The French Bulldog is one of the hottest purebred dog breeds in the canine world today. Demand for Frenchie puppies is tremendous and that has created aspirations in many first-time breeders who want to start dog breeding.
But people who truly love the French Bulldog breed – breeders who are in it primarily for love and not pure profit – soon discover that successfully breeding Frenchies is an art as well as a science.
In this article, learn what age you can safely breed a French Bulldog and what you need to know about the unique challenges and health concerns these flat-faced dogs can present to a breeder.
At What Age Can You Breed a French Bulldog?
As Breeding Business describes, French Bulldogs as a breed can have some very unique health issues even without adding in breeding.
These dogs can be bred, however, and the earliest age when it is safe to breed is after the female dog has had at least one full heat cycle and she is at least 24 months old.
Read on to learn why it is important not to breed your Frenchie when she is too young or during her first heat cycle.
Learn About French Bulldog Breeding from a Breeder
You can watch this short YouTube video to learn about the whole process of breeding a French Bulldog.
In the video, you will follow an adult female French Bulldog as she goes into heat and goes through the whole process of getting Artificial Insemination (AI) so that she can get pregnant.
In the remainder of this article, we will discuss the reasons why French Bulldogs typically need this type of help to get pregnant and why this breed also needs special help to deliver their puppies.
When Are French Bulldogs Old Enough to Breed Safely?
As the Northern California French Bulldog Club points out, using the word "safely" in context with French Bulldog breeding is a term that should be taken with a grain of salt.
There are so many issues that can crop up, as we will talk about here next.
But first, it is important to know when you can even consider safely breeding your French Bulldog.
French Bulldog male (stud dog)
For a French Bulldog stud or male dog, technically it is safe to allow them to breed as soon as they reach sexual maturity.
This usually occurs around the age of six months depending on the specific dog's genetics, health, and background.
French Bulldog female
The French Bulldog female, however, will bear far more risk when she is bred. She will have to endure the insemination process, whether done naturally or veterinarian-assisted.
And she will have to carry the puppies to term and whelp them naturally or via cesarean section surgery.
So it is important to wait until your Frenchie female is older before attempting this for the first time.
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) explains, it is now an accepted custom among experienced breeders that you never breed a female dog during her very first heat cycle.
The dog needs to finish growing up first and go through a process that breeders refer to as "conditioning," which is all about ensuring your female dog has great nutrition and is in great physical shape before she gets pregnant.
The general rule of thumb is to wait until the female Frenchie is at least 24 months, or two years old, before considering whether or not to breed her.
Happily, the French Bulldog can easily live 12 years with excellent care, which means you can well afford to wait for the first two years to make sure your female is in the prime physical condition and will be able to carry and whelp healthy puppies.
Why Are French Bulldogs So Hard to Breed?
The French Bulldog has an interesting history. These dogs aren't even from France!
Originally, the French Bulldog was an English Bulldog. Then breeders started breeding them down to a smaller size by cross-breeding these dogs with terriers.
This is the dog that migrated with its owners to France, where breeding efforts continued until they produced the dog we know and love like the French Bulldog today.
Because French Bulldogs inherited the short, squat bodies and bow legs of their English Bulldog predecessors, they have some special anatomical challenges when it comes to successfully breed.
French Bulldog studs (males) can't mount easily
The first big challenge that takes many first-time French Bulldog breeders completely by surprise is that French Bulldog studs, or intact male dogs, often cannot successfully mount a female Frenchie in heat.
They are not tall enough to reach the female. Even when they do this part successfully, they usually cannot "tie" with the female for long enough to achieve breeding.
French Bulldogs can't typically travel safely
In many cases, a dog owner will want to co-breed their dog with a dog that lives in another city or state.
Depending on how the owner of the other dog likes to handle such requests, this may require the female dog to travel to the stud (male) dog's location or vice versa.
Unfortunately, because of the French Bulldog's short, flat face and narrow nostrils, these dogs usually are barred from airline travel. So the only option is typically to find a local stud dog or try to arrange for stud services by mail.
French Bulldogs have respiratory issues
The physical exertion required for a successful pairing is another huge challenge for French Bulldog breeding pairs.
As Victory Bulldogs breeder points out, these dogs have short, flat faces and narrow nostrils that make them unusually prone to overheating.
The physical exertion of trying to breed together naturally can cause these dogs to overheat and actually collapse in exhaustion.
It is often not safe to breed a French Bulldog pair naturally because one or both dogs may be at risk of over-heating and over-exertion, either from excitement or anxiety or from overheating (or both).
French Bulldogs usually need a C-section delivery
Another huge challenge (and enormous expense) that many French Bulldog breeders are not prepared for is what happens when their female dog is ready to whelp (give birth) to her puppies.
Because these dogs are "top-heavy" – they carry most of their weight in their heads, shoulders, and chests – they have very narrow hindquarters and a narrow pelvis and birth canal.
The puppies can actually get stuck in the birthing canal, which is very dangerous for both the mother dog and the puppies.
The safest and most common courts of action are to have the puppies delivered by C-section (cesarean section).
However, this is not an entirely safe option either, as it involves sedation, and the mother dog's respiratory rate must be closely monitored. Additionally, as with any invasive (incision-based) surgery, there is always a risk of infection.
Another challenge with an artificial (C-section) birth is that it can create some developmental issues in terms of whether the mother dog bonds closely with the puppies and feels motivated to care for them as newborns.
A Word About the Cost of Breeding a French Bulldog
Every extra step you have to add to the process of breeding any dog is likely going to add extra expense to your budget.
With the French Bulldog breed, because you may need assistance from your dog's veterinarian multiple times along the way, your costs are likely to be higher from the start, even without any unanticipated health emergencies.
As Northwoods Bulldogs breeder points out, breeding a single litter of healthy French Bulldog puppies may cost you anywhere from $5,000 to $9,000 and up.
While it is true that many people are willing to pay several thousand dollars for French Bulldog puppies today, a reputable breeder also has to consider what they will do if the new owner returns the puppy (which sometimes will happen).
Responsible breeders retain lifetime responsibility for each puppy they breed. And since French Bulldogs tend to come with extra health-related veterinary expenses, not every owner ends up being able to afford their care.
So you will need to carefully think through how prepared you and your wallet are to take on the responsibility of breeding your French Bulldog.
And while it might seem like this only applies to female Frenchies, many breeders maintain their own breeding pairs at their kennel.
If this describes you, then you will have double the expense of maintaining two breeding dogs in tip-top condition as well as the expense of whelping, rearing the puppies, marketing to prospective owners, screening the owners, and more.
This is why French Bulldog breeders often say they are in it for the true love of the breed and not for profit. People who love these dogs, are all in and just want to produce the healthiest puppies for the continuation of the breed itself.
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.