English Bulldog vs French Bulldog: What are the Differences and Similarities?

Two of the most popular bulldog breeds are the English bulldog and the French bulldog. In fact, they both rank very high in the AKC Breed Popularity, standing at 5th and 4th out of 193 respectively. With their playful demeanor and chill attitude, both of these dogs make excellent family pets.

If you have your eye on these bulldogs, read on so you can decide which of them would be a better match for you.

English Bulldog vs French Bulldog:

Brief History of the Breeds

The English bulldog was first bred in England back in the 13th century. During that time, they were used for the sport of bullbaiting. Basically, a pack of bulldogs fought a staked bull, and the spectators placed their bets on the outcome. The original bulldog was fierce and vicious –– a far cry from today’s version, which is very friendly and mellow.

The modern English bulldog was bred after bullbaiting and other blood sports that involved animals were banned in England in 1835. As a result, bulldog enthusiasts started the process of transforming this once ferocious dog from fighter to companion.

The French bulldog, on the other hand, actually originated from England as a toy version of the English bulldog. It was in mid-1800’s that it became popular in the English city of Nottingham, which was then known as a lace-making center. These toy bulldogs were largely associated with lace makers, so it somehow became their mascot.

That period also marked the height of the Industrial Revolution, so the lace-making industry was threatened. The lace makers then made their way to Northern France to seek better pastures. Of course, they took their toy bulldogs with them across the shores. The little dogs were well loved in France and eventually, the further development of the breed there gave way to its now famous bat ears.

Physical Appearance

The bulldog may have been originally bred to be an unstoppable beast that could withstand the bloodiest of fights against a much bigger opponent, but now, after almost two centuries of preserving the mighty bulldog while getting rid of its once violent purpose, it has become a comical, fun-to-have-around dog.

English Bulldog Vital Stats

  • Height: 14 to 15 inches
  • Weight: 40 pounds (female) to 50 pounds (male)
  • Lifespan: 8 to 10 years
  • Group: Companion dogs

In terms of physical appearance, the English bulldog of today isn’t much different from the aggressive bulldog of the past. It has a massive head with a flat face that is full of folds. It has a stocky build, a wide stance, and short legs that can help it stay close to the ground. Originally, these traits allowed it to avoid the bull’s horns and withstand the bull’s shaking during a fight.

The English bulldog’s coat is short, glossy, and smooth. Its usual colors are fallow, fawn, red, white, and brindle, or a combination of these. The markings come in black mask, black tips, brindle, piebald, ticked, and white markings.

French Bulldog Vital Stats

  • Height: 11 to 13 inches
  • Weight: 16 to 24 pounds (female); 20 to 28 pounds (male)
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Group: Companion dogs

The French bulldog didn’t look much different from the English bulldog when it was first bred. Before, there were actually two types of French bulldogs –– one with rose-shaped ears, like the English bulldog, and one with bat ears. Eventually, the AKC decided that the one with the bat ears should be the standard breed.

The French bulldog’s coat is short, fine, smooth, and shiny. Its usual colors are brindle, cream, fawn, and white, or a combination of these. The markings come in black mask, brindle, piebald, ticked, and white markings.

Attitude, Temperament, and Socialization

Even though the English bulldog had violent origins, it has always been calm and reserved outside the fighting arena. They are devoted, obedient, and people pleasers. However, they can also be quite stubborn, so patience is highly required.

Despite their fighter-like build, they are actually very patient and affectionate with children, so they constitute a good choice if you have a family. They are mostly nice towards strangers and other dogs, though at their worst they can turn into big snobs.

French bulldogs, on the other hand, are playful, easygoing, and mischievous. Like the English bulldog, they can also be stubborn because of their free-thinking nature. Hence, this is not the best breed if you are into obedience and agility training.

French bulldogs also live up to their role as companion dogs, as they like to indulge in human love and attention. They get along with most types of people and dogs, but they can be possessive and territorial if not properly socialized.

They can be great watchdogs that would alert you if there’s any sign of trouble. Best of all, they don’t bark very much, which makes them a good choice for apartment living.

Both the English bulldog and the French bulldog are clingy babies that like to be the center of attention. If they are not properly crate trained, leaving them alone for long periods could cause them to have separation anxiety. This could lead to destructive behaviors like chewing household items and excessive barking. Hence, if you’re always gone and have no time and patience to do crate training, these bulldogs may not be the right breed for you.

While both of these bulldogs are sweet and affectionate towards their humans, the English bulldog is typically calm and chill, whereas the French bulldog is outgoing and energetic.

Care and Grooming

The English bulldog and the French bulldog are both prone to snoring and wheezing because of their facial anatomy (e.g. short snout, outwardly protruding lower jaw, etc.). You also need to ensure that their teeth are always clean, because their jaw structure makes their teeth more prone to plaque.

Both types of bulldogs are very easy to groom, as they only need occasional brushing to keep the coat shiny and healthy. They are also both average shedders. However, you need to regularly clean the areas with skin folds to avoid dirt buildup. Otherwise, your dog may end up suffering from bacterial infections such as skin fold dermatitis.

Bulldogs don’t do well in hot and humid climates because their short snout makes it difficult for them to cool themselves through panting. In fact, heat stroke is a common problem with this breed. Make sure that you give your bulldog plenty of water especially during the summer months. Walks and outdoor playtimes are best scheduled in the early morning or in the evenings.

Training and Exercise

Between the two, the French bulldog tends to be easier to train, especially when playtime is strategically integrated into the training sessions. Although they are intelligent and generally act as people pleasers, their free-thinking attitude also makes them stubborn. To successfully train a French bulldog, whether it’s house training, crate training, or just simple fun tricks, you need to be patient and willing to try various techniques.

Since the English bulldog is the more “chill” one between the two, it may not show immediate interest when it comes to training or learning new tricks. While it may be a slow learner, once it finally learns the lesson, the experience can be greatly rewarding. Hence, lots of patience is needed when training the English bulldog.

Neither bulldog needs much exercise. However, both of them can be greedy eaters, especially if you don’t control their food intake. This makes them prone to obesity, thus they must be taken for short daily walks to prevent them from becoming overweight.

Because the French bulldog is generally playful and adventurous, it’s easy enough to coax it into going for its daily walk. The English bulldog’s chillness, on the other hand, can sometimes make it very lazy. And, if your English bulldog is also stubborn, you’ll definitely have a difficult time getting them to go outside.

Health Problems

The English bulldog and French bulldog are predisposed to the following health conditions:

  • Brachycephalic syndrome: This typically occurs in breeds with narrowed nostrils and short snouts like bulldogs, King Charles spaniels, Pekingese, pugs, and shih tzus. This is because their short snouts can cause obstructed airways, which might make breathing difficult especially in hot weather.
  • Canine hip dysplasia (CHD): This is a genetic condition in which the thigh bone doesn’t fit properly into the pelvic socket. Dogs that suffer from this condition will have a hard time walking with one or both rear legs.
  • Elongated soft palate: This condition can lead to pronounced difficulty in breathing, but is usually treated through surgery.
  • Patellar luxation: This is also referred to as “slipped stifles”. This condition occurs when the thigh bone, knee cap, and calf bone are not properly aligned.

It’s also worth noting that English bulldogs generally require Caesarian delivery when they give birth. Hence, it’s best to discuss with your veterinarian if you are thinking of breeding your dog.

English Bulldog vs. French Bulldog: Summary

  • In terms of temperament, the bigger English bulldog is generally chill and reserved, while the smaller French bulldog is spirited and spunky. Both of them have streaks of stubbornness.
  • Both bulldogs are sweet and friendly to people, especially children. They can be nice to other dogs if well-socialized.
  • Care and grooming routines for both breeds are pretty much the same.
  • Neither breed can tolerate hot weather.
  • Both are prone to becoming overweight if not taken out for regular walks. You’d have a better chance of getting the French bulldog to get out, though.

If you are going to choose between these two types of bulldogs, perhaps your most important considerations would be the size and the temperament. Otherwise, both of them are really great pets in their own right.

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