Are French Bulldogs Aggressive?


It’s the first reaction when most people hear the word ‘Bulldog’. They’ve heard that they’re a feisty and aggressive dog breed. They’re worried about getting too close and are just generally more cautious with the French Bulldog than other, more familiar breeds, such as the Labrador. But is it justified and do we need to be that little bit more careful with the Frenchie than other dogs?

Are French Bulldogs aggressive? No, a French Bulldog is not usually an aggressive dog. In fact, they can make a fantastic family pet that is great with both children and other pets.

What Causes Aggression in Your French Bulldog?

Are French Bulldogs Aggressive?

There can be many causes of aggression within your Frenchie and it’s an absolutely horrible experience for an owner to deal with, especially if they believe they’ve done everything they can in their upbringing to prevent it. However, as cute and as adorable as your Frenchie is, they are still an animal and sometimes natural instinct takes over, but why does it happen and what can you do about it? Typically, in dogs there are a few common reasons why they might lash out:

  • They are fearful of something – if your Frenchie feels particularly scared or threatened by something then they may try to defend themselves against whatever it is they’re scared of.
  • They could be in pain – if a dog is in pain then they may take themselves off to a corner to be by themselves, this is their natural instinct of how they protect themselves in the wild when hurt. They will be confused and fearful that your interaction will make the pain worse, they will prevent you (or whoever) from doing so in whatever way they can.
  • Gender – Typically, although not always, the male will be more aggressive than the female. There’s usually one or the other in each breed that exhibits a slightly more aggressive personality. This doesn’t mean they can’t be trained. It just means that they may require a bit more training than the other sex. 
  • The breed  – Some dog breeds are just naturally more aggressive than others. For instance, the Rotweiller or Dachshund are known to be quite aggressive but again, this doesn’t mean they can’t be trained. The vast majority of aggressive dogs are caused by inadequate training at a young age.
  • Guarding– I’m not talking about your house but more what they would naturally try and guard in the wild – their food. This type of behavior is also noticed with other items that they see as ‘theirs’ such as a favorite toy (or even person!). 

The most common reason why a dog will be aggressive though is that it has not been trained from a young age. I have seen this time and time again from owners wondering why their animals exhibit these aggressive tendencies. The first thing I ask is about the training that the dog had when it was a pup. You will not (perhaps) be surprised to hear that 99% of these animals have not had any type of formal training.

If someone asks for one piece of advice from me as to how to bring up an animal, it would be this – get them some training. So many people seem to think training is a negative thing but it’s not – your dog will behave better and enjoy their life so much more having this kind of control present. Their anxiety and stress levels will be down knowing that someone is in charge and that routines are in place (and hopefully followed!).

However, like all dogs, formal early training is essential to ensure a successful relationship between owner and dog.

What Is the French Bulldog?

Are French Bulldogs Aggressive?

I’ll keep this short as the vast majority of people coming to this article will, of course, know what type of dog we’re referring to, so if you’re one of these people – just skip to the next section 🙂

The French Bulldog (affectionately known as the ‘Frenchie’ or the ‘Bully’ is a small breed of dog. It’s a cross between French and English bulldog ancestors and are increasingly becoming more and more popular, both in the United States and Europe. 

The Frenchie is classed as a companion dog, which means it requires a lot of attention from us humans. It’s not a dog that should be left alone for any significant amount of time and when I say ‘significant’ I’m talking more than a couple of hours. Two hours might not be a lot of time to us but to the French Bulldog it is and they will start experiencing separation anxiety within no time at all. This anxiety can lead to other problems which manifest in a rather destructive Bully, including chewing (furniture or anything else left around the house) or even going to the toilet inside. 

Due to their physical properties, they have difficulty regulating their body temperature and can develop breathing complications. In fact, many airlines have banned flights with the Bully as whilst they are in the hold of the aircraft, temperatures can get quite high prior to take-off. This increase in temperature can cause extreme anxiety and breathing difficulties and unfortunately many have lost their lives because of this.

The French Bulldog does make an awesome companion though. It doesn’t bark much and doesn’t require much exercise, although if you give her a chance to play with you they will jump at it. They are affectionate and great with children and other pets, assuming a gradual introduction is performed.

Temperament Differences Between Male and Female French Bulldogs

You will find differences in personality between the male and female dogs, without a doubt. Sometimes it is more pronounced and each little doggy has their own personality but generally, you will notice such differences. The female is known to be more calm and timid unless provoked, at which point they will become a little bit more feisty than the male, especially in their younger years. 

The males are known to be extremely playful (the female is as well, but not typically as much as the male) and generally more confident 

What Does the French Bulldog Need?

Although dogs do have their own personalities, the same approach can be used for all. The Frenchie can be quite stubborn and independent, which is great, but similar to bringing up a child if you let them cross the line then they will continue it further and further. You need to show them you are in charge. Some people don’t feel comfortable about this but for a dog, and I’m talking about any breed here, not just the Frenchie, they need it and want it. In fact, if they don’t have that authoritative figure in their lives it has been shown to lead to anxiety and stress disorders.

The French Bulldog will need you to be firm with it and have a confident, strong voice when issuing commands. You are not shouting here, just being authoritative. You will not do it all the time, just when they cross that line and need bringing back. This isn’t the only way you show them you’re not happy though. If they do something they shouldn’t and assuming it doesn’t require your immediate action, they may be doing it to get a reaction from you. Ignoring them is best here. A dog finds it difficult to distinguish sometimes between you being pleased and being cross.

If they do something and you start screaming and waving your hands around, they may well think, ‘Oh, woof woof – he obviously loves it when I do this, I’m going to do it more! Woof!’. Ignoring her will not provide any reaction and when they realize they’re not getting what they want, there’s a good chance they won’t do it so much.

Rewards

Lots and lots of attention. The French Bulldog is an easy dog to please. It wants your company and would like it all the time. If they do something that makes you happy, then give them positive attention. Make it obvious that this progressed is well-liked and if they do it again they will receive the same reaction. Be consistent with your actions (good or bad I should say).

Little doggy treats are fine but you don’t need me to tell you not to overdo this. Again, a key is consistency so just ensure you don’t confuse her by sometimes rewarding and other times not.

Punishing Your French Bulldog

You never strike them, ever. I know someone who used to smack their dog when they were younger and they thought it would help. It didn’t and now they deeply regret this action that they can never take back. All it does it potentially cause pain to your dog and increase anxiety levels, so there are no positives to this apart from a release of your aggression temporarily. The same can be said of these training collars that provide a little shock to assist in training. It’s cruel and border-line barbaric, just don’t do it. There are other ways to discipline your dog if required, hitting them is not one.

How to Deal with Aggression?

Hindsight is wonderful and if training hasn’t occurred at an early age then you’ll need to do the best you can and don’t worry as all is not lost. You actually can teach an old dog new tricks, so the first thing is to get some formal training.  If you’re in the States, take a look at the Association of Professional Dog Trainers site and find yourself a trainer (there’s usually one nearby) and do it without delay.

In the meantime though, you need to deal with the immediate situation. If your dog attempts to bite you or someone else, what do you do? The first thing is to identify whether it is a playful bite or something more aggressive. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference if your Frenchie is excited. However, one way to tell is to look at her body. If their body is stiff it will more likely be an aggressive bite. You may also notice their muzzle wrinkle but of course, this isn’t that obvious with your Frenchie’s, is it? An aggressive bite is usually more of a snap, a quick bite rather than a protracted opening of their mouth and playful bite. 

If it’s a playful bite then consider getting them more toys to chew on. If they continue then you need to let them know that it’s hurting (even if it’s not, we want to stop this behavior). So, when they start mouthing your hands if they press down a little harder, make a high-pitched, dog-like yelp – then let your hand go limp. It might sound a bit odd but what we’re trying to do here is trying to shock your dog, we’re reacting to it.

Why are we doing this? When a dog is a pup they will play with other pups, biting each other and just generally playing. When they bite too hard the other pup will yelp and stop playing – this is how they learn when they’re younger but of course, not every doggy gets this opportunity. Which is why you’re doing it for them, try it – it works!

If it’s not playful, then you need to stand-up, look down on them and make eye contact. Try not to blink and tell them in your most confident voice that this is wrong. You’ll have your own words like, ‘No’, ‘Stop’ etc. but you have to be clear, strong, imposing and confident. They need to know you’re in charge here. Then, try turning your back on them – the lack of attention is not something your Frenchie will like. What you’re doing here is instilling a reaction to their biting, which they will hopefully remember. Be consistent, do it every time.

French Bulldog Training

Like myself (so my wife tells me) the French Bulldog has a short attention span. However, training should be started when they are young. Simple commands such as ‘stay’ and ‘sit’ can be started at around 8 weeks but formal training should not start until at least 6 months. This is great advice if your French Bulldog is less than 6 months, right? 🙂 What if they’re older than that? Well, if they are then you can’t turn back time but don’t use it as an excuse not to get them trained. Formal training, if required, can start at any age.

Summary

Are French Bulldogs Aggressive?

So, the French Bulldog is not an aggressive breed by nature. As long as it has been trained and brought up well, it will be an affectionate, fun-loving, kind and sweet dog that your whole family will be able to spend a good number of years with.

If you’d like to take a look at my Complete Guide to the French Bulldog, please click on the link.

Jane

I'm Jane Pettitt, co-owner of Pets Knowledge Base with my husband, Matt. I have a grand total of 50 years’ experience as a pet owner. It all started with a guinea pig called Percy when I was 5 years old and since then I’ve lived with two more guinea pigs, a hamster, mice, a rabbit, a tortoise, a dog and 11 cats. I’ve learned so much about pet care during this time and many of my articles are based on my personal experiences and those of my family and friends .

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