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French Bulldogs are friendly, laid-back dogs that make for perfect family dogs. However, they are still dogs, and all dogs can be aggressive if their buttons are pushed.
This means that even French Bulldogs can turn and show another face, but it’s always surprising for their owners when they do that. And they are left asking a very simple question:
Why is my French Bulldog Suddenly Aggressive? Your French Bulldog could suddenly become aggressive due to fear, pain, frustration, anxiety, stress, sickness, injuries, or if they are defending their homes, possessions, family, or territory. Frenchies may also become aggressive to try to get a sexual mate’s attention.
So, as you can see, French Bulldogs can suddenly turn aggressive for any reason, but it’s very important for you to understand each of these causes to be able to identify and isolate the real cause behind your Frenchie’s aggression so you can handle it right.
Keep reading to learn about all of these causes and how you can handle your Frenchie’s aggression correctly.
13 Causes for French Bulldogs Sudden Aggression
The first step in stopping your Frenchie’s aggression is to understand the cause of your Frenchie’s aggression.
This means that we need to dig deep into the causes that may be triggering your Frenchie to turn from the friendly, lovely dog that he normally is to a more intense, growling, and snapping dog.
Here is a breakdown of the common causes of Aggression in French Bulldogs:
If your dog is not feeling well, they may behave erratically and this includes becoming aggressive. They may become aggressive as a way to protect themselves from more pain or because they don’t understand what is going on with them.
In this case, you should be able to notice other signs of sickness such as becoming lethargic, losing appetite, having a disrupted sleeping pattern, and maybe even vomiting and/or diarrhea. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time for a vet visit.
For illness-related aggression, your French Bulldog will stop becoming aggressive as soon as they start feeling better.
By the way, two very common signs of illness and allergies are hives and rashes. You can learn about French Bulldogs’ hives here and about rashes on bulldogs here as well, and I recommend you do as you will learn what you need to do in either case and how to identify which one is it as most people confuse the two and think they are same while they are not.
If your dog has been injured they may also become aggressive as they lick their wounds and wait for themselves to recover. You may or may not be able to notice the injuries. Some bruises or wounds can be visible, while others may not be.
Your dog may also actively try to hide their injuries, but you should still be able to tell that something is wrong from the changes in their behavior. If you notice your dog’s injuries, you should help them, but how you help them will depend on the injury itself and how well trained your Frenchie is.
If your Frenchie allows you to touch the injured spot, you will be able to disinfect the area and batch them up, but some dogs will not and may even bite you if you come too close. In this case, you should take them to the vet and let the professionals handle it.
Any kind of physical or emotional pain can trigger aggression in dogs. This could mean pain due to injuries or sickness or it could be pain caused by physical or psychological trauma. Maybe certain smells, sounds, or sights bring back bad memories from previous owners, or maybe they got their tail stuck somewhere and now it hurts or they got their paw twister while running.
Whatever the cause, if you notice other signs of pain, like low-pitched noises (similar to moaning in humans), your Frenchie may be in pain and it could be the cause behind their sudden aggression.
Stress can make your French Bulldog irritated and aggressive, and dogs can be stressed by all sorts of things.
Here are some of the common causes of stress in dogs:
- Recent changes (moved homes, changed partners, or even seasonal changes)
- Bad diet and poor nutrition
- Separation anxiety (spending a lot of time alone)
- lack of social interactions and new places and faces
- Being around a stressed or anxious family members
French Bulldogs are emotional and empathetic and they will pick up on your stress and become stressed themselves.
Some signs of stress include:
- Whining or barking more than usual
- Body language (tucked ears, raised hackles, lip licking, yawning, panting, whale eyes or avoiding eye contact altogether)
Just like humans can be anxious, dogs can be anxious as well. Dogs can be anxious for a lot of reasons, and some of the common triggers for anxiety in dogs include:
- Age-related anxiety or Canine Cognitive dysfunction (CCD)
- Fear of being alone
- Being around strange people, children, or pets
- Being abused or neglected
- Reminders of previous abusive experiences and traumas
The signs of anxiety are similar to the signs of stress, but they can be stronger and more noticeable. Anxiety is a higher emotional state than stress in dogs, and so its signs can be stronger. Most anxious dogs will demonstrate destructive behaviors such as aggressive chewing, loud barking, snapping, and even biting.
If the dog fears for himself, his home, his possessions, or his loved ones, he is very likely to become aggressive. Dogs can also become fearful of new things or things they don’t understand.
You already know that dogs can be terrified of loud thunder and bright lights, but dogs can also become afraid by any strange lights, noises, or smells they don’t recognize, especially if the dog is mature enough that they feel they have gotten to know the world around them, and so they will fear new things that they don’t understand.
Dogs may also become fearful of harmless things that they have had bad experiences with beforehand. A common example of this is grooming tools. If your dog has been hurt before by shears or a clipper, they will remember that the next time they see one, and they may become fearful and aggressive to avoid the same painful experience again.
French Bulldogs are not very territorial when compared to dogs of other breeds like German Shepherds or pit bulls, but they still have territorial instincts, and while their territorial instincts are not strong enough to make them good guard dogs, they are still strong enough to trigger their territorial aggression.
French Bulldogs can become aggressive with strangers approaching their home in general but they are known to be very territorial of their feeding spots. It’s not a good idea to let other pets share a feeding spot with Frenchies.
You can learn more about your Frenchie’s territorial aggression in my post on are Frenchies dangerous here.
Animals in the wild bury the remaining of their prey to eat later when they are hungry again, dogs do a similar thing by burying their bones and toys, so it’s no wonder your Frenchie will become aggressive to protect “his stuff”.
Your Frenchie may become aggressive over his food, toys, or even bed. Even more, your French Bulldog may become possessive of you and other family members and will become aggressive to protect “his people” from other dogs or pets that may want to share you with them.
Possessive aggression is a bad thing in dogs but is often, unfortunately, encouraged as some people think it’s cute that their Frenchie is “jealous”, but it is not cute, because it changes the dynamic of your relationship in the dog’s mind and this can make everything harder later on.
French Bulldogs can become aggressive to protect themselves, their people, their friends, their house, their territory, or even their peace. They will also become overly protective of young kids and may become aggressive with strangers approaching your kids as they try to keep them safe.
Frenchies can also become aggressively protective of certain body parts that may be injured or painful to the touch. This is common in older dogs that will feel pain if you try to carry them or lift them up as they start to suffer from hip and joint problems.
Overall, French Bulldogs do not tend to be as protectively aggressive as other dog breeds. However, there is a lot more to protective aggression, and so make sure to take a minute to read my post that answers are Frenchies protective to learn what they will do in different situations where you’re in danger. Very useful read.
Your French Bulldog may be aggressive with other males in order to show their dominance and get the attention of sexual partners.
This is very common in intact dogs and usually, the dogs will get friendlier, calmer, and much less aggressive once they are neutered.
French Bulldogs become fertile around the age of six months and reach full sexual maturity when they are 12 to 15 months old. At this age, your French may start looking for sexual partners so they may start acting differently such as becoming more dominant and aggressive and they may even try to run away to find their sexual partners.
French Bulldogs still have the “ratter” genes in them, and while they will not sprint to chase any small animals they see moving, especially if they are well trained, they still have predatory instincts that can make them aggressive towards smaller animals.
Another form of predatory aggression that is not as obvious can be seen with your dog’s interaction with their toys. Some dogs will shake their toys aggressively, other dogs will pounce on their toys as foxes do.
If you notice these behaviors, it may be signs of predatory aggression, and it means that you will need to spend some time training your dog before you welcome another pet in the house as your dog may be aggressive with them, especially if that pet is a smaller one like a cat, hamster, or guinea pigs.
Lack of Training
Your French Bulldog can also be aggressive because they have not been properly trained on controlling themselves and their behavior.
Each of these types of aggression we’ve discussed so far has a different way of being handled and trained out of the dog, and if you or the dog trainer hadn’t properly gone through training the dog to control the aggression, it may show sooner or later.
You have encouraged the behavior
Most people react instinctively to their dog’s behavior, and this is not always the best case. You may laugh at your dog being jealous, but you can be promoting their possessive aggression.
You may find it cute when the Frenchie puppy nibble on your finger, but you will not laugh when they bite you or someone else when they grow up because they have not been told that it was not acceptable, but the opposite happened, you encouraged the bad behavior by laughing on it and being happy, which is something your dog always picks up on and is how their behavior is formed.
Aggression Signs in French Bulldogs
Dogs almost never bite without warning signs, some dogs will give more warning signs than others, but almost all dogs will warn you to stay away before they attack, and it’s when we fail to recognize and understand these signs that dog bites happen, which never end well for anybody.
Here are the important aggression signs everyone needs to understand:
- Becoming very still and rigid
- Barking, especially barking that comes from the gut and sounds threatening
- Direct eye contact
- Raised hackles
- Pricked ears or ears pinned back
- Showing teeth
- Biting of different intensities
If you notice your dog displaying those signs, it’s their way of telling you that whatever is happening is not okay and that you should stay away. You should also teach these signs to your whole family and help them recognize them quickly to avoid accidents that the whole family may regret later.
Stubbornness VS Aggression
Stubbornness or aggression may look similar to new dog owners, but they are not the same. Your dog refusing to walk on the leash and staying put is not the same as their freezing posture when they are getting aggressive, and it’s very important to know the difference.
The solution to stubbornness is to make it clear to your dog that you are the one in charge, not them. This is done when they are younger as they start to become stubborn, and it’s often easy to do when they are puppies but it gets more difficult with age.
You can learn more about how to train your stubborn french Bulldog here.
How to Stop Your French Bulldog’s Aggression? (Training an Aggressive Frenchie)
Training an aggressive dog, no matter the breed is not an easy task, but you can still do it. However, you should know that it is going to take time and effort, so you will need to be patient, consistent, and dedicated.
Now, here is how you can train your French Bulldog to stop their aggressive behavior:
Seek a Professional Behaviorist or a Dog Trainer
The most surefire way to stop your dog’s aggression is to actually let the professionals handle it. Yes, you may be able to handle it yourself, but if you don’t have enough experience and knowledge, you may unintentionally make it worse instead.
A professional dog trainer or a behaviorist, preferably with a good history in dealing with aggressive dogs, can quickly pinpoint the root cause of the aggressive behavior and start working with the dog on fixing the issue quickly and efficiently, you may not be able to do the same.
Professionals can also identify issues that you just will not be able to identify, especially certain brain problems and health issues that may be the root cause of the problem.
Have a vet check them
This is an important step whether or not you are hiring a professional. You need to have your dog checked to make sure they are not in pain or are injured. Some dogs will not show pain right away, and others will not be able to express it in a way that we pick up on quickly.
Some injuries may also be hidden from your eyes, but your vet will be able to tell quickly if your dog is having a certain problem. Regular check-ups can make this much easier as your vet will already have your dog’s history and will be familiar enough with them that they can pinpoint the problem quickly and efficiently.
Identify the root cause & fix it (if possible)
Try to identify the root cause of their aggressive behavior, which sometimes can be easier said than done. Your vet may be able to quickly find out if your dog is in pain from a health issue, but that’s as much as they could help you.
You will need to go through a process of elimination, here are a few questions that can help you find out the cause:
- Have you changed countries, cities, or houses lately? If yes, that could be it.
- Have you had a change in family members? Maybe a new partner moved in or comes by often?
- Do you have new people in general coming to the house? They could be new friends or neighbors. Are they pet owners? Do they bring their pets? Can your dog pick up on their pets’ smell on their clothes?
- Have you changed or dirupted their daily routines? This could include changing the time, frequency, or intensity of the exercise or changing their feeding time or their diet.
- Have you been spending less time with them? Have they been spending more time alone than before? A new job could be stresseful to your dog as it is to you.
- Have you been stressful, anxious, depressed, or angry lately? Your dog will be able to pick up on that.
- Has it been more than 6 months since you trained your dog on something new? Dogs forget their training, maybe it’s time to go through the training process again and reinforce the basic commands at least.
- Have your routines been consistent for too long? Some dogs can get bored with their routines if they are living the same day every day for months. Maybe it’s time to try something new?
- Are there any new sounds or smells in your house? This new vacuum or air freshner could be stressing your dog out too much.
- Have your kids been playing too rough with the dog? Does your dog go regularly to a doggy day care? Maybe the dogs there are playing too roughly with him or even worse, the staff there may not be nice to the dogs.
- Has your dog matured lately? Maybe they are looking for a sexual partner.
Depending on the answers to these questions (and more), you, hopefully, will be able to identify the root cause of your dog’s aggression and either:
- Fix it
- Train the dog to be normalize it
- Train the dog to be densensitized to it
Don’t Punish Your French Bulldog
Never physically or verbally punish your french bulldog for their bad behavior. If you punish your dog, this means you are meeting aggression with aggression, and this teaches the dog that this is the language you both speak, and it will make things get much worse quickly.
Instead, you should focus on correcting the behavior, not punishing the dog.
This means that you should never:
- Hit the dog with anything
- Pull their ears, tail, or anything of this kind.
- Throw something their way
- Yell or scream at the dog
Actual Cases of Rehabbing Aggressive French Bulldogs
Here are two videos on two actual cases and how they need to be trained:
This french bulldog won’t stop attacking dogs:
Cesar Millan Rehabs an Aggressive English Bulldog:
I should not have to say it, but I need to anyway. Don’t be afraid to get help, especially if your French Bulldog is overly aggressive. If you don’t have enough experience dealing with dogs in general, don’t attempt the methods used in the videos as they were implemented by a professional.
Instead, you should seek professional help.
Conclusion on French Bulldog’s Sudden Aggression
French Bulldogs are not aggressive dogs. Well-trained, well-socialized french bulldogs rarely become aggressive, and it’s even rarer for them to become suddenly aggressive. Frenchies are even-tempered and easy-going, and they love their humans more than anything else in the world, so they will never turn on you or anyone without a very good reason behind it.
To stop your French Bulldog’s aggression, you need to find the cause behind their aggression, fix it if possible or train the dog to get used to it if not, and then train the aggression out of them calmly and confidently. It’s important to remind your dog that they are not the boss and that they have boundaries they can’t cross but do that without physically or verbally punishing them as shown in the videos above.
Why is my French Bulldog Snapping?
Your French Bulldog could be snapping as a warning sign to get away because you are bothering them or causing them pain. They may also snap as a sign of frustration or stress building up that may turn into aggression, or they may snap at other dogs or even you as a way to show dominance. In general, Snapping is an aggression sign and should not be tolerated, instead, you should work on training your dog to stop their aggressive behavior.
Are French Bulldogs Typically Aggressive?
French Bulldogs are not typically aggressive. Frenchies are usually friendly, laid-back, fun-loving dogs that rarely turn aggressive. French bulldogs may turn aggressive only when they are fearful, sick, injured, in pain, stressed, anxious, or feeling threatened.
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