French Bulldog Temperament


The French Bulldog has, over the last four or five years, become one of the most popular dog breeds in both the United States and Europe. In some surveys, it even takes that number 1 slot, over the Retrievers and German Shepherd.

What is the French Bulldog Temperament? The French Bulldog is a loving dog that loves to spend time with its owner. It is usually gentle and great with kids.

Every dog breed has its own unique personality. Every dog breed has its own positives and negative traits, just like us and every dog has its own health-related issue. The French Bulldog is no different and will not be best suited for every individual. 

This post explores the temperament of the French Bulldog. It will provide you with all the knowledge you need to understand whether this is a dog that fits you, your routine, your family, your house and any other pets you may have.

A Quick History of the French Bulldog

In the middle of the 1850’s and as a result of the Industrial Revolution (that started in Great Britain) a lot of the manual workers in England were forced to try and find work elsewhere. For a lot of these people, that place was France (Normandy, to be precise) and several of them took their little bulldogs with them. These little bully’s were well suited to their new environment and settled in immediately with the local populace, who (of course) adored them. 

Times were different back then and the breeders of the day weren’t overly fussed about who they mated with (yes, I’m still talking about the dog here by the way!). So, numerous types of Terrier, Pugs and Griffons got lucky. All this breeding did of course have a major impact on not only the appearance but also the personality of the French Bulldog that we know today. When the physical appearance became obvious, a new breed-name was born – the Terrier-Boules and this breed would have looked very similar to the Frenchie we know and love today.

As the breed continued to increase in popularity in the latter part of the 19th century, club’s began to become interested. It was in 1888 that the Club du Bouledogue Français (French Bulldog Club) was founded and a few more years after that for the Frenchie to be properly recognized.

The rest, as they say, is history. Lots of things have changed in the 130+ years since this time but I can sense you’re becoming drowsy and this article isn’t about the history of the French Bulldog, it’s about her temperament but I thought this would be of interest.

Physical Properties of the French Bulldog

French Bulldog Temperament

The French Bulldog is a small breed of dog. How small? Well, it can actually vary quite a bit but at maturity (a couple of years old) they will weight anything between 15 lbs and 28 lbs. That’s the equivalent of an average bowling ball (at the breed’s lightest weight) or at the heaviest weight, roughly the same as a gold bar. Talking of gold bars actually, you might need a few of those to afford the little thing, but more on that later!

As for its height, it will get to a lofty foot in height at maturity (this is to its shoulders). So, as you can see, it’s quite small. How small is that exactly? Take a look at this comparison between a horse, human and in the middle we have our little French Bulldog!

French Bulldog Personality

Well, this is why you’re here, right? What kind of personality does the French Bulldog have?

The French Bulldog is Affectionate

French Bulldog Temperament

The French Bulldog can be an extremely affectionate dog. I say ‘can be’ as we have to generalize here, right? It’s like saying Homo Sapiens are a kind, loving species. It’s true for some of us, right? Like me! I wouldn’t hurt a fly and spend most of my time looking at funny cat videos on YouTube. But, the same can’t be said for all of us. Some of us can be right jerks 🙂 We’re all individuals and so are Frenchie’s. Yes, some breeds have more distinct personality traits than others so that’s what we’re looking at here.

Typically, your French Bulldog will care about you and your reactions to it, more than anything else in its world. In fact, you are its world. These dogs can bond very quickly with those that show it the right type of attention. Which, if you’re wondering, is any kind of attention!

The French Bulldog will follow you around your house, not wanting you to leave their sight. You are the equivalent of a comfort blanket to them. You will provide them with security, familiarity, and fun. Arguably, they will provide you with so much more than this. 

Can you get a dog breed that is more affectionate than the French Bulldog? I don’t think you can. Once you bond with this breed you become part of their life. Your life will change for the next (hopefully) 12 years or so and it definitely won’t be for the worse.

Companionship

French Bulldog Temperament

The French Bulldog will like nothing more than to spend time with you. Whether that’s playing outside with you or curled up on your lap in the evening when you have a film on, she will be content. 

Actually, the fact that they make such a good companion dog was one of the reasons why the French adored them so much when the English first brought them over. Although, several personality traits may have diminished slightly over time as more and more crosses were made, this part of their personality most definitely stayed intact. 

The French Bulldog is not a difficult dog to keep happy as it requires only the simpler things in life. If she gets your time (and I mean all of your time) then she will be happy. If you’re thinking about doing anything else with your life in the next dozen years or so, then maybe you’ll want to reconsider 🙂 As long as she is on you, near you, playing with you or just interacting with you in some way, then she will be content. This leads on to the reason why the Frenchie doesn’t like to be left alone, but more on this later.

The French Bulldog is not Aggressive

The French Bulldog is not an aggressive dog-breed by nature. The key to stacking the cards in your favor here is to ensure it has been brought up well and had some form of formal training at an early age. Although training makes things easier when younger, remember it is never too late to start!

There are some dog breeds (the Terrier comes to mind) that can be somewhat ‘nippy’ no matter what training is provided. I know this is a broad generalization but in this case, it’s typically true. For instance, if you have young children then most people wouldn’t opt for the Terrier, however, the French Bulldog is an option in this case. More on how the Frenchie is with kids in a bit though.

I said earlier that the French Bulldog is not an aggressive dog by nature and this is true. That doesn’t mean they can’t be an effective guard dog though! When your doorbell rings don’t be surprised to see your tiny little Frenchie running around, barking at the door.

However, this most likely isn’t a warning to whoever is outside. It’s more related to being excited that someone new might be coming to play with her 🙂 You can well imagine her thinking to herself, “Woof! New friend! New friend! Quick – let them in so they can play with me! Woof!”. Anyone who owns a French Bulldog will be able to relate to this as well as anyone who has gone to visit one!

If your Frenchie is a little short of temper then it needs to be addressed and shouldn’t be left as it most likely won’t just fix itself. The action of her biting is a symptom of something that happened earlier in her life (or didn’t happen) and you shouldn’t become despondent as it can be fixed. I wrote an article about things you can do to stop your Frenchie from biting if you’d like to take a look (opens in a new window).

Male vs Female French Bulldog

Now, this isn’t always the case but generally, you will find differences in personality between the Male and Female. Typically, you will find the male is more playful and strong-willed. The female will be more submissive and also more affectionate, they are also easier to train. Despite this, and perhaps surprisingly, you may find the female is more likely to give you a little nip than the male! It has also been said that the female has a shorter temper than the male.

So, what do I think about this? I tend to ignore it. I’ve read enough posts, performed enough research and spoken to many owners about this to conclude that there doesn’t appear to be really any significant differences between the sexes. Maybe in the past maybe some research was performed which concluded that there are differences but my research is purely based on my experiences. So, if there are personality differences between them, it won’t be with everyone and I really wouldn’t choose one sex over another based on these supposed differences.

Of course, there are other things to think about. If you’re considering breeding then are you planning on using your male as a stud? If you’re going to go down this road, you’ll need to be sure that (amongst a lot of other things) the colors are acceptable to the breeding clubs.

Absent Without Leave

French Bulldog Temperament

You may have now gathered (or you already knew) that the French Bulldog loves (and needs) your time. It’s pretty much all she wants. Not only that though, she needs your attention and your time and you need to be pretty damn sure at the outside that you can give her it. 

The French Bulldog is not a dog that can be left alone for long periods. Even a short amount of time left alone can lead to separation anxiety and cause both her (and you) problems. It is not usual for a destructive behavior to develop in this situation. The little Frenchie, with anxiety levels rising, will take to chewing on anything she can find in the house. This could be your sofa, your slippers, your remote control or anything that is within reach. You may come back to her having gone to the toilet inside, something she wouldn’t usually do.

The simple solution is this and you know exactly what I’m going to say, don’t you? Don’t leave your French Bulldog alone for long periods of time. There are other breeds of dog that can manage this better, so if you know that this is going to be a factor, please reconsider buying a little Frenchie until you know it will have company throughout the day. There are things you can do to mitigate it of course. I hate to state the obvious but finding a dog-sitter, someone she trusts, can be a solution (but can be costly). Some people even buy another dog but this actually isn’t a good idea.

You should not leave two dogs home alone together whilst you are out. Finally, some people use a crate to put the dog in during this time. Although I don’t actually like the idea of crates (reminds me of a prison) this is a better idea than just leaving her alone with the run of the house. It’s a better idea for you and for her as she will feel more secure. Ideally, though – don’t do it 🙂

The French Bulldog likes Children

French Bulldog Temperament

The French Bulldog will typically get on very well with children. There’s a better chance of this being the case if she’s had some kind of formal training when younger but even if not, they do seem to be generally quite gentle.

To the Frenchie, a child is just someone else to play with but has the added advantage of having about the same mental age and the same appetite for fun 🙂 Your child (or children) will adore the little Frenchie. Personally, I think this is because of their mischievous, naughty streak (yes, I’m talking about the dog here, not your child) and the fact that they can play on-demand.

It’s a two-way thing. You’ll find that the children will get a lot out of looking after (and playing with) your Frenchie and your dog will benefit from an additional human to interact with. Remember, as far as she’s concerned, the more the better!

Even though the French Bulldog isn’t an aggressive dog by nature and does indeed get on with children typically, care should be taken with children when they are interacting with animals. The child, will, over time, become complacent and believe that that little bundle of brindle (or whatever color you have) is as soft and caring as a teddy bear they had when they were younger.

As much as that little animal will genuinely love the little human, they are still an animal. If that animal gets scared or is accidentally hurt, they can easily momentarily regress back to natural instincts. When that happens, things get unpredictable and if your child’s face is near the mouth of your little Frenchie, then it may get bitten.

This is why, no matter how good the relationship between dog and child, they should never put their face close to the dog’s. They should also be supervised when playing however you know as well as I do that not only does the child become complacent, but us adults do also! Obviously, we’re not going to be around watching the child play with the Bullie all the time so the key is in education. Both educating the dog when she is young and educating the children as to how they should interact safely with animals.

French Bulldog and Trainability

The French Bulldog can be trained and responds very well to this. Just a little bit of effort when they’re young can produce fantastic results and can really eliminate a lot of the tendencies you wouldn’t want in a family environment. Also, being able to issue commands and for your dog to respond to those dogs can be really quite useful when outside if she’s being a little naughty.

The French Bulldog can be stubborn and strong-willed. This will vary between the individual dogs but can make training them when they are older (or even mature) somewhat more of a challenge. It’s still possible, just more of a challenge. Ideally, before the French Bulldog is 4 months old she will have been introduced to a variety of people and other animals. Quite literally, the more the better at this time and it will really help her to tolerate and socialize better throughout the rest of her life.

Exercise Requirements for the French Bulldog

The French Bulldog does not require much exercise. In fact, this is one of the reasons I believe why they have become so popular recently. They make an ideal dog for someone who lives in an apartment or for someone who isn’t that able to get out for the long walks required by other breeds. 

I should add though that just because it doesn’t require much exercise doesn’t mean it’s a lazy breed. Yes, it loves to spend time lying upside down on your lap but it will also run around your house at the speed of sound. This isn’t exercise (as far as the Frenchie is concerned though) – this is play. If you’re thinking of joining a gym then maybe you won’t have to as don’t think you’re going to be allowed to sit on the sofa all day anymore. Part of the contract that you’re signing up for is to entertain your French Bulldog at all times 🙂 This means you need to play when they want to play. Which will be quite often. 

French Bulldog and Health Issues

Unfortunately, the French Bulldog is known to have several health issues related to it. Over the last couple of hundred years it has been cross-bred several times and what we have at the moment is far from what nature, perhaps, intended. Indeed, the vast majority of French Bulldog’s can’t mate naturally (around 80%) due to the size of their hips.

This means that artificial insemination needs to be used to get the female pregnant. The problems don’t end there though. Due to the large size of their heads and the small size of the birth canal, it’s far too dangerous (for mother and litter) to have a natural birth. Therefore, a Cesarean section is required for delivery.

Once the Frenchie has been delivered, it’s not all plain sailing. Depending on how unlucky the dog is, it can be susceptible to a number of problems. One of the most well-known is their breathing difficulties and their inability to regulate their temperature. These can both be serious problems, especially on hot sunny days, for obvious reasons.

The breed has been banned by many airlines (rightly so) as some have unfortunately lost their lives in the aircraft’s hold due to the high temperatures experienced prior to take-off. So, you’re going to need to ensure they’re kept in a temperature-controlled environment and that if they show signs of breathing difficulties during play, you stop.

There are a number of other issues they can have. I won’t go into detail (as that could take a whole article) but to name a few: hip dysplasia; deafness; cherry eye; breathing problems (as I mentioned above); Hemivertebrae; Laryngeal Collapse and others.

Reading the above, you might immediately think ‘whoa’, but don’t let these problems put you off. Many are genetic and if you ensure that the parents are given a clean bill of health then the chance of your puppy getting any of these problems is dramatically reduced to the point where it is incredibly unlikely. Also, if these problems did impact the breed significantly, then the average age of the breed would be significantly lower than it is.

So, yes – the breed does have health issues but they can be managed by doing the due-diligence prior to buying.

Other Considerations

Cost

Well, this is a big consideration, isn’t it? You probably know that the French Bulldog is an expensive dog to buy. Let me summarize the costs.

Buying a French Bulldog via respectable kennel club, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) can provide you with the peace of mind you need when you’re spending so much money. However, you will pay more for this reassurance. How much? Well, depending on what route you take, you’re looking at an average of between $2,870 and $4,650.

However, buying through a kennel club isn’t your only option. I asked 416 French Bulldog owners how much they spent, this is the result:

Puppy Cost ($)% of Total
1300-195035
975-130023
1950-260022
2600-39006.5
650-9754
0-2503.5
3900-65003
250-6501.5
Over 65001

So, you can see here that the majority of people (58% of the total figure) paid between $975 and $1950. What this data suggests is most people (perhaps predictably) don’t purchase their French Bulldog puppy from the AKC (or similar), but buy them from other sources. They’re still expensive though, right? 🙂

Finally, I did perform some analysis into how much, on average, the French Bulldog will cost you over the course of her life. It makes numerous assumptions of course, but came to $184 per month, every month, for 11 years. A total of $24,288 which is not an insignificant number.

French Bulldog Lifespan

The AKC suggests the lifespan of the French Bulldog is between 11 and 13 years but it does vary, depending on which club you seek data from. How does this compare with other breeds? Quite well, actually. The Labrador’s and German Shepherd are around the same amount of length. The Chihuahua can live up to 20 years whereas the Irish Wolfhound is only 7 years.

So, as I mentioned above, all the health problems that the French Bulldog is known for hasn’t impacted its expected lifespan. What it comes down to in the end is genetics, care, love and quite a bit of luck. Whatever the end result though, it’s not long enough, right? Why can’t these little dogs live as long as us, what a partnership that would be

French Bulldog Summary

French Bulldog sitting up

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned about the French Bulldog:

  • Affectionate, loving and caring.
  • Typically Non-Aggressive. 
  • Early training is effective, the breed can be stubborn though.
  • Very good with children and other pets, early socialization helps this process.
  • Several known health issues, mostly down to genetics.
  • The French Bulldog is usually unable to mate naturally and requires a Cesarean.
  • A very expensive breed to buy, you can reduce the chance of health issues if the parents are known to be healthy.
  • The lifespan of the French Bulldog is between 11 and 13 years, which is good.

…and that’s your lot. Thanks for reading!

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 .

Recent Content