One of the things that breeders never tell you about Frenchie ownership is that you will have to help get them clean. As a brachycephalic breed they have trouble getting to those hard to reach places so will occasionally need a helping hand.
In this guide to cleaning I am going to explain what parts of their body Frenchies can’t clean themselves. It includes advice on how you can help clean them (yes, including the bum) and answer any related questions you might have.
Can French Bulldogs clean themselves? Frenchies can clean themselves but there are parts of their body they cannot reach. Owners will need to help their French Bulldog clean the bum, ears, eyes, folds, and wrinkles in order to keep the Frenchie healthy and happy.
Why French Bulldogs can’t clean themselves properly
Before I get into the detail on the various body areas let’s just get one thing clear. Frenchie’s aren’t that high maintenance like a larger and longer-haired dog would be. Their short hair and little bodies mean that cleaning them shouldn’t take too much time out of your day.
But you will need to help your Frenchie clean himself, and here’s why; brachycephaly.
As a brachycephalic breed, Frenchies have short necks and flat faces, with not much of a snout to speak of. This means they find it hard to clean themselves in those harder to reach areas such as the bum and genital areas.
Another aspect of brachycephaly that also relates to how well they can clean themselves is their skin folds and wrinkles. Skin folds are a trait of brachycephalic dogs and it can lead to skin problems. Here’s what The Kennel Club in the UK have to say:
“Chronic skin irritation and infection can be common in some extreme brachycephalic dogs, specifically those with excessive wrinkling and skin folds, usually found on the muzzle (the nasal fold), but also around the tail and the vulva in female dogs, in association with screw-tails. Deep skin folds cause rubbing and retention of moisture and may lead to overgrowth of bacteria and yeast.”
Sounds nasty doesn’t it.
Now we’re lucky that Claude our Frenchie has never experienced any of these issues, and I put that down to our cleaning regime and how well we take care of him.
But as you can imagine, these skin problems and infections can become serious if not treated. These issues are a by-product of the Frenchie not being able to clean themselves in that area. You can read a full list of all the skin complaints that can occur in the breed.
Now that explainer is out of the way, let me give you some real-life advice on how you can help your Frenchie keep clean with some short notes on each area of their body.
I will start with cleaning the bum as this is one part a lot of potential French Bulldog owners will be most worried about – and understandably so!
Can French Bulldogs clean their bum?
French Bulldogs cannot clean their own bum. Do you have to wipe a French Bulldogs bum for them? The answer is “sometimes”, as there will occasionally be a little straggler left behind after defecating.
But please don’t be worried. In my experience this isn’t a regular occurrence.
Handy Hint: Some Frenchie puppies do actually eat their own poop. If your doggy has this problem, read this guide on how to prevent it from happening.
With Claude I will probably have to help him clean his bum around once a month. It all depends on how “messy” the faeces are and the position of the tail.
Some Frenchie tails cover and drop over the bum area. People with a dog like this will have to wipe their French Bulldog’s bum more often than those with a lifted tail that sits clear and above the exit hole.
We’re lucky with Claude, as his tail is positioned very clear of the bum area so doesn’t catch any poop on it.
The most common time for wiping is when he’s had an upset stomach (very common in Frenchies) and has bout of diarrhoea. That’s when a little wipe can help.
Most of the time when he does a poop it’s a clean exit. He will crouch into position and let the poop out and it’s usually a very clean exit and drop… and I would say that’s 99% of the time that I won’t need to wipe his bum for him.
But, when he does have a nasty poop that’s runny, it will tend to gather in the area underneath his anus in a horrible line and I will use a non-perfumed and natural wet wipe to help him out.
Aside from the occasional diarrhoea, there will sometimes be a little nugget left on his bum. I won’t usually realise until it’s dropped off on the floor of our kitchen. And yes, I have trodden in it from time to time.
So, be prepared. You might have to wipe a French Bulldog’s bum for them so make sure you’re prepared and have some natural-based wet wipes or tissues with you.
Handy Hint: Before letting your French Bulldog on the couch, sofa, or bed, always do a bum check. We learned the hard way. Hold the back of their body and look at the bum to see if it needs wiping before letting them anywhere near your lovely furniture.
Cleaning a French Bulldog’s tail pocket
What on earth is a tail pocket? I had no idea before we owned Claude, and you might be the same so here’s a quick explainer courtesy of the Natural Dog Company (view website):
“A French Bulldog’s tail pocket is a dimple or indentation located beneath (or on top of) your dog’s tail. This well-hidden wrinkle collects all kinds of dirt and debris as your dog goes about his day rolling in the dirt, climbing under dusty furniture. By overlooking this area, dirt and debris mix with moisture and next thing you know the tail pocket is irritated, inflamed, and infected. It can even develop a terrible smell, easily blamed on your dog’s nearby butthole but it’s really the tail pocket to blame.”
And here’s how you clean a French Bulldog’s tail pocket for them (as they won’t be able to do it themselves):
- Either use a dog-safe cleaning wipe of a mix of water and mild soap.
- Give the tail pocket area a wash around making sure to remove any muck and debris.
- Rinse off and blow away any water or moisture that might be left.
It’s really important to dry the tail pocket area off afterwards as it can trap moisture. When this happens, your Frenchie runs the risk of developing a fungal infection and soreness.
Do you have to wipe French Bulldogs in other areas?
Again, it depends.
Yes, you will need to wipe between their folds and clean their ears, but I will come onto those aspects shortly.
Aside from wiping your Frenchie’s bum from time to time, you might also need to wipe their penis or vulva. We own a male Frenchie, so I can explain how that has worked out for us.
Occasionally Claude will have a pee and for around 10 minutes afterwards still have a little dribble coming out. We have a tiled kitchen floor so it’s usually very easy to spot.
In cases like this, again we use a natural-based wet wipe or tissue to give his penis a quick wipe and clean. Most French Bulldogs cannot reach their penis area to clean it themselves so it’s another way you can help them out.
Occasionally this can be quite frustrating for Claude and I’ve seen him lie on our bed and try to nibble at his penis. He can never quite reach it, so for me it’s a sign he could have an itch and I will give it a quick wipe to help him.
The things you do for your dog eh!?
Can French Bulldogs clean their own ears?
No, French Bulldogs cannot clean their own ears themselves, but they can give them a very good scratch with a paw… but that simply doesn’t cut it. Owners will need to clean their Frenchie’s ears and give those a wipe too.
In the future I will publish a guide and video on how to clean a French Bulldog’s ears, but for now here’s some really short and important cleaning steps.
- Use a cotton pad that has been soaked in water and clean the backs of the ears gently. In other words, the part of the ear which have fur on.
- Next push back your Frenchie’s ears so you can see inside them. You do this to check for any dirt and possible infections.
- Use a clean cotton pad with water again and gently clean up the wax and dirt that you see. You must not push down into the ear canal as this can push wax and debris further inside.
- Dry the cleaned areas off with a clean towel.
As French Bulldog’s cannot clean their ears themselves it’s a must-do task for any owner. I recommend doing it once a month. The ears can get very dirty due to the way in which they are exposed to the elements.
Cleaning folds and wrinkles
One of the most important parts of the body that you need to help clean will be the folds and wrinkles around the face and muzzle. Frenchies cannot clean themselves in this area, and as discussed, it’s a prime place for skin problems to start.
Their wrinkles are a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty bacteria so it’s recommended that you help your French Bulldog clean their folds at least once a week.
Anything and everything can get stuck in here; from dirt and debris, to food, and water after drinking… the skin folds will trap nasties and quickly develop into a bacterial hotspot.
Cleaning them is easy enough to do. Simply wash using a damp cloth or naturally based wet wipe. But, just like with the tail pocket, don’t leave the wrinkles damp after cleaning as this can lead to infections.
To keep the clean skin folds dry after cleaning, many vets recommend you use a baby talcum powder. We’ve not used talc ourselves, preferring to use a towel but talcum powder is a commonly used as a drying agent.
If you do stumble across an infection in your Frenchie’s folds take a visit to your vet. They can take a swab and test for fungal infections which can then be treated with antibiotics.
In more serious cases where bacterial infections refuse to shift and keep coming back, some vets will recommend performing a surgical removal of the offending wrinkle fold.
And don’t forget your Frenchie’s eyes
It’s easy to forget the eye area, as you wouldn’t normally associate them with needing to be cleaned… but they do.
Frenchie’s cannot clean their eyes themselves, so it’s another area that owners will need to occasionally wipe and wash.
French Bulldogs have very sensitive eyes and you can read more about that in this guide to eye problems. It’s often due to the skin folds that also occur near this area so it’s just as important to keep it clean.
I will publish a more complete guide to keeping a Frenchie’s eyes clean another time, and link to that soon enough. But in simple terms, wipe anything away that you see as eye wrinkles can develop yeast infections and become very sore if not kept clean and dry.
Intermittent bathing can also help
Frenchies love to roll around in muck, fox poop, another animal faeces and dirty puddles. They didn’t tell you this when you bought yours did they?
You will need to occasionally give your French Bulldog a bath or shower. I don’t recommend that it’s a regular occurrence as any more than 5 times a year can dry out the essential oils in their coat.
Handy Hint: Read this guide on how to bath or shower a Frenchie when the dirt has simply got too much to deal with.
However, there will be times when it’s unavoidable as your French Bulldog isn’t going to clean himself. To find out how to do it, check out this video where we show my wife giving Claude and bath and trying not to scare him.
Do you need to brush a French Bulldog’s teeth?
Well, yes, it’s not like he’s got his own toothbrush out and his cleaning those pearly whites. Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from dental hygiene issues (and not to mention the bad breath).
You can brush your Frenchie’s teeth for him a couple of times a week, but also take him for professional teeth cleaning at least once every 12 months.
It’s possible to buy specialist dog teeth cleaning products, and I will explain those in a later guide, so for now have a look on YouTube for some tips.
Whatever you do, don’t use human toothpaste. It contains fluoride which is toxic to dogs and can do them more harm than good. I’ve put together a list of dog-friendly toothpastes that Frenchies love the taste of!
Handy Hint: Invest in chew toys for your Frenchie. This will help them to clean their own teeth naturally and keep some gum and teeth problems at bay. Here are some suggestions on the best teething toys.
Grooming of excess hair
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that Frenchies don’t shed a lot of hair. They do, and here’s the proof in this article all about French Bulldog shedding.
If you skip over to that guide to shedding you can read a step by step process on how to get rid of unwanted hair, plus find out which shedding brush we use – you can also see a video below.
Do French Bulldogs need their anal glands expressing?
I saved the worst for last.
These small and smelly anal sacs can become infected if not expressed and checked over regularly. They can become full of stinky fluids which can be very painful for your Frenchie and also have health implications (read more about health problems).
Anal glands aren’t a problem with all French Bulldogs, and I am eternally grateful that I have never had to help Claude with his – he doesn’t suffer with them (fingers crossed).
If you are unlucky enough to have a Frenchie with an anal gland problem, then you can express them yourselves or take them to a vet. It’s not a nice job and you can find guidance on how to do it with plenty of shocking videos on YouTube.
However, it’s not recommended you do it yourself or do it unnecessarily. Watch this video to find out why.
And there you have it; French Bulldogs cannot clean themselves properly, and all of them will need a large degree of help from their owner.
If you’re not prepared to help clean your Frenchie, then please don’t even consider buying one. Of all the pros and cons to owning a French Bulldog I’ve previously published, this is one area so often overlooked.
You will need to occasionally wipe a French Bulldog’s bum. You will need to clean their folds. You will need to clean out their ears. And you will need to wipe them down and offer the occasional bath.
If you’re not cut out for this admittedly low level of maintenance, then a French Bulldog is not for you.