A growing number of French Bulldog fans are interested in an even tinier Frenchie – the Mini French Bulldog.
But is it a good idea to get a miniature French Bulldog as your next pet?
You may have heard that normal-sized French Bulldogs have some health issues, including breathing problems related to their flat faces.
What about mini French Bulldogs?
There is no official mini (or micro, or teacup) French Bulldog, but there are some ways standard Frenchies get bred down to a smaller size.
Sadly, the miniaturization trend in dog breeding does come with certain health risks.
We’ll tell you what you need to know so you can decide if a mini French Bulldog is the right pet for you.
Let’s start with some basic facts about the standard French Bulldog.
The French Bulldog Breed
The French Bulldog (often called the Frenchie) is one of the most popular small dog breeds.
According to the American Kennel Club, the breed ranks sixth in popularity among all dog breeds in the United States.
In the UK, it has overtaken the Labrador Retriever as the nation’s most popular dog.
Check out these other mini breeds
The French Bulldog is not a member of the toy dog group. It’s one of the smallest members of the non-sporting dog group.
The modern Frenchie is descended from small English Bulldogs originally brought to France in the 1800s. Experts believe that Pug and Terrier stock also went into the Frenchie.
A standard-sized French Bulldog is between 11 and 13 inches tall at the shoulder and should weigh under 28 pounds.
As we mentioned, there is no toy version of the French Bulldog, so there is no official mini French Bulldog breed.
So, what exactly is a mini French Bulldog? How do breeders create a miniature version of the Frenchie?
Miniature French Bulldog Information
There are three ways to make a mini French Bulldog.
- Crossbreed a standard French Bulldog with a different, smaller breed dog.
- Cultivate the genetic mutation for canine dwarfism in a line of French Bulldogs.
- Breed runts of litters to each other to pass small size down to future generations.
All these methods come with their own health concerns.
It’s important to note that many responsible breeders will not breed or sell unusually small French Bulldogs for health reasons.
Many veterinarians and dog breed experts also warn potential buyers about the health problems of normal-sized Frenchies.
If your heart is set on a mini French Bulldog, it’s important to understand the health risks of both the breed in general and of miniaturization.
Let’s look at the full-sized French Bulldog first.
French Bulldog Health Issues
You may have heard of some recent health studies of the French Bulldog that have identified several inherited health issues common to the breed.
One large scale survey of French Bulldog health in the U.K. found that nearly three quarters of all Frenchies under a veterinarian’s care have at least one identified health disorder.
What are the most important health issues a potential French Bulldog or mini French Bulldog owner should know about?
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
The shortened muzzle of the French Bulldog can cause a set of chronic health problems known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome.
Dogs with BOAS can suffer from breathing difficulties, gagging/vomiting, exercise induced collapse and a chronic lack of oxygen in the blood.
Flattened muzzles can also lead to skin problems if the facial skinfolds are not properly cared for, as well as eye problems because they can protrude and become vulnerable to injury.
The French Bulldog’s screw tail is associated with a serious spinal deformity known as hemivertebrae.
In hemivertebrae, the bones of the spine are malformed, leading to painful and debilitating compression of the spinal cord.
In serious cases of hemivertebrae, a dog may become incontinent or paralyzed. Surgical treatment for this condition is possible but expensive. In severe cases, euthanasia may be necessary.
A mini French Bulldog can suffer from any of the inherited health problems common to full-size French Bulldogs, plus additional ones related to their unusually small size.
Mini French Bulldog Health Concerns
As we mentioned, there are multiple ways to create a mini French Bulldog.
Runt to runt breeding and breeding for the dwarfism mutation can lead to health issues in miniature French Bulldog puppies.
Crossing a French Bulldog with another small breed can be a healthier option, especially if the other breed has less extreme physical features, like a longer muzzle and tail.
Before we look at mini French Bulldog mixes, here’s a quick overview of runts and dwarfism.
Breeding from runts
What is a runt and why is the use of runts to create mini French Bulldog puppies a questionable breeding practice?
Runts are the smallest animals in a litter. Besides small size, poor heath can be an issue with runts.
A runt’s larger and stronger littermates can prevent it from getting enough access to the mother’s milk, leading to malnutrition and a poorly developed immune system.
Repeatedly breeding the smallest and weakest animals in litters can lead to poor health in the offspring.
Alternatively, an unscrupulous breeder with a litter of “normal” Frenchies might try to monetize a runt which is failing to thrive by describing them as miniature and trying to make them sound special.
The canine dwarfism genetic mutation can also lead to health problems in the mini French Bulldog.
Dwarfism is a skeletal disorder that causes malformed bones and often leads to chronic pain in dogs.
Besides shortened and bowed legs, dogs with dwarfism can also suffer from problems related to their shortened spinal vertebrae, abnormal skull and facial bone structure.
Since normal-sized French Bulldogs already suffer from brachycephaly and hemivertebrae, breeding for extremely small size can worsen these conditions.
This can also create other health problems.
Crossing a standard French Bulldog with another small breed dog can be a healthier way to breed a mini French Bulldog, if it’s done carefully.
Mini French Bulldog Mixes
A French Bulldog mix can be a good alternative to a mini French Bulldog, if you choose a responsible breeder who tests all their breeding stock for inherited health conditions.
What are some small dog breeds that are commonly crossed with the French Bulldog?
#1 Miniature or Toy Poodle
The French Boodle is a French Bulldog crossed with a Poodle.
The Poodle’s longer nose and tail can reduce the severity of brachycephaly and hemivertebrae in a Boodle puppy, although there are no guarantees with mixed breed dogs.
Because Poodles can suffer from a whole different set of genetic health problems, it’s important that your breeder uses only healthy Poodle breeding stock.
The Frengle is a French Bulldog mixed with a Beagle.
As with the Poodle, this breed mix can be a good option because of the Beagle’s healthier body shape.
While not a micro mini French Bulldog, the Frengle is still a small dog, usually weighing less than 30 pounds and standing no more than 15 inches tall at the shoulder.
#3 Yorkshire Terrier
The French Bulldog is also sometimes crossed with the Yorkshire Terrier, one of the smallest toy breeds.
This crossbreed can be a good choice if you are interested in a smaller-sized mini French Bulldog mix.
Remember that when looking at all Frenchie crosses it’s important to choose a responsible breeder who health tests both parent breeds and shares all test results with you.
Besides mixed breed dogs, are there any purebred dogs that are like a mini French Bulldog but have less health problems?
Mini French Bulldog Alternatives
There are several small- to medium-sized dog breeds that can appeal to fans of the Frenchie’s cute looks.
They also have fewer health issues.
What are some possible alternatives? Let’s find out.
The Cairn Terrier is a small dog that’s often cited as a healthier alternative to a brachycephalic breed like the French Bulldog.
The Cairn weighs between 13 and 14 pounds and stands 9.5 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder.
It is a generally healthy breed with a perky and outgoing personality.
Another small and friendly dog that’s just as cute as a Frenchie is the Bichon Frise.
A full-grown Bichon weighs 18 pounds or less and stands under 12 inches tall at the shoulder.
The Bichon is a healthy breed with a physical structure that does not lead to brachycephaly or hemivertebrae.
One other alternative to the mini French Bulldog is the cute little Havanese, a toy breed with a cheerful personality.
The Havanese weighs between 7 and 13 pounds and stands between 8.5 and 11.5 inches tall.
Although considered a generally healthy breed, it can suffer from some joint and eye problems, so choose a responsible breeder who health tests their dogs.
Is the Mini French Bulldog a Good Pet?
The French Bulldog is a popular breed that unfortunately can suffer from serious chronic health problems.
While miniature dogs are appealing, a mini French Bulldog can suffer from not only the health problems of the standard-sized Frenchie but also problems associated with miniaturization.
Anyone with their heart set on a Frenchie or mini Frenchie should be aware of these health problems and the potential costs of lifelong veterinary care.
For a healthier alternative to the mini French Bulldog, consider a French Bulldog mix or another breed similar in size and temperament to the Frenchie—with fewer inherited health problems.
References and Further Reading
“Brachycephalic Syndrome,” American College of Veterinary Surgeons
“French Bulldog Hemivertebrae,” Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, 2011
“French Bulldog,” American Kennel Club
Kyostila, K., et al., “Canine Chondrodysplasia Caused by a Truncating Mutation in Collagen-Binding Integrin Alpha Subunit 10,” PLoS One, 2013
O’Neill, D.G., et al., “Demography and Disorders of the French Bulldog Population Under Primary Veterinary Care in the UK in 2013,” Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, 2018