French Bulldog vs English Bulldog

Are you interested in a bully? These smart, stocky, and curious pups are easy to train. Plus, because they can’t really do heavy exercise, these two breeds are perfect for those that want a dog but don’t have the time to spend hours on walks multiple times a day. Here’s how you can choose the best option for you:

French Bulldog vs English Bulldog: Similarities

  • Brachycephalic dogs: The unique look of their wrinkly faces is one of the things these two dogs have in common. Both Frenchies and English Bulldogs have “flat noses”, which in turn makes them snore and have difficulty breathing. These chill pups are perfect for a relaxed lifestyle!
  • Small but mighty: Smaller than the historical English Bulldogs, these breeds were selected to be smaller and stockier, while keeping all the personality (and sometimes attitude) of the original bull-fighting dogs. These are medium to small dogs, but they act calm, composed, and curious.
  • Friendly and joker: Both of these breeds love to make friends, and have a great sense of humor. They learn fast and enjoy making their people laugh with weird expressions and new takes on the typical dog obedience commands.

English Bulldog vs French Bulldog: differences

  • Rose vs bat ears: English Bulldogs have rose-type ears, which are soft and slightly curved. In contrast, Frenchies have unique “bat ears” that are wide at the bottom and have rounded tops.
  • Medium vs small dogs: Frenchies are small pups, perfect for city dwellers. In contrast, although English Bulldogs are significantly smaller than the “original” bull-baiting dogs, they are still medium-sized dogs. However, they’re also great for cities because their exercise needs are very low.

English vs French Bulldog: are they the same dog? The history of two similar breeds

To put it shortly, the English Bulldog and the French Bulldog aren’t the same dog. In spite of their name, these are two different breeds!

However, as it’s pretty obvious by their shared name, they have some history in common. In fact, both breeds come from old English dogs used to fight bulls in blood sports. That’s where the term “Bulldog” came to be.

Those English dogs were working animals and had many mastiff-type traits. That meant they were bred for their powerful jaws, quick wits, and bold personality. In England, those initial dogs were used to hold bulls when butchering them. However, they weren’t very popular until blood sports became somewhat of a national pastime in the eighteenth century.

“Blood sports” are reported to be as old as the 13th century, when people started to experiment with animal fights and betting on the winner. One of the most popular “sports” of this type was bull baiting. This was basically getting together an enraged bull and a dog, trying to get the dog to snatch onto the bull’s snout. “Bulldogs” came to be because sportspeople began selecting those dogs that had a better chance at winning bull baiting competitions.

However, when bullbaiting was banned in 1835, the Bulldog’s popularity crumbled down. Luckily, English Bulldog fanciers took it upon themselves to revitalize the breed. By the early 20th century, Bulldogs were an official breed according to the American Kennel Club. The United Kennel Club was soon to follow.

The “English Bulldog” we know and love is registered in the American Kennel Club by the name of “Bulldog”. This is a shorter-legged, more amicable version of the original dog used for bull-baiting.

In contrast, the French Bulldog shares the same past as the English Bulldog but was developed further. Once traditional Bulldogs almost went extinct and Bulldog breeders started to revitalize the breed, some of those dogs traveled with working-class artisans to France.

In Normandy, many British lacemakers, shoemakers, and tailors used Bulldogs to rid their stores of rats. Soon enough, these small, smart, and personable dogs became a favorite of the Paris’ IT scene. In fact, many artists, sportsmen, and other celebrities adopted Frenchies to enjoy as companions.

The French Bulldog was developed to be a smaller, toy version of their British counterparts, which boosted its popularity among the French. Their unique bat-shaped ears were introduced after crossing the original Bulldog with different terriers.

Differences between English and French Bulldogs: How to tell them apart?

Because these two breeds have the same origin, they might look very similar to the untrained eye. However, English and French Bulldogs are quite different when you pay close attention!

Of course, the two breeds have a very short, flat muzzle, dense short hair, and big round eyes, but that’s where the similarities end.

Let’s look at the English Bulldog first. This is a short, stocky dog with square lines and strong limbs. They’re medium-sized dogs but aren’t a toy breed. In general, adult English Bulldogs stand at around 40 to 50 pounds. According to the breed standard, English Bulldogs should have a thick, low-slung body and a “massive” short-faced head [1].

These muscular dogs have big, round eyes, an upturned nose, and a large skull, with a very short, broad muzzle and strong jaws. This is a wrinkled breed, from their face to their tail: their skin is loose and soft, particularly at the head, neck, and shoulders. Their face should be especially wrinkled, and most individuals have a noticeable underbite [5]. This gives them their signature look!

Their limbs are very muscular and slightly bowed, with a deep chest that gives them a powerful allure. Both of these breeds have slightly bowed legs, but it shouldn’t be so pronounced as to prevent proper walking.

In contrast, Frenchies are smaller than their English counterparts. In fact, male French Bulldogs usually weigh between 20 to 31 pounds, while females usually stand between 18 and 29 pounds. Due to their reduced size, they’re classified as “toy” dogs, and as of 2022 are one of the most popular breeds around the world! [2].

Of course, this breed is also square and stocky, with muscular limbs and a large head. French Bulldogs also have a short muzzle with a slightly turned-up nose [6]. Frenchies also have wrinkles, particularly on the head, but their skin throughout the body should be tighter than that of English Bulldogs.

In general, Frenchies look like miniature Bulldogs, but their main difference is on their ears. French Bulldogs have unique bat ears: large, erect with a very rounded top, and set high on the head.

Coat & colors in French and English Bulldogs

These two breeds have the same type of coat: short, straight, and smooth. It should lie flat on the skin and have a fine texture, uniform throughout the body. Luckily, neither of these dogs has an undercoat, meaning they shed a bit less than other breeds.

Pro Tip: If you’re allergic to dog hair or live in a small apartment, choose a breed without an undercoat like the French Bulldog or the English Bulldog. They’ll shed significantly less and upkeep is minimal.

When it comes to colors, both the French and English Bulldogs have similar features. In both cases, the coat color should be uniform and brilliant.

English Bulldogs can be brindled, solid-colored in red, white, fawn or yellow, and even piebald. Frenchies come in pretty much those same shades, but there are also some extra rare individuals in lilac (light grey), chocolate, all-black, and merle. Some French Bulldogs also have a “mask”, which is a darker shade (usually black or brown) on the muzzle and part of the face.

How should I groom a French or English Bulldog?

If you’re adopting one of these breeds, you won’t need to spend a lot of time grooming. Their care is fairly straightforward, and you should brush them one or two times a week throughout the year.

Both Frenchies and English Bulldogs do great with a brushing once a week and a bath every month

On top of regular brushing, it’s important to keep your pup’s nails short, their ears clean and their teeth brushing. Because these two breeds have some wrinkles, owners should place special care in keeping those folds clean and dry. Given the deeper wrinkles are on the face, it’s very common for dogs to get them wet and even misplace some food in there! To avoid bacterial growth and skin issues down the road, just clean the folds with a soft damp cloth, and then dry them.

Pro Tip: Because of their muscular bodies and short limbs, many English and French Bulldogs have a hard time cleaning “down there”. Avoid unwanted smells and keep your dog healthy by cleaning the tail set, as well as the outer genital area with a soft damp cloth.

French and English Bulldogs: personality & character

The personality of these two breeds makes them an ideal choice as family pets. Because their short muzzles can make breathing harder, neither of these dogs needs a lot of outdoor exercise and will need strict vigilance to maintain a healthy weight. On the flip side, however, their low exercise requirements make them great for city-dwellers that don’t have the yard space or extra time for long trips to the park.

English Bulldogs are amicable dogs, kind with the people they know, but are usually wary of strangers. They shouldn’t be aggressive, but in general, they aren’t afraid of biting to protect their home and their people. As such, English Bulldogs are social enough but will need some time to warm up to strangers. Those personality traits stay strong, even among crossbreeds like the lively English Bulldog Pitbull mix.

In contrast, French Bulldogs are significantly more social than their English cousins. Frenchies love making friends and will happily be your +1 at gatherings and parties. This breed enjoys getting to know people and will gladly cuddle with any stranger sitting on a couch.

Even though English Bulldogs aren’t big barkers, Frenchies are notoriously quiet. However, they’re great watchdogs and as soon as a Frenchie hears something unusual, they’ll quickly let you know.

Frenchies don’t bark much—but their alertness makes them excellent watchdogs.” – American Kennel Club, French Bulldog Breed standard [2]

These two breeds are very smart and enjoy learning new things. If you respect their low exercise tolerance, they’ll enjoy going on short walks and doing obedience training. This is especially important because, even though both of these dogs want to please, they can be stubborn and have their own mind.

Because of that, both the English Bulldog and the Frenchie have specific training needs that you need to be aware of before committing yourself to 10+ years of life with a dog.

English vs French Bulldog: training needs

Both the French and English Bulldog are smart, lovable breeds that enjoy learning. Nevertheless, that learning is usually on their own terms. And, once they get the grasp of what you’re asking of them, they’ll do their own spin on it. It makes for great anecdotes, but it can be difficult while you’re in the midst of training.

Because of their bull-baiting origins, these two dogs are strong-willed and need a bit of incentive. Of course, you’ll want to make training fun and enjoyable. In order to do that, you should find what motivates them.

In the case of these two breeds, they’re usually very food-motivated and will do pretty much anything you ask for a good treat. However, every dog is different and yours might be praise-motivated, or toys might be their jam. Whatever that is, find it and use it to help them learn obedience basics.

PRO TIP: Because these dogs have a harder time breathing, you should choose a harness over a regular collar. On top of their breathing issues, they both have very deep chests and are stockier than regular “toy” or “medium-sized” dogs. To help you avoid getting a bunch of harnesses that don’t fit, we’ve found the best harness for Bulldogs and the best harness for Frenchies. That way you don’t waste time and money scouring your local pet shop for ill-fitting gear.

It’s important to use positive training methods based on praise and positive experiences. These dogs are sensitive and won’t react well to yelling or physical punishment. On top of it being illegal and morally irresponsible, using negative reinforcement to “train” your dog will mentally scar them and can make them aggressive.

If you don’t have the patience or time to dedicate to proper training, consider delaying getting a dog until your schedule frees up, and also sign up for obedience lessons so you can have an experienced trainer ensure both you and your dog have fun.

Common health issues of English and French Bulldogs

This is one of those cases where over-breeding has taken a toll on the overall health of the dogs. Even though initially these were very healthy dogs, breeding to accentuate certain characteristics has caused more harm than good. Currently, many breeders are trying to get these two breeds to their healthiest version, but this is proving difficult.

In fact, according to an article published on the Smithsonian Magazine, the English Bulldog gene pull in particular might not be varied enough to allow the breed to regain some healthier physical traits.

“The Bulldog’s lifespan is relatively short, with most living on average a mere 8 years according to one recent study by the National Institutes of Health.” – Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Mag [4]

Here are some of the common health issues among both English and French Bulldogs that you should be aware of:

Screw tail

These two breeds can have either straight or screw-type tails. The shape of the tail is inherited from the dog’s parents. However, the latter involves genes that cause spine deformities (hence the “screw” shape of the tail).

According to the French Bulldog Club of England, hemivertebrae isn’t a problem by itself when only the tail vertebrae are affected. However, some individuals have it on the rest of the spine as well, causing serious health issues.

The twisting of the spine causes pups with this deformity to suffer from compression of the spinal cord. In turn, this causes pain, incontinence, and even paralysis. In general, puppies with hemivertebrae start to show signs at around a month old, and until they stop growing, at about 9 months old [3].

A responsible breeder will try to avoid screw tail puppies, and also take responsibility if your recently adopted pup suffers from this congenital disease.

In general, dogs with hemivertebrae should rest and take anti-inflammatory meds while they grow, as well as avoid strenuous exercise. Some severe cases need surgical intervention to ensure the dog enjoys a reasonable quality of life.

PRO TIP: Specifically ask your breeder if they test for spinal cord deformities before committing to one of their puppies. They should be able to show you x-rays and other tests, as well as committing to taking responsibility if your puppy were to have complications

Flat noses

Both the English and French Bulldogs are brachycephalic breeds. That means their snouts are fairly flat, and breeders have only exacerbated that trend. Just to offer a point of reference, the picture below is an English Bulldog around 1889.

This doesn’t look like the current version, right? Both the English Bulldog and the Frenchie were bred to be smaller, stockier, and have an even flatter nose.

When it comes to these two brachycephalic breeds, their traits have been so exaggerated that all individuals have breathing issues, snore and have trouble cooling off in hot climates. In fact, overheating is one of the most common causes of emergency visits and sudden death among Bulldogs.

Brachycephalic dogs can’t do heavy exercise, stay outside on hot days or even play under the sun, at risk of overheating and passing out due to lack of oxygen. That’s why neither the English Bulldog nor the French Bulldog can engage in moderate to intense physical activity.

Brachycephalic breeds like the English and French Bulldog can’t do high-intensity physical activity and have a higher risk of overheating on a hot day.

You should also keep in mind that most airlines don’t allow brachycephalic dogs to fly, even on short flights. If you want to take your puppy with you on the go, this isn’t the breed for you.

English Bulldog vs Frenchie: Which one is the best choice for your family?

So now that we’ve covered the main differences between these two breeds, are you ready to make up your mind? Here’s our final roundup to help you decide:

An English Bulldog might be a better fit if you:

  • Want a medium-sized dog
  • Have young kids
  • Want a dog that will guard the house
  • Plan to spend time with your dog at home
  • Have a sedentary lifestyle

A French Bulldog might be the better choice if you:

  • Want a sweet family pet for kids
  • Want a smaller dog that doesn’t need long walks
  • Would rather have a dog that doesn’t bark
  • Plan to bring your dog to social gatherings

FAQ

Why do French Bulldogs sleep weird?

These cute dogs don’t sleep exactly like other pups. In fact, many bully owners know their pets like sleeping sitting up. The reason for this preference is, again, their flat nose: they breathe better (and have less sleep apnea) when their torsos are upright.

Do English Bulldogs shed more than French Bulldogs?

Not really.

These two breeds have very short hair without an undercoat, so compared to other breeds, their shedding isn’t as noticeable. In general, if you brush them once a week, you’ll have a mostly clean, allergy-free home.

Why are French Bulldogs so expensive?

Because all of them are born through C-section. The heads on these dogs are disproportionately big when compared against their narrow hips. That, paired with the lower breathing capacity thanks to the flat nose, makes it very dangerous for dogs to go through labor the natural way.

Breeders spend a lot of money on every litter, and that’s why Frenchies can be very expensive.

How Do You Remove Undercoat?

Getting to the undercoat is the most difficult part of grooming an Aussie. Luckily, with the right tools it’s not too hard. Undercoat rakes work best for this.

References
  1. American Kennel Club. Bulldog breed standard. Available here. https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/bulldog/
  2. American Kennel Club. French Bulldog breed standard. Available here. https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/french-bulldog/
  3. French Bulldog Club of England. Hemivertebra spine issues. Available here. http://www.frenchbulldogclubofengland.org.uk/hemivertebra-spine-issues.html
  4. Handwerk, B. July 29, 2016. “Bulldogs Are Dangerously Unhealthy, But There May Not Be Enough Diversity in Their Genes to Save Them”. Smithsonian Magazine. Available here. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/bulldogs-are-dangerously-unhealthy-there-may-not-be-enough-diversity-their-genes-save-them-180959963/
  5. United Kennel Club. English Bulldog breed standard. Available here. https://www.ukcdogs.com/docs/breeds/english-bulldog-breed-standard.pdf
  6. United Kennel Club. French Bulldog breed standard. Available here. https://www.ukcdogs.com/docs/breeds/french-bulldog.pdf

Vedrana Nikolić (B.A. in Cultural Anthropology) – Professional Writer.

Vedrana is a writer, anthropologist & dog lover. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying, among other things, the communication between animals and humans.For more info on Vedrana click here

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