Medically reviewed by Dr. Paula Simons, DVM
If you’re a French bulldog lover like I am, you know how hard it is to hear anything negative about the breed.
The most common thing I hear is, “They’re cute, but they have so many health problems.”
The truth is, they’re not wrong. The standard French bulldog comes with many health problems and the miniature version is no different, and potentially worse.
There’s no question that French bulldogs make wonderful companion dogs. They’re cute, funny, are suitable for apartment living, and don’t need a lot of exercise.
These all seem like good traits to have in a companion dog.
However, one reason why they don’t require a lot of exercise is because they’re not built to tolerate too much exertion.
Lack of exercise can lead to obesity. Obesity leads to joint and back problems, and this brachycephalic breed often has trouble breathing, which is a problem all of its own.
Teacup Frenchies definitely fit into the “cute” category.
Unfortunately, they also fit into a variety of less attractive categories that may surprise you. Keep reading to learn more about this small breed including their origin, health, and other risk factors.
The Evolution of Miniature French Bulldogs
In simple terms, a micro-French bulldog comes from a standard French bulldog that was bred from another dog. That “other dog” could be from the same breed or could be from a similar but smaller breed.
Chihuahuas, for example, are being bred with French bulldogs to get the designer dog known as the French Bulhuahua. They look like tiny French bulldogs, but they’re actually a mixed breed.
The standard-sized French bulldogs we know today were created by breeding English bulldogs with smaller dogs like terriers and pugs.
The French bulldog is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. It seems, however, that some people want more. They want a smaller French bulldog that fits into a pocket, that barely needs exercise at all, and that travels easily.
There’s nothing wrong with these characteristics. The problems come after sizing down a breed that already has significant health issues.
Consider this: The average lifespan of a French bulldog is anywhere from 10-12 years.
The reality is that many French bulldogs rarely make it to old age. In fact, a study through the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, UK, found that the more a dog is bred to suit human aesthetics, the lower its lifespan in general.
French Bulldog History
It’s thought that French bulldogs were popular with lace workers in Nottingham, England. However, once the Industrial Revolution came in the mid-1800’s, a lot of these workers lost their jobs.
To find better work, they migrated to France, bringing their miniature bulldogs with them.
For a full history of this breed, read: History of the French Bulldog Breed published by the frenchbulldogclub.org.
What You Should Know About Mini Frenchies
Since the miniature French bulldog isn’t recognized as a unique breed, there are no specific breeding standards.
The standard Frenchie, however, is already quite small. You can expect a full-grown standard Frenchie to reach 11 to 13 inches in height and anywhere from 28 to 30 pounds.
The miniature version of the same breed will be considerably smaller than that. In fact, these miniature dogs may only grow to be between 5 and 10 pounds! They could be even smaller.
The “problem” with Frenchies, and miniature Frenchies, is that they were bred around our needs and wants. Judging by the huge popularity of the breed, it’s clear that we love their wrinkly, pushed-in faces. We adore their square, muscular little bodies, and their creative antics.
Sadly, it’s these same features that cause so many health problems in the dogs.
Shrinking a breed isn’t a good idea.
Unfortunately, turning standard Frenchies into micro Frenchies isn’t a good practice.
The reason is because of the inherent health issues that can occur. Because of this, neither the American Kennel Club nor any other major kennel clubs currently recognizes mini Frenchies.
There are different ways of breeding the miniature version of the French Bulldog.
Unfortunately, the high demand for these pocket pups comes at a cost to your wallet and to the health of the dog.
While we’re not saying you can’t find a reputable breeder, it’s important to understand that the high demand has some breeders seeing dollar signs. Sometimes, unfortunately, the promise of easy money can leave the tiny puppy shortchanged.
Common Ways of Breeding Down French Bulldogs
The following are some ways breeders may try to create a much smaller, teacup French bulldog.
Crossbreeding occurs when two different purebred dogs are mixed.
The idea is to combine certain genetic traits to get the best of both dogs. It’s thought that crossbreed dogs benefit from something called “hybrid vigor.”
In other words, it’s thought that mixed-breed dogs are less likely to genetically inherit certain diseases.
Some breeders may intentionally breed French bulldogs with their close relatives to produce smaller dogs. This practice can increase genetic health problems and weaken the breed’s gene pool.
Selective Breeding for Canine Dwarfism
This practice involves breeding dogs with dwarfism to produce a small breed. Sadly, this can lead to serious health problems, including respiratory issues, spinal problems, and other deformities.
Canine dwarfism is a genetic condition that causes a dog to be much smaller than its original breed.
There are two types of dwarfism including pituitary and achondroplasia. Of the two, achondroplasia is the most common.
Achondroplasia (a form of osteochondrodysplasia) is a genetic mutation that leads to skeletal deformities.
Breeds like the Dachshund, Skye Terrier, and Welsh Corgi are bred in a way that encourages achondroplasia.
This is why they have such short limbs.
Watch this viral video at Newsweek about a Dalmatian dog with dwarfism.
Early Weaning and Malnourishment
Some unethical breeders may wean puppies from their mothers too early.
This leaves them malnourished and very small. Unfortunately, this practice leaves the puppy in extremely poor health. This little dog will have a lifetime (likely a short life!) of health problems associated with developmental issues and weakened immune systems.
Read AP News to learn more about America’s top US dog breed.
9 Things to Know Before Getting a Mini French Bulldog
Mini French bulldog puppies, like their standard counterparts, have a long list of health problems. Will you have an adorable dog? Yes. Will that dog have a good quality of life? Not necessarily.
1. Health Concerns
Miniature French bulldogs are susceptible to hip dysplasia, breathing problems, and other genetic disorders including brachycephalic syndrome and eye problems.
Common health issues include:
- Ear infections
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Skin fold dermatitis
- Pyoderma (bacterial skin infections)
- Breathing problems
- Upper respiratory tract infections and pneumonia
- Sleep apnea
- Chronic gastrointestinal disorders
- Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS)
- Mobility issues
2. Not a recognized breed
This teacup dog is not recognized as an official breed. You may have difficulty finding a good breeder. Be wary of advertisements for miniature French bulldogs, especially if they are offering the dogs at “discount” prices.
Read this article by the Humane Society of the United States: How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder.
3. Shorter lifespan than a standard Frenchie
Small breed dogs tend to live longer than their large breed counterparts. Although the French bulldog is considered a small breed, their lifespan is only 10-12 years.
As mentioned earlier in this post, the reality is that many French bulldogs only survive the first 4 years of life.
Breeding the standard Frenchie down to an impossibly small size only increases the list of potential health problems in the breed.
4. Not good around small children
Why wouldn’t a tiny, miniature French bulldog be good around children? The reality is that these tiny breeds are extra vulnerable. They can be easily hurt or mishandled.
Buying a tiny breed is a huge responsibility. These dogs might fit in your pocket, but they can’t stay there forever. Healthy, playful children can accidentally step on, drop, or mishandle this tiny breed.
5. Good luck getting pet insurance
Contrary to what some people believe, you can get pet insurance for French bulldogs. In some cases, however, that pet insurance may come at a higher price. The reason for that is due to the breed’s history of illness and disease.
If you end up purchasing a teacup Frenchie, make sure to research pet insurance companies. Read the fine print to make sure you’ll be covered when inevitable health problems arise.
Prices vary greatly, depending on the breeder. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2500 to $10,000.
Keep in mind that’s just the price of the breed. You’ll also want to factor in the long-term financial commitment of quality food, wellness checks with a licensed veterinarian, toys, dental care, chronic medical issues, etc.
7. Too Hot or Too Cold
Like the standard French bulldog, the miniature version will have trouble regulating his or her temperature.
That means your little pocket pooch can easily overheat in enclosed areas or hot climates. Your plan to bring your dog everywhere you go could backfire, leading to serious health consequences for the dog.
These dogs have trouble maintaining a healthy temperature in hot and cold weather. The reason French bulldogs are prone to overheating has to do with their facial structure.
Most dogs can regulate their internal temperature through panting and by sweating through their paws. French bulldogs, however, often have difficulty breathing properly. This makes panting much less efficient at keeping them cool.
The reason why French bulldogs get cold easily has to do with their lack of a second undercoat.
8. Be cautious about puppy mills
It’s easy to get so excited about getting a new puppy that we overlook obvious red flags. Any breeder willing to sell the dog at a price that seems too good to be true should be approached with caution.
French bulldogs can’t reproduce without man-made help.
That means breeders sometimes must artificially inseminate their dogs and prepare for C-sections for the delivery of puppies. The time and money it takes to do these things are all factored into the price.
This is why the cost of a French bulldog is typically higher than other breeds. If someone is offering you the breed at a reduced price, ask why.
9. Prone to weight gain
Dogs have specific caloric requirements based on their age, size, exercise needs, and overall health.
A much smaller teacup Frenchie would need significantly fewer calories. For example, toy breeds should have about 30-40 calories per pound of body weight per day.
Let’s say your teacup Frenchie weighs just 5 pounds. That means he or she only needs about 150 calories per day. That’s not very much!
Treats are usually the main culprit that tips the scale. It’s important to prevent miniature French bulldogs (and standard French bulldogs) from gaining excess weight. The extra pounds will only make your little dog’s life that much harder.
You may be interested in these French Bulldog posts:
The Teacup French Bulldog Conclusion
Miniature French bulldogs are a smaller version of the popular French bulldog breed. What breeders are doing is taking an already unhealthy dog and breeding it down. The problem is an ever-growing list of health problems.
There’s no question that these little dogs are very cute. Let’s face it, they can make a video go viral in seconds. Unfortunately, they often have shorter lifespans because of their health problems.
If you get any kind of French bulldog or brachycephalic breed, be sure to work closely with a licensed veterinarian. Regular veterinary check-ups, a healthy diet, and proper exercise may help extend your dog’s life.
Bea, TomKings. “Mini French Bulldogs: Should You Adopt One?” TomKings Kennel, 27 Oct. 2022, tomkingskennel.com/mini-french-bulldog.
Gaeng, Jennifer. “Teacup French Bulldog Vs. French Bulldog: What Are 8 Key Differences?” AZ Animals, 4 Mar. 2022, a-z-animals.com/blog/teacup-french-bulldog-vs-french-bulldog-what-are-8-key-differences.
Advisor Staff, Your Dog. “12 Things to Know Before You Get a Mini French Bulldog | Your Dog Advisor.” Your Dog Advisor, 1 May 2021, yourdogadvisor.com/mini-french-bulldog.
#author.fullName}. “French Bulldogs Are the Shortest-lived Dog Breed in the UK.” New Scientist, 28 Apr. 2022, www.newscientist.com/article/2318084-french-bulldogs-are-the-shortest-lived-dog-breed-in-the-uk.