How Many Puppies Can a French Bulldog Have?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

The French bulldog is a beautiful and energetic canine that’s known for being incredibly loyal to their owners.

But what about their reproductive habits? How many puppies can a French bulldog have?

A French bulldog has on average 3 puppies per litter, and this number typically ranges between 2 and 4. Frenchies are relatively small dogs, so anything above 4 or 5 puppies in a litter is extremely rare. In many cases, they require Caesarean section to give birth due to their large heads and narrow hips.

In this post, we’ll walk you through everything: what the average litter size is for Frenchies, what factors contribute to the number of puppies they produce, as well as important information about their pregnancies.

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How Many Puppies Can a French Bulldog Have in One Litter?

A Frenchie can have anywhere from one to four puppies, but in most cases, they will have two or three puppies in one litter.

There is no way of accurately predicting the exact number, but as a small dog breed, you can expect them to have a smaller litter than the average size of a large breed dog such as a Great Dane.

Fun fact: In a rare feat, a French bulldog in Northern Kentucky gave birth to 13 puppies in one delivery!

Other factors will also influence the number of puppies in a litter, which I will share more about in the sections below.

How Many Litters Can a French Bulldog Have in Their Lifetime?

In theory, Frenchies do not experience menopause and remain in heat till they pass on one day.

Like most other dogs, they experience a heat cycle that lasts between 6 to 8 months, therefore they normally go through 2 heat cycles each year.

The fact that they can mate twice a year does not imply that they should.

A single dam should never be bred more than four to six times in her lifetime, and French bulldogs should only mate once each year.

As it retires young, it can still be spayed and enjoy a quality of life later on.

Another point to note is the fact that there are countries that legally limit the number of times a dog can be bred in its lifetime, and that number is usually 4 to 6 times.

In the US, the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not accept registrations for dams that are bred over the age of 12 and under 8 months, and sires that are over the age of 12 and under 7 months.

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What Determines the Number of French Bulldog Puppies in a Litter?

In this section, we’ll discuss the key factors that determine the number of Frenchie puppies in a litter.

1. Age of the dam

In general, as the dam becomes older, the size of the litter increases smaller.

Interestingly, the first few litters are frequently smaller than the subsequent litters, so after your Frenchie breeds again after the first two litters, you should expect to have one or two extra puppies.

I should point out here that breeding a dog after the age of eight is not advised because that is too old to have puppies.

Ideally, you should stop breeding your dog well before that and have it spayed, as this would improve its health in many ways.

2. Age of the sire

Although less so than the mother’s, the sire of your Frenchie’s litter will also have an effect on the litter size.

The reason is that a dog’s sperm quality starts to decline at the age of 5 to 6, which means that there may be fewer puppies in each litter, even if the female is extremely fertile.

Breeders occasionally use artificial insemination to help in the breeding of older males.

3. Health of the mom

Your French bulldog’s health must come first if you plan to breed it.

The simple truth is that a sick or weak mother will give birth to a poor baby.

So if you do breed your dog, monitoring the mother’s weight is one of the most crucial things to do when she is pregnant.

For instance, if the mother is overweight, she can have joint problems and, like a human mother, makes labor and delivery more difficult.

Try to avoid overfeeding your dog since this will lead to obesity, which will cause unneeded problems.

Additionally, it should be emphasized that the duration between litters must be sufficient to provide your girl time to heal (hence no breeding in consecutive heat cycles).

4. Size of dog

The Frenchie is a small size breed, and that means that it is quite impossible for it to physically have lots of puppies in one litter.

Dogs of the same breed can vary in size, and when I say larger, I don’t just mean in terms of weight; rather, I mean larger in terms of build.

Frenchies with larger frames might have larger litter sizes as a general rule, though this would be a rather small factor as they don’t usually differ that much.

A typical-sized Frenchie will have an average litter size of 3 puppies, while there are some cases where this number can go up to 5 or six (though uncommon).

5. Litter in which mom was born

Your Frenchie’s level of fertility is likely to be inherited from her mother.

She will probably have a sizable first litter if she is born into a sizable litter herself.

On the other hand, if your girl herself was born in a small litter, you can probably expect that she will have a small first litter.

6. Type of breeding

This actually is a topic that is better left for another article, given how easily it may grow complicated.

However, in essence, the method of breeding can also have a large impact on the number of offspring.

For instance, a litter’s quality may be compromised when inbreeding is rampant.

The litter will be smaller in this instance, and it will also have an impact on the puppies’ health by reducing their life expectancy and increasing their risk of developing genetic abnormalities.

The likelihood that these problems will occur increases as the dogs’ relationships get more intimate.

Linebreeding, on the other hand, aims to maintain sufficient genetic diversity while preserving the best genes from a bloodline, making it frequently a safer method of dog breeding.

7. Time of breeding

It is said that a dam is more likely to have a larger litter size the closer it is to ovulation.

This is defined as the period after the estrogen period when the Luteinizing hormone triggers ovulation.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any studies supporting this theory, so at this point, I would say this factor is probably not that significant.

At What Age Can You Breed a French Bulldog?

Although Frenchies can technically begin reproducing once they have their first heat cycle, this does not necessarily mean that it is a good idea.

It is advisable to wait until your dog is at least in her second heat cycle as this will give her enough time to mature sexually and gain weight and size.

And since it is common to have the first heat cycle when it reaches 6 months old, that is way too young to start breeding a dog.

The majority of ethical breeders will wait until a dog is 2 years old before breeding them because by then they will have undergone all necessary medical examinations.

What Age Do French Bulldogs Go in Heat?

Most female French bulldogs go through their first heat cycle between the ages of 6 and 12 months.

If your girl hasn’t gone through her first heat cycle by the time she is 18 months old, speak with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

A useful rule of thumb is that it will go into heat at about the same age that its mother did.

How Do You Know if Your French Bulldog is in Heat?

Bloody discharge, receptivity to male dogs, agitated behavior, and many other symptoms can be signs of a dog in heat.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Swollen vulva
  • Discharge from the vulva
  • Receptive to male dogs
  • Change in appetite
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Agitated, anxious, or aggressive behavior
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Holding its tail close to the body

How Often Do French Bulldogs Go Into Heat?

A Frenchie will go into heat once every 6 to 8 months, but this can vary depending on each individual dog.

While some dogs’ cycles could be a little bit longer or shorter than others, you should be keeping track of when they happen.

Consult your veterinarian to determine whether there is anything that could be causing your dog’s variable seasons.

There is often more time between seasons as dogs get older (but can still get pregnant).

How Long Does a French Bulldog Stay in Heat?

When a dog is said to be in heat, we are usually referring to the estrus phase of the heat cycle, and that’s the time when they actually see “action”.

The entire cycle is as follows, and it is during the estrus period when a dog will show all the signs discussed above:

  • Phase 1: Proestrus (~7 to 10 days)
  • Phase 2: Estrus (~5 to 14 days)
  • Phase 3: Diestrus (~10 to 140 days)
  • Phase 4: Anestrus (~6 months)

How to Tell if My French Bulldog is Pregnant?

Here are the most common signs that your Frenchie is pregnant:

  • Nipples enlarged
  • Increased hunger
  • Irritability (may have a short temper)
  • Decrease in activity and energy levels
  • Behavioral changes
  • Weight gain
  • Starts nesting
  • Seeks more attention

When you notice all of these happening, and about 25 days have passed since mating, you should bring your girl to the vet for an ultrasound or a blood test to determine if it’s pregnant.

How Long is a French Bulldog Pregnant for?

How Long is a French Bulldog Pregnant for?

Dogs, no matter the breed, are usually pregnant for 56-64 days, or about 2 months.

There won’t be many, if any, obvious indicators of pregnancy in the first two weeks in your dog as the changes are currently taking place internally within the uterus.

However, your Frenchie will soon start to lose hair around the breasts, develop larger, darker nipples, and develop darker nipples at around 3 weeks of pregnancy.

How Do I Know When My French Bulldog is About to Give Birth?

It is good to be aware that dogs usually give birth around 2 months after getting pregnant so that you can prepare for it.

As the time draws nearer, there will be a number of telltale signs that your dog might be whelping soon.

  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Not eating much
  • Digging and scratching
  • Lethargy
  • Start producing milk
  • Spending more time in her “nest”
  • Shivering
  • Panting
  • Straining
  • Drop in body temperature

French Bulldog Puppy Size/Growth Chart

The table below shows you the estimated weight at each life stage during a Frenchie’s growing years.

When they go into adulthood (> 1 year old), they might put on a bit more weight but their weight gain will be much slower and you will see a consistent weight throughout this period.

Care Tips for a Pregnant French Bulldog

It is important to keep your Frenchie healthy and happy during pregnancy.

This will help them stay comfortable and make sure that they have a smooth delivery.

Here are some tips:

Regular checkups

You need to schedule regular checkups with your vet, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and when you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior.

This will help make sure that everything is going as it should be during pregnancy and birth.

Balanced diet

During pregnancy, your French bulldog really needs to have a balanced diet and you have to make it as palatable and easily digestible as possible.

This means that she should get plenty of protein (chicken is a good choice), and some fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals.

You can also supplement the diet with calcium tablets or other supplements if you want to be extra careful about making sure your dog gets everything she needs during this time.

Quiet environment

It’s crucial to keep your dog in a peaceful setting while she’s expecting, especially if it’s her first litter.

Keeping her from becoming anxious will help prevent issues during labor and for the puppies themselves.

Keep your Frenchie indoors and away during those times if you know there will be loud noises, like fireworks or other people in the house, so she won’t be alarmed by the bustle.


Although pregnant dogs shouldn’t exercise vigorously, they can benefit from attention, moderate play, and frequent short walks.

You shouldn’t overstimulate a pregnant dog, but you also shouldn’t let her become too inactive.

During the last three weeks of pregnancy, it is essential that a pregnant dog be kept separate from other dogs and animals; therefore, allow her to get some light exercise indoors during this time rather than taking her outside.

One more thing: Do not be rough with them at this time!

Should You Breed French Bulldogs?

If you are considering breeding French Bulldogs, it is important to first understand the challenges involved with this endeavor.

While there are many benefits to breeding French Bulldogs, there are also some risks that need to be considered before taking this step.

Breeding French bulldogs is a very big responsibility.

You should not breed your French bulldog unless you are willing and able to provide the proper care for both parents and puppies.

You must also be prepared to find good homes for any puppies that are born—and this can be difficult because there are so many people who want them but do not understand all the work involved in raising them properly.

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t breed French Bulldogs, including the fact that they’re prone to certain health problems (thus incurring high medical costs) and may be difficult to care for.

If this sounds too much, consider adopting one from a shelter or rescue group!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many litters are safe for a French bulldog?

In a Frenchie’s lifetime, she may have up to 4 litters. With 3 puppies per litter, a female Frenchie can only safely have 12 puppies before it is deemed unsafe for her to carry any more. Despite having a 12-year life expectancy on average, they can only safely reproduce between the ages of 2 and 8.

Can French Bulldogs give birth naturally?

Yes, a French Bulldog can give birth naturally, but this is quite uncommon, accounting for only about 20% of Frenchie pregnancies. The vast majority of Frenchies will give birth using the Caesarean method. as puppies becoming caught in the birth canal is one of the dangers of natural births.

Can French bulldogs have 13 puppies?

It is extremely rare for a French bulldog to have 13 puppies in one litter, but it happened in Northern Kentucky once. In general, a French bulldog will only have a litter of 3 puppies.

How many times can a French Bulldog give birth in a year?

A French bulldog can have up to 2 litters a year, but it is considered ethical to only breed them only once a year, and give them plenty of time to recover before breeding them again.

Is it hard for French Bulldogs to give birth?

Yes, it is hard for French bulldogs to give birth naturally. Research conducted by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) shows that French bulldogs are 15.9 times more likely to suffer from difficult births or dystocia than crossbred female dogs.

Why do French Bulldogs have trouble giving birth?

The reason why French Bulldogs have trouble giving birth is because of their anatomy. They are bred to have larger heads and narrow hips, which makes it hard for them to give birth naturally. This is why most breeders opt for cesarean sections when breeding their French Bulldogs.

Do French bulldogs need C-sections to give birth?

It is not a requirement but rather a matter of using the best method by using c-sections to deliver Frenchie puppies. This is usually done to prevent the mother from injury and to ensure that all puppies are born in good health. The procedure involves making an incision in the belly of the mother and removing her puppies by hand.

How much does it cost for a French Bulldog to give birth?

As most French bulldog births are through C-section, the cost of delivering one is naturally higher than other breeds. In the United States, this operation ranges from $600 to $2,000.

In Conclusion: How Many Puppies Can a French Bulldog Have?

I’ve covered a lot of ground here, so hopefully, you feel more knowledgeable about breeding French bulldogs and how many puppies they can have.

If you’re not sure whether you should breed them, think about adopting one from a shelter or rescue group instead.

There are lots of them that really need our help, home, and love.

Check out the litter sizes of other dog breeds here.

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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