Since Frenchies have small throat openings you must be careful when giving pills that are not chewable. When giving  oral medications such as pills, place pill in small amount of peanut butter or cream cheese on a butter knife and wipe it on the back of the dog's tongue when they open their mouth.  They will gladly swallow the pill.

 

SPINES

Frenchie spines are not normal. Many have deformed vertebrae in their spines to achieve the necessary roached back to meet the breed standard. There are varying degrees of vertebrae deformity called Hemi-vertebrae and Butterfly vertebrae and if they are located in the supported area of the thorax most dogs will live a full active life with no limitations on physical activity. DO NOT ALLOW your Frenchie to jump down from heights above the level of a chair or sofa cushion. Jumping off the bed onto the floor is the largest cause of soft tissue injuries in this breed and can easily herniate or rupture a disk requiring expensive back surgery costing 10k-12k at a specialty hospital. To defer these costs, get pet insurance on your Frenchie now.

 

MOBILITY

Due to their “top heavy” weight-some French Bulldogs must be careful going DOWN stairs as they become seniors. This same “top heavy” weight distribution prevents them from swimming if not completely then for any length of time. Those who own pools or live near water should be careful and closely supervise their Frenchies when they have access to the water. Please note that once Frenchies reach 5 years and older, they may suffer back injuries jumping down from heights they were able to before due to degenerative disk disease common in Frenchies. Due to the unusual construction of a French Bulldog's spine, some are more prone to injury than others.

 

CANCER  

Mast Cell Tumors are common in this breed. The good news is malignant tumors detected early with a needle biopsy can be removed and eliminated.  They can take different forms: small wart like growth on top of the dermis or lump under the skin are some of the forms.  Late detection and removal can result in expensive treatment or death. To find out more and what to look for see these links:

http://www.marvistavet.com/mast-cell-tumors.pml

http://www.kateconnick.com/library/mastcelltumor.html

 

FOOD

Puppy food should be fed for this breed for the first 6 months of life. Depending on your FB's metabolism they can transition to adult food at 7-8 months of age. I feed Nature's Variety Instinct Grain Free Rabbit Formula ALL LIFE STAGES. Stay away from MEAL-based foods such as Nutro or Royal Canin that are low in nutrients, primarily rice and not suitable for this muscular breed. Remember, whenever changing foods to transition in the new food by mixing it with the old for 10 days so as not to cause upset to the digestive tract.

 

ALLERGIES

Should your dog develop any kind of skin irritations and severe scratching-please consult your breeder first for advise since she may have other dogs in her line that have the same allergies and can steer you in the right direction. Many general veterinarians are prone to give steroids,  cortisone & Derm Caps to “band aid” the problem instead of treating the source which is either food or environmental (airborne) allergies. Unless you have your dog tested for antigens, preferably by a DVM Dermatologist, you  will not know what is  causing the allergic reactions. The old wives tale of corn causing all the allergy problems with dogs is not true. A dog can be allergic to any food ingredient not just corn.  A food trial elimination diet must be done to find out what your dog is allergic to if it is food. From my experience, some Frenchies are allergic to poultry, which is why we feed the Rabbit Formula instead. However if it is grass or tree pollen, changing the food will make no difference. Just like people dogs are allergic to airborne antigens such as mold, dust, weeds, grass etc. Even though food allergies may not be the cause  it is what is tested for first because it is  less expensive to test for food allergies than air borne antigens.

Altogether, the brachycephalic breeds show plenty of personality and intelligence just as all dogs do but because of their special needs, they require some extra knowledge of their owners. If you have any questions about your brachycephalic dog, please do not hesitate to call your veterinarian if you have further questions.

*** WARNING *** NO ACEPROMOZENE EVER!

    

Teeth CleaningIn most cases teeth cleaning at Vet clinics requires the use of anesthesia and is conducted by a vet tech and NOT the veterinarian.  Be sure and ask lots of questions about the clinic's teeth cleaning procedure before leaving your Frenchie in their care. Make sure clinic is aware of the anesthesia issues with this breed and they will use gas instead of intravenous or ACEPROMOZENE. Also request the vet conduct the cleaning himself or herself to supervise the administration of anesthesia - even if it costs more.

 
 

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