As we’ve developed this website and YouTube channel, we’ve had a couple of readers ask us what to look for when buying a French Bulldog puppy plus what questions you should be asking of the breeder.
In this article I will give you a checklist of questions to ask, plus warning signs to look for that could be a signal that things aren’t quite right; both with the Frenchie puppy, the mother, and the breeder.
What to know before you buy a French Bulldog puppy
Let’s face it, who can’t help falling in love with a cute French Bulldog puppy. I know I did when my wife persuaded us to go and see our own dog for the first time. I still remember the day clearly; we arrived at the breeder’s home and saw a beautiful litter of four little Frenchies to choose from.
Of the four of them, this one little fella scampered over to me and immediately started chewing on my knuckles. That when I fell in love with him. It was a really simple decision in which one we wanted to take home. As you know, we went on to name him Claude.
But, given hindsight, there are some questions I would have asked the breeder before deciding to buy him. And there are also some things I should have looked for too.
It was our first ever dog though, so hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Thankfully we’ve been really lucky with Claude. He’s grown into an amazing dog and has become a huge part of our family and haven’t had any major problems with him.
But I know that’s not always the case.
These small and cute creatures with their fluffy bat ears will play on your emotions and it’s easy to get carried away. However, there are unscrupulous breeders and there are certain health and physical problems (view all Frenchie health conditions and concerns) you should check for before you get too excited.
Before I get into those questions and things to know, here’s a video from when Claude first arrived at our home after we bought him from a breeder.
Questions to ask a French Bulldog breeder
Here’s my checklist of questions to ask a French Bulldog breeder before you decide to buy a puppy that fits your personality and will live a long and happy life. It also includes some questions to ask a breeder when buying a French Bulldog puppy.
- Choose a male puppy if you want a more energetic dog: or a female if you want a more relaxed dog. There are subtle behavioural differences in the two genders which you can read in this blog post where I discuss the differences between male and female Frenchies.
- Make sure your breeder is knowledgeable: on breeding and cares for the puppies. I would always do online research into the breeder before I would even visit them.
- Be wary of what seems to be an abnormally low price: this can be a sign of an unhealthy puppy.
- Check the French Bulldog’s eyes: and check the parents of the puppy as well to see if they look healthy. Red eye can be a signal of a health problem.
- Ask to see if there are any spinal problems: or back issues in the puppy’s family.
- Look inside the mouth of puppy’s mouth: to see if the puppy is suffering from abnormal excess of skin inside.
- Ask the breeder how many litters the mother has had: a French Bulldog should only really have 1 litter a year, preferably only one every couple of years. Any more than that is a warning sign that she is being over-bred, and health issues could be present.
- Ask if the puppy has been checked by a vet: and has had the relevant vaccinations. If not, walk away as this should be handled by the breeder before the puppies go on sale.
- Ask to see the puppy’s parents: it might not always be possible with the father but is an absolute must with the mother. It can give you some insight into what type of dog your Frenchie puppy is going to grow into. If the breeder refuses to let you see the mother, then walk away as this is a huge warning sign.
- Ask if the parents have had health checks: as this can give you insight into any potential health problems further down the line. Conditions to look out for include hip problems, cataracts, cherry eye, deafness, and soft palate issues.
- Ask to see the parent’s history: if the breeder has the puppy’s best interests at heart, they will help you out and give you all the information you need, if not ask, ask and ask again.
- Ask how old the parents are: if the mother is less than 3 years old, any genetic health conditions might not yet have manifested themselves. It’s preferable to have a Frenchie puppy from a mother over this age.
- Ask where the puppies have been living: if the puppies have been hidden away in a basement or garage, they won’t have been socialised as much with human contact and could be trickier to train.
- Ask how often the puppies have been handled: the more the young pups have been handled by humans frequently it will be far easier to get him used to all the excitement in store when you get him home.
- Ask to speak to a previous client: the best breeders will be more than happy to let you talk with people who have previously bought a Frenchie puppy from them. If they don’t offer these references, it could mean they are hiding something.
- Ask for a hearing test: whilst this might not always be possible, it is a concern. White Frenchies in particular can develop hearing loss at birth due to a congenital issue. You can read more about this my recent French Bulldog hearing loss blog post.
The breeder’s personality
Print off those questions to ask a French Bulldog breeder before you visit and decide to buy.
I also think it’s important to get a feel for the breeder’s personality, as you can often tell how a person would treat a dog by the way they interact with you.
Cheap and rude breeders are an absolute no-no.
When buying your Frenchie, you need a caring breeder that gladly answers your questions and shows you the parents and tell you about their history and problems.
If they treat you with respect, it’s more likely that they extend that kindness to the Frenchie mum and her litter.
If you are dealing with a breeder who is just looking to make a quick buck and not telling you what you should know then walk away.
How to best buy a healthy French bulldog puppy
There are several factors you should consider before buying a French Bulldog who is hopefully going to live a healthy life.
Sadly Frenchies can have some severe health issues in their bloodlines which you should look out for when purchasing your puppy.
Health issues can include:
- Cherry eye
- Respiratory problems
- Stenotic nares
- Tracheal stenosis
- Heat stress
- Elongated soft palate
- Laryngeal collapse
- Internal disc disease
- Von Willebrand’s Disease
That’s why the health history of the parents is one of the most important questions to ask a breeder when buying a French Bulldog puppy.
Health issues you can check yourself
If you are not aware of their health issues, then this is the most critical section in this article about what to know before you buy a French bulldog.
Because of a limited gene pool, a lot of the French Bulldogs have some common diseases and problems.
Luckily most diseases can be avoided if you are aware of them. You should check the puppy before you buy and check the parents to see if they have any potential problems.
Some of the potential health issues to look for when buying a French Bulldog puppy are more obvious than others.
Did You Know? French Bulldogs are not hypoallergenic. If you are thinking about one and suffer with allergies you might want to think again, and here’s why.
Here are some of the easier things to check.
The health of the eyes
The first thing you need to check on your potential new bulldog is its eyes to see if they are in good health.
The reason for that is to check for hereditary cataracts. This is an illness defined as clouding on the eyes that can impair their vision and can lead to total blindness as they grow older.
If the puppy’s parents are around (and the mother should be at the very least) then take a quick look at their eyes as well.
Since this is an illness that gets worse after time as a genetic defect, checking the parents can be a great way to confirm eye health.
Dwarfism in French Bulldogs
French Bulldogs have a form of dwarfism called chondrodystrophy.
Chondrodystrophy (read more about it here) has an impact on the French Bulldog’s looks and can be desirable for breeders. But the features resulting from chondrodystrophy can come with a price.
Malformed hips, back problems, and an oversized head relative to their body are just some of the issues.
As you know French Bulldogs have bigger chests and smaller hips; the small hips are the part making it hard for a natural birth.
Chondrodystrophy can lead to severe back pain and spinal problems – ask the breeder that the all-clear as been given by the vet.
French bulldogs’ tail
As we all know, the tail of a Frenchie is short (but not docked or cut off).
A common problem with this traditional short tail will be spinal and mobility problems as some breeders will try to make a screwed-tail even more so.
This can lead to a genetic condition resulting in spinal and nerve damage.
Again, ask that the all-clear has been given by the vet.
Will a French Bulldog suit you and your lifestyle?
You need to decide if a French Bulldog is going to fit with your family’s lifestyle.
Frenchies are renowned as being low energy dogs; they can’t exercise for the long as can quickly become out of breath.
Handy Hint: You might want to consider getting a pair of French Bulldogs. Find out why 2 can sometimes be better than 1.
If you are looking for an active dog that you want to bring along on your hiking trips then a Frenchie isn’t for you.
If you are living in a small apartment, then a Frenchie is an excellent choice, but keep in mind that they are not made for exercising and long walks.
What age should I buy a French bulldog?
The age a French Bulldog can leave its mother is also very important. A responsible breeder will not sell a Frenchie puppy any younger than 8 weeks old (find out why this age is so important), as before then they need to socialise with their siblings and get all the nutrition they need from the mother.
Do not buy a French Bulldog puppy that is younger than 8 weeks old!
Choosing between male or female Frenchie
As I mentioned earlier, the puppy’s gender can play a large part as they can be slightly different. In my experience, the male can be more energetic, loud, assertive and playful.
Females can be a lot nippier, and from talking with other owners, they can turn to aggression quicker if tempted.
Whether this is true across the board, I don’t know – it’s purely what I’ve experienced.
With proper training though, there’s no reason why either sex won’t fit into your own family in super-quick time.
Don’t fall for a scam
In recent years there has been a huge uplift in the amount of scammers ripping people off when buying a puppy. I’ve written a guide on French Bulldog scams which tells you what you need to look out for.
French Bulldogs are one of the most popular dogs out there and that for a good reason. They are small, need little exercise and they are not loud and regular barkers like most small dogs.
In fact, the only time we ever hear Claude bark is when he catches his reflection in the mirror! He’s a useless guard dog…
But don’t take any buying decision lightly. Owning a dog is a huge commitment, and I believe even more so with Frenchies.
They are a very sociable breed and will not be happy if left alone for long periods of time.
If you are going to be out at work all day, please don’t even consider buying one, as you will have an unhappy and depressed dog.
The bottom line is this; every puppy purchase needs to be thought through, but even more so when purchasing a Frenchie puppy.
Handy Hint: Please make sure to print off and keep the questions to ask a French bulldog breeder that I listed higher up this guide.