The French Bulldog should have the appearance of an active, muscular dog, of heavy bone, smooth coat, compactly built, and of medium or small structure. The points should be well distributed and bear good relation one to the other, no feature being in such prominence from either excess or lack of quality that the animal appears deformed or poorly proportioned. In comparison to specimens of different gender, due allowance should be made in favor of the female dogs, which do not bear the characteristics of the breed to the same marked degree as do the male dogs. Acceptable colors under the breed standard are the various shades of brindle, fawn, tan or white with brindle patches (known as "pied"). The most common colors are brindle, then fawn, with pieds, blues and Lilacs being less common than the other colors. The breed clubs do not recognize any other colors or patterns. The skin should be soft and loose, especially at the head and shoulders, forming wrinkles. Coat moderately fine, brilliant, short and smooth. The head should be large and square. The top of the skull should be flat but slightly rounded. The stop should be well defined, causing a hollow or groove between the eyes. The muzzle should be broad, deep, and well laid back; the muscles of the cheeks well developed. The nose should be extremely short; nostrils broad with well-defined line between them. The nose and flews should be black, except in the case of lighter-colored dogs, where a lighter color of nose is acceptable. The flews should be thick and broad, hanging over the lower jaw at the sides, meeting the underlip in front and covering the teeth, which should not be seen when the mouth is closed. The under-jaw should be deep, square, broad, undershot, and well turned up. Eyes should be wide apart, set low down in the skull, as far from the ears as possible, round in form, of moderate size, neither sunken nor bulging, and in color dark. Ears shall hereafter be known as the bat ear, broad at the base, elongated, with round top, set high in the head, but not too close together, and carried erect with the orifice to the front. The leather of the ear fine and soft. The neck should be thick and well arched, with loose skin at throat. The forelegs should be short, stout, straight and muscular, set wide apart. The body should be short and well rounded. The back should be a roach back, with a slight fall close behind the shoulders. It should be strong and short, broad at the shoulders and narrowing at the loins. The chest, broad, deep and full, well ribbed with the belly tucked up. The hind legs should be strong and muscular, longer than the forelegs, so as to elevate the loins above the shoulders. The feet should be moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails; hind feet slightly longer than forefeet. The tail should be either straight or screwed (but not curly), short, hung V low, thick root and fine tip; carried low in repose.
A UK breed survey report suggests an average of 12 to 14 years, while the AKC lists that the French Bulldog breed has a lifespan of 11 to 13 years. As a result of the compacted airway and the bulk of the French bulldog, they have an inability to effectively regulate their body temperature. While a regular canine may suffer to some degree from the heat, to a Frenchie it may be lethal. It is imperative that they be protected from temperature extremes at all times, and that they always have access to fresh water and shade. As they are a brachycephalic breed (see Brachycephalic syndrome). Patellar luxation is the dislocation (slipping) of the patella (kneecap). In dogs, the patella is a small bone that shields the front of the stifle joint in its hind legs. This bone is held in place by ligaments. As the knee joint is moved, the patella slides in a groove in the femur. The kneecap may dislocate toward the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) of the leg. This condition may be the result of injury or congenital deformities (present at birth). Patellar luxation can affect either or both legs. Testing is available to predict the presence of patellar luxation in a dog. Birth and reproduction French bulldogs frequently require artificial insemination, and caesarean section to give birth, with over 80% of litters delivered this way. As well, many French bulldog stud dogs are incapable of naturally breeding. This is because French Bulldogs have very slim hips, making the male unable to mount the female to reproduce naturally. Typically, breeders must undertake artificial insemination of female dogs. Back and spine French bulldogs can also suffer from an assortment of back, disk and spinal diseases and disorders, most of which are probably related to the fact that they were selectively chosen from the dwarf examples of the bulldog breed. This condition is also referred to as chondrodysplasia. French bulldogs are prone to having congenital hemivertebrae (also called "butterfly vertebrae"), which will show on an x-ray. More advanced technologies such as myelograms, CT scans, or MRIs are used to detect spinal cord compression. Some breeders feel that only dogs that have been x-rayed and checked for spinal anomalies should be bred. In October 2010, the UK French Bulldog Health Scheme was launched. The scheme consists of three levels, the basic vet check corresponding to the Bronze level, this covers all the Kennel Club Breed Watch points of concern for the breed. The next level, Silver, requires a DNA test for hereditary cataracts, a simple cardiology test, and patella grading. The Gold level requires a hip score and a spine evaluation. The European and UK French Bulldog fanciers and Kennel Clubs are ahead of the Americans and the AKC in moving away from the screw, cork-screw or 'tight' tail and returning to the short drop tail which the breed originally had. Eyes French bulldogs have a tendency towards eye issues. Cherry eye, or an everted third eyelid, has been known to occur, although it is more common in English Bulldogs and Pugs. Glaucoma, retinal fold dysplasia, corneal ulcers and juvenile cataracts are also conditions which have been known to afflict French bulldogs. Screening of prospective breeding candidates through the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) can help eliminate instances of these diseases in offspring. The skin folds under the eyes of the French bulldog should be cleaned regularly and kept dry. Tear stains are common on lighter-colored dogs.
Anna-Maria Sacher with her French bulldogs in 1908 European Brindle French Bulldog The origin of the modern French Bulldog breed descends directly from the dogs of the Molossians, an ancient Greek tribe. The dogs were spread throughout the ancient world by Phoenician traders. British Molossian dogs were developed into the Mastiff. A sub-family of the Mastiff were the Bullenbeisser, a type of dog used for bull-baiting. Blood sports such as bull-baiting were outlawed in England in 1835, leaving these "Bulldogs" unemployed. However, they had been bred for non-sporting reasons since at least 1800, and so their use changed from a sporting breed to a companion breed. To reduce their size, some Bulldogs were crossed with terriers, while others were crossed with pugs. By 1850 the Toy Bulldog had become common in England, and appeared in conformation shows when they began around 1860. These dogs weighed around 16–25 pounds (7.3–11.3 kg), although classes were also available at dog shows for those that weighed under 12 pounds (5.4 kg). At the same time, lace workers from Nottingham, displaced by the Industrial Revolution, began to settle in Normandy, France. They brought a variety of dogs with them, including miniature Bulldogs. The dogs became popular in France and a trade in imported small Bulldogs was created, with breeders in England sending over Bulldogs that they considered to be too small, or with faults such as ears that stood up. By 1860, there were few miniature Bulldogs left in England, such was their popularity in France and due to the exploits of specialist dog exporters. The small Bulldog type gradually became thought of as a breed, and received a name, the Bouledogue Francais. This Francization of the English name is also a contraction of the words "boule" (ball) and "dogue" (mastiff or molosser). The dogs were highly fashionable and were sought after by society ladies and Parisian prostitutes alike, as well as creatives such as artists, writers, and fashion designers. However, records were not kept of the breed's development as it diverged further away from its original Bulldog roots. As it changed, terrier and Pug stock may have been brought in to develop traits such as the breed's long straight ears, and the roundness of their eyes.