March 2021 will mark five years of us being French Bulldog owners. Having our beautiful angel Molly in our lives for the last five years has gone so quickly, yet we’ve learnt a hell of a lot about the breed. I think many would agree that having a Frenchie is quite a trend.
A cute, small dog. Very loving, very affectionate, yet the health ramifications of being a French Bulldog owner really hit you where it hurts. In your wallet. Whilst I wouldn’t change a single thing and I’m now a Frenchie lover to the point, where I want to adopt every French Bulldog, I see registered with animal charities. Most noticeably, Pheonix who are a dedicated Frenchie rehoming charity.
Molls back story
There’s a lot to learn about Frenchie’s. They’re very sensitive beings. From their skin, to their soft palette snout and their many folds of skin on their face. Owning a Frenchie may seem like a walk in the park, and Molly is absolutely the light of my life, she hasn’t come without a few difficulties.
Molly arrived in my life very abruptly. One WhatsApp message from my boyfriend to say he might get a dog that day, four hours later arriving home to the smallest bundle of black fur and not a dog toy, bed or bone to our name. We quickly bought all the necessary dog paraphernalia and it’s here where our journey to understanding French Bulldogs began!
We decided to crate train. We were advised (he was advised…) that she was trained. Dear reader, that was not the case. Lots of puppy pads placed around our rented home and a large crate for a teeny tiny four-month-old puppy was our way forward. We had lots of accidents, but within 12 weeks the crate was put away and she was good to go (outside to the toilet).
French Bulldog skin allergies
We believe Molly’s life began in Latvia and she came over to the UK as a young pup. I think she was the bi-product of a puppy farm, but we’ll never know. Whilst she had a passport and jab paperwork, her first trip to the vets indicated she wasn’t vaccinated at all, so we began the process again.
She also had a mild to moderate case of French Bulldog dermatitis. This was the first instance of Moll having a very common skin irritant – something that we still have flare ups over to this day. Over the years, we’ve become somewhat experts in Frenchie skin conditions – triggers, irritants, causes, medications and signs that signal better and worsening skin.
When deciding to add a Frenchie to your family, it’s so important to understand the ways that Frenchie’s differ from other dog breeds. The main being skin.
This is something both myself and my partner are very passionate about. Caring for Molly’s skin to keep her and her body happy, itch-free and healthy has been a five-year long journey. One we have happily embarked on and I can talk (or type about!) till the cows come home.
There are so many triggers. Food, their environment at home, allergies. We’ve switched Moll’s food a few times and found a grain and wheat free diet is the trick. We would go raw if that didn’t work, but her kibble is great and keeps both her appetite and skin happy.
Addressing your home environment is an absolute must. We don’t have any candles, strong cleaning products, plug-ins at all. I mop my floors with soapy water only, that’s pet friendly and she’s always out the way to protect her paws. It sounds so straightforward but using products on your worktops high above floor level can still have an impact. I wash her bedding, lead and harness in hypo allergenic wash powder and everything I use is perfume free, unless suitable for dogs.
Like I said, Frenchie’s have the most sensitive skin, and this goes beyond their eye level.
Grass is also a trigger for Moll, but mainly cut grass so throughout the summer months she has half a piriton every morning with her breakfast. Just don’t tell the pharmacist it’s for your dog….that was an interesting reaction!
Seasonal flare-ups are a major trigger for Frenchie’s and so Molly gets a vet vaccination, Apaquel each summer to keep allergens at bay. It’s for dermatitis and really helps her manage throughout the hot summer months.
Time to clean those folds (and ears, nose, bottom…)
A task we do weekly, but could probably do more regularly to be honest, is cleaning her folds of skin on her face. Keepers of dirt, bacteria and general mud after rolling on walks! Keeping her folds clean with regular gentle wipes using a fresh cloth and water and monthly baths are all part and parcel.
I know some dogs rarely get washes but French Bulldogs need to keep clean as they’re so prone to irritants. Another vet prescribed shampoo does the trick – not only does she smell great but it’s a relief to know she’s fresh and clean with nothing causes underlying issues.
The same goes for ears. Another one many dogs struggle with, but those big sticky-up ears end up with lots of dirt down them, so a gentle clean using dog ear cleaner is another element to Molly’s monthly pamper sessions!
Lastly, little bums also need wiping! With no tail to keep everything tucked away, I’m used to performing a twice daily clean using fragrance free baby wipes! It wasn’t a task I expected but here we are!
French Bulldog pros and cons
Like I said at the top, I wouldn’t be without her now, she’s the most gorgeous, loving girl, but we’ve learnt a lot about the breed. Luckily we haven’t had to go down the route of boas surgery but we have our fair share of vets trips and insurance payments.
I see so many Frenchie’s out and about these days and I do think some are just for the novelty of having a Frenchie. I’m sure they’re well loved, but Frenchie’s can walk for a long time, need long bouts of exercise to shrug of the zoomies and loads of TLC. I worry some are seen as small dogs who don’t need as much exercise or a lengthly walk each day to keep them slim and in healthy condition.
Monitoring your Frenchie’s weight is a job for you as dog owner, not just the vet. Molly is very slender, but perfectly on target with her weight, so she isn’t causing any strain to her heart. People do comment that she’s small, and whilst she’s petite, she’s slender – something we’re proud of thanks to the perfect mix of the correct food and daily walks.
I’m such an advocate for becoming a Frenchie owner, but like any dog, there’s a responsibility that comes with it and with Frenchie’s it can be more than you maybe first bargained for!