Are Frenchies emotional? Are They Good Emotional Support Dogs?

Frenchies truly are special dogs, there is no denying that, and it looks like we are finally giving them the appreciation they need with their recent surge in popularity in the United States.

And French Bulldog owners would often swear by their dog’s emotional intelligence, claiming that Frenchies are truly emotional dogs that can not only feel emotions similar to us but are also very smart in detecting our emotions and responding to them.

So, are Frenchies Emotional? Frenchies are very emotional dogs, as French Bulldogs are one of the most sensitive dog breeds. Frenchies experience several types of emotions including happiness and sadness, and they can read our body language and facial expressions to understand our own emotions.

So, yes, Frenchies’ owners really do know what they are talking about, and Frenchies are quite emotional dogs. To understand what kinds of emotions your dog feels, how are their emotions different than ours, and what it means for you to live with such emotional and emotionally intelligent dogs, keep reading…

What Emotions does your French Bulldog Feel?

sad frenchie to explain why are frenchies emotional

Emotions in dogs are still a controversial topic, believe it or not, because dog owners and scientists do not completely agree, and there is no end in sight to this controversy.

As a dog owner myself, I 100% believe that my dog can express a wide range of emotions because I can see it in their eyes, movements, and behaviors, but scientists are having a difficult time proving this.

According to scientists, dogs go through their development stages much more quickly than we do, and so by the age of four-to-six months old, your dog will have all the emotional range they will ever achieve.

However, Scientists also believe that dogs can only experience a range of emotions that is similar to that of a human that is two to two-and-a-half years of age.

What this means is that your Frenchie can only experience the emotions of joy, fear, anger, disgust, love, and joy, but can’t experience the more complex emotions like guilt, pride, or contempt.

Here is the complete list of emotions your French Bulldog can feel:

  • Affection & Love
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Distress
  • Contenment
  • Joy
  • Suspicion & Shyness
  • Excitement & Arousal

Here are the feelings your French Bulldog Can NOT feel:

  • Shame
  • Pride
  • Guilt
  • Contempt

and any other complex emotions you may think of, which are usually a combination of one or two of the basic emotions listed above.

Here is a handy chart that shows the emotions humans develop since birth and when does your dog’s emotional development stop:

But guilt, what about guilt?!

Can French Bulldogs feel guilt or shame?

No, French Bulldogs can’t feel guilt or shame. Dogs, in general, can not feel these complicated emotions, and what we interpret as guilt or shame in your dog’s actions or look is their way of behaving when we’re angry at them to try to get out of trouble, which is reinforced when we forgive them.

I know that guilt is the most controversial of all of these emotions because we have all seen how our dogs react and look after they’ve done something bad, and it definitely looks like they know what they’ve done and are feeling guilt or shame.

I mean, just check out this video:

How is this not guilt, you may be asking?

Well, there is a simple answer to that, although not everyone is bought on it. The theory or the explanation is that dogs can develop this look and reaction to get out of trouble, and if it works once, they will just keep doing it again and again.

This makes a lot of sense because that’s how positive reinforcement basically works; they do something, they’re rewarded for it, it clicks for them and then they keep repeating it.

In this case, the dog can feel the anger in our voices or read our body language, and they may try different ways of reacting.

If even once, they try the puppy look and this calm demeanor and it works, it will click for them and they will keep doing it as it clearly works in changing your tone and helps them get out of trouble.

How to Read Your French Bulldog’s Emotions

You can easily read your French Bulldog’s emotions through their body language. Their tail movements, posture, facial expressions, eyes, and heckles can easily tell you how your dog is feeling.

The most important thing to know is that none of these work alone, and you will need to pay attention to all of them at the same time to understand what your dog is feeling or trying to tell you.

For example, tail wagging is excitement, but excitement doesn’t always mean happiness. It could also be frustration or aggression. You can tell how aroused or excited your dog is by the speed of his wagging, the faster the tail moves the more aroused the dog is.

Not only speed and direction are important, but also their position relative to the ground is important. The higher it is, the more serious it is, and it often means the dog is experiencing negative emotions, such as fear or aggression.

A happy wag will either be the helicopter tail that goes in circles that dogs do to greet us or it will be the more low-energy, lower to the ground relaxed wagging, the kind of tail wagging that happens when your dog is greeting you or playing with you.

However, a faster-wagging tail that’s high above the ground and in a single direction is definitely a sign of an aggressive or fearful dog.

This was just an example, but there is quite a lot to learn about your dog’s body language that I just can’t explain in one article, so please do find the AKC guide to body language at the end of the article to learn more.

I also discuss specific cases in other posts, such as how your Frenchie feels when you kiss them here, so do check this out to learn more.

How does your Frenchie Read Your Emotions?

Your Frenchie is incredibly smart in detecting your emotions, way smarter than you could imagine. Here are some of the ways your dog can know what you’re feeling.

  • Body Language: Dogs have developed an impressive ability to read our body language and facial expressions.
  • Your Tone of Voice: Dogs can hear our emotions in our voices. They are the only animals that can detect human emotions such as happiness, fear, and sadness just by listening to us – without ever training, seeing us, or understanding a word.
  • They can smell our emotions: Our bodies release unique chemicals in different emotional states, and dogs can smell these chemicals and detect our emotional state or changes in emotions through them. Pretty amazing, actually.
  • Through Eye Contact: No two other species in the world can have the meaningful eye contact we do with our dogs. Dogs can not only maintain eye contact with us, but they can use that eye contact to feel our emotions. It’s also worth noting that this eye contact was found to release Oxytocin and other love hormones in the dogs’ brains.

Can Frenchies Be Emotional Support Dogs?

French Bulldogs can be emotional support dogs if trained at a young age. Frenchies can be excellent emotional support or therapy dogs due to their empathetic nature and emotional intelligence. French Bulldog’s personality is also well suited to be emotional support dogs.

The simple reason as to why there are not many French Bulldogs that are emotional support dogs is that it’s easier and more affordable to train dogs of other breeds to be service dogs.

Labradors and Golden Retrievers, for example, are more commonly used as service dogs because they are much easier to train than French Bulldogs which have more independent personalities. This independent personality can, sometimes, make French Bulldogs stubborn and more difficult to train than these breeds.

Related Questions

Do French Bulldogs get their feelings hurt?

French Bulldogs get their feelings hurt when you punish them, yell at them, or ignore them. French Bulldogs are actually very sensitive dogs that are also super attached to their owners, which means they respond strongly to their humans’ interactions with them.

They may also get their feelings hurt when you ignore them in favor of another dog because Frenchies tend to be jealous dogs as explained here.

Do French Bulldogs Cry?

French Bulldogs cry to get their owner’s attention because they want food, to go to the toilet, or because they just want their attention. French Bulldog puppies cry much more than adults, and Frenchies can cry because of separation anxiety as well.

Do Frenchies get depressed?

French Bulldogs can get depressed when a significant negative change happens to them such as when they lose a companion, get separated from their family or from a particular family member, had recently changed their environment and are not coping well, or because they are suffering from separation anxiety. Thankfully, Frenchies don’t stay depressed for long.

Depression in dogs happens, and although it’s quite serious, it’s not the same as what happens with humans, and so the same solutions do not always work.

Helpful Resources

Depression in Dogs

Which emotions do dogs experience

How to Read your dog’s body language

The French Bulldog Handbook by Linda Whitwam (A very good book which you can also get on Amazon here)

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