Flat-faced brachycephalic Frenchies are popular because they behave like infants

STUDY REPORT PLUS COMMENT: The infantile, brachycephalic French Bulldog ‘suffers’ from a ‘condition’ called paedomorphism which means to behave like an infant. And these dogs give their owners this impression because they are less good at solving problems. They would rather look up at their owner for help. But perhaps this lack of intelligence or lack of commitment to problem solving is to their advantage despite their incredibly long list of health problems (21) and their incredibly short lives of around five years because, in the UK, they are the most popular dog breed and have been since Covid-19 and beyond.

Frenchie struggles with the test. They are less good at it than standard muzzled dogs
Frenchie struggles with the test. They are less good at it than standard muzzled dogs. Image: the study.

To the best of my knowledge the ‘Frenchie’ – as it is affectionately called – is also popular in other countries. A Hungarian scientist, Dorottya Ujfalussy, was scratching her head as to how they could be so popular when they are so unhealthy. And by the way they are unhealthy because of their flat-faces and brachycephalic heads (round heads) due to misplaced guidelines by the dog associations and inbreeding through extreme selective breeding or artificial breeding. Although they are often bred in puppy mills but these unscrupulous breeders will be following dog association guidelines i.e. breed standards although the conditions under which they are bred will be very poor.

French Bulldog struggles with a test to find food and they look up at their owner for help which endears them to their owner which in turn makes them more attractive than a dog with a standard muzzle.


But the health of the dog is secondary to their appearance and their behaviour and the Hungarian scientist did some tests with the French and British Bulldogs to compare their performance with a dog with a standard snout – a Hungarian Mudis. They found that the Hungarian Mudis dogs did better at finding food in a box than the Frenchies.

What the Frenchies tended to do was to try half-heartedly if at all, and then when they failed to get at the food, they looked up at their owner for help. That is probably the telling moment which endears them to their owner. In that second, they appear to be infants looking to their mother or father for assistance.

And because humans of a certain age have a desire to nurture children they respond to this request from their Frenchie for help. They are drawn in by this paedomorphism.

In addition to their inability to problem solve, their appearance is more like that of an infant with big eyes protruding out of their heads which are very round as mentioned. With a bit of imagination, you can see a baby in there. I am sure that this was a deliberate project by the breeders.

It reminds me very much of the contemporary Persian cat with a very similar face and head shape. The cat association administrators think that this is a very attractive looking cat but to me they are ugly. Perhaps the administrators think they are attractive because they looked like babies with their bulging eyes and round, brachycephalic, heads. And cat association administrators are nearly always women.

But the scientist questioned the health of this breed saying that it must be heartbreaking to live with an unhealthy dog with a short lifespan. And she questioned why the Frenchie was relatively bad at finding the food in that test.

She question whether it was due to selective breeding which means selecting dogs which are stupid and breeding from them. I don’t think it’s that. It’s probably to do with life experience – nurture.

It is probable that the Frenchie is a little more stupid than the average dog because they are inbred excessively and I think inbreeding can make a dog stupid, and then because they are cognitively challenged, they look to their owner for help at which point they look like babies and their owners do everything for them.

And in doing everything for them, as mentioned, they remain in that state of infantilism because they’re so pampered.

Study: The difference between two brachycephalic and one mesocephalic dog breeds’ problem-solving performance suggests evidence for paedomorphism in behaviour. Lead scientist as stated.

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