As the titular protagonist of the short, Ferdinand would sit quietly in the shade all day and smell the flowers rather than play with the other calves, much to his mother telling him to play with them. As his mother was understanding, she allowed him to relax in the shade and as the years passed, Ferdinand became older and stronger. As all the other bulls are preparing to fight in Madrid, Ferdinand refuses because all he does all day is smell the flowers in a peaceful moment while sitting near his favorite tree.
Unaware, he accidentally sits on a flower with a bumblebee on it, causing Ferdinand to rampage in an out-of-control behavior; the five men looking for a perfect bull to fight with the matador chose Ferdinand as he would be perfect for the match. Later at the bullring, the matador tries to fight against Ferdinand, but he refuses to fight against his opponent because all Ferdinand did was smell the flowers quietly, much to the matador enraged at him until he asks him to spare his life. As a result, Ferdinand is taken out of the bullring back to his home; Ferdinand happily lives at his favorite corner tree sitting quietly once again.