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Norwich Bulletin - 7/25/2010

The French Bulldog

The petite Boule, or French Bulldog as it is known today, is an intelligent, lively and affectionate dog that makes a delightful companion and family pet. The breed is usually mild mannered and loves people, always wanting to be involved with whatever activity the family might be doing. While they may be a small dog in stature, they have a big personality.

They are a sweet natured, entertaining, amiable, humorous and social breed. The French Bulldog is also a sensitive breed, although it can be quite stubborn. But usually his gentle disposition and obedient nature wins out and so he is well suited to both experienced and non-experienced dog owners.

Not everyone agrees as to the origin of the French Bulldog. The most logical is that it originates from the miniature bulldog that they were brought to France by the English Nottingham lace workers when they came looking for work. Most of the workers brought their dogs because they were well suited to the cramped living conditions and were excellent ratters.

In the 1860’s they became so popular in France that they almost became extinct in England! Breeders then crossed them with the native Terrier Boule, and eventually called them French Bulldogs. They became “the dog” to have for the working class Parisian society, and they were exceptionally popular with the “ladies of the night.” This enchanting little canine made its first appearance in the United States in 1896 at the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York.

The French Bulldog has a small, compact, chunky body and a typical pug-like face with a down-turned mouth that makes him look grumpy all the time. However, you can see the humor and mischief in this breed’s eyes and eagerness to please. The coat is close and short and smooth to the touch. The skin is soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming wrinkles. Accepted colors are cream, brindle, pied and black and fawn. The average height is 11 to 14 inches with weight varying between 20 and 28 pounds.

Although they require minimal grooming, you still need to maintain them with a weekly brushing to remove the loose hair, and stimulate the oils in the skin. This helps prevent the skin from becoming dry, flaky and itchy. Once a month a bath with mild soap is a good habit to get into. But not more than that because you will dry out the skin. Nails, ears and folds caused by their wrinkles should be kept clean to avoid bacteria and infections.

The life expectancy of this breed is about ten to twelve years with proper care but one must be aware of the possible health problems that can occur. The short muzzle of the French Bulldog means that over exertion can lead to respiratory problems and they can be very sensitive to extremely hot or cold weather. It is important that you do not let your “Frenchie” get overweight because it may make them prone to heat stroke.

Do not overfeed these dogs. You must also be careful of anesthesia and be sure your vets are experienced with flat faced dogs. There are special precautions that they need to take. This breed is going to cost you more money during its lifetime than most dogs will, so be sure to take that into consideration before buying a French Bulldog Puppy.

If you are looking for a dog to go jogging with everyday, then the French Bulldog is not for you. They enjoy short walks when the air temperature is moderate. And then a nice long nap. Do not take them out to the lake for an outing as they are heavy headed and cannot swim, which means they can easily drown. These dogs do love to play and it will be the humans’ responsibility to know when to quit and make sure they do not become over exerted. Turn playtime into cuddle time.

Remember these dogs are “bull headed” and not that easy to train. They have a hard time following commands so you will have to be more stubborn than they are. They are easily distracted and owners must be both strong willed and patient. The best way to train your dog is to start them in puppy classes. It will socialize them with other people and animals an also give you bonding time.

The French Bulldog gets along well with children and other animals, except you need to remember that they are bred to be ratters. Any small mammal, including hamsters, gerbils and small kittens, may not be the best playmates for you to choose to get for your Frenchie. But they usually are friendly and welcoming with strangers. They are also an effective watchdog because they will bark if they sense that something is not quite right. This breed really does have more pros than cons and they are also very cute!

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