By Kathleen Knowles
Introduction: The third in the series of Dogs as Pets
Choosing a dog to become a family member is a big decision. You must determine whether you want a mix-breed dog or a pedigreed one. A mix-breed is exactly what it implies, more than one breed of dog mixed together. A pedigreed dog is one breed only with nothing but that breed in its pedigree going back for generations. What size is right for you? Should you buy a long-haired dog or a short-coated one? A big dog or a small dog? In this series we will examine pure-bred breeds only. So far, we have looked at the Chihuahua and the Saint Bernard. In this article we will examine the French Bulldog as a pet.
The French Bulldog
Over the years French Bulldogs have climbed in popularity. Currently, they rank as the 6th most popular breed of dog in the United States, according to American Kennel Club registrations (of 193 breeds now recognized).
Originating in England, “Frenchies” became popular among lace workers in the city of Nottingham in the 1800’s. They emigrated to France where they thrived and soon were brought to the United States, recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1898. Members of the Non-Sporting group, they are small dogs standing 11 to 13 inches and weighing from 16 to 28 pounds. Resembling the Bulldog, only smaller, they are noted for their large, erect “bat ears.” French Bulldogs are compact dogs with large square heads, muscular bodies, thick-set necks, very short noses with a heavy wrinkle rolled over them. They have large expressive eyes and a short coat which comes in many colors. Life expectancy is from 10 to 12 years of age.
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The Frenchie has a delightful personality and an even disposition. Comical, and entertaining, he is affectionate and a real charmer. French Bulldogs make great family pets as they are very good with children and get along well with other dogs. They are also fairly friendly with strangers. Frenchies are very loving and need to spend lots of time with the people they love. They will bark and announce when strangers arrive, making them very good watch dogs. However, Frenchies are generally quiet. For this reason, the French Bulldog makes an excellent apartment pet as well.
They are free thinkers, therefore they can be stubborn. Still, they are moderately easy to train. The Frenchie is generally eager to please. Due to his size, he does not require a lot of exercise. In fact, excessive exercise is not recommended in this breed.
As with any short-faced breed, French Bulldogs need to be protected in the summertime. They should not be kept outside for extended periods of time. Obviously, being a short-coated breed, neither can they be left out for very long in the winter. They are definitely not outdoor dogs. Fortunately they make great indoor companions as they are very comfortable on a bed and completely at home as couch potatoes! If you do not allow your dog on the furniture, he will be happy to lie at your feet, although there is no doubt he would much prefer your lap!
Be prepared for snorting and snuffling which goes with owning a short-faced breed. If you allow your dog to sleep in your room, or on your bed, be aware that this breed can snore with the best of them! Frenchies are also known for flatulence (gassiness). On the bright side, if you slip up, you can always blame it on your French Bulldog!
Due to their short coat, there is obviously far less grooming then a long coated breed. Toenails will need trimming and ears kept clean. You will have to check the face wrinkle on a regular basis to make sure that it is kept dry and not allowed to become raw due to moisture. Like most dogs, your Frenchie will shed. Although, it will be considerably less then most other breeds. Brushing as he sheds will remove dead coat, and an occasional bath will keep your French Bulldog smelling fresh and clean.
Although this breed is generally healthy, there are some health problems to be aware of:
• Brachycephalic Syndrome (a condition affecting short-nose dogs which can lead to respiratory distress)
• Intervertebral Disc Disease (a ruptured disc in the spine that herniates and pushes upward into the spinal cord)
• Patellar Luxation (slipped stifles)
• Cleft Palates
Because some of these conditions can exist in the breed, does not necessarily mean that your Frenchie will develop these problems. This is only intended to make you aware that these conditions can come up, although as mentioned earlier, the French Bulldog is generally a healthy and happy dog
In conclusion, this breed makes a wonderful pet if you are willing to protect your dog in hot weather, and handle the snoring, snuffling and gassiness. You will enjoy many years of an entertaining, comical canine companion who is loving, loyal and a wonderful addition to your family.
If they are the dog for you, you may find that they are like Lay’s potato chips; you can’t have just one!
Kathleen Knowles is a life-long resident of Port Huron and a 1973 graduate of Port Huron High School. After attending St. Clair County Community College, she has worked for credit unions all of her life as well as a professional dog show handler, known for handling Pekingese. Kathleen has been writing fiction for years as a hobby, having posted many stories online.