Grooming a French Bulldog for the Show Ring

French Bulldogs are a smooth coated breed that require very little grooming and are very easy to maintain. Learn how to take care of your Frenchie's coat here.

French Bulldogs are a type of relatively small companion dogs, bred down in size from full-sized English bulldogs as far back as the 19th century. These dogs have a smooth coat that requires minimal grooming for the show ring. Still, if you don’t pay attention to detail, the judge is sure to notice. If you plan on showing your Frenchie, make regular grooming a part of your routine. Some aspects of grooming, particularly the face folds, toenails and eye area, need ongoing care if your dog is to be ready to go when show day rolls around.


A bath is the first order of business when you are preparing your French Bulldog for the show ring. Use a good dog shampoo, and lather your dog well, removing all traces of dirt. A mild shampoo will leave the natural oils in your dog’s coat, ensuring your Frenchie will shine in the show ring. Lift and separate the folds on your dog’s face, rubbing each one with a finger to make sure the area is clean. Rinse the dog well, since any soap left behind will make dry, flaky areas and cause your dog to itch. Dry your Frenchie completely after the bath.

Face Folds

The folds in the face of French Bulldogs can be a problem area, especially in humid climates. Clean and dry each fold, and check for signs of irritation. While most of the time you can use talcum powder on your dog’s face to keep the folds dry, don’t apply anything to the folds when you are preparing for a show.

Eyes and Ears

Some dogs have tearstains under their eyes, a problem that is particularly noticeable on light-colored Frenchies. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to remove these stains if you wait until the day of the show. Instead, apply a good commercial tearstain remover regularly to prevent the stains from getting too dark.

Wipe the inside of the dog’s ears with a damp cotton ball or washcloth, and clean the outer canals with a cotton swab. Do not poke the swab down into the ears.


Toenails should be kept short to give the foot a compact, rounded look and making it easier and more comfortable for your dog to walk. Dogs’ nails have a sensitive area inside of them, called the quick, that can cause pain and bleeding if they are cut too short, so have them trimmed by a veterinarian or a groomer. Take your dog in for a trimming at least once a month, to prevent the toenails from getting too long.


Brush the coat of a French Bulldog with a soft brush to remove any loose hair. Pay attention to the dog’s legs, sides and belly so that there are no pockets of loose hair for the judge to find. Finish by wiping the dog down with a clean, dry cloth. You can lightly spray your dog with a coat conditioner to add some shine if you wish, but don’t use anything that may feel greasy or oily to the judge.

How to Get My French Bulldog to Stop Growling

French bulldogs are known for their small size, sweet dispositions and clownish personalities, but some can exhibit aggressive behaviors such as growling if they are not properly socialized at an early age. Growling or baring of teeth is likely to be a precursor to nipping and even biting. Small companion dogs often develop such behavior when they are fearful or when they are pampered and allowed to develop the notion that the humans in the household are not in charge. When your French bulldog becomes fearful, possessive, jealous or bossy, some behavior modification is needed.

Medical Causes

If the growling behavior is new, take your French bulldog to a veterinarian for a complete physical checkup before you try to modify the behavior. French bulldogs can suffer from a variety of health issues, typically musculoskeletal conditions, which can cause pain. Ask your vet to check for problems such as hip dysplasia, intervertebral disk disease, hemivertebra and patellar luxation. French bulldogs can also suffer from breathing difficulties because of their shortened faces. If pain is the cause of the growling, proper treatment and management of the pain should help resolve the problem.

Possessive Behavior

Determine what is triggering your French bulldog's growling. Small dogs such as the French bulldog may growl when they are at their food bowls, a type of guarding behavior. To deal with this type of behavior, don't free-feed your French bulldog. Instead, divide your dog's ration into several meals per day and remove the bowl after your pet has finished eating. Give your pet a peaceful, secure place to eat. Do not allow anyone, especially children, to disturb your French bulldog or enter the feeding area during meals. However, you also may consider establishing that any food is yours, you are in control, and you are sharing the food with your pet. You may accomplish this by keeping the bowl in your possession and hand-feeding your French bulldog from it. A series of training steps developed from this start may end the possessive behavior toward you, but may not change the behavior toward others. Many French bulldogs tend to be one-person dogs.

Fear Behavior

Your French bulldog may growl from fear of certain situations or people. Proper socialization with attention to creating positive associations may help your French bulldog gain confidence in such situations. With your French bulldog on a leash, bring the dog in view of the situation or person that triggers the behavior, but far enough away that the dog doesn't become frightened. Be calm, and give your French bulldog treats, then end the session after 10 minutes. Continue this type of training daily until your dog ceases to react to the situation or person with fear or growling.


Growling is a warning, and it may escalate into more serious behavior if left untreated. While French bulldogs are small and may not inflict much damage to adults, a small child who fails to heed a warning could be injured. Yelling or punishing your little dog for growling can escalate the behavior. Don't try to simply stop the growling with leash corrections or other negative training methods. This can result in a dog who bites with no warning, because the dog has learned not to growl but still fears the punishment. Consider consulting an animal behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist if the growling escalates to more dangerous behavior.

More on Grooming Your Frenchie

A Dog Brush Buying Guide
Small Dog Grooming
The Top 15 Cat And Dog Ear Care Products

Join our mailing list
Join our mailing list