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Are French Bulldogs Aggressive?

Lovable, playful and charming may not seem like a fitting way to describe a bulldog, but Frenchies are all this and more!

Bred for companionship, the French bulldog is truly one of man’s best friends, in every sense of the word.

But yes, French Bulldogs can be aggressive.

A Frenchie’s playful nature coupled with its easy-going personality makes it a great people dog that’s just as comfortable in a house full of kids as it is in a senior’s apartment.

By working on its social skills, your Frenchie can even learn to get along with other pets in your household – canine or otherwise.

For the most part, Frenchies are loving and lovable companions.

They’re highly affectionate with their people family and relish receiving affection in return.

Unfortunately, they can become overly attached to their “hooman” to the point of becoming territorial or possessive of their owner’s attention.

This could become problematic if you were to ever adopt another pet.

That’s why socialization is so important for this breed.

Socializing your pup can expand its circle of friends so that it learns to accept and enjoy the company of other people and pets.

Through socialization, your pup will also learn to overcome fears and anxieties in its environment so it can adapt more easily to changes in your life or lifestyle.

French Bulldog Temperament

Frenchies are known for having a mellow, affectionate, playful disposition, making them wonderful playmates, companions and pets.

Their affable personality is what makes them so appealing to adults and children alike.

At the same time, in living up to that bulldog tradition, Frenchies tend to be headstrong and stubborn at times, particularly when trying to establish dominance.

That’s why they need training and socialization at an early age, to bring out the best in them and round out their people skills. 

Beneath a Frenchie’s adorable, fun-loving, carefree nature lies a highly intelligent, intuitive dog capable of learning social and behavioral skills.

Your pup’s environment can play a key role in developing its temperament and personality, along with its training, upbringing and breeding.

The input you give your French bulldog as a puppy in its developmental years will help mold its behavior, temperament and personality as a full-grown dog.

With the proper upbringing as a puppy, you can give your Frenchie a great start in life by transforming it into a loving, well-mannered adult dog.

Dogs inherit traits from their breeding and genealogy that impact their nature and character.

French bulldogs have the aptitude to be quick learners, despite having a short attention span, which makes them capable of learning behavioral and social skills.

Given those opportunities as a puppy, your Frenchie will turn out to be a good-natured dog.

On the flip side, dogs that are not properly trained or disciplined as puppies, can grow up to become wild, destructive, aggressive dogs.

And Frenchies are no exception.

Without good input, there’s no guarantee your Frenchie will develop the loving, gentle temperament you desire.

If a Frenchie’s parents have a rough disposition, that, too, can play into the personality of your dog.

Stubbornness is an aspect of the French bulldog that can be tempered in its formative years.

If this trait isn’t reigned in when your Frenchie is young, you may have a harder time dealing with it in your dog’s  adult years.

Taken to the extreme, your dog’s stubbornness could result in rebellious, aggressive behavior as it grows older.

french bulldog in grass

Signs and Causes of Aggression In French Bulldogs

There are numerous reasons a dog may display aggressive behavior.

Some common causes of dog aggression are abuse, lack of socialization skills, fear, stress, frustration and careless breeding.

Abuse – Dogs that are abused or neglected as puppies are more likely to display aggressive behavior when they grow up.

If you’re planning to adopt a Frenchie from an animal shelter, it’s always a good idea to check its background.

Ask about the pup’s former owner(s) or find out what state the dog was in when it was brought in to get a better understanding of the kind of dog you are adopting.  

Breeding – Careless breeding can result in aggression in a dog.

If both parents have aggressive tendencies, chances are the offspring will inherit that trait as well.

If you’re buying a French bulldog from a breeder, check out the breeder’s background to ensure he’s a reputable breeder with good standing in the canine community.

You should also inquire about the lineage of the pup’s parents to get a better idea of what to expect from your pup.

The more you know about your dog before you bring it home, the less “surprises” you’ll encounter later on.

Socialization – Inadequate socialization is perhaps one of the most common reasons dogs display aggressive behavior.

Lack of socialization can cause a pup to become fearful and anxious when around new people, situations or animals.

Fear can trigger aggressive behavior.

Early socialization is key to helping dogs overcome fears and anxieties as it exposes your pet to new environments, people and experiences outside of the norm.

This gives your pet a chance to learn how to handle different situations it may encounter later in life. 

Through socialization, your Frenchie learns how to adjust and adapt to changes in life so that it doesn’t view the new with fear and anxiety.

Signs of Aggression – A stiff body, pulled back ears, snarling and growling are some typical signs of aggression in a Frenchie pup.

Your pup may even nip or snap at the person it’s irritated at.

Your Frenchie may growl or snap at someone for getting too close to its food or toys as it can get quite possessive of its belongings.

A dog that’s sick or in pain may become aggressive if you try to pet it or pick it up.

If your normally friendly, happy-go-lucky Frenchie suddenly starts displaying aggressive behavior, take stock to see what’s prompting this behavior in your home.

Are changes in the home causing fear, stress or anxiety?

Is your pup sick or in pain?

Is your pup asserting its dominance or acting possessive over you or its belongings?

The sooner you uncover the cause, the sooner you can take steps to rectify the situation to restore your pup to its affable, lovable state.

brindle frenchie in grass
image: Ildar Sagdejev (Specious), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What to Do About an Aggressive Frenchie

The first step is trying to uncover the cause of your pup’s aggressive behavior.

A visit to your local vet will determine if your pup is sick or in pain so you can rectify the problem.

If your Frenchie is reacting negatively to changes in your household such as new people, a new pet, a change in its schedule or routine, etc., you’ll need to take time to help your pup adapt.

A dog that’s anxious and stressed is liable to lash out at anyone in frustration.

You may need to spend extra time with your pup to soothe its frazzled nerves and calm it down.

Don’t force your pup to accept new people or pets in the home before it’s ready.

Do your best to reassure your pup of your love so that it feels safe and secure in its environment, regardless of the changes around him.

If your Frenchie is displaying aggressive behavior in an effort to assert its dominance over you, you’ll have to take charge to establish yourself as the alpha.

Even small dogs can become little tyrants if allowed to do as they please and dominate the home.

Establish (or re-establish) ground rules and boundaries for your Frenchie and be consistent in expecting obedience.

Getting your pup to respect your leadership is one step closer to restoring order in your household.

Although Frenchies aren’t extremely active dogs, they do need exercise and opportunities to burn off steam.

These pups love to play, so make sure your Frenchie has quality playtime with you or your kids to keep it happy and entertained.

Exercise can reduce your pup’s stress and anxiety as well, which can help temper aggressive behavior towards you or others in your home. 

In Summary

Aggressive behavior can be disconcerting coming from a normally loving, adorable Frenchie pup.

By doing your part, you can break your pup’s aggressive streak before it becomes a habit.

Addressing the root cause of your pup’s aggression is key to helping him overcome this errant behavior and return to being the affable, easy-going, affectionate Frenchie pet you know and love.

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