French Bulldog

With unmistakable bat-shaped ears, a tough-on-the-outside, sweet-on-the-inside demeanor and distinctive bow-legged gait, the French Bulldog has gained so much popularity that he's fast becoming the city-dwellers' dog of choice. He's small -- under 28 pounds -- and has a short, easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors. He doesn't need a great deal of exercise, fits easily into a condo, co-op or apartment, and is far less likely to bark than many small dogs. In fact, other than being a little pugnacious with other dogs, it would be hard to imagine a better dog for city living.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The French Bulldog should be on the short list of breeds for anyone who lives without a vast tract of suburban backyard. He's also a good choice for those who might have trouble giving a more active breed ample exercise.

The Frenchie will make you laugh. He's a charming, clever dog with a sense of humor and a stubborn streak. Bred for centuries as a companion, he's very fond of people, including children, and becomes particularly attached to his family. In fact, sometimes he becomes a little too attached, which means he's not the best choice for someone who'll be away long hours every day. It also means he absolutely, positively cannot live in the backyard or garage, but only indoors as a member of the family. That's doubly true given that he, like all bracycephalic, or "flat-faced" breeds, has difficulty regulating his body temperature and needs to live in a climate-controlled environment.

The Frenchie can also be a little hard to housebreak and may not be safe with a slow-footed family cat. He also snores, which might seem like a minor problem until you've actually heard the dramatic sounds that can emanate from his small body.

Health Issues Common to French Bulldogs

The French Bulldog is faced with some serious health problems from conception to death. In the hope of controlling the genetic diseases that already affect the breed and prevent any new ones from emerging, the French Bull Dog Club of America participates in a program operated by the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). It requires that breeders test all their breeding dogs for eye and hip diseases that occur in the breed.

Not all health issues of concern in the breed have genetic screening tests. Frenchies can suffer from spine malformations, a number of airway and breathing difficulties, heat and exercise intolerance, reproductive problems (the norm rather than the exception), and a number of allergies and skin problems.

If you make a French Bulldog part of your family, be watchful for signs of health problems, and make sure he does not become over-heated.

To protect yourself from the expensive vet bills associated with these conditions, you'll want to purchase pet insurance for your French Bulldog before they show symptoms or are diagnosed.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000
Entropion High $300-$1,500
IVDD High $2,500-$7,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy French Bulldog Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills. Puppy mills also advertise through Internet sites, so never deal with a breeder who'll ship anywhere to anyone with a credit card.

Start your search at the website of the French Bull Dog Club of America, which maintains a referral list for breeders. Choose one who has agreed to be bound by the club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits its members from selling puppies to pet stores and outlines the responsibilities of its member breeders to the dogs they produce and the people who buy them.

Look for a breeder who can provide you with written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) clearing your puppy's parents of hip, knee, and eye problems. PennHip certification of hips is also accepted. Ideally, written OFA clearance of the hearts and thyroids of both parents should be available as well.

Puppy or adult, take your French Bulldog to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

French Bulldog Pet Insurance

Despite what the breeder might say and regardless of whether your Frenchie's parents are perfectly healthy, it is impossible to guarantee your Frenchie will be free of breed-specific issues such as hip dysplasia or any of the conditions above. You can protect against the unknown by getting pet insurance. The best advice we can give you when looking for pet insurance for your Frenchie puppy is to insure her when she's young, ideally 8 weeks to 6 months of age.

Picking the best dog insurance plan for your Frenchie means finding one that covers hereditary conditions. Sadly, most pet insurance plans do not cover these conditions but a few, including Embrace Pet Insurance, do. Because of this, pet insurance plans that cover hereditary conditions tend to cost more than plans from other leading companies such as VPI that do not.

Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. If you wait until your Frenchie is too old there is a high probability that claims for any health issues he has had will be considered pre-existing and thus denied. Remember, pet insurance is the one thing you can't buy when you need it the most, you need to plan ahead and get it when your Frenchie is young.