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Cute, playful and oh-so-charming, French bulldogs or ‘Frenchies’ resemble bulldogs – except for their relatively diminutive size and constantly erect large ‘bat’ ears. These quirky-looking pups are among the most popular small-dog breeds in the world.
If you’re curious about Frenchies, here are 5 fun facts about them:
They don’t look it, but Frenchies are actually descended from the ancient hounds of Molossus in Greece. The ancient Greek tribe of Molossians raised the Molossian hound whose breed spread because of Phoenician traders.
The Molossian gave rise to the English mastiff and later to bulldogs. A now-extinct German bulldog called the ‘Bullenbeiser’ (bull-biter), a cousin of the mastiff, was raised for bull baiting as a sport.
But when bull baiting became illegal in England in 1835, the bulldogs were left with nothing to do, so they were later bred to become companion dogs. However, they were deemed too big, so some bulldogs were interbred with smaller breeds like terriers, which were very common as they were bred as ratter dogs.
Toy bulldogs, the scaled-down versions of the Bullenbeiser mixed with smaller breeds, became very popular in England at around 1850, participating in breed shows in the following decade. Nottinghamshire lace workers who settled in Normandy, France brought their pups, including toy bulldogs, which the French adored. English breeders also exported bulldogs deemed too small or flawed, such as those with erect ears.
But these small bulldogs became established French favourites and a recognised breed called ‘Bouledogue Francais’ meaning French ‘ball’ and ‘mastiff’ or ‘molosser’. Unexpectedly, these toy bulldogs were transformed into fashion icons as they were highly favoured by Parisian women, including writers, fashion designers and artists.
By the early 20th century, the bat ears of French bulldogs became widely accepted with the support of American breeders. Since then, the distinctive ears of Frenchies have become part of their trademark look and are widely recognised all over the world.
French bulldogs have a small stature, usually standing at around 28 to 30 centimetres (11 to 12 inches). Males weigh around 9 to 13 kilograms (20 to 28 pounds) and females at around 7 to 11 kilograms (16 to 24 pounds).
Their elongated bat ears top their large square heads and slightly rounded foreheads. Like typical bulldogs, Frenchies have thick necks and eyes set wide apart, but they have slightly rounded foreheads. Their short, smooth coat – which may be brindle, fawn, cream, white with brindle patches or black – is wrinkly, particularly around the head and shoulders.
They have a short, stocky build, tucked-up belly and a straight or curved tail, as well as short and sturdy front legs set far apart. However, their hind legs are noticeably longer. They love to lie down on their tummies or sit with their hind legs spread out. This, combined with their wide, round face, has earned them the moniker ‘frog dogs’.
While Frenchies crave attention and affection, they return the same in kind. They are playful, loyal, stubborn, affectionate, fun-loving, and they don’t bark so much. Frenchies have an overall highly agreeable personality, so they can also live well with other dogs and even cats.
They make great apartment dogs and only require regular walks and some exercise to keep fit.
Like other breeds, French bulldogs are susceptible to both food and environmental allergies.
They may be allergic to beef, dairy products, chicken and their eggs, corn, lamb, some types of fish, and wheat. Environmental allergens that trigger allergy attacks in Frenchies include animal dander, pollen, dust mites and mould spores.
If your Frenchie is suddenly suffering from diarrhea, vomiting and non-stop flatulence, or has rashes and is scratching continuously, better take it to the vet.
Many celebrities are Frenchie fur parents, including the late Carrie Fisher, the Beckhams, Eva Longoria, Noah Hill, Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Braff and Leonardo DiCaprio.
So, if you get yourself a Frenchie, you’re in good company!