Medically reviewed by Dr. Paula Simons, DVM
Are you wondering if French bulldogs are good with other dogs?
The answer is a little more complicated than you might think! French bulldogs are known as affectionate dogs, but that might change in the presence of other dogs.
Proper socialization and training through positive reinforcement are vital for any dog breed, including the French bulldog. If the basic principles of puppy training are skipped, even the best companion dogs can become difficult.
This post is designed to help pet owners understand why their French bulldog doesn’t like other dogs. More importantly, we’ll give you tips and tricks on how to help your dog overcome fearful or aggressive behavior.
How French Bulldogs Became North America’s Beloved Companion Dogs
The story of how French bulldogs came to be America’s most beloved pet has a few twists and turns. There are different variations of the story, depending on who you ask.
The story begins during the late 19th and early 20th-century industrial revolution.
Drastic changes in society, especially in urban areas, have had a big impact on people’s lifestyles and preferences. This included their choice of companion animals.
Out of necessity, people had to look for employment in busy cities where the lifestyle just wasn’t suitable for large-breed dogs. The size, adaptability, and temperament of the French bulldog made them a perfect match for the new urban landscape.
Suddenly, this low-maintenance dog with moderate exercise needs became very popular.
Historically, it seems the French bulldog was a common companion for all walks of life.
The industrial revolution eventually carved out a new middle class with disposable income. At this point in history, Frenchies were purchased to demonstrate social status.
The advent of modern transportation made it easier to travel with French bulldogs to places like the United States. Of course, it didn’t take long for the breed to charm everyone with its compact size, lovable nature, and ability to adapt to different living conditions.
The Unique Needs of the French Bulldog
French bulldogs have unique needs that set them apart from other dog breeds. The same distinct appearance that wins hearts is also the same feature that can cause serious health issues.
First-time dog owners will be delighted with the dog’s playful nature but may be surprised by the number of health issues that can arise.
French bulldogs are small dogs typically weighing between 16 and 28 pounds (7-13 kilograms). They have compact and muscular bodies with short coats that comes in a variety of colors.
Their defining features include a flat, pushed-in face with a short snout, large expressive eyes, and bat-like ears.
Brachycephalic dogs, like Frenchies, require special attention and care as a flat-faced breed.
They have a hard time regulating body temperature, which makes them prone to overheating, and they are susceptible to a number of health conditions, including the following:
Intervertebral Disc Disease
French bulldogs can be susceptible to spinal issues, including IVDD. This condition involves the degeneration or herniation of discs in the spine. It’s a very painful condition that causes severe mobility issues and potential paralysis.
Dogs can develop IVDD at any age, but it’s most often seen in middle-aged or older dogs.
To create a French bulldog’s distinctive “bat ears”, they must be selectively bred. Historically, French bulldogs were bred from other bulldog-type breeds, including English bulldogs.
The goal was to create a compact, muscular breed distinct from any other.
Developing the desired appearance meant a trade-off for the ear’s health. While the narrow and deep ear canals contribute to the breed’s appearance, they can also make French bulldogs more susceptible to ear infections.
This is because the anatomy restricts air circulation and traps moisture.
The result is a favorable environment for bacterial and yeast infections.These can also arise secondarily to allergic skin disease, to which Frenchies are predisposed.
Patellar luxation is a condition where the kneecap (patella) becomes dislocated from its normal position. It can cause lameness, difficulty walking, and pain.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome affects the dog’s ability to breathe due to their short snouts and compressed airways. Symptoms can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Exercise intolerance
- Heat sensitivity
- Sleep apnea
Although less common than in large dogs, French bulldogs can still be susceptible to hip dysplasia. It involves the abnormal development of the hip joint, where the ball and socket do not fit together properly.
A cleft palate refers to an abnormal opening in the roof of the mouth. The palate normally separates the oral and nasal cavities, allowing for proper swallowing and breathing.
However, in dogs with a cleft palate, this separation is incomplete. Sadly, it can cause serious challenges for the breed, including difficulty nursing. Milk or food may enter the nasal passage instead of going down the esophagus. If this happens, the dog can experience aspiration pneumonia.
French bulldogs can develop allergies to environmental triggers like pollen, dust mites, or certain foods. Allergies can cause skin irritations, itching, redness, and recurrent ear infections.
Unfortunately, French bulldogs are prone to various eye issues, including cherry eye, corneal ulcers, dry eye, and entropion.
Dental issues such as periodontal disease, tooth decay, and overcrowding, are common in French bulldogs. This is due to genetic predispositions and anatomy. For example, the compacted nature of their jaw and shortened muzzle can result in crowded or misaligned teeth.
Have you ever seen a Frenchie with an overbite or underbite? This is known as malocclusion, a condition that refers to the improper alignment of the teeth when the jaws are closed.
Misaligned teeth can cause issues with chewing, increasing the likelihood of plaque accumulation.
The positioning of the teeth makes it hard to keep them clean. As a result, French bulldogs can quickly develop periodontal disease.
How to Introduce Your Frenchie to Other Dogs
The only way to find out if your French bulldog will be good with other dogs is to introduce them. Of course, there’s a way to do that in a safe manner.
Introducing your French bulldog to other dogs requires careful planning and a gradual approach.
Choose the Right Environment
Start the introduction in a neutral and controlled environment, like a spacious backyard or a quiet room in your home that’s free from distractions.
Leash the Dogs
Keep both dogs leashed during the initial introduction. This allows you to have control over the situation and intervene if necessary.
You’ll have better control over the dog if you use a sturdy, non-retractable leash.
Create Positive Associations
Positive associations can be created by allowing the two dogs near each other or by walking parallel to each other.
Controlled Face-to-Face Meeting
Once the dogs demonstrate signs of comfort and relaxation, you can proceed to a controlled face-to-face meeting. Choose a calm and neutral area.
Allow the dogs to approach each other slowly and sniff without tension. Keep the leashes loose and maintain a positive and relaxed energy.
Observe Body Language
Pay close attention to the body language of both dogs. Signs of stress or fear can include a stiff body posture, growling, raised hackles, or intense staring. If any signs of tension arise, calmly separate the dogs and try again later.
Supervised Off-Leash Interaction
Once the initial introductions go smoothly, and both dogs are comfortable, gradually allow them to interact off-leash in a safe and enclosed area. Keep the initial session short and supervised.
Gradually Increase Interaction Time
Gradually increase the duration of off-leash interactions as the dogs continue to show positive and appropriate behavior.
5 Reasons Why Your Frenchie Doesn’t Like Other Dogs
It’s no secret that French bulldogs make wonderful companions. They have a good temperament, love family life, and revel in being the center of attention.
Sometimes, however, problems can arise. Your adorable dog may be fine with some dogs and terrible with others. It can be a problem if you have other pets in the home.
The following are 5 common reasons why your French bulldog doesn’t get along with other dogs, and what you can do to change the behavior.
1. Lack of Proper Socialization
A French bulldog puppy should be socialized at an early age. If they haven’t been exposed to various social situations and other dogs in a positive and controlled way, they may struggle with appropriate dog-to-dog communication.
This should begin as soon as a puddy is brought home.
2. Fear or Anxiety
Numerous factors can cause fear or anxiety in a dog.
Think about all the things your dog is exposed to on his or her daily walk! Health problems, like not being able to breathe properly, can cause anxiety and fear in French bulldogs.
As a French bulldog owner, it’s important to be aware of problems like small dog syndrome. Small dog syndrome is not a medical condition.
Instead, it’s a set of certain behavioral traits that are more commonly observed in small dog breeds.
The syndrome is thought to come from a combination of factors, including genetics, socialization, and human interactions.
Helping a dog overcome small dog syndrome requires consistent training, socialization, and providing a balanced and structured environment.
Proper training includes setting consistent rules and boundaries. Use positive reinforcement when training your dog and be sure to provide enough mental stimulation and regular exercise.
3. Resource Guarding
French bulldogs, like any other breed, may display resource-guarding tendencies. They might become protective over their toys, food, or personal space.
Addressing resource guarding in dogs requires careful management and positive training techniques. Some steps to help stop resource guarding include:
- Learn to identify the signs of resource guarding (growling, stiff body posture, snapping, or showing aggression)
- Seek the help of a dog trainer or behaviorist.
- Avoid punishment because it can escalate the behavior and damage the trust between you and your dog.
- Teach your dog the “drop it” or “leave it” command and reward your dog for willingly letting go.
- Use counterconditioning to gradually desensitize your dog to people or other pets approaching their resources.
- Implement controlled feeding routines to reduce food competition.
- Create a safe and quiet space where your dog can retreat and feel secure. If needed, provide separate eating areas for multiple pets.
The important thing to remember is that a fearful dog can quickly become an aggressive dog.
4. Previous Negative Experience
Previous negative experiences with people or other animals can trigger dogs to have reactive behaviors. Rescued French bulldogs, for example, may have had previous negative experiences.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for rescued dogs, including Frenchies, to have experienced some form of trauma. It’s important to work with reputable rescue organizations when adopting a French bulldog. They can provide detailed information about the dog’s history and temperament.
The best way to help a dog overcome past trauma is to build trust. You can do this by:
- Avoid overwhelming your dog with too much attention.
- Create a calm environment free from loud noises, sudden movements, or other stressors.
- Establish a predictable exercise, feeding, and playtime routine. Consistency builds trust.
- Use positive reinforcement for good behavior. Focus on rewarding your dog for calm and relaxed behavior.
- Gradually introduce new experiences, people, and environments.
4. Breed Tendencies
French bulldogs, like any other breed, have their own unique temperamental traits. While they are generally known for good behavior, situations could arise that test their patience.
Overstimulation, a lack of routine, boredom, rough play, loud noises, and uncomfortable or stressful environments can test a dog’s tolerance levels.
Pay attention to your dog’s body language and observe signs of stress or frustration.
Signs could include stiff body posture, a tucked tail, excessive panting, whining, barking, destructive behavior, decreased appetite, or increased thirst.
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French bulldogs, like any other breeds, have individual personalities.
Some may take a little longer than others to become comfortable around other dogs or people. That same cuddly dog at home could appear aloof, uninterested, or even aggressive toward other pets.
If your dog is showing signs of aggression, it might be time to schedule a veterinarian visit.
Painful health problems can trigger fear and anxiety in dogs.
This can translate into unwanted behavior. If there is no underlying medical condition causing the problem, you may need to revisit positive training techniques.
If that doesn’t work, consider getting the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist. A veterinary behaviorist specializes in understanding and modifying dog behavior. They have extensive knowledge of canine behavior, psychology, and learning theories.
Ask your veterinarian for a referral, check with professional organizations such as the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, or check online directories to find one.
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“Excusez-moi? French Bulldogs Are More Likely to Develop Common Disorders, Study Says.” USA TODAY, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/12/16/french-bulldogs-study-says-breed-more-likely-develop-disorders/8910809002. Accessed 15 June 2023.
“French Bulldog Breed Information – French Bull Dog Club of America.” French Bull Dog Club of America, frenchbulldogclub.org/breedinformation. Accessed 15 June 2023.
“Introducing Your New Dog to Your Other Dogs.” The Humane Society of the United States, www.humanesociety.org/resources/introducing-new-dogs. Accessed 15 June 2023.