If you are contemplating buying a Frenchie puppy, or you already have a Frenchie, it is a good idea to know about some of the common health issues of this breed. Understanding these issues can help you identify and potentially treat them early so you and your pet can live a happier life.
In this blog, we will discuss some common French Bulldog health issues and how to care for them.
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)
The French Bulldog is a manmade breed, scaled down from the much larger bull-baiting dogs in 19th century England through selective breeding, along with introducing blood from other breeds, such as the Terriers. The Frenchie is a dwarf breed (chondrodystrophic) and also a flat-faced (brachycephalic) breed. Their flat faces can lead to some issues with their breathing, as their nostrils are much smaller than longer nosed breeds, and their shorter muzzles provide much less space for the tissue that is in their throats.
However, well-bred Frenchies that come from healthy parents that breathe well, normally breathe relatively well, especially for a brachycephalic breed. Occasionally, even well-bred Frenchies will have stenotic nares (excessively narrow nostrils) and/or elongated palates (excessive tissue in the throat which leads to very raspy breathing), which require surgery to correct.
If you purchase your Frenchie from a reputable breeder, who only breeds males and females that breathe well, chances are you will not have any issues. If you procure your Frenchie elsewhere, you are very likely to be dealing with typical French Bulldog health issues.
French Bulldogs prefer a cool and comfortable environment. Since they don’t sweat like humans, they cool their bodies by panting. Since their nostrils are not as open as longer nosed breeds, it can be difficult for them to cool down effectively. They should not be taken out on very hot, humid days, unless they are resting in the shade. They will do much better in an air-conditioned room during the heat of the day.
You can take your Frenchie for a walk in the morning or evening when the temperature is cooler. Also, make sure they stay hydrated throughout the day.
Most people find the almost nonexistent tails and skin folds on French Bulldog faces cute, but these folds create a warm and moist environment which can lead to skin infections. Frenchies only need infrequent baths (maybe every month or two, unless they roll in something), but you should clean the folds on the face and around the tail at least weekly. Baby wipes work great. Their ears also need to be cleaned out regularly, as yeast infections can also be a fairly common French Bulldog health issue.
The most common health issues in French Bulldogs are allergies. Skin allergies most often manifest when a Frenchie is 1-3 years old. These French Bulldog health issues are of three main categories:
- Food-based allergies: Corn, wheat, and soy should be avoided in your Frenchie’s diet, not only because of possible allergies, but because they are difficult on your Frenchie’s digestive system. The most common meat that Frenchies are allergic to is chicken. Obviously, if your Frenchie has food allergies, those foods should be identified and avoided if possible.
- Contact allergies: A Frenchie could be allergic to grass, bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, chemicals, and other materials. If possible, identify the culprit and avoid it..
- Inhalant allergies; These are caused by airborne allergens like pollen, dust, and mildew. These may be hard to avoid, although keeping them inside during certain times of the year may be helpful.
If you notice any skin issues in your dogs, it might be an indication of an allergy. Common signs of allergies include:
- Hot spots
- Hair loss
- Red bumps
- Redness of the skin
- Itching or scratching severely at the paws or body
The best remedy for allergies is to avoid the offending material. There are some medications that can be given to alleviate some allergies, or at least significantly minimize them. Check with your vet.
However, the most effective way to avoid this French Bulldog health issue is to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder, like BlueHaven French Bulldogs, who do not breed dogs with allergies. This will not guarantee that you will have an allergy free dog, but it will certainly improve the chances.
Hip dysplasia is a hereditary joint issue that is a commonly seen French Bulldog health issue. With this condition, the dogs have one or more loose hip joints, which typically leads to arthritis. This can be treated with pain medications, joint supplements, and physical therapy. However, if the situation is severe, your dog might need surgery. Again, the best way to avoid this potential Frenchie health issue is to buy your Frenchie from a reputable breeder, who will not breed any dogs with hip issues.
French Bulldogs have erect, wide-shaped ears that easily collect dust and dirt. This makes them more prone to ear infections. If proper care is taken, which includes cleaning out their ears on a frequent basis and inspecting for any indication of an ear infection, most ear infections can be easily prevented. At the first sign of an ear infection, Mometamax should be applied. Consult your vet if it does not quickly clear up.
Because the Frenchie is a dwarf breed (chondrodystrophic), a common French Bulldog health issue is hemivertebrae, which are spinal deformities or incomplete vertebrae. These can put pressure on the spinal cord and lead to pain, weakness, and or paralysis.
Mild hemivertebrae issues can be treated medically; however, if there is any major issue, it might require surgery. Fortunately, because the Frenchie has such good musculature, most back issues are avoided, even though most Frenchies have hemivertebrae issues.
French Bulldogs are genetically prone to cataracts. In these diseases, the eye lens hardens, which causes them to be opaque (cloudy) instead of clear, eventually leading to blindness.
One type of cataracts, Juvenile Hereditary Cataracts (JHC), can be DNA tested for, so they can be avoided completely if you are working with a reputable breeder who has DNA tested all of their breeding males and females for the common Frenchie genetic defects.
Other cataracts also have a genetic component, so again it is critical to work with a reputable breeder, like BlueHaven, who will not breed any dogs which have any significant health issues.
Dental disease is one of the most common diseases that is seen in the Frenchies. These dogs have small mouths, and fitting 42 teeth often leads to overcrowding of teeth. Hence, it makes tartar build up faster which gets under the gumline, which leads to gingivitis and deterioration of the gums and surrounding bones.
The good news is that if you smear doggie toothpaste on their teeth and gums on a fairly regular basis, and if you have plenty of chew toys available for them at all times (at BlueHaven, we love Nylabones), most dental issues can be avoided.
French Bulldogs usually have a third eyelid in the inner corner of the eye. When the tear gland attached to this third eyelid flips outward, it leads to cherry eye. This looks like a pink or reddish mass in the inside corner of the eye.
Though they are not painful, if not treated, it can lead to chronic dry eye. Surgery is generally needed to correct this condition. There may or may not be a hereditary component to these, but reputable breeders would never breed a dog that had developed a cherry eye.
Bladder or Kidney Stones
Bladder and kidney stones are made of crystals called cystine, which is one of the most common adult male French Bulldog health issues. These can be very painful for your pet (ask anyone who has ever had a kidney stone). However, the right medication and diet can adjust the acidity of the urine to help dissolve the stone.
If a stone blocks their urinary passage, surgery will be needed to remove it. Prevention is the best cure, and there is a DNA test for this condition which leads to bladder and kidney stones, which is called Hyperuricosuria. Reputable breeders will perform this test on all of their breeding males and females to ensure that this condition will not be passed to offspring.
This is a congenital heart disease in which the pulmonary valve and artery are narrowed. Hence, it is difficult for the heart to pump blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. In some cases, it might become severe and can lead to congestive heart failure.
Every reputable breeder will have their puppies examined by a qualified vet, and the heart is one of the first things that will be checked. A reputable breeder will not breed dogs with any heart issues, and if they have puppies with heart murmurs, they will disclose this to the prospective buyers.
Heart murmurs are quite common in Frenchies, and many have little if any effect on the health and wellbeing of a French Bulldog. However, these puppies should be heavily discounted and given long-term guarantees.
Heart surgeries are very risky and very expensive on dogs, and most people cannot afford to have surgery performed. Fortunately, most Frenchies with heart murmurs live long and healthy lives.
Luxating patella is a congenital disease that occurs when the patella (kneecap) slips in and out of place (luxates). It is graded from one to four. Dogs with grade 1 virtually never have any issues. Dogs with grade 2 may have some occasional limping, but rarely need surgery. Dogs with grade 3 will generally have noticeable limping at times or an abnormal gait, and surgery is sometimes required. Dogs with grade 4 will have the kneecap constantly out of place, leading to lameness, and surgery is definitely necessary to fix the problem.
Again, reputable breeders only breed healthy males and females with no patella issues, so healthy puppies are the normal result, without patella issues. This is also one of the things that vets will check for during the puppy examinations, and if there is an issue, a reputable breeder will inform a potential buyer. Puppies with potential patella issues should be heavily discounted &/or given long-term guarantees.
Corneal Dystrophy and Corneal Ulcers
In Corneal dystrophy, the cornea (the eye’s outer surface) becomes opaque (cloudy). It is not painful and doesn’t affect a dog’s vision. But it may make the dogs more susceptible to corneal ulcers. These can be painful to your pet and need to be treated as soon as possible.
Gastrointestinal issues is one most common French Bulldog health issues. They have many food allergies which can lead to off-and-on diarrhea or soft stools. Also, Frenchies are prone to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which causes intestinal tract inflammation. This leads to chronic diarrhea. This can be treated with proper medications and diet.
However, the most common reason for loose stools are parasites. Coccidia, giardia, and worms are the common culprits. These parasites are everywhere in the environment, and your Frenchie will undoubtedly be exposed if he/she spends any time outdoors. Fortunately, none are harmful to healthy dogs, and they are easily treated.
Reputable breeders will medicate all of their puppies for all of these parasites, but they are stubborn, and puppies will often reinfect themselves, as they do not have the most fastidious bathroom habits. Even a few surviving parasites can reproduce rapidly when a host is under stress, such as a puppy going to a new home. Fenbendazole for worms and giardia (along with Metronidazole if needed) and Albon for Coccidia will take care of these parasites in fairly short order.
French Bulldog Care
- French Bulldogs do not require a lot of exercise, but they do need some. Taking them on regular 15-minute walks around the neighborhood is generally sufficient, along with their normal indoor activities and playtime.
- They have a fun-loving nature, but a fairly short attention span and limited endurance, so this needs to be considered when you are training them or playing games with them.
- They are predisposed to heat exhaustion, so they should never exert themselves outdoors during the heat of the day. They should spend hot days in a moderate to cool environment, and ensure that they stay hydrated. It is best to plan walks and outdoor play time for the cooler mornings and evenings.
- Regularly clean their folds, ears, and tail pockets to prevent infection.
- Provide high-quality food which is high in proteins, fats, fiber, and all of the necessary ingredients to maintain good health. Many Frenchie owners also provide daily supplements (BlueHaven recommends NuVet Plus) to ensure their precious fur babies get all of the nutrition they need to live long, active, and active lives.
We have reviewed the most common French Bulldog health issues that every Frenchie owner should be aware of. Many well-bred Frenchies will avoid all of these common Frenchie health issues, but even the best breeders, with the best dogs, will occasionally have one or more of these issues pop up. Hopefully, this information will help you know what to look for, and what you can do if a problem does arise.
All breeds have common health issues, and the French Bulldog is no exception. However, the Frenchie is probably the healthiest of the brachycephalic, chondrodystrophic breeds, and if they are well-bred and well cared for, they will provide a decade or more of love and devotion.
BlueHaven French Bulldogs is a reputable breeder that specializes in breeding high-quality French Bulldog puppies. We provide a great environment for all of our Frenchies, and since we only breed high-quality males and females with no significant health issues, we have relatively few health issues with any of our puppies. When we do have the occasional issue, we are there to help with a fair resolution. Contact us now to start on your journey to acquire one or more high-quality Frenchie puppies.