Vivez les oreilles -- those famous French bulldog bat ears. If you share your life with a Frenchie, you've got a fine companion, although not much of an athlete. Because the Frenchie doesn't require much in the way of exercise or grooming, he's easier to care for than other canine breeds. Because of his facial structure, he's prone to related health complications.
How to Care for a French Bulldog
A Brachycephalic Breed
Your Frenchie is a brachycephalic breed, a term literally meaning "short head." That adorable pushed-in nose predisposes him to certain issues, including breathing difficulties and dental problems. In hot weather, your Frenchie should stay inside -- except for brief constitutionals -- in an air-conditioned environment. Like other brachycephalic breeds, the Frenchie may suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome and could need surgery to correct narrow nostrils, or reduce an elongated soft palate. A narrow windpipe makes general anesthesia riskier than in long-nosed canines.
Feeding Your French Bulldog
Obesity is an issue for Frenchies, so take care not to overfeed your pet. Too much weight can affect his joints. Since the breed is prone to food allergies, feed high-quality dog food without preservatives or fillers. You'll want to avoid wheat in the food, since the grain can produce flatulence in Frenchies. Corn can cause skin reactions. Avoid potential allergic reactions by choosing a single protein food. Ask your veterinarian for dietary recommendations. She can advise you on the right weight for your adult French bulldog. No Frenchie should weigh more than 28 pounds, according to the American Kennel Club.
French Bulldog Grooming
A weekly brushing should suffice to keep your French bulldog looking well-groomed. Keep him clean with a monthly bath, or whenever he's especially dirty. While he's not much of a shedder, he will blow his undercoat every spring and fall. During those periods, you might use a wire brush or grooming mitt to facilitate hair removal. Your Frenchie's wrinkles require regular cleaning to prevent bacterial infections. Give his wrinkles a good cleaning with a baby wipe every other day, then use a soft cloth for thorough drying. Start brushing his teeth in puppyhood, and make it part of his daily routine.
French Bulldog Exercise and Training
Because of his facial structure, your Frenchie doesn't tolerate a lot of exercise. A few short daily walks suffice for your dog. Take him out in the cooler parts of the day. Don't let your Frenchie go for walks off the leash, and Frenchie-proof your yard with a good fence. Keep him away from pools -- he can't swim, and will sink and drown in any body of water.
Frenchies aren't difficult to train, but they can be stubborn. The French Bulldog Club of America advocates crate training for the breed. Housetraining might take a while, but he'll get there eventually. Try making a game of any training, which suits the Frenchie's playful nature. Take him to obedience school for basic training and the opportunity to socialize. Without proper training, that cute little dog can become a tyrant.
The French Bulldog Club of America recommends finding a veterinarian familiar with the needs of brachycephalic canines. Nonfacial structure related problems in the breed include intervertebral disk disease and gastrointestinal issues. Their anatomy does not allow for natural breeding, so your dog arrived in this world with the assistance of some type of canine reproduction specialist. The puppy's head size means that Frenchie mothers can't give birth naturally, so a cesarean section must be scheduled. Of course, your Frenchie requires periodic wellness checkups, vaccinations and flea, tick and heartworm preventives.