Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM
French bulldogs are pretty hard to beat when it comes to loyalty and adorability.
This tiny breed has quickly become a household favorite with their short legs, round bodies, and big ears. But how are they when it comes to barking?
French bulldogs don’t typically bark as often as other dogs. Some French bulldog pet parents will say their dog doesn’t bark at all. Frenchies are more known to huff, puff, chortle, chirp, yodel, and scream.
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at the barking behavior of French bulldogs to help you determine whether it’s the right breed for your unique needs.
Ready? Then let’s get straight to business.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Dogs bark to communicate with their humans and other dogs. In fact, some dog breeds were bred specifically for their barking skills. Other dogs, like the Basenji, don’t bark at all. A barking dog is usually trying to alert their human of intruders (or impending danger) or to get their attention.
Pet parents can usually distinguish between playful, excited barking and aggressive, fearful barking.
Identifying your dog’s tone of voice can help you understand why they may be barking.
Because they are generally a quiet breed, French bulldogs are popular for pet parents who live in apartments or other close quarters.
Although they make great city dogs, Frenchies should not be left alone for extended periods or left to fend for themselves outdoors.
French bulldogs are a breed that is more prone to separation anxiety.
Your Frenchie has a strong connection with you and can easily become stressed if left alone for too long.
French bulldogs usually have a good reason when they start barking, like protecting their pet parent.
Still, sometimes it can be challenging for their humans to understand why they bark.
Barking Behavior by Age
As many dog parents know, barking in dogs can vary a lot by age.
Puppies are less mature than adult dogs, and they tend to bark for different reasons.
French bulldog puppies are no exception to this.
French bulldog puppies tend to bark more than adult dogs like many other breeds.
Puppies will bark when they are feeling excited and during play.
They’re less likely than adult dogs to bark out of fear or aggression but may bark if you leave them alone for too long.
Grown-up Frenchies like to play too! Barking can be a sign of excitement, but adult French bulldogs could also be barking because of a perceived threat.
If your adult dog barks incessantly, they may be bored or lonely.
Adult Frenchies are also more likely to bark due to separation anxiety than puppies.
Barking Behavior by Gender
Some dog parents swear that their male and female dogs behave differently.
While this is true to some extent, every dog will have their own personality traits, and some will be louder than others.
Male French bulldogs are generally more emotionally stable and friendly than female bulldogs.
At the same time, French bulldog males can be more outgoing.
Barking for male French bulldogs can be triggered by a need for dominance or excitement.
Male French bulldogs are more independent and, well, bull-headed.
They may not listen well to your commands to stop barking.
This is especially true for puppies and young dogs. Neutered males will be calmer and more obedient.
Female French bulldogs, especially puppies, are more prone to moodiness.
They may growl, nip, or bark more often if they don’t get their way.
However, many trainers and French bulldog’s parents attest that females are easier to train.
Female French bulldogs tend to become physically and mentally mature at a younger age than male French bulldogs.
They are less likely to bid for dominance with their pet parents.
Despite their tendency toward grumpiness, female French bulldogs may be easier to train against barking.
No matter your French bulldog’s gender, having them spayed or neutered will make them calmer and more compliant.
What Can Cause Excessive Barking in French Bulldogs?
French bulldog barking rarely becomes excessive. This breed is generally quiet but may bark, howl, or scream if threatened or excited. If your Frenchie is barking a lot, they are probably trying to tell you something.
French bulldogs will bark to warn you about a threat, like a person standing at the door or another dog walking down the street.
Dogs don’t always know if a person or animal is a threat or not, but they will bark to warn you just in case.
This breed may also bark a lot to excite and entice a playmate, like another dog, cat, bird, or you.
They want to get your attention and encourage you to chase them, throw the ball, or tussle around.
Excessive barking in French bulldogs can also be a sign of separation anxiety. Does your Frenchie start whining and huffing when you step out of the room?
If your neighbors complain about your dog’s barks when you’re away, chances are your four-legged companion has separation issues.
When Did the Barking Begin?
Retrace your steps to figure out why your French bulldog may be barking excessively.
Ask yourself: when did the barking begin?
If your dog has always barked a lot since puppyhood, it may be part of their excitable personality. If you adopted your French bulldog as an adult, they might still be adjusting to their new environment. They have probably changed locations, food brands, and more, along with getting used to you.
Change can be stressful for Frenchies.
Have you moved cities or homes lately? A barking French bulldog may be fearful of their new surroundings.
It’s possible that your puppy doesn’t trust the new place yet, and is having a hard time adjusting to the sights and smells.
Has your daily routine changed significantly? If you’ve just started a new job or have changed your schedule, your French bulldog may feel confused and overwhelmed.
Suddenly, their human stays out later than usual, and walks are happening less frequently.
Most dogs adapt well to change, but your Frenchie may need a little extra help adjusting.
Try to limit chaos in your home and reintroduce your dog slowly to their new home and the people around them.
Can Barking Indicate Health Problems?
Barking in French bulldogs does not generally indicate a physical health problem.
French bulldogs will mostly bark when they want to play. Playfulness is an indicator of good health for this breed.
On some occasions, barking can indicate health problems in French bulldogs. If your dog is barking excessively, limping, lethargic, or aggressive to touch, you should take them to the veterinarian for an examination as soon as possible.
French bulldogs are highly likely to experience breathing problems due to their flat faces.
This breed is also predisposed to several health issues like:
- Cherry eye
- Juvenile cataracts
- Autoimmune skin disorders
- Skin allergies
How To Tell if Barking Is Aggressive?
Your French bulldog’s tone of voice can change dramatically depending on the purpose of their barking.
Your puppy probably feels playful and excited most of the time, but sometimes they can be fearful or aggressive.
Sometimes Frenchies will bark and chase other dogs, cats, or birds as a form of play. French bulldogs are more likely to bark aggressively when they feel threatened, which happens a lot due to their tiny sizes. An aggressive bark is usually accompanied by intense body movement and snarls.
French bulldogs as a breed are generally not prone to aggression.
Most Frenchies are very mild-mannered, friendly, and playful.
However, any dog can become aggressive if subjected to the wrong circumstances.
Aggressive barking in French bulldogs sounds different than their usual chuffs, snorts, and whines.
Aggressive barking is intended to scare away threats and assert dominance. Growls, snarls, and teeth-baring usually accompany aggressive barking.
Dogs who have been abused or mistreated in the past may be more likely to develop aggression-related problems.
When you adopt a dog, try to learn about their history and upbringing to avoid triggering aggressive episodes.
French bulldogs are usually a very social and cooperative breed, but every dog is different.
Not all dogs will behave well around other dogs, and it’s the pet parent’s responsibility to make sure their dog socializes appropriately before interacting with other dogs.
How To Reduce Excessive Barking
Barking is a normal and healthy communication method for dogs.
You cannot expect your dog to stop barking completely, nor should they.
Dogs need to bark to communicate with their humans and protect themselves and others.
Still, no pet parent likes to listen to their dog barking incessantly for hours.
Luckily, it is possible to train your dog against excessive barking.
Keeping all training interactions with your French bulldog positive helps improve the chances of success.
When your dog starts barking, avoid yelling or hitting them.
Instead, practice a quieting command.
Start by saying their name to get your dog’s attention.
Then create a visual signal, such as a finger on your lips or holding up two “peace” fingers. Speak a verbal signal, like “quiet” or “no bark.”
Combining the visual and verbal signals will help your dog understand the command.
If they start barking again, say their name to get their attention and repeat the verbal and visual queues.
As soon as your dog obeys the command, reward them with a treat.
Remember that training can take a long time.
The process may feel tedious, but positive reinforcement will be much more effective in reducing excessive barking.
Avoid These Pitfalls in Your Quest for Some Peace and Quiet
Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to stop your French bulldog from barking.
Sometimes, we become frustrated as pet parents and just want the barking to stop. No matter what, avoid these behaviors, as they will only make matters worse.
Punishing Your Dog
Punishing your French bulldog will only make them bark more.
While punishment may stop the barking for a short time, the barking behavior might always start barking again.
Your dog will start to view you as the source of the punishment, not the barking. This will lead to distrust and, even worse, gradual resentment.
As a rule, you should never, ever hit your dog!
Physical punishment is very cruel and can lead to problems with aggression.
Locking your dog in a separate room or crate will exacerbate issues with separation anxiety.
Making Your Dog Think You’re Going to Hit Them
Hitting your dog is wrong, but so is pretending to hit them. Your French bulldog will have the same reaction to “fake” hitting as they would to actual physical abuse.
They can quickly become fearful and aggressive towards you and other people.
Never raise your hand to your dog, swing towards them, or pretend to kick them.
Your dog may attack you or learn to become aggressive.
This is especially dangerous when interacting with small children who may not know better.
Shouting and Verbal Aggression
While physical abuse is cruel and dangerous, verbal abuse can be just as bad.
Yelling makes your dog feel scared and stressed, which can even increase the rate of barking.
When you shout at your dog, you are essentially barking back– effectively teaching your tiny companion that it’s okay to bark when distressed– and you don’t want that!
Training to limit barking is acceptable. All dogs are trainable, but some will be more difficult than others.
Stick to calm, firm, and positive training methods to see the fastest results from your dog.
However, you should never train your dog to stop barking entirely, as it’s a vital part of how they communicate with other dogs and their human companions.
Training with the use of a barking collar is incredibly cruel to dogs.
No matter how desperate you are for peace and quiet, never resort to the use of a collar.
Shock collars, even modern “harmless” ones, are not an effective means of barking training as they will almost certainly leave your dog feeling distressed and anxious.
Dogs do not always understand why they are being punished, and a barking collar is likely to make your dog aggressive.
French bulldogs make excellent pets. They are known to be an even-tempered, sweet, and friendly breed.
Of course, every dog is unique, and no one knows your pet’s likes and dislikes better than you.
All dogs bark, and it is normal for your Frenchie to bark when they are excited, scared, or threatened.
With the proper training methods, you can limit excessive barking and get back to enjoying the time spent with your furry pal.
- Akc: French Bulldog
- Dogtime: French Bulldog
- PupVine: Are French Bulldogs Aggressive? Understanding Frenchie’s Behavior
- The French Bulldog Guide: French Bulldog Barking
Click here to read my post on whether or not Frenchies are aggressive
Veterinary Hospital Director at UCE
Dr. Marcelle is a general veterinarian with a Small Animal Medicine Specialty | Director of the UCE School of Veterinary Medicine | Certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society