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Is a French Bulldog the Breed for You?
Choosing a breed
Are you wanting a dog? Have you dreamt of the day a little furry guy (or gal) was bounding about your house, bringing joy and light to your day? Have you seen those odd little creatures called French Bulldogs and thought that just might be the dog for you? Perhaps you saw "Due Date" with Robert Downey Jr. and Zack Galifinakis and were struck by their supporting actor with the large disc around his square head. They're so ugly they're cute. So cute they're irresistible. But should a breed be chosen based only on appearance? What are these things like, and would they be a good fit for your household?
If you are looking for a jester to entertain your castle, a French Bulldog may be the dog for you. Their odd faces are the most expressive of the canine kingdom. Playing in the yard - they might have a tongue dangling grin. Content in their bed - perhaps a pouty glance. Worn-out and on the verge of sleep - like a grumpy old man. French Bulldogs can be very playful. They like to rough-house. Wresting on the floor, chasing toys, mine will even clamp on a frisbee and dangle from it. Their strength is impressive. They're capable of good speed and agility, but often have a comical awkwardness. I call my Frenchie my thirty pound clown.
French Bulldogs are independent, often aloof in their attitude. They may dodge the hand that reaches out to pet them. This isn't to say they arent' friendly, they are - just not exceedingly so like many other breeds. This can be a bonus if you are a busy person and don't want to provide constant attention. Just your presence will please a Frenchie. They are good around kids, mine seems to grant them a little more of his attention than adults. He also puts up well with the smothering he receives when I visit a friend who has five young kids that like to get close to his face and treat him like some sort of old doll. I will say their independent nature leads to being not the most obedient breed. I have trouble getting my Frenchie to come when I call. He likes to wander. Better training at a young age is a good idea. I'd recommend professional classes. Check with your local animal shelter.
As far as excersize - not a lot is required, but French Bulldogs are capable of greater athletic abilities than one would guess at first glance. A twenty minute walk or game in the yard is sufficient, but a eight mile hike isn't out of the question. Angus, my Frenchie, has gone backpacking on hikes longer than that, climbing boulders and trudging streams like a champ. Just be mindful not to overdo it on a hot day. French Bulldogs have very short snouts and can easily overheat - Angus always lets me know by laying down and refusing to move until he cools down. This is why most airlines discourage or won't allow French Bulldogs to be transported via aircraft.
The Napoleon Complex
In relating to other dogs, many French Bulldog owners have discovered their pooch has a Napoleon Complex. I Mine is no different and I would say this has been my biggest issue with the breed. It has been hard to predict - half the bigger dogs we meet he is fine with, the other half he wants to clamp on their throat. I've never had an issue with dogs smaller than him. Some he plays with, others he ignores. I know, I should have worked with him better at a young age, and nipped this issue in the bud when it first arose. At this point I've had decent luck with introducing he and the other dog first on neutral ground. No blind entering of a friend's house. No permitting other dogs in my house without an initial introduction outside. And most importantly, no treats or food offered without separation. Angus has managed to make nice with some of his prior foes by following these practices.
To conclude, I recommend finding a breeder nearby and meeting their Frenchies. See them for yourself and carefully consider if you are ready to shell out the large amount of dough breeders usually charge. And be honest with yourself - are you ready to commit to this dog? Can you provide, and are you willing to be a responsible pet owner? If you are, a French Bulldog will be a fantastic companion - the jester of your castle!