French Bulldogs fall into the Kennel Club’s ‘utility’ category, which is a slightly miscellaneous grouping of dogs bred for a specific purpose.
They aren’t actually French as the name suggests. The breed was created by Nottingham lacemakers in the 1800s to to catch rats and keep their laps warm while they worked. They’re descended from British Bulldogs and were first bred as dwarf or toy Bulldogs by crossing the breed with terriers.
When the lace workers migrated to Normandy, the breed became known as French Bulldogs.
They now look very different from other Bulldog breeds, with their small size and characteristic ‘bat ears’.
French Bulldogs are a trending breed. They were the second most popular breed in the UK in 2020, according to the Kennel Club. They were also the fifth most popular breed we insured in 2021.
Types of French Bulldog
The Kennel Club lists just nine breed standard colours, which are all variations of either brindle (a mottled brown and black), fawn (light brown), or pied (black and white):
Brindle, light brindle and dark brindle
Brindle and white
Fawn, fawn and white and fawn pied
Fawn with black mask
As well as these standard colours, inventive breeders have developed a rainbow of non-standard French Bulldog colours, including:
There’s also a variety of mixes of these colours, including lilac and tan French Bulldogs or even white, blue and tan.
There’s also a particularly rare and expensive colour called ‘Isabella’. Isabella French Bulldogs are a pale liver colour and usually have a pink or light brown nose and blue eyes.
French Bulldogs usually have very short fur, but there’s a gene known as ‘LH’ that some breeders have deliberately sought out to create fluffy French Bulldogs.
The LH gene is recessive, so to get long-haired French Bulldogs both parents must have the gene and even then only some of the puppies will be fluffy. Even fluffy Frenchies aren’t really very long-haired though, just a little shaggier looking.
French Bulldog temperament and characteristics
French Bulldogs were bred as companion dogs and they’re usually cheerful and good natured with people and other animals if they’re properly socialised as a puppy.
Their clown-like looks are often reflected by a quirky personality, but they can have quite a stubborn streak as well.
Because they’re so people-friendly they don’t like to be be left alone and separation anxiety can sometimes be a problem.
The average pet insurance cost for all dog breeds was £474.77, so French Bulldogs cost about double the average dog insurance cost to cover.
French Bulldogs cost a little more to insure than some other breeds because they are susceptible to a number of health conditions so there’s more chance that you’ll have to make a claim.
When you choose pet insurance, make sure you have enough cover for your French Bulldog’s entire life. We only offer lifetime insurance because it has an annual vet fee limit that refreshes each year, so you won’t suddenly run out of cover for your Frenchie.
If you’re switching pet insurance providers or taking out insurance for the first time, be aware that any pre-existing conditions, like genetic issues with your French Bulldog’s breathing or eyes that your vet’s already diagnosed, probably won’t be covered by your new policy.
We offer a Pre-existing policy that has cover for your pet’s existing health problems, as long as your pet hasn't had any signs or symptoms, or needed treatment, medication or advice for that condition for at least three months.
Our Pre-existing policy can cover recent conditions.
Brachycephalic dogs basically have too much soft tissue to fit on their small skeletons, meaning they have folds in places like their faces. This can mean their airways are blocked with this excess tissue, making breathing harder.
A common treatment is to have the soft palette and other airways tissue surgically trimmed. It can cost around £2,000.
The most common condition we saw in French Bulldogs was allergic skin disorders, with an average claim cost of £191.86. Again, it’s those skin folds that are to blame. The folds can cause skin yeast to breed, causing itching and soreness.
Eye problems are also common in French bulldogs and corneal ulcers were the fifth most common claim for the breed.
French bulldogs can also suffer with skeletal problems and be born with spinal deformities, causing issues with their shins, hind legs, and back.
Health tests for French Bulldogs
If you get a French Bulldog puppy, it’s worth asking the breeder if the parents have been health tested.
There are some recommended health tests for French Bulldogs to discourage those with breathing and other problems from being used for breeding.
The Kennel Club and University of Cambridge’s Respiratory Function Grading Scheme assesses flat-faced breeds for BOAS. Potential breeding dogs can be assessed from the age of 12 months and then every two years. All Kennel Club Assured Breeders must use the scheme.
The Kennel Club also recommends eye screening, a DNA test and participation in the French Bulldog Health Scheme.
The French Bulldog Club of England runs the French Bulldog Health Scheme. Dogs are assessed by a vet for things like ear, eye, heart, breathing and skin health. Depending on the results they will then be awarded a certification of bronze, silver or gold.
Frequently asked questions about French Bulldogs
How much are French Bulldogs?
French Bulldogs have become a desirable breed in recent years, costing upwards of £3,000 for kennel club registered pups.
If you see litters of cheap French Bulldog puppies, be careful. Because of their high value, they have become the target of puppy farmers who will breed large number of unregistered and non-health checked pups. Read our advice on how to buy a puppy to make sure you find a reputable breeder.
Do French Bulldogs shed?
Although Frenchies have short, fine fur, they shed year round. weekly brushing should keep on top of the worst of it, as well as an occasional bath.
Can French Bulldogs swim?
French Bulldogs are really not good swimmers and you should supervise them very carefully around water. Their short, stocky bodies don’t stay afloat well and their flat faces can mean they inhale water, so swimming can be quite dangerous for them. Best to stick to paddling.
Do French Bulldogs have tails?
French Bulldogs do have tails and they’re not docked. They naturally have just a very small, short tail. Some have a straight one and others have a corkscrew tail like a pig.
How many puppies do French Bulldogs have?
French Bulldogs only have a small litter. two or three pups are normal and anything above five is a very large litter for a Frenchie.
Are French Bulldogs hypoallergenic?
Although they obviously create a lot less hair than big, furry breeds, French Bulldogs aren’t hypoallergenic and will continuously shed hair.