The Essential Beginner’s Guide to French Bulldog Health

French Bulldog in PorthLeven

The Beginner’s Guide to French Bulldog Health

When you first consider owning a French Bulldog, whether, from a puppy, adoption or rescue, one of the first things you will probably do (we did!) is turn to Google and put in ‘French Bulldog health issues’ and hit 🔍. All I would say is, don’t be put off when you read that first page  – it can be quite daunting and might even put you off Frenchie ownership for good! Don’t let it.

We had cause to visit the Supervet’s practice with Leia, and spent an hour and a half with a brilliant vet that specialised in French Bulldog health. Leia had been referred due to a potential spine disorder (IVDD) covered below, and during the consultation, we talked about the wide range of potential health issues Frenchies could have. 

French Bulldogs have unique physical characteristics – short bodies and flat faces – and genetic predispositions, which means they often face certain health challenges.  Many of these French Bulldog health issues can persist throughout their lifetime, which can impact their quality of life and lead to some significant veterinary bills. 

Healthy French Bulldog Puppy

Image credit

If you’re considering adding a Frenchie to your family, it is important to be aware of these potential issues to ensure your French Bulldog’s health. We tried to be very careful when finding a breeder when we got Leia, and we were happy with the one we chose. I will cover selecting a puppy in a later post. But even though we had a breeding history going back five generations, with no BOAS, Leia still needed it in the end when she was three. Sometimes you can never tell!

Here’s an informative guide to the 10 common French Bulldog health problems you might encounter, that we spent hours investigating before we got our French Bulldog puppy. If you find these helpful and want a weekly fix of all thing French Bulldog, subscribe to our FrenchieChat Newsletter.

The 10 Common French Bulldog Health Issues to be Aware Of

1. Breathing Difficulties (Brachycephalic Syndrome)

French Bulldogs are known for their distinctive short skulls and flat faces, a feature that contributes to their appeal but also leads to breathing challenges. This condition, known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), might result in narrowed nostrils and an elongated soft palate, causing snoring, laboured breathing, and a heightened risk of overheating. BOAS surgery has become more common in recent years to help with this. Always visit the vet if your Frenchie shows these symptoms.

2. Skin Fold Dermatitis

The adorable wrinkles and folds of a French Bulldog’s skin require regular cleaning to prevent infections. Skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and pyoderma are not uncommon in these areas. A daily wipe-down with a damp cloth can help keep these issues at bay.

 3. Allergies

French Bulldogs can be sensitive to a variety of allergens, from certain foods to environmental triggers. Symptoms may include itching, skin redness, and recurrent ear infections. Identifying and avoiding allergens, with the guidance of your vet, is key to managing this condition. For example, we are trying to figure out why Leia continually licks her paws – s common Frenchie issue we are managing.

 4. Spinal Disorders

Their distinctive body shape makes Frenchies more susceptible to spinal issues like intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which can cause pain, weakness, or even paralysis. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight and avoiding activities that strain their back can help reduce the risk. The Supervet told us one of the biggest issues with Frenchies, is their fearless approach to jumping off things like beds and sofas, which doesn’t help their back issues!

5. Hip Dysplasia

This genetic condition, where the hip joint doesn’t fit snugly into the socket, can lead to arthritis and mobility challenges. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage the symptoms of hip dysplasia.

6. Patellar Luxation

French Bulldogs may experience kneecap dislocation, known as patellar luxation, leading to lameness or an unusual walking pattern. Treatment ranges from physical therapy to surgery, depending on the severity. 

7. Eye Conditions

Various eye problems, including cherry eye, entropion, and conjunctivitis, can affect French Bulldogs. Regular eye checks can help catch and treat these issues early.

8. Respiratory Issues

Due to their compacted airways, Frenchies can struggle with respiratory problems, especially in hot or humid climates or if they’re overweight. It’s essential to keep your dog cool and well-hydrated, especially during warm weather. Keeping your Frenchie at a healthy weight can help reduce the impact of breathing difficulties. However, BOAS surgery is often the most effective way to improve your French Bulldog’s quality of life. 

9. Heart Conditions

French Bulldogs are at risk for certain heart diseases, including congenital heart defects and heart murmurs. Early detection through regular veterinary screenings is vital for management.

10. Heat Sensitivity

Their brachycephalic nature makes French Bulldogs extremely sensitive to heat, with a high risk of heatstroke. We work to a temperature of 21 degrees centigrade, as our baseline for going out in the sun/heat.  Always ensure they have a cool, shaded spot and plenty of water, especially in the summer months.

French bulldog sun

Caring for a Frenchie requires a proactive approach to their health, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and diligent grooming. While these French bulldog health issues may seem daunting, knowing what to watch for and how to provide the best care for your Frenchie can lead to a happy, healthy life together. Remember, regular visits to your veterinarian are crucial in preventing and managing these conditions, ensuring your beloved pet remains by your side for years to come. My biggest advice would be to take out some good health insurance when you get your Frenchie for total peace of mind.Fre