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Canine Body Language and Why Your Frenchie May Not Get Along with Other Breeds

You may be one of the lucky ones who’s frenchie gets along with all dogs and loves all people. That is my Molly. She loves everyone she encounters, canine or otherwise. On the other hand, your frenchie may have a hard time interacting with other dogs and there may be a reason for this. You see, dogs have specific body language that not only we can read, but other dogs use to understand how they are thinking and feeling. Before I get into why your frenchie may not get along with other breeds of dogs, let us first review canine body language.

Canine Body Language

Tail positioning tells a lot about how a dog is feeling. Some may assume that a tail wag is always an indicator of a happy dog. However, there is more to it than that. You must also pay attention to HOW the tail is wagging. Is it wagging slow, fast, raised, lowered, to the right, or to the left? You can tell a lot about a dog’s emotions by paying close attention to these details. A slow tail wag usually indicates a relaxed dog. A tail wagging to the right indicates a happy dog. A tail in a neutral position, not too raised and not tucked under, is also an indicator of a relaxed dog. Therefore, if your pup is slowly wagging their tail in a neutral position and to the right, they are more than likely a happy and relaxed dog. On the other hand, if they are wagging their tail to the left, this may indicate they are uncomfortable. A fast tail wag does not necessarily mean they are unhappy, but instead indicates excitability. They may be nervous or just overly excited. A tail that is raised high could indicate aggression and a tail that is tucked under typically indicates the dog is scared. A dog will move his or her tail from a neutral position to a lowered position to show submission. A dog holding its tail straight out is a sign of curiosity. You see, tails can give you (and other dogs) a vast amount of information if you look for the signs. Dogs do not only communicate with their tails, but they also communicate with facial expressions just like we do.  

Canine Facial Expressions

The eyes are used very frequently as a communication tool for dogs. A dog with “soft eyes” is communicating a relaxed friendly tone. This is often accompanied by the slow tail wag. On the other hand, a dog staring at another dog with “hard eyes” is a warning and could be a sign of aggression. This could lead to one dog looking away as a sign of submission or it could lead to a fight. There is also a term used by dog trainers called “whale eye.” This is a term to describe when the whites of a dog’s eyes are visible and could be an indicator of fear or anxiety.

The ears are also used as a communication tool for our canine companions. Forward facing ears is an indicator of curiosity or that they are paying close attention to someone or something. Ears that are flat down and all the way back is an indicator of fear and possibly aggression. Ears that are back but not flat down against the head could indicate your dog is sad. However, if the ears are only slightly pulled back it could be a sign of playfulness (especially when accompanied by a slow tail wag).

Finally, we have the mouth which can tell us a tremendous amount about the dog. An open mouth typically indicates a content dog and of course, a snarled mouth with teeth showing is a sure sign of aggression. If a dog is constantly licking their lips for no apparent reason, this can be an indicator of stress.

Canine Body Positions

I am sure you are familiar with the downward facing dog position where a dog lowers down into a bow. This is the typical behavior of a playful dog. On the other hand, when a dog tenses up their entire body, this is the typical behavior of a fearful or aggressive dog. An aggressive dog may stand completely still while they attempt to look large, usually slightly leaning in towards the other dog. The dog may also be displaying the “hard eyes” I mentioned earlier. A dog that is fearful may lean away, crouch down, or even tremble.

There are many ways dogs communicate both to each other and to us, their human family. Dogs “figure each other out” by reading each other’s body language and this includes reading the tail, eyes, ears, and mouth along with body positioning.

Since French Bulldogs have no tail, this may cause miscommunication between them and other breeds. Add to this fact that, due to their facial structure (smooshed faces), their face muscles are more relaxed causing them to have difficulty expressing the facial expressions used by other breeds to size them up. This could also cause some miscommunication between the breeds. This is not to say that our darling little frenchies can not communicate. They communicate quite well actually. We all know they are very expressive and communicate with us well. Those wonderful bat ears and big ole expressive eyes tell us a lot and boy do they know how to use those athletic little bodies.

Another thing to keep in mind is, just like humans, some dogs just may not like each other. It may be that your dog got into an altercation with another dog at one time and this causes them to be weary of dogs that look (and smell) like that particular dog. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and can gather much information about the other dog from this sense of smell. Your dog may be possessive of you and not want another dog around you. There are many reasons your dog may not like other dogs or other dogs may not like your dog.

The point here is that dogs have a lot of information available to them to figure out another dog and, for the most part, they are good at it. Since frenchies lack some of these communication tools, it may be difficult for other breeds of dogs to figure them out or vice versa. I am not saying that other dogs can not read your frenchie at all, just that there are less tools for them to work with.

Remaining calm when dogs show aggression towards each other is important. Dogs are not only sensitive to the body language of other dogs, but they are also sensitive to our body language.

If you have encountered a dog of another breed that did not seem to like your frenchie, I would love to hear about your experience. What breed of dog was it? What was the other dog’s body language? What was your Frenchie’s body language? Has this occurred often or was it a one-time event? Feel free to leave a reply below and share your experience.

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