So when I got Whisky (our now 8 month old French Bulldog) I thought that unlike his Big Bro, Cebar (English Cocker X) I would not have to worry about getting him groomed!
But as it turns out, even thought he has a short, fine coat, he needs just as much love, care and attention as his, bother, even if it’s not in exactly the same way in terms of a “hair cut”.
Washing and Cleaning:
Frenchies are a breed prone to skin issues such as sensitive skin, allergies, eczema and dryness. This can be due to the surrounding environmental factors or sometimes even food intolerance or allergies. Many Frenchies suffer with rashes, yeast or fungal infections and the irritation and scratching can cause wounds and infection.
For this reason I err on the side of caution and use an oatmeal based hypoallergenic shampoo for Whisky that was recommended by my vet, Claire and although it’s not a prescription shampoo, it works a treat in preventing any issues - at least it has so far for the past 6 months - fingers crossed it continues.
There are also conditioners and rinses that soothe and moisturise the skin, and stop the coat from drying out, but at this point I haven’t had to use any on Whisky so can’t personally comment on these. We are just about to start Showing him, so who knows this may change as we work out his “show grooming” routine.
Short-haired dogs don’t require as much bathing as long heard dogs. Somethings I read recommend bathing every week, some things say once a month some even say only two or three times a year! Basically I work on the “Ponky” Scale for both my dogs - sometimes they get bathed together sometimes it might be one or the other only. Obviously if they get dirty or muddy or there have been bushfires and the smoke has settled in their coats, then it’s “Bath Time”. But otherwise we check if there is a “Doggie” smell happening… on average its about every two - 3 weeks.
Although I could easily bath Whisky in my laundry tub, being a small sturdy dog, this is not possible with Cebar, who has Thyroid and weight problems, so I opt for taking them into my shower which has a hand held shower head and that way we can all be together, no one feels they are missing out, the water is nice and warm, and being inside no cold wind on them when they get out.
I usually adjust the water temperature before I get them into the shower, and make sure I soak the coat and apply the shampoo into all the extra important places, like the feet, undercarriage and bottom! I take care not to get water inside their ears - especially my Cocker, Cebar, as they are prone to ear problems due to the long ear canals and he does suffer with this so I don’t want to make the problem worse. Both my dogs enjoy the massage they get during their wash as it’s important that the products reach the skin to be effective. I usually try to leave the product on the skin for a few minutes before rinsing off really well - I feel that this is the most important thing as you don’t want to leave any residue behind to become the source of a skin problem or irritation.
I then hand squeegee the excess water out of their coat and towel dry them. I don’t use a blower on them, but many of the Frenchie owners I have seen at Shows do.
Even though the Frenchie has short hair, they still need to be brushed if you don’t want matts. Brushing all helps remove dead skin cells and gets rid of loose hair and dirt. The brushing stimulates the circulation keeping the skin healthy, spreading natural oils through your dogs coat and is an enjoyable sensory experience for them.
Whisky recently shed his puppy coat (the whole house is still covered in “Bulldog Glitter”) and that is really when I decided to invest in some grooming things for him. I bought the EzyShedder (2.5inch) and used the silicone grooming glove I already had for Cebar. Since his coat is short, brushing is very quick and easy and I am now doing it once or twice a week. This has drastically reduced the levels of “Bulldog Glitter” over everything.
Special Attention Areas:
Frenchie health concerns can be addressed or prevented with a well considered grooming regime.
Ears: Frenchies have the gorgeous upright, bat shapes, open ears, but they can still get yeast and bacterial ear infections inside their ears like other dogs. Check for any discharge or smell and use an ear cleaning solution if required. I currently maintain Whisky’s ears with Coconut Oil.
Eyes: Tear staining is due to yeast, so watch for signs of any discharge or redness, and since Frenchies are prone to Cherry Eye watch for symptoms of this. If you Frenchie is like Whisky and just can’t stay out of the sand or dirt at the dog park, you might need to also irrigate the eyes with normal saline when you get home to flush out every last grain of sand or dirt. This is essential to ensure they are protected against irritation, scratching the cornea or other eye injuries. He hates this, but that’s the price he pays for playing so hard in the dirt!
Wrinkles and facial folds: The adorable Frenchie wrinkles (folds) are prone to bacterial and yeast infections so they need to be regularly cleaned, a few time a week. Don’t be afraid to get in there and gently move the folds around to get into all the nooks and crannies. I use a non-scented baby wipe, followed by Coconut Oil. Always look for any redness, discharge or weeping or for signs of yeast infection (orange or brown staining, although sometimes it can be white).
Anal glands: Some Frenchies, as well as other dogs (Cebar is one of them!) have a problem emptying the scent organs located just inside the anus, and these can become blocked, infected and painful. If your dog is “scooting” their butt across your floor, carpet or grass it’s generally a sign they have blocked anal glands. Some people express them themselves, I prefer to take Cebar to my Vet as he doesn’t not like it and I don’t want him to hate me! So far so good with Whisky he has not had this problem.
Nails and Dew Claws: I use a clipper to just take any rounding off at the tip but for show, Whisky’s nails will need to be much shorter, so I have just purchased a nail grinder which may be less traumatic for him than the clippers (which he hates) but I am waiting of them to arrive. I initially tried to clip Whisky’s nails on my own - totally chaos! I only got one foot done and he sent me to Coventry for the rest of the day. So I now enlist the help of this Dad to hold him. The cheek of me, how dare I cut his nails!
Breathing: Being brachiocephalic, Frenchies need to have short grooming sessions that are as fun and stress free as you can make them to avoid any anxiety or breathing challenges. When washing Whisky’s face I never directly put the water on him, I use a washcloth or my hand to deflect the water so it doesn’t go up his nose or get into his airway.
Teeth: If I used to give Cebar (my Cocker) Dental Sticks as he hated having his teeth brushed, even with meat flavoured toothpaste! But due to his Thyroid and weight issues. Consequently, we have not given any to Whisky and I am yet to attempt to brush his teeth - but it’s coming real soon!
Cutesie-Tottsie Bottoms and Private Parts. I use non-scented sanitising wipes to keep Whisky’s bottom and private parts clean and avoid any chance of infections.
Moisturising Dry Areas. I personally use Coconut Oil to moisturise Whisky’s dry areas such as his little nose, ears, wrinkles and paw pads.
So whilst Frenchies are a low maintenance dog to groom, their sensitive skin, protruding eyes and adorable wrinkles do need some special attention to keep them happy, healthy and problem free.