French Bulldog



There are varied explanations about the French Bulldog's origin. Some speculate that artwork and skeletal finds of the Bulldog known as Chincha in ancient Peru closely resemble the French Bulldog. Others have suggested the Spanish Bulldog featured in the creation of the French Bulldog.

Most agree it is probable that today's French Bulldog originated from the toy Bulldogs brought to France by the lace workers from Nottingham in England, following the Industrial Revolution. These miniature Bulldogs are thought to have been crossed with Terriers and Pugs and thus the French Bulldog evolved.

French Bulldogs became popular among Parisian women and then became a status symbol of French society including artists, businessmen and aristocrats. Toulouse Lautrec and Degas painted pictures that included French Bulldogs and French author, Colette wrote stories about her beloved Frenchies. Wealthy Americans visiting Paris also fell victim to the charms of the Frenchie and took them home to America.

The French Bulldog is one of only a few breeds which owes its existence to the efforts of breeders in different countries - France, America, England and Germany. Certainly the continuance of the unique bat ears at the turn of the century was due to America and there was immense popularity for the Frenchie in America from a century ago and which has continued for at least 30 years.

Over the last decade, the French Bulldog has experienced a popularity never seen before in the history of the breed. 

  • In Australia Frenchies continue to be ranked in the top 10 most popular breeds. 2020 ANKC registrations totalled 2669.  (The introduction of the colour inspection regulations by ANKC saw a sharp drop from the 2016-2017 registrations 4122 & 4082.)

  • United Kingdom ranked number 2 and accounted for 17.5% of total registrations (39,266 new puppy registrations!).

  • A similar story in the USA where French Bulldogs represented >6% of the population of registered dogs with a ranking of number 2.

  • Statistics in France show the French Bulldog ranked in the top 10 (2010 – 2019) dropping to number 13 in 2020 where registrations for that year totalled 289,789.


All eyes and ears, the French Bulldog has a large almost square head, with a soft melting expression beautifully set off with those superb ‘bat’ ears. Without the correct ear shape and set, you do not have a Frenchie. The ears are unique in the dog world and another important breed characteristic is the short, undocked tail.


The French Bulldog, or 'Frenchie' as often known, is a delightful companion. 

A wonderful characteristic of the breed is that each Frenchie has its own unique personality, which makes it extremely difficult to settle on just one.

The French Bulldog may look tough on the outside, but inside it is a comical and affectionate companion. Generally well behaved, active, alert and playful, the breed is a fun dog to live with. It loves nothing more than to cuddle on the couch, romp inside or play in the yard – it spreads good vibes wherever it goes. People who love the breed know that this is one of the main reasons for its rise in popularity. Full of charisma, the French Bulldog is too hard to resist.


Small to medium in size, the Frenchie's appearance is unique with its distinguishing bat ears, a well-muscled and compact body, moderate angulation and a short, smooth coat. It has an alert, curious, and interested expression.

The tail should be short, undocked and set on low. The rear legs should be longer than the front legs so that they elevate the loin above the shoulders. Coat colours vary and can be brindle, pied or fawn. There can also be quite a variation in the brindle colour from an almost solid black colour to quite striped, commonly referred to as a tiger brindle.


The French Bulldog is generally a sound dog, rarely suffering from heart, eye, skin problems or epilepsy. However, the combination of the brachycephalic head, short body and screw tail increases the potential for hemivertebrae and breathing difficulties. This includes Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) and Hemivertebrae. The breed's lifespan is 12-16 years.

The French Bulldog Club of NSW Inc, in collaboration with Dr Karen Hedberg BVSc and Dr Robert Wyburn OAM BVMS DVR Phd FACVSc MRCVS, formulated and put in place a spine and hip grading scheme in 2009. The scheme whilst not compulsory has been embraced by breeders throughout the country and is a highly recommended breeding practice for all breeders in Australia.

Current median breed scores (582 dogs scored)
• spine 14.00
• hips 16.12

The French Bulldog Club of NSW Inc has also been the driving force behind the health of the breed when it comes to BOAS. Indeed in 2018 our club raised funds and donated $25,000 towards the purchase of a breathing chamber [whole-body barometric plethysmography chamber]. Until then to diagnose BOAS usually required a physical examination, history and lesion assessment under sedation or a general anaesthesia. The Cambridge University study involving French Bulldogs, Pugs and British Bulldogs, using the chamber was ground-breaking, a non-invasive method to evaluate and grade the respiratory function of brachycephalic breeds. The UK’s Cambridge University study into BOAS has advanced further to a scheme which is licensed by the Kennel Club UK. The ‘Respiratory Function Grading Scheme’ has been adopted in many countries around the world, including Australia. Dr Arthur House BSc BVMS PhD Cert SAS DECVS has been appointed to oversee and train veterinarians to perform the scheme throughout the country. The chamber will be housed in Dr. House’s practice in Victoria.


The French Bulldog is a low maintenance dog when it comes to grooming. The short coat is easy to maintain with regular brushing and minimal bathing. The breed will shed twice a year, but the short coat does not create a problem for indoor living. Ears and nails need attention and should be cared for on a weekly basis. Wrinkles and folds around the face and tail should be checked and kept clean and dry.


Frenchies are not for everyone but if you want an affectionate, good natured companion look no further. They thrive on social interaction with their family members and really do consider themselves a part of the family.

They are extremely curious, entertaining and will make you laugh every day.

The Frenchie is a loyal friend who requires plenty of companionship and so is not suited to outdoor life. Its small size and short hair makes it an excellent house dog.

Frenchies enjoy a little exercise, be it a walk or a game with their favourite toy, but they also love some quiet time curled up on your lap.

French Bulldogs are suited to most situations including inner city living, the suburbs or the country estate. It is a fairly hardy breed, but care must be taken during summer when there is an increased risk of overheating. The breed thrives on love and attention and is not suited to a kennel situation. 

Words: Liz Davidson on behalf of the French Bulldog Club of NSW


In Conclusion

Now you know a little about the French Bulldog, you may think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the French Bulldog and its needs, and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.