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14 French Bulldog Health Conditions: Vet-Approved Prevention & Treatment

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

a french bulldog on a blanket on the couch

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Dr. Tabitha Henson

DVM (Veterinarian)

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As of last year, the French Bulldog is in second place on the AKC’s list of most popular dog breeds in America, and people around the world share America’s enthusiasm for the breed. Fun-loving, friendly, and absolutely adorable, the French Bulldog has been keeping people company for centuries. However, Frenchies are, unfortunately, susceptible to a variety of health conditions.

According to a UK study, French Bulldogs were found to have a higher likelihood than other breeds of developing common health conditions. They have an average lifespan of between 9 and 12 years. In this post, we’ll explore some of the most common French Bulldog health issues to be aware of if you have or are considering welcoming one of these dogs into your life.

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The 14 Common Health Conditions of French Bulldogs

1.  Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome is a condition that affects dog breeds with short facial and nasal bones. In the case of Frenchies, this is what gives them their “scrunchy-faced” appearance. In short, it refers to abnormalities in the upper airways, but there are different types of abnormalities that could occur.

For example, one such abnormality is when the airways become obstructed due to an elongated soft palate, and another is a hypoplastic trachea, which refers to a trachea that is unusually narrow. These are just a couple of examples, and more are possible. Dogs with BOAS need to exert more effort to inhale and tend to breathe through the mouth rather than the nose.

Some of these abnormalities cause only mild symptoms, like loud breathing and snoring. If the abnormalities are more advanced, the dog may display symptoms like fatigue, gagging, retching, vomiting or respiratory distress. Collapsing after exercise or in hot weather is another risk. The condition can begin to affect the heart in advanced cases, which is why it’s so important to keep an eye out for BOAS.

2. Allergies

All dog breeds have the potential to develop allergies, but French Bulldogs are especially prone to them. Allergies can be caused by food or environmental factors, like dust, mites, and pollen. Symptoms include watery eyes, sneezing, red and patchy skin, paw licking, vomiting, and diarrhea.

french bulldog with toys
Image by: SM-BG, Shutterstock

3. Skin Fold Dermatitis

Skin Fold Dermatitis occurs when an infection develops between the folds of the skin due to an overgrowth of bacteria. It’s especially common in Frenchies because of their short, wrinkly noses. The affected skin pockets are red and can give off an odor. You may also spot white or yellow discharge. You can help to prevent the condition from developing by staying on top of cleaning and drying your French Bulldog’s skin folds.

4. Luxating Patella

Due to their short stature, French Bulldogs have the potential to develop a luxating patella. A luxating patella is a result of the kneecap becoming dislocated from the groove that usually keeps it in place, causing it to move around. Symptoms include skipping a step when running, and limping. The condition is often treated with surgery.

french bulldog sleeping on grass
Image by: Mylene2401, Pixabay

5. Intervertebral Disk Disease

The Frenchie’s little legs are part of their charm, but they can genetically predispose them to conditions like Intervertebral Disk Disease. This is a degenerative condition of the spinal cord and is commonly referred to as a slipped disk. This occurs when the disk hardens over time and eventually ruptures and unfortunately, it’s not easy to detect and diagnose until the rupture happens.

Symptoms include walking abnormally, holding the head low, crying, unwillingness to move, an arching back, and unsteadiness.

6. Heat Stroke

Flat-faced breeds like the French Bulldog have a higher risk of suffering from heatstroke. Common causes of heatstroke are leaving dogs in hot cars and outdoors without access to water and a shaded area, but many factors can cause it, including poor ventilation inside your home.

As French Bulldogs are especially sensitive to heat stroke, keeping them cool, comfortable, and hydrated is of paramount importance, even if it doesn’t seem that hot to you. Symptoms include panting, fast breathing, sticky or dry gums, bruising or color changes in the gums, disorientation, and lethargy. Some dogs may even experience seizures.

close up of french bulldog dog being held by veterinarian doctor at vet clinic
Image by: Hryshchyshen Serhii, Shutterstock

7. Dental Problems

Flat-faced breeds sometimes suffer from dental issues such as overcrowded teeth, abnormal tooth positioning, and misalignment. For that reason, it’s important to stay up to date with your dog’s dental appointments and keep their teeth clean with regular brushing.

8. Pyoderma

Another condition that sometimes plagues our little wrinkly delights is a skin condition called Pyoderma. Wrinkly-faced dogs like the Frenchie are more susceptible to this condition, which causes red, raised legions to appear on the skin. Crusty, dry, and itchy skin and hair loss are among other symptoms of Pyoderma.

Pyoderma is caused by a bacterial infection that comes about when there’s too much moisture on the skin or there are changes in the skin’s regular bacteria. A weakened immune system and lack of blood flow to the skin are also possible causes.

french bulldog face
Image by: Paska3610, Pixabay

9. Otitis Externa

French Bulldogs have smaller ear canals, which leaves them vulnerable to ear infections like Otitis Externa. This is an inflammation of the external ear canal. Skin redness and/or scaly skin, swelling, head shaking, odor, and discharge are giveaway symptoms of the condition. It’s often caused by parasites, allergies, or foreign objects being present in the ear canal.

10. Cataracts

Cataracts can affect any dog breed. Affected dogs often inherit the condition, but diabetes and eye injury can also cause them. It happens when the eye lens becomes cloudy or opaque and the severity level varies from minor (incipient) to severe (hypermature). Blindness or partial blindness occurs in more severe cases.

French Bulldog snuggling beside owner
Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

11. Hip Dysplasia

Though Hip Dysplasia typically affects large or giant breeds more commonly than smaller breeds, this doesn’t mean that smaller breeds can’t develop the condition. As French Bulldogs are already somewhat stocky, it’s important to watch their weight as being overweight increases the risk of Hip Dysplasia. The condition can also be caused by excessive exercise.

Hip Dysplasia occurs when the hip bone and its cartilage start to wear down, which results in mobility problems later down the line. Symptoms include lameness, limping, noisy joints, bunny hopping, and struggling to stay upright.

12. Cherry Eye

Cherry Eye is a condition caused by a gland in the third eyelid (dogs have these) popping out. It appears as a swollen red lump on the lower eyelid and can be either small or large in size. Brachycephalic breeds like the French Bulldog are prone to Cherry Eye, and the condition is often successfully treated with surgery.

French Bulldog under a Christmas Tree
Image Credit: Sapper_Designs, Pixabay

13. Conjunctivitis

Another eye infection to watch out for in Frenchies is conjunctivitis. This is an infection of the mucous membrane, called “conjunctiva”, which covers your dog’s eyes and eyelids. It can be caused by a variety of factors including allergies, viruses, tumors, and foreign bodies and symptoms include squinting, blinking, pawing at the affected eye, swollen red eyes, and clear or green discharge.

14. Hyperuricosuria

Dogs with Hyperuricosuria have high uric acid levels, which can lead to stones or crystals forming in the bladder or kidneys. This causes urinary problems like difficulty urinating and blood in the urine. Surgery is often required to remove these stones. As French Bulldogs are one of the breeds most at risk of developing the condition, it’s important to keep an eye out for the signs.

French Bulldog sitting on the pavement
Image Credit: GLady, Pixabay

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If you’re worried because your French Bulldog is displaying symptoms of any of the above conditions—even seemingly mild symptoms—ease your mind by talking to a vet. If there is a problem, it’s better to address it as early as possible to give your French Bulldog the best chance of getting the treatment they need and living a healthy, comfortable, and happy life.

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Featured Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

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