The French Bulldog is unique, we all know that. Well, all of us that own one do of course but for those of you that don’t, let me just tell you that you’re missing out. Missing out on arguably the most adorable, affectionate, loving dog breed on the planet.
But how can we make sure that they’re happy? Is there anything we can do to improve their lives? This article explores everything an owner could do to make your ultimate companion’s life that little bit better.
Here are the best ways to make your French Bulldog happy.
1) Spend Time with Them
It’s why you got them, after all, right? It doesn’t cost anything and is really all your Frenchie really wants. As long as you’re in the same room as her, then she will be content. You’ll find the more time you spend with her, the deeper the bond between you both will be.
I know that’s a bit of a cliche and a throw-away comment perhaps but this breed is really quite unique and its dependence on you is everything.
Yes, it has a mind of its own and in so many ways it is strong-willed and you’ll have a hard time trying to get it to do anything it doesn’t particularly feel like doing at that time.
If you’re looking for a dog and can’t commit to spending most of your day with her, then this isn’t the right dog for you. There’s a lot of other breeds (like the Pug or Boston Terrier) that will have fewer problems if left alone for longer periods. Although, generally speaking, dogs should be left alone for long periods.
2) Keep Them Well Fed
Not specific to a French Bulldog but the continuity of feeding times is important to your little friend. Your French Bulldog puppy will need to be fed 3 or 4 times a day however, make sure you adjust this as she gets older. From 6 months old, make sure they have no more than 3 feeding times a day.
From 9 months, this can be reduced to a couple of times a day however it does depend on the dog and how much exercise they’re having. With the Frenchie, this won’t be a lot. Just try and keep things consistent with the feedings times.
If you’re looking for treats for your Frenchie, look no further than these Peanut Butter Crunchy Treats – they will go crazy over them, I promise!
3) Play With Them
Whether technically you’re playing with them or they’re playing with you is open to debate 🙂 However, if spending time with them is top of their requirements, playing with them may well be next.
Remember, the French Bulldog loves to show-off and this is how they do it. But, the main reason they like to play is to get a reaction from you. Well, I say that – it’s my personal option if I’m honest.
I’ve seen dogs play and interact with their owners and I’ve seen them play by themselves. It’s different, watch for yourself. Or, if you want to be a little bit sneaky (or nerdy, like me) have a video camera set-up and take a look later. You’ll see that they just play differently with you.
It’s just so much more exciting for them, not just the play but to get your reactions as well. They’re making you happy and you know, as a dog owner, that this means something to them.
If you’re looking for a decent toy, do take a look at this – it worked for us 🙂
4) Keep Them Clean
Believe it or not, similar to cats, dogs don’t like being dirty. But, this isn’t why we’re trying to keep them clean. The French Bulldog can suffer from being, how do I put this, a bit pongy. Certainly not all of them, but some of them. These smells are usually the first indication that something isn’t quite right.
You should clean their facial folds frequently, at least once a day. If you’re looking for some good wipes to get the job done properly, look no further than these Glandex Wipes, from Amazon.
You won’t see a lot of links to products on my sites but when you do they are there for a good reason and I trust them. If the smell persists, there could be other areas that need attention. If you’d like to know more then I wrote an article just about this subject, check out why your French Bulldog might smell (opens in a new window).
5) Educate Your Children
Children love the French Bulldog and for good reason to. I actually wonder if it’s because their mental age at that time is similar that they get on so well 🙂 The Frenchie is cheeky, playful and sometimes a bit naughty – ring any bells? To a child, the little doggy is like a friend that they can play with (but won’t answer back!) and to the Bully, the child is just another human she can interact with. The more the better as far as she’s concerned.
However, children do need to know how to handle animals. The Frenchie may be small and may appear friendly 99.9% of the time but if it feels threatened (rightly or wrongly) then its natural instincts may take over. First and foremost, the child should never go up to the dog and put their face close to the face of the animal. I know it’s tempting and difficult for the child to understand but it’s happened to me.
When I was a kid my pet dog (well, my family’s dog, not mine) was sitting in the corner of the room. I went up to him (I was quite small) and got a bit too close. Without warning, he lashed out today and bit whatever part of me was closest. As it happened, it was my wrist – which I had quickly put up in front of my face. I still bear the scar today.
I remember being so upset and confused, not being able to understand why my little doggy would want to hurt me. But of course, it’s not as simple as that – they don’t think in the same way. He was in the corner of the room with no way to go, I approached him quickly and he felt threatened – it was all over in a blink of an eye.
Teach your children how to play with an animal in the right way. Teach them that they are after all, still animals and sometimes forget that they’re part of your family and regress back to their natural instincts. I’m sure my Toby regretted it after he bit me, at least I like to think so, looking back.
6) Get Them a Friend
Yes, I’m talking about another dog-friend, not a human friend! This is not as easy as you may be thinking but it is worth considering and if it works out, it’ll mean your French Bulldog will have someone else to play with, apart from you! Personally, I like to have them all to myself but that’s just personal choice. Maybe, that’s the reason why I only had one kid also!
However, having two dogs is a perfectly reasonable thing to do but isn’t without its difficulties. The French Bulldog is no different really to any other breed when it comes to accepting a new dog. It’s just not possible to say whether the two dogs will click or not.
The best (and arguably only) way to move forward is to introduce the two dogs to each other. It sounds a bit formal but each dog is an individual and in the same way that us humans don’t get on with everyone else (oh, wouldn’t that be nice?) – it’s the same with dogs.
You will need to find a location where they can both get to know each other and then, basically, see what happens.
The very worst thing you want here is to get another dog in and after a few months realize it’s just not working and end up being forced to give one of them back to a home. I have a friend who did this last year and it didn’t work out for her at all, although initially it looked like it would. She was devastated to have to give one back to the home.
So, you can do the initial introductions but do understand that it might just not work out, then you’re going to probably have to make a very difficult decision.
7) Learn Their Language
Everyone should learn how to speak Dog. Actually, have you ever wondered if dogs have regional accents or whether a French Bulldog in the US will have a slightly different ‘woof’ than a Frenchie in Franch? I have. I spend way too long thinking about things like that.
My conclusion was that they don’t and I shouldn’t be so stupid. However, after doing a little bit of searching around it seems that dogs do develop slightly different barks, depending on the voice of the owner. I’m still not sure whether I believe that or not but it’s on the internet, so it must be true 😉
I’m not talking about barking so much here though, I’m talking about the little noises they make at other times. I’m not sure how to describe it but something that sounds a little bit like the devil itself wouldn’t be far from an accurate description I think. Actually, there’s a great book all about doggy language, do take a look at here if you’re interested in this.
They seem to do it more when they think they’re alone and are starting to get anxious (separation anxiety) or when something is happening that they just don’t really understand. Another reason is that they may just want your attention and they know when they do this, they certainly get it. But, let’s be absolutely clear about this, no one really knows and if they say they do then they’re doing what I’ve just done – guessing.
8) Provide Them with Training
The one biggest regret I’ve heard from pet owners is that they didn’t train their pets at an early age. Although it’s never too late to start, you’ll (and your French Bulldog) will find it a lot easier (and will require fewer lessons) if they’re younger.
Don’t think of training as a form of punishment, as it’s not. Training (and discipline) is what your Frenchie needs, expects and without it, you may have a dog that is more prone to anxiety-related problems.
It’s a throw-away statement isn’t it, ‘all dogs need training’ – but do they really? I think it’s fair to say that some dogs need more training than others, in the same
Yes, of course you can! Will it work as well as a professional? No, probably not! If I want to get a new garage door fitted, I get someone else to do it – they would do it quicker than me and most likely, better. So, the recommendation is to hire a professional, ideally someone that’s been recommended to you. In the long run, at least in my opinion, it’s money well spent.
But what will your French Bulldog get out of this training? Firstly, let’s look at the impact on other people. There’s less chance they will be aggressive and potentially bite someone (not that Frenchie’s are known for this behavior).
It increases the chance that they will be able to accept other children and dogs more (arguable point this but in my experience, it does help). It also makes them aware of who’s in charge, which may be a bit of a blurred line if no training has taken place. Dogs like to know who’s running the shop (this is
9) Be the Pack Leader
Dogs like to know what their place is in the hierarchy of the family. This family includes them, you and the rest of your family. Not just the French Bulldog, but any dog needs to know what part they play in that family. They expect this and they want it.
If they don’t have it then it can lead to other personality disorders, nothing always serious but enough to cause you problems with managing her behavior. They need a pack leader and that person will need to be the owner. What does that mean though? Well, you need to appear as if you are in control of the environment and dominant. Even if you’re not.
This doesn’t mean raising your voice and shouting at her. This means she will look to you as the pack leader and expect direction and authority. You do this by being confident and strong in your mannerisms, when you need to be of course. It certainly doesn’t mean an end to cuddles on the couch and having loads of fun with each other.
It just means that when required, you need to be firm, speak clearly and loudly (without shouting) and keep eye-contact with her from a higher level. She, just like a child, needs to know where the line is. Yes, she’ll try and cross it now and again (sometimes deliberately) and will test to see if it’s still not allowed but as long as you’re consistent and do your job then everyone will be happy.
10) Check Their Health
This is something that you can do every day as part of your grooming or play routine. Give your French Bulldog a quick check-over to make sure everything looks normal. This doesn’t just include visually but also any odd smells. Remember, as I said earlier, a smell can be the first sign that something isn’t quite right.
If not treated relatively quickly then it can lead to an infection. Although these infections can be treated relatively easily (typically speaking) with a course of antibiotics, there’s all the stress associated with that such as getting your Frenchie to the vets (which can be a nightmare in itself) and then having to administer the tablets and not forgetting the expense of course.
Another thing to look out for is her breathing. Children, as well as yourself, will be playing with the Frenchie and she will love this. However, sometimes exhaustion has a way of creeping up on them.
She’ll want to keep on playing because she not only enjoys it but she knows it’s making the human happy. However, as she’s unable to regulate her temperature she can run into breathing difficulties quite quickly. If it looks like she’s struggling to get her breath, have a break.
With prevention being the best cure, just keeping a close eye on your Frenchie regularly and addressing any concerns at an early stage will keep her well and therefore, happy.
11) Have Frequent Vet Checkups
It’s like a car service. You get your motor checked out once a year just to make sure there’s no oil leaks or any problems developing. I’m not saying your French Bulldog will develop oil leaks but the vet will take vital measurements and compare against previous measurements to see if there are any issues with their weight for instance. The frequency will change though, depending on their age and I recommend something like the below:
Up to 4 months – Your French Bulldog should see your vet every 4 weeks or so to make sure she is growing at the correct rate and also to ensure all the correct vaccinations have been administered.
From 4 months to 12 months – It will depend on the health of your dog and any further vaccination requirements. Although it can vary you may only have to see your vet once during this time. This may be at around the 6-month mark, when they will be neutered.
12 months to 7 years – A visit once a year will most likely be sufficient. Your vet will check for fleas and worms as well as a blood test amongst other checks such as weight and measurements.
7 years and older – Health problems in a French Bulldog can be more common after this age so you’ll find a lot of people have a visit twice a year, although many still opt for yearly. Their kidney and liver will be checked, amongst the usual measurements.
Of course, not everyone will go to the vets frequently. Some people get lucky and just don’t ever need to whereas others have been dealt a bad card and have had more problems than others. My advice would be to go at least once a year once they’ve reached maturity.
12) Consider Pet Insurance
I have an opinion on this and not everyone will agree with it but I think it should be mandatory to have insurance when you buy a dog. I know there’s more to it than this as if this was indeed mandatory then there’s a lot of dogs that just wouldn’t have homes! So, my brilliant idea turns out to be fundamentally flawed 🙂
However, insurance for your Frenchie is a good idea, if you can afford it. How much will it cost to insure a French Bulldog? For a 4-year-old, you’ll be looking at between $80-$100 per month, with an excess charge of around $600-$800.
This is assuming that your Frenchie has had no previous major problems. It’s a lot of money, right? Probably quite a bit more than its costing you to insure your car!
But, if (or when) problems occur, the bills can mount up quickly. Get an instant quote from Petplan now to see what you might pay.
It’s a decision that, at the end of the day, is very much an individual one. It’s a difficult one also. Vet bills can quickly turn into thousands of dollars in just a matter of hours and days but most of us just don’t have that kind of money to spend. Talk it over with your family and try and do what’s best for both you and your little Frenchie.
13) Don’t Let Them Swim
This is something that I think needs to be communicated better to owners of the French Bulldog. They can’t swim and don’t believe those who tell you otherwise. Yes, they might be able to stay afloat for a few feet but eventually, I promise you, they will sink. When they sink they will not be able to swim back to the surface.
This is due to a combination of problems related to their physical properties (heavy head vs smaller body), their short legs and a relatively small nose that can’t stick out of water. Unfortunately, when they do go down, bad things happen quickly and in only a few seconds it will be too late. It’s really sad but this is how nature made them.
The best way to look at this is to treat them how you would a baby. Would you leave a baby near a body of water? Would you allow a baby to swim by itself? Of course not, and nor should you. It can’t swim and never will be able to.
n’t Let Them Overheat
The French Bulldog is unable to regulate its temperature. However, it also doesn’t know when to stop and will continue if it’s getting a reaction from people and still having fun. Due to how her body is, she is unable to dissipate heat in the way other dogs can.
This, of course, is even more of a problem in hotter climates where extra care is required. The Frenchie will run around for ages if it’s having fun, chasing a ball, jumping up and just generally running around. If you see her struggling for breath then you must stop immediately and, if possible, take her to a more comfortable (temperature wise) environment.
When inside, don’t leave them in a conservatory or somewhere that will heat up too much, ideally the temperature within the house (or whatever room they’re in) will remain constant and cool. One of the most dangerous environments for a French Bulldog though is a car.
Left inside, the temperature can heat up very quickly when exposed to the Sun and their temperature will exceed safe tolerances in no time at all.
The simple solution is this and it’s why so many French Bulldogs are kept inside. It’s almost perfect for them. A controlled, cool environment with little to no temperature fluctuation. You can, however, get them a self-cooling, Pet Pad – take a look at one here. For the Frenchie, I’d really recommend one!
15) Don’t Leave Them Alone
The French Bulldog doesn’t like to be left alone. Indeed, if it is left for more than a couple of hours (sometimes less, depending on the dog) then it will start to experience separation anxiety.
This can (and often does) lead to destructive tendencies. Your little Frenchie may then start chewing anything it can find in your home. This could be your carpet, your sofa, your table or anything that’s within reach.
There are few dogs who like to be left alone, actually, what am I talking about. No dog likes to be left alone, however some deal with it better than others. The French Bulldog is not one of these breeds. It does not and should not be left alone. If you think you’re going to be in a position where this may happen then you could consider another breed (or perhaps a cat!).
Your French Bulldog lives to spend time with you. If it’s not with you, if it’s not spending time with you, it’s not living.