French Bulldogs and the Quest for the Perfect Family Dog

Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM

FRENCH BULLDOG with a toy

Over the years, French Bulldogs have grown in popularity and become a household favorite due to their petite size and charming demeanor.

However, while their unique traits make them suitable for some families, they may not be ideal for others. 

French Bulldogs can be the perfect family dog due to their lively personality, friendly temperament, and desire to socialize. However, they can show signs of aggression when defending their territory or provoked by young children but can overcome this behavior with early introductions and adequate training. 

Using my background in veterinary medicine, I’ll provide you with detailed information to help you determine if this dog breed is right for your family, read on.

Are They Good With Kids?

French Bulldogs love kids. Their calm and cuddly nature makes them affectionate with children.

They don’t see kids as just playmates; they take kids as a part of their responsibility and go the extra mile to protect them. 

FRENCH BULLDOG WITH TODDLER

However, the need to protect kids may at times make your Frenchie defensive when kids get close to other people.

In extreme cases, they end up becoming aggressive in a bid to protect their playmates. 

You can engage them in obedience training to try and tame their aggressiveness. 

Additionally, Frenchies are of ideal size. They are neither too small, meaning that kids can’t easily hurt them, nor too big for children to handle.

Other factors remaining constant, their size makes them a perfect canine choice for most families with kids of all ages.

Here are a few tips on how to foster a good relationship between Frenchies and kids:

  • If possible, introduce them to kids during their puppyhood so that they can learn to live with children at an early stage.
  • Proper and consistent training is important to ensure your pup develops good habits around kids. Teach your dog some basic commands, such as sit, stand, and come, among others, which the kids can use to manage the Frenchy’s behaviors. Additionally, during training, help your pup learn the boundaries they should keep when interacting with kids. For example, they should not bite on kids’ toys.
  • Teach your kids how to interact well with dogs. For example, kids should avoid pulling the dog’s ears, tail, head, or frightening them. Additionally, they should avoid startling Frenchies in their sleep or when they’re eating.
  • Positive reinforcement; involves rewarding your Frenchie with praises or their favorite treats anytime they behave well around kids. By constantly doing this, your pup will learn to associate positive behavior around babies with treats. And since they like to please their owners, your Frenchie will begin behaving well around children.

So, knowing that Frenchies can get along well with kids, let’s look at how they behave around kids of different ages, i.e., babies, toddlers, and older kids.

Babies

Like most companion dogs, French Bulldogs are possessive of their owners.

They are likely to get jealous or even aggressive when a baby arrives and takes all their owner’s attention.

Dry eye french bulldog

Additionally, you might find that your dog panics every time a baby cries and may even end up becoming destructive. 

The best way to avoid this is by taking your pup to obedience training classes from a young age and introducing them to changes before the newborn baby arrives.

If well trained, your Frenchie can end up becoming your baby’s all-time buddy, and you may be surprised to find that they never leave your baby’s side.

Additionally, since Frenchies aren’t vocal, they’re less likely to wake babies up from their deep slumber or make them fussy because of their uncontrolled loud barks.

Frenchie puppies are known to get along much better with babies compared to adult Frenchies.

This is because puppies are still in their early stages of growth.

However, once introduced to babies, they will develop an invaluable bond.

On the other hand, the adults may be hesitant at first. Still, the relationship will eventually flourish if consistent training is in place.

A handy tip that works well for most families is introducing Frenchies to babies while still in their puppyhood.

Here, their bond tends to develop much faster.

However, regardless of how well your pup behaves around babies, don’t be tempted to leave them alone and always supervise their interactions.

Helping Your French Bulldog Adjust to a New Baby

Due to their clingy and cuddly nature, Frenchies are possessive of their owners and often get jealous when a new baby arrives.

Generally, the rivalry between Frenchies and babies comes in when these two attention-seeking beings aren’t given the attention they each crave.

FRENCH BULLDOG looking at the camera

When you look into the needs of each party, and they’re met satisfactorily, your home will be peaceful.

You can help your canine companion adjust to a new baby in the house using these simple tips.

First off, don’t wait till your baby is born to start initiating changes. This may come as a surprise to your canine companion, which can end up making them aggressive.

Therefore, it’s advisable to start helping your hound adjust to the idea of a new family member early or as soon as you find out a baby is on the way.

Introducing your Frenchie to changes early enough gives them enough time to adjust.

Here are some ways to prepare your dog for the new addition to your family:

  • Sign them up for basic obedience classes: If your canine companion hasn’t been to an obedience class or has some behavior issues that need to be addressed, it’s the right time to enroll them for training.
  • Introduce them to babies: If your pup hasn’t been around babies before, make sure you expose them to kids before your new bundle of joy comes home. You may take them to a park and see how they react around children or invite friends with infants to your house. These acts acclimate your Frenchie to the sight, smell, and sounds of babies.
  • Engage in active preparations: Here, you can start introducing your dog to some baby items such as the bassinet, baby cot, toys, baby carrier, and stroller. It’s also advisable to get a doll and treat it like a baby. Try shifting your attention to the doll and see how your pup reacts.

This is important to help your canine familiarize themselves with the divided attention they will get once the baby comes.

If your Frenchie reacts calmly, reward them with their favorite treat. However, if they are over-aggressive, keep the doll away and take it slow with them.

You can repeat the process at regular intervals until your pup gets used to the presence of someone else getting your attention.

You can also introduce some baby lotions and powders to help them familiarize themselves with the new scents in the house.

Then, allow your dog to sniff the baby items until they’re no longer curious about them.

FRENCH BULLDOG licking her face

Here are some other ways:

  • Place a used baby blanket or a bib in your Frenchie’s feeding or sleeping area. Do this to acclimatize them further to the new smell that will soon dominate the house. Allow your canine to sniff the baby items and your little bundle of joy once he’s home. This will help in taming the pup’s curiosity concerning the new creature in the house.
  • Engage your Frenchie in baby-related activities. Don’t forsake your ‘old’ companion. Engage them in baby-related activities, such as changing diapers, bathing, feeding, and taking walks. This way, they will learn some baby language, and the inclusivity in activities will help with bonding. Through this, your Frenchie will stop seeing the baby as a stranger but as a companion and a part of their responsibility.

Toddlers

Frenchies’ playfulness and protective nature make them fantastic playmates for toddlers.

The duo interacts very well and, given that both of them are cuddly and playful, their bond tends to grow much faster.

Since Frenchies aren’t vocal, they won’t scare toddlers or make them fussy.

However, some French Bulldogs may be aggressive if toddlers pull their tails or ears.

If irritated, Frenchies can use their heads to knock down toddlers, causing injuries.

Additionally, when over-excited, a Frenchie can jump up a toddler, knocking him down.

Therefore, it’s advisable to introduce your Frenchie to your toddler early enough to reduce aggressiveness in response to a toddler’s irritative behaviors.

In most cases, aggressiveness is exhibited by adult Frenchies.

However, though not so common, puppies can also hurt toddlers using their sharp teeth.

Whichever the case, never leave your toddler alone in the presence of a Frenchie and always be present to supervise their interaction.

Older Kids

The relationship between Frenchies and older kids seems like a match made in heaven.

FRENCH BULLDOG with a girl

The two are excellent playmates. Their relationship comes with lots of mutual benefits.

Frenchies’ playful nature means they’re eager to engage with older kids, and they enjoy chasing after balls or playing games.

Given that they actively play with kids, Frenchies help children keep fit and also teach them responsibilities.

If well trained, both the Frenchie and your kids can get along without ever hurting each other, and it’s okay to leave older kids with Frenchies.

Is the French Bulldog the Right Size for Your Family?

The size and weight of a canine also determine their suitability as a family dog. Generally, Frenchies are a miniature canine breed that grows to about 11-12 inches (28-30 cm) tall.

Additionally, male Frenchies weigh about 20-28 lbs (9-13 kg) while females weigh between 16-24 lbs (7-11 kg).

Therefore, given their small size and medium weight, older kids can comfortably bathe, carry, and walk them around.

This is especially pleasing to parents who want to introduce their kids to responsibilities at an early age.

Parents can collaborate with their older kids in taking care of and grooming this breed.

Kids who have been taught how to care for their French Bulldog can safely take care of them independently, and by doing so, they become responsible.

How Much Living Space Does the French Bulldog Need?

Given Frenchies’ small size, they don’t require a lot of room.

This makes them ideal for city dwellers living in apartments and houses with limited space.

And since they have limited exercise needs, they don’t ask for a lot of space, adding to their suitability for families living in apartments.

As close companion dogs, French Bulldogs thrive indoors next to their owners. 

Can French Bulldogs Cause Allergies?

man sneezing

Frenchies are not hypoallergenic. They shed their fur moderately, creating pet dander in your house.

People allergic to pet dander can get reactions from their fur.

However, this should not hinder allergy-sensitive people from adopting a Frenchie because regular grooming can help minimize shedding issues.

Do They Bark a Lot?

Luckily Frenchies aren’t vocal, meaning they don’t have a high tendency to bark, especially for no reason.

Therefore, if you have young babies in your house, you shouldn’t worry about them being continually woken up by your dog’s loud or uncontrollable barks.

Furthermore, if you have older people in the house who may be sensitive to noise, they won’t be irritated from continuous barking either.

Are French Bulldogs Aggressive?

Naturally, Frenchies aren’t an aggressive dog breed. However, they can be defensive and show signs of aggression if children tease them or pull their ears and tail.

They can also show some aggression when guarding their territories or resources, including their feeding area, sleeping area, and toys.

They can also get aggressive when trying to protect their playmates from strangers.

While they aren’t as aggressive as some other dog breeds, you can learn to tame them through regular training.

It’s also vital to teach your children how to interact with the dog and what actions to avoid to prevent aggression.

These include:

  • Beating them
  • Pulling their short tail
  • Playing with or flicking their ears
  • Taking over their territory or toys
  • Startling them in their sleep or when feeding

What About Families With Seniors?

Since French Bulldogs are unusually cuddly and clingy, they’re fond of resting and walking in between people’s legs, meaning they can easily trip or trample a senior unintentionally. 

When excited, they can often jump on people to express their excitement, which may irritate some older people.

FRENCH BULLDOG WITH OLD LADY

Hence, obedience training remains crucial to prevent injury. 

Nevertheless, Frenchies are great companion dogs and can be suitable for keeping seniors company, especially when properly conditioned.

Do They Get Along With Other Dogs?

When it comes to interacting or living with other dogs, Frenchies are generally not trouble makers.

They get along well with other dog breeds. However, they can sometimes express aggression toward dogs of the same sex.

Some rivalry is typical as they try to protect their territory from other dogs.

But in most cases, aggression only comes in when they’re provoked.

For example, when another dog tries to take over their sleeping or feeding area, feeding bowls or toys. Therefore, early socialization is critical.

Despite their friendliness, you should also remember that Frenchies are small dogs and could easily get hurt by larger breeds.

Likewise, bigger and boisterous canines, like Collies and German Shepherds, might not be the ideal companions unless both dogs are safely introduced and socialized.

Since Frenchies are particularly social, they often do well in other dogs’ company regardless of the breed and provided they don’t provoke each other.

Are They Good With Cats?

Frenchies adapt better to cats when meeting them in puppyhood. They are likely to chase them if they’ve never interacted before.

However, it’s possible to teach a Frenchie to coexist comfortably with a cat with regular training and early introductions. 

To avoid injury during the initial meeting, you should exercise great care. Here are a few tips:

  • To begin with, you can put each pet’s belongings in each other’s favorite space. This helps them familiarize themselves with their counterpart’s scent. Give them a few days to get comfortable with the strange scents.
  • Once they get used to the other’s scents, arrange for their meeting. Ensure your Frenchie is leashed and avoid rushing things. Let your feline approach the canine only when they’re comfortable doing so.
  • If you notice any aggression, growling, grunting, shrieking, or signs of discomfort, end the meeting immediately. 

If they stay calm, reward them with treats or praises. Repeat this occasionally until they get used to each other.

If the Frenchie hasn’t met a cat before and their initial meeting is too aggressive, then it is not advisable to bring a Frenchie into a house with a cat.

But otherwise, well-conditioned Frenchies and cats can coexist peacefully.

Conclusion

Frenchies are affectionate and social canines boasting a gentle temperament, making them one of the most lovable dog breeds.

They don’t require much space to live and aren’t too vocal either, but can occasionally get defensive of their territory.

While they can get along with children and learn to live with other pets, they may require extra training and socialization to make the interactions as safe and friendly as possible. 

References

  • Dog time: French Bulldog
  • Parents: How to Introduce Dogs and Babies
  • French Bulldog Owner: Are French Bulldogs Good Family Dogs? 10 Reasons Why
  • Ask Frankie: Is The French Bulldog a Good Family Dog?
  • Frenchie World: Are French Bulldogs Good With Kids?
  • What the Frenchie: Are French Bulldogs Good With Kids?
  • French Bulldog Breed: French Bulldog in the house – how they get along with kids and other animals
  • Frenchie Buddy: Are French Bulldogs Good With Children and other dogs?

Click here to read my one-page French Bulldog parent’s guide

Marcelle Landestoy

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