As anyone with a French Bulldog will testify, Frenchies can make for wonderful companions. They are intelligent, charming, and endlessly amusing. If you’re considering adopting one of these mischievous little dogs as a senior or retiree, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration to ensure that this breed will fit in with your lifestyle.
Are French Bulldogs good for seniors? Frenchies can be a good choice for seniors and retirees with reduced mobility or a slower lifestyle. They are small, don’t need a lot of exercise, and are very well suited to living in housing with limited space. They also aren’t that vocal with little barking making them the perfect small dog for an apartment.
Why Frenchies can suit the older generation
Owing to their difficulty with breathing (a common trait among flat-faced dogs) owners are advised to take their Frenchies on shorter rather than longer walks.
It could be you take yours for a couple of short 15-minute walks throughout the day or one 30-minute walk – this will avoid overexertion on the Frenchie’s part. This means they can be great dogs for owners with limited mobility.
It also means that owning a French Bulldog as a senior can prove to be a fantastic way to encourage you to get some regular, albeit moderate exercise.
How much space do they need?
French Bulldogs are ideal for older owners who have limited space. This owes in part to their compact size, but more so to the reduced amount of exercise this breed needs to stay healthy when compared to other dog breeds.
Frenchies are perfect for owners living in small houses and apartments (read more about apartment living). Admittedly they will benefit from having access to a garden, but it’s not a deal breaker if you can get them outdoors at least once a day and they are given sufficient exercise.
How much exercise do they need?
In short, very little.
As with most flat-faced dogs (also known as brachycephalic dogs), the Frenchie struggles with breathing and aren’t great as outdoors dogs. You need to be very careful about over-exercising Frenchies, particularly in hot weather.
Nonetheless, Frenchies are still lively dogs, and will require at least one hour of exercise each day. That can be split between an outdoor walk and some indoor play. The love tugging on a toy for example.
They do need to burn off their excess energy but that can typically be achieved after a 20-minute run around.
It’s also worth noting that apart from their inability to maintain high levels of activity, they are also very sensitive to the cold and heat. As they struggle to breathe, it makes it difficult for them to stay cool in warm weather, and owners must monitor their Frenchies carefully on hot summer days to make sure they don’t overexert themselves.
As French Bulldogs also have short coats, they make a poor choice for people living in colder climates. During the colder months, it’s recommended that you buy a jacket for your Frenchie to keep it warm outside. For those who love the idea of dressing your dog up, this can certainly be a plus!
With this in mind, French Bulldogs are good for seniors or retirees with limited mobility, or for those who simply prefer a more relaxed pace of life.
However, if you have the opportunity to lead a more active lifestyle and you are looking for a companion to keep you company during hikes or other demanding physical activities, then the French Bulldog is not a good choice.
Are they good with kids and grandchildren?
French Bulldogs are amazing with children. I appreciate that is a blanket statement, and there will always be a dog who doesn’t have a great temperament, but overall, it’s a standard generalization about Frenchies.
Here’s what a Frenchie-owning friend of mine with kids said:
“Frenchies are incredibly affectionate dogs, with docile, charming personalities. They love children, which makes them a good option for seniors and retirees with grandchildren, and with their mischievous intelligence, they will never cease to amuse. However, they are also prone to health issues, and as a result they can be an expensive breed to keep.”
We have a 6 year old ourselves, and he’s grown up with our French Bulldog. Our Frenchie is a clown, has no aggressive tendencies, loves to play, and is completely on the same level of a child.
If you are a senior with grandchildren, I’d have no hesitation in recommending a French Bulldog as a pet. In fact, you might want to read my guide about French Bulldogs being good with kids. It contains lots of video and evidence from a personal perspective.
Do they need a lot of grooming?
One of the benefits of owning a French Bulldog is how little grooming they require. As they have short coats, they only need to be brushed once a week to ensure they maintain a glossy, healthy coat. Doing this will also prevent fur piles from gathering around your property.
Aside from weekly brushing, they will also need to have their nails clipped once every 1-2 months, and owners recommend bathing them once every month or so.
It is also very important to keep the wrinkles around their face clean with a damp face cloth. Dirt has a tendency to gather between the wrinkles on their face and can cause irritation and bacteria growth.
Although they are easy enough to groom, it is worth taking into account that Frenchies are prone to drooling, which is common for most dogs with this face shape, and they can be difficult to housetrain.
Although this behavior can be curbed in Frenchies with a little patience and training, it is an instinctive behavior for this breed. If left alone for too long, they can cause a surprising amount of damage to the lawn in a tiny amount of time!
Are they easy to train?
French Bulldogs are known to have a stubborn streak, and they are certainly not as keen to please their owners as some other breeds. They are nonetheless easy enough to train given some positive reinforcement.
A patient but firm approach is key when training this breed.
That said, if you are adopting a French Bulldog as a puppy, it is important to take into account that they are not the easiest breed to potty train.
You will need to be extra patient with your new puppy in this area, and a consistent schedule will be key to ensure they pick up this new skill as quickly as possible.
Even so, it can take anywhere from 5-8 months before they are reliably potty trained. For help with potty training a Frenchie, read this guide.
Are they good family pets?
As anyone with a Frenchie can testify, these are intelligent and charming dogs with no shortage of personality. They love to be loved, and once attached, have a tendency to follow their owners around like little shadows.
These dogs are known to crave affection to the extent that they can become anxious or depressed when left home alone for too long. In this regard, they are certainly best suited to seniors or retirees who have the time to give them the attention they need.
Although they are not known to be vocal dogs, they are nonetheless confident and charismatic. Frenches are typically docile, well-tempered, and friendly little companions, and unless they have been trained poorly, they are not generally quick to aggression.
This makes French Bulldogs good for seniors and retirees with grandchildren – more so as Frenchies are natural entertainers and are more than capable of keeping the little ones entertained for hours.
Do they have any health issues?
Like most flat-faced breeds, French Bulldogs come with an assortment of health issues (I’ve previously identified 31 possible health problems). Owing to their breathing difficulties, they are prone to over-exertion and heatstroke on hot summer days, and owners will need to keep a close eye on them as it starts to get warmer.
In addition to this, they are also prone to serious eye problems, such as cataracts, retinal dysplasia, cherry eye, and eyelash abnormalities.
Frenches are also likely to suffer with malformed hip or knee joints; early arthritis; and malformed vertebrae which can result in pain or paralysis.
Heart disease, skin diseases, chronic allergies, epilepsy, bowel disease, blood-clotting diseases, and deafness are some of the other serious conditions faced by Frenchies.
With this in mind, it is important to take into account the finances involved with a breed that is likely to develop one or more of the health problems mentioned above. It certainly does not make them a cheap breed to keep.
I believe French Bulldogs are good dogs for seniors, retired people, OAPs, and the older generation.
There will be some challenges with training, but with minimal exercise and grooming required, it should suit you down to the ground. With regards to training, positive reinforcement works really well with this breed.
There are, of course, other things to take into account.
Seniors and retirees with a more active lifestyle may want to look elsewhere if they want a companion to keep them company on long hikes. This breed is not suited to long periods of exercise, and seniors who take great pride in their gardens will need to consider that Frenchie’s have a penchant for digging.
Other than that, if you need a cuddly companion who will be amazing with your grandchildren and give you undevoted love, a French Bulldog will certainly offer that.