The French Bulldog is ranked fourth in the nation out of 195 American Kennel Club (AKC) purebred dog breeds in terms of popularity.
And French Bulldogs are becoming increasingly popular in Europe and elsewhere also. So there is a huge and growing demand for French Bulldog puppies.
But French Bulldogs are not like most dogs in terms of how they are bred and how the puppies are delivered. If you are thinking about breeding your Frenchie, this is definitely the article you want to read first.
How Many Times Can a French Bulldog Have Puppies?
French Bulldogs are very hard to breed and whelp (deliver). A healthy and sturdy French Bulldog female adult may have up to three litters as long as the veterinarian advises it is safe to do so. Some females will only have one litter in their lifetime. Trying to breed a French Bulldog female more than three times risks the life of the mother dog as well as the health and lives of her puppies.
See a Litter of Adorable French Bulldog Puppies
Just in case you haven't had your dose of cuteness overload today, watch this precious video of a new French Bulldog mama dog with her four perfect Frenchie puppies.
You will notice the family mentions their dog, Bella, who has just given birth and is coming home from the veterinarian. And you will see that Bella has a pink bandage around one paw.
Pregnant French Bulldogs typically cannot give birth naturally because the puppies have heads and shoulders that are too wide to pass through the birth canal. So typically French Bulldog puppies are delivered by C-section in a veterinarian's clinic.
This is very important to know when you are planning to breed your French Bulldog, as we will go into more detail about here shortly.
Why Is Breeding French Bulldogs So Difficult?
Just looking at a French Bulldog, it might not be immediately obvious how the same traits and characteristics that make this dog breed so popular are the same ones that can be such problems in breeding.
As we mentioned in the earlier section here, often the French Bulldog mama dog will struggle to deliver (whelp) her puppies naturally. Even though French Bulldog puppies are very small, the mama dog is quite small herself!
A fully-grown French Bulldog rarely weighs more than 28 pounds. These dogs are much broader in the head and chest area than in the hindquarters, which means the puppies often don't fit easily into the birth canal.
But there is an even bigger issue that must be tackled first: insemination.
French Bulldogs have shortened legs and curved backs with heavy heads and deep chests that make them top-heavy.
French Bulldog stud (male) dogs can have a very hard time mounting a female in heat to inseminate her naturally. Even if the stud dog is able to mount the female nature, as Breeding Business explains, the stud dog may still struggle to get her pregnant.
How Are French Bulldog Puppies Bred?
If there are so many challenges right from the start, you may wonder how French Bulldog puppies are ever born.
Step 1: artificial insemination
The process typically starts with artificial insemination. This is not unlike the process for people. The French Bulldog female is inseminated by a canine veterinarian and monitored carefully as her pregnancy progresses.
Here, unless you happen to own a breeding pair of French Bulldogs yourself, this also means you will need to seek out an appropriate stud dog (male dog) to contribute sperm for artificial insemination.
There can be some substantial costs involved even at this early stage, especially if the stud dog you choose is not local to your area.
Step 2: cesarean section whelping
According to the Journal of Small Animal Practice, up to 80 percent of all French Bulldog litters are whelped (born) through veterinarian-assisted cesarean section, or C-section.
While C-sections for dogs have their own risks, especially for dogs with the brachycephalic short muzzle shape like the French Bulldog, they are considered a less risky method of whelping than letting the French Bulldog deliver naturally.
As well, the Royal Veterinary College in the UK explains that French Bulldogs are nearly 16 percent more likely to suffer through difficult and dangerous births, including dystocia.
Dystocia is a condition where the pregnant female dog is literally unable to pass her puppies naturally through the birth canal and out.
Sadly, up to one-quarter of puppies will not survive a dystocic pregnancy. Veterinarians reported that 1.7 percent of mother dogs will not survive.
Step 3: human-aided puppy rearing
There is another much less well-known side effect to artificial whelping via cesarean section: a lack of oxytocin that bonds the mother dog to her puppies.
Giving birth naturally produces a flood of oxytocin, aka the "feel-good hormone" – the same hormone that bonds human mothers to their children before and during birth.
When a French Bulldog gives birth artificially, she is under sedation during the birthing process. So she does not experience the flood of oxytocin that will prompt her to bond with her puppies and care for them.
You saw some of this in the video you watched earlier here as the couple was introducing Bella, the new French Bulldog mama, to her puppies.
Bella sniffed one of the puppies but then seemed uninterested. You may have also noticed that the human breeders praised her for showing any interest in her puppies.
It is not uncommon for French Bulldog mother dogs to refuse to care for their puppies, either because they lack the oxytocin bonding or simply because they don't feel good after having a major operation like a C-section delivery.
This means that the human breeder has to care for the puppies around the clock. The care required includes bottle feeding puppy formula several times per day, stimulating the puppies to go to the bathroom, keeping the puppies warm, and cleaning the puppies.
If a female dog rejects her puppies, then the survival of those puppies is entirely in the hands of the human breeder. Sometimes these puppies will grow up to have additional socialization issues because the mother dog was not involved in their early rearing.
When Can a French Bulldog Be Bred?
As the French Bulldog Club of America points out, the earliest it is safe to breed a French Bulldog adult female dog is two years old.
This doesn't mean that your French Bulldog won't come into heat (be receptive to breeding) earlier than that age. But expert breeders believe it is much safer to wait until your dog is older and has gone through at least one heat cycle before breeding.
Breeding is physically demanding for any female dog of any breed. But it is even more demanding for short muzzle brachycephalic dog breeds like the French Bulldog.
As you now know, the French Bulldog female will likely have to go through artificial insemination just to get pregnant. She will need careful monitoring throughout her pregnancy. And she will likely need to deliver by cesarean section under sedation.
Ideally, she should also be strong and healthy enough to nurse her puppies for at least five weeks until they begin the natural weaning process and transition to puppy food.
You definitely don't want to breed your French Bulldog until she has completely finished growing and is in the prime of her life and health.
Can You Make Money By Breeding French Bulldogs?
With such high demand for French Bulldog puppies, it is only natural to wonder if there is money to be made by going into business breeding French Bulldogs.
However, if this is your primary reason for wanting to breed your Frenchie, you should be aware that breeding a brachycephalic dog breed like the French Bulldog can be incredibly expensive.
As the French Bulldog Club of America points out, breeding Frenchies can be so difficult that new breeders must be willing to try with zero guarantees that they will be successful.
From this statement, it is easy to infer that even if you make money selling the puppies, you are likely to break even at best in terms of what it cost you to breed those puppies.
To add even more challenges, French Bulldogs are not known for having large litters. A young French Bulldog may have a single puppy or just two or three puppies. More than that is very rare.
According to a recent Forbes magazine article, French Bulldog puppies can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 and up.
Not only does this explain why French Bulldog puppies can be so expensive to buy, but it also means that if you can't charge enough to recoup all of the breeding and surgical costs, you may actually end up paying to breed your Frenchie!
Then when you consider that your French Bulldog can safely have puppies only three times or less over her 10 to 12-year lifespan, it is easy to see how breeding French Bulldogs is not typically considered to be a profit-making endeavor.
Ultimately, unless you are simply doing it for the pure love of the breed, breeding French Bulldogs is not the best choice for a pure money-making enterprise.
Should You Breed Your French Bulldog?
It is not uncommon for a French Bulldog owner to want to breed their dog to have puppies that are just like their beloved Frenchie.
After all, most Frenchies will only live until age 10 or 12 and breeding can feel like a way to keep your beloved pup close to you for a lot longer than that.
Here, it is vital to remember that whenever you breed your French Bulldog, there is a risk to the mother dog as well as to the puppies.
First, there is a risk during the initial pre-screening and testing process when you have to make sure your French Bulldog female is healthy and has high-quality genes to pass along to her puppies.
Then there is a risk during the process of artificial insemination, whether you choose to try to do it yourself at home or take your dog to the veterinarian to have it done.
There is another risk during whelping, especially if your dog needs a C-section delivery with anesthesia and stitches like most French Bulldogs do.
There is yet another risk after whelping when your Frenchie mom dog may develop secondary infections or complications from the sedation (anesthesia) or the operation itself.
There is even another risk to the puppies if whelping happens too early or too late and the puppies do not survive the process of being born.
And there is a risk to the puppies of failing to thrive if your French Bulldog mother is not willing to take over their care and you have to do it yourself.
There is no time off when you have hungry puppies to feed and care for – not until they are weaned at around the age of five weeks can you expect to get any break. Many breeders actually take time off work just for this purpose.
If all of this doesn't sound like a fun and rewarding challenge to you, then you probably should reconsider whether to breed your French Bulldog.
So the short answer to the question of how many times can a French Bulldog has puppies is "three times – and only after she reaches age two."
But now you can see there is a much longer answer as well, and this answer speaks to both the significant risks and the potential rewards of getting involved in French Bulldog breeding.
You should only decide to breed your French Bulldog female if you have the interest, the time, the budget, and the patience to see your French Bulldog through the whole pregnancy and delivery process from beginning to end.
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.