To get us started, here are some things you may not know about “Frenchies”…
They are hilariously cute
They are eager to please
They talk in snort language
They love to bathe in the sun
They are big snugglers
2020 is the year of the nomadic lifestyle and the year of the furry friend. My uncles are French Bulldog breeders and I decided in late February to adopt one of their puppies. I had no idea how much the world would change in a matter of weeks following my decision to adopt! It has been a whirlwind and I do not think I could have made it through the quarantine without him. He has been a great source of companionship, love, and laughter. Figuring out how to care for and train a puppy through all of this has been a rewarding learning experience. Below are some tips & tricks which I learned along the way!
Grooming & Care
Due to the quarantine & covid-19, most grooming parlors have been closed. Thus, I have been the one performing all of Remy’s cleaning and grooming at home. He is a pampered pooch and I would not have it any other way. You may have noticed that French Bulldogs have a lot of wrinkles.
When I first started talking about adopting a French Bulldog, co-workers and friends would ask me if I was worried about their “wrinkle issues”. To elaborate for the uninitiated, dogs with wrinkles commonly experience problems with their wrinkles such as fungal and bacterial buildup. Performing regular maintenance to clean said wrinkles is not difficult and is essential to keep your dog healthy.
I bathe Remy at least twice a week, and more often if he finds an appealing-looking mud puddle at the park. Typically, I will bathe him in the shower or a small sink and use dog shampoo to start. Next, I will dry him off and apply this leave-in conditioner which is very aromatic. Afterward, I apply his lotions and potions to his wrinkles, nose, paws, and under his chin. He doesn’t love this part, but I have my boyfriend feed him his favorite treats while I do it and he doesn’t become quite as annoyed. If I am traveling and do not want to bring all his wrinkle lotions, I bring travel sticks that have antibacterial properties.
Pro tip: if your Frenchie is allergy-prone you can request antifungal/bacteria wipes from your vet and apply those before the balms. This is especially helpful in the Spring or Autumn seasons if your dog is allergy-prone (very common for dogs with shorter snouts).
It is largely true that stay-at-home pets like dogs have slowly become the winners of the 2020 quarantine. Remy is on this winning team as well and has become extremely attached to me since I adopted him. To create some safe boundaries and help Remy to adjust to life after the quarantine, I have started to leave him alone more often. The key for me has been to take him on a long walk beforehand so he is ready for a nap. This is a great way to ensure your dog is happy and learns to love his quiet “me time.”
You’ll have to see which toys specifically work for your pup (although Remy enjoys any gift he’s picky about his favorites) and Remy is obsessed with two things: yak bones and tennis balls. The yak bones are made from (you guessed it) yak and cow milk. They are extremely dense which will make them survive a couple of weeks while your pup slowly works away. This product is especially useful when I’m traveling as it keeps Remy occupied while I’m busy. Typically, I will buy them in bulk and grab a handful when traveling so I always have something to keep him occupied. Tennis balls are an entirely different story. He prefers these over any toy and will try his best to tear them apart as soon as possible. Good thing they’re affordable!
Exercise & Temperature
My family grew up with Labrador Retrievers and Remy is my first small breed dog. When we first adopted Remy, my uncle told us he only needed 20 minutes of exercise per day. They are widely spoken of as a great fit for small living spaces as sources like the American Kennel Club say that this breed requires less activity and exercise than average when compared to larger breeds such as Labs. While I have found this to be generally true, I discovered that Remy very quickly became in better shape than me!
Although he can really go the distance these days (new seven-mile personal record this past week!) you have to be careful with your distance when walking a frenchie. This largely depends on the climate, most notably high temperatures. For example, on days which exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit Remy can only walk about 3-4 miles at best. However, on cooler days less than 70 degrees Remy can walk about twice that distance. A major key to a successful, long walk is to always bring water with you and double the portion size if you find yourself in a warmer climate. If it is getting close to 90 degrees we are probably not walking that day (those cute smushed faces also cause frenchies to have more breathing problems than other dogs, especially on hotter days). This water bottle works great and I have heard these cooling vests work well too.
Long Car Rides
Remy loves sitting on my lap, but not for lengthy car rides. I bought him a seat belt that hooks onto the backside of his harness. I will set him up on top of a few towels under his seatbelt with a yak bone. We make sure to stop every 3-4 hours so he can stretch his legs and get some water. I usually do not feed him breakfast on the days we are traveling and opt for a big dinner because he occasionally develops motion-sickness. Some dogs may have anxiety while traveling and while I have never had to give him any sedatives I will typically carry half a Benadryl just in case he gets restless. Traveling with your pup can seem stressful but as long as you prepare properly you should be ok!
Generally, French Bulldogs are not great swimmers. Although they have webbed paws, and can naturally make the correct swimming movements, this can be misleading as their overall density gives them less buoyancy than other breeds. Unfortunately, Frenchies often think they CAN swim and make bold decisions when around the water’s edge. You can make their dreams a reality with the correct choice of life-vest and careful supervision, but they should never be left unattended around a large body of water.
In the first few months of quarantine, I was fortunate enough to spend time at a mountain house by a large lake north of Atlanta, Georgia. While at this house, I introduced Remy to my boyfriend’s family’s big, playful chocolate Labrador Retriever named Mick. They quickly became fast friends and within a couple of weeks, Remy thought he too was a 100+ pound retriever.
If you’re not familiar, Labrador Retrievers are bred for the water and are able to navigate with ease through a variety of aquatic conditions. It’s amazing to watch these majestic creatures in the water but terrifying for a new dog owner to watch their French Bulldog try to replicate their best friend’s success. Bottom line, get your French Bulldog a thick, fitted life-vest that is designed to keep their head up and provide the right level of buoyancy. Additionally, I bought a leash that screws into the ground, so he could have a little independence. I didn’t have as much anxiety while he was around water after taking the proper precautions.
Every dog is different, and they all require adjustments from your lifestyle to accommodate them. Breakthroughs while training dogs feel great, and as you become better-acquainted life can gradually become easier. I hope that these tips help shed some light on potential Frenchie parents for the day-to-day care and guide any new owners! Let us know of any questions you have or give us some of your best French Bulldog stories!
If you’re interested in adopting a Frenchie, Dog Spotted has a great resource for rescues. There you will find a rescue called SNORT that specializes in short-nosed dogs.