French Bulldogs (or Frenchies) are a beloved small breed that keeps growing in popularity. Some of their advantages include a compact size, sociable personality, and low exercise needs. They are great dogs both for apartments and for homes with yards.
One of the most common questions that prospective dog owners have about any breed is whether living outside is appropriate. Certain breeds seem to spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors. It's reasonable to wonder if this is okay for Frenchies.
Can French Bulldogs live outside and what is their temperature tolerance like? Frenchies should not live outside because of a combination of possible breathing issues in hot weather and a size ill-suited to being outdoors during cold weather.
What Are the Main Reasons They Should Live Inside?
Several factors contribute to FrenchBulldogs' need to live indoors with their families. The most important of these reasons include their naturally loving personalities, their small size, and their tendency to have breathing difficulties, especially during the heat.
According to the French Bulldog Club of America, Frenchies enjoy being wherever the rest of their family is at any given time. This breed is not one that thrives being alone in a backyard all day long.
Another reason these dogs should live inside is that their small size makes them vulnerable to theft and other threats.
They also tend to be a bit strong-willed, which could put them in conflict with other animals should they escape from their yard.
This breed also has a short snout, as well as the possibility of an excessive soft palate and a long tongue. These features can make a dog's breathing more labored. Breathing difficulties of any type are often aggravated in hot weather.
According to Hunt Valley Animal Hospital, this palate can partially obstruct the dog's airway. Surgical correction might be necessary in the worst cases.
This helpful video further details the special needs of brachycephalic dogs. The more owners understand about these special needs, the more they can do to help their dog at all times of the year.
French Bulldogs Require Attention
A Frenchie is a loyal breed that thrives on a lot of attention, which is something that dogs left outside most of the time do not get.
Exposure to as many people and animals as possible is beneficial for this toy breed to help maintain their personalities.
Confinement for prolonged times, whether in a training crate or outside in a yard, causes separation anxiety. Dogs who have these types of behavioral issues are more likely to act out, and less likely to accept correction when they misbehave.
Is a Frenchie's Size a Liability?
Even though French Bulldogs are small, they have somewhat of a tendency to be stubborn. An unexpected encounter with a dog or other animal can have negative results when the dog's strong-willed nature prevails. Unsupervised outdoor time increases the risk.
Another possible problem that these dogs may encounter due to their size is not being able to withstand cold. These dogs have short, thin coats that provide minimal protection against the cold. Staying warm outdoors is difficult for them.
How Can Breathing Issues Cause Problems Outside?
Heat can be detrimental to dogs, especially if they have shorter snouts as Frenchies do. Even if the temperatures are high, these little pups might be inclined to run around when outside. This frolicking can result in breathing difficulties.
Even with the dog's temperament and size playing a role in their need to primarily live indoors, temperature tolerance is the most important factor to consider for a French Bulldog. There are good reasons to avoid hot and cold extremes.
Why is the Heat Dangerous for Frenchies?
According to French Bulldog Z, this breed is susceptible to both heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Both of these conditions can have life-threatening consequences.
Frenchies have a shorter airway than many other breeds, which increases their heatstroke or heat exhaustion risk. The dog cannot adequately cool the air that they breathe in because of the short airway, which increases heat-related illness risk.
According to Pippa Mattinson, flat-faced or short-snouted breeds are known as brachycephalic breeds and their unique physiology contributes to difficulties during hot weather.
Brachycephalic features include shortened facial bones, particularly the upper jaw bone. These features are inherited from parents with the same features.
Unlike humans, dogs only have sweat glands in their paw pads. To make up for a lack of sweat glands elsewhere in the body, dogs cool themselves through panting.
Brachycephalic breeds have a reduced level of exercise tolerance that is more obvious during periods of hot weather. Much of the lower energy level seen in this breed is due to exercise intolerance.
Many owners make the mistake of trusting their dog's judgment about how much heat they can withstand. This mistake may have tragic results, making it one that is best avoided.
A unique risk for dogs that spend most of their time outside is exposure to radiant heat from the ground. Many dog owners overlook this threat, judging the temperature by the feeling of the air alone. Ground temperatures can rapidly exceed the air temperature.
Dogs left outside have no means of escape from hot ground temperatures. Even though dog houses provide shade, they lack the insulation to provide protection against high temperatures. The inside of a dog house can become oppressively hot.
A good rule of thumb is that temperatures over 70 degrees are usually too hot for this breed to safely manage. Also, watch for signs of the ground or pavement being hot to the touch. Either of these situations is potentially too hot for your pup.
Although getting outside for 15 minutes twice a day is ideal in cooler weather, keep the trips outside to ten minutes or less during hotter weather. Watch your dog closely for any signs of overheating so you can address them quickly.
When the temperatures are exceptionally high or if your dog has health issues making them more sensitive to the heat, keep their time outside confined to five minutes at a time to eliminate the chances of a heat emergency in your dog.
What Makes a Dog More Likely to Suffer Heat-Related Illness?
Any Frenchie, regardless of age or physical condition, has a greater risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke because of their airway structure. However, there are a few factors that increase the risk for this breed even further.
Senior French Bulldogs are likely to have a greater risk of getting sick due to the heat. Many older Frenchies, like other dogs, are susceptible to health issues that can decrease their heat tolerance. Examples of these issues include heart problems.
Some French Bulldogs have more compromised respiratory systems than others, often due to genetic defects. These dogs might be more likely to end up with severe symptoms because of heat-induced sickness.
A Frenchie with weight issues could also have a greater chance of developing breathing issues. Excess weight places a strong on all major body systems, including the respiratory system. Heavier dogs have a worse time withstanding the heat in general.
How Do You Spot Heat Exhaustion or Heatstroke?
There are signs that can help you spot overheating in your dog. Because this breed's panting isn't as efficient as it is in other breeds, they simply won't cool as easily. There are a few noteworthy signs of overheating that you will need to watch out for.
These include exhaustion, foaming at the mouth or excessive drooling, heaving during panting or heavy panting, a floppy or discolored tongue, and odd noises in the threat. These symptoms can signal your dog being at risk for heat-related sickness.
Heat exhaustion is relatively easy to spot in a French Bulldog. Look for red, flushed skin on the insides of the ears and heavy panting. Taking the necessary steps at this point is necessary to help keep everything from progressing into heatstroke.
Heatstroke is an emergency situation requiring immediate treatment. The most obvious symptoms include heat exhaustion symptoms, as well as staggering and fainting, in the most severe of cases.
In a best-case scenario, you would be able to put your dog into a tub of cool water to bring their temperature down, or at least hose them down with some cold water.
Rapid cooling down and prompt veterinary treatment is necessary in these cases. Pour cool, not cold, water on your dog to bring his or her temperature down. Soaked towels with cool water and an ice pack applied to the top of their head will help.
Never force your dog to consume water, as swollen airways can lead to water aspiration into the lungs. In a worst-case scenario, you may be able to introduce cool water through an enema. Make sure it is introduced slowly to reduce the risk of shock.
Children's Benadryl given in liquid form with a dropper can help reduce swelling in the airways. Giving this drug can help break the cycle of heavy panting that leads to further swelling.
Always make sure you get the dog to a vet as soon as possible, even if their temperature is dropping and they show signs of improvement. Getting proper care from a vet can help eliminate the chances of permanent damage.
What Are Some Safety Tips During Hot Weather?
Many Frenchies, particularly younger ones, act as though they are largely oblivious to the heat when playing outside. One of the downsides to this type of behavior is owners getting a false sense of their dog's safety during the hot weather.
Remember that temperatures you find warm might be unbearably hot for your pup. The seeming satisfaction on your dog's part is not worth the risk of his or her becoming ill due to the heat. Keep your trips outside during the hot weather brief.
Even though temperatures as low as 70 degrees can cause trouble, you always want to make sure your dog is inside when the temperature is over 85 degrees. Only allow your dog out for brief intervals to go to the bathroom when the temperature is that high.
When the ground temperature is hot, consider using booties to help prevent your dog from burning his or her paws. Always make sure you check your pet's paw pads for burns after being on hot pavement.
Another option worth considering during extreme heat is using pee pads. These pads entice the dog to go to the bathroom on them instead of on the floor. Litterbox training may also be a possibility worth considering for your dog.
There are dog coats designed for cooling down that well for French Bulldogs. These coats help keep the temperature down, eliminating many of the problems involved with heat-related illness.
If your dog doesn't tolerate wearing a coat, you might consider using your fingers to spread their fur a little. This action allows your dog to get better airflow and cool down a lot faster.
A possible alternative if your dog does not tolerate wearing a coat very well is a cooling cloth. Some of these clothes are designed for wearing around the neck like a bandana. Either cooling option will do the job that you need.
You might also consider investing in cooling mats that your dog can lie down on after a walk or outdoor playtime. Consider leaving them in or near a favorite spot where your dog likes to lie anyway. He or she will likely get used to them quickly.
Consider keeping an emergency kit in a travel or duffel bag that you can keep with you during times of warm weather. This option gives you access to what you need to help cool your dog down quickly.
The contents should include a cooling coat or cloth, as well as a little of children's Benadryl, towels, a disposable enema kit, and a full bottle of distilled water.
Taking a few steps to prevent a hot-weather emergency will benefit your pet in the long run.
How Do French Bulldogs Handle the Cold?
According to Marc Aaron, Frenchies shouldn't stay out in the cold over longer periods. The risks are different from heat-related ones but no less serious.
A short romp out in the snow is always fun for any dog. However, a short, supervised trip outside is different from keeping your pup out in the cold for a long time.
Temperatures below 32 degrees are usually too cold for these little dogs. Some individuals might have a lower cold tolerance threshold than others. You'll need to watch your French Bulldog closely when he or she is outside in the cold.
Excessive shivering is a sign that your dog is too cold and needs to go somewhere warm as soon as possible. You should also watch for signs of frostbite around his or her paws, because of the possible risk.
A jacket or coat will help keep him or her warm on nippy days. For additional protection, consider putting booties on your dog's paws. These booties not only provide protection against the cold but also protect the paws against road salt.
Bear in mind the fact that even the best jacket or coat is not a substitute for having your dog live in the house. This breed is not one that has been bred to withstand the extreme cold any more than it can handle high heat.
How Do You Find a Good Balance?
While it is known that Frenchies are not suited to living outside all the time, that doesn't mean that they won't enjoy a lifestyle that involves getting outdoors a lot. You just need to remember the weather-related issues already discussed.
They don't require as much exercise as most other breeds but will enjoy a walk just the same. Like other dogs, French Bulldogs love to explore and are certain to enjoy a trip to the dog park.
A trip to a place with a calm body of water can be very helpful for these little dogs on warmer days. Just make sure the water is not too deep, because some dogs have poor swimming abilities.
Most Frenchies will even enjoy playing in the snow, as long as they have adequate protection against the cold. Keeping the trips outside relatively short during temperature extremes will help make these trips more enjoyable all around.
One thing that owners of French Bulldogs need to remember is that no two dogs are identical. Size, weight, and temperament are all traits that can vary among different dogs.
Younger dogs have a higher energy level and will require you to have to do more to protect them from the effects of severe weather. Older dogs will have less energy overall, decreasing your total exercise needs.
What's the Final Verdict?
Although French Bulldogs enjoy the opportunity to frolic outside, they should absolutely never be outdoor-only dogs.
Their susceptibility to heat-related sickness and small size overall make them too sensitive to temperature extremes for living outdoors. They thrive best under conditions where they can live inside with their families.
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.