It’s safe to say that French Bulldogs aren’t the healthiest breed. They are typically considered an unhealthy breed, especially when breeders aren’t taking steps to reduce the genetic health problems common to this breed.
Whether you’re planning to bring a Frenchie home or just want to know what to expect for your existing Frenchie’s future, this list will provide you with vital information about the 17 most common French Bulldog health problems.
Most Common French Bulldog Health Problems
- Hip Dysplasia
- Patellar Luxation
- Cherry Eye
- Heat Stress
- Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
- Stenotic Nares
- Tracheal Collapse
- Laryngeal Collapse
- Elongated Soft Palate
- Thyroid Issues
- Cleft Palate
- Von Willebrand’s Disease
Allergies are one of the most common issues plaguing French bulldogs. Since they can develop at any stage of life, it’s important to watch for signs that your dog is developing them.
Allergies occur when your dog’s immune system is over-reactive to an allergen, such as pollen or an ingredient in their food.
Allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy skin
- Runny eyes
- Excessive or increased sneezing
- Licking or chewing paws
Since dogs can be allergic to both environmental and food allergens, allergy testing is an important step for dogs coping with allergy symptoms.
Most Common Pet Allergens
Here’s a list of some of the most common pet allergens.
- Pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
- Dander (dead skin cells)
- Animal saliva and urine
- Certain foods and food additives
- Flea and tick bites
- Laundry detergents and cleaning products
- Perfumes, colognes, and other scented products
- Cigarette smoke
- Carpet and upholstery materials
- Certain medications and vaccines
- Plastic and rubber materials
Hip dysplasia is a disorder that impacts your dog’s skeletal system, specifically the ball and socket joint that make up the hip.
Over time, this malformed joint can limit your dog’s activity level. It can also cause significant pain and even develop into hip arthritis.
Your Frenchie might have hip dysplasia if you notice decreased activity, difficulty getting up, or an inability to climb stairs or jump.
Patellar luxation is a condition that occurs when the kneecap (patella) is dislocated. This genetic condition is especially common in French bulldogs. Sadly, there is no known way to prevent this condition from developing.
Signs of patellar luxation include abnormal movement of the back legs, sporadic skipping, hindlimb lameness, or sudden lameness.
Dogs rarely experience pain with patellar luxation, although they may feel pain at the moment the kneecap dislocates.
Hemivertebrae is a congenital spine condition that occurs when spine vertebrae are deformed, fusing, and developing atypically.
This causes twisting in parts of the spine that should be straight. This is what causes the “corkscrew” tail on some French bulldogs.
Most Frenchies with hemivertebrae never develop any symptoms. However, severe cases may cause your dog to have weakness in her hind limbs and the inability to control her urinary and bowel movements. This occurs when the hemivertebrae causes compression on the spinal cord.
Deafness is another common condition in French bulldogs. It can both occur at birth (due to genetic defects) or occur later in life.
The BAER test can be used on puppies as young as six weeks old to determine whether or not your Frenchie has congenital deafness.
Your dog may be experiencing hearing loss or deafness if you notice that she’s unresponsive to sounds or her name.
If your dog doesn’t wake up when loud sounds occur, this may be a good sign your dog struggles with hearing loss.
Cherry eye occurs when your dog’s third eyelid tear gland pops out of position. Frenchies are particularly prone to this condition because they are genetically predisposed to tear gland weakness.
Left untreated, cherry eye can damage your dog’s eyes and eyelid glands, causing chronic dry eyes.
You can spot cherry eye pretty easily. If your dog has a red mass sticking out from his eye, it’s time to see the vet. Prompt treatment of this condition is very important for your dog’s continued well-being.
Conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, is an inflammatory condition that impacts the tissues covering the front part of your dog’s eyeball.
This condition may be caused by allergies, chronically dry eyes, or debris that makes its way into your dog’s eyes.
Your Frenchie might have pinkeye if you notice red eyes, squinting, swollen eyelids, or discharge coming from your dog’s eyes. Your dog may also excessively rub his eyes with his paws.
Entropion is an inherited condition impacting a French bulldog’s eyelids.
The malformed eyelid curls inward, which causes the hair on the eyelid’s surface to rub against your dog’s cornea. This condition is especially prevalent in brachycephalic breeds like French bulldogs.
Your dog may have entropion if you notice red eyes, inner eye inflammation, and excessive tears. Prompt treatment is vital, since untreated entropion may cause pain and corneal ulcers.
Distichiasis is a genetic disorder that causes an eyelash to grow in an atypical location on the eyelid.
It may also cause an eyelash to grow in the wrong direction, even if it is in the right place. This can cause significant irritation and inflammation in your dog’s eyes.
Signs your Frenchie may be suffering from distichiasis include eye inflammation, discharge, eye pain, corneal ulcers, and excessive tearing, blinking, and squinting.
In some cases, dogs with this condition keep their eyes tightly closed or paw at their eyes to try to relieve the irritation.
Heat stress is a serious condition that is common in French Bulldogs due to their short snouts (brachycephaly). This makes them less able to pant effectively and cool down their body.
You should take extra care to keep your Frenchie cool and comfortable, especially during hot weather. If left untreated, it can lead to heat stroke.
Some of the common causes of heat stress in French Bulldogs include the following:
- Being left in a hot, poorly ventilated area
- Lack of access to shade and water
- Being left in a car on a hot day
- Excessive exercise or activity in hot weather
- Obesity, which can make it harder for a dog to pant effectively
- Brachycephalic airway syndrome, which can make it harder for a dog to breathe in hot weather
Symptoms of heat stress in French Bulldogs can include:
- Heavy panting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dark red or purple gums
- Glazed eyes
- Loss of consciousness
If your French Bulldog is overheated, there are a few steps you can follow to keep your Frenchie cool.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Brachycephalic airway syndrome is the condition most people associate with breeds like French bulldogs.
Their flat-faced look impacts their ability to breathe correctly. It is also what causes them to snore, breathe heavily, gag, and snort.
This condition may also make it difficult for your dog to regulate heat and get exercise. While steps can be taken to alleviate their discomfort, some brachycephalic conditions may require surgical intervention.
Stenotic nares are narrow, pinched nostrils. This condition frequently occurs in French bulldogs due to their short snouts.
Since their nostrils may range from slightly narrowed to nearly closed, the range of impact by this condition can vary greatly.
Your dog’s stenotic nares are present at birth. A simple surgery can widen the nostrils. This procedure is often performed at the same time as your dog’s spay or neuter appointment.
Frenchies are at an increased risk for tracheal collapse, a progressive disease that targets the trachea (“windpipe”).
This condition can either be present at birth or develop over time. Cough suppressants and steroid medications may be used to manage the symptoms of tracheal collapse.
Your dog may have tracheal collapse if you notice a honking cough, labored breathing, and a bluish tinge to the gums.
Dogs with tracheal collapse are also intolerant of exercise, although this is also a common trait in French bulldogs.
Laryngeal collapse occurs when your dog’s laryngeal cartilage isn’t as rigid and supportive. This causes the larynx (voice box) to collapse.
When this occurs, your dog will have a harder time breathing in. Laryngeal collapse most often occurs in older dogs, although it can happen at any time for brachycephalic breeds like French bulldogs.
If your dog develops laryngeal collapse, you may notice your dog is suddenly unable to bark or breathe in. Treatment for this condition almost always includes surgery.
Elongated Soft Palate
An elongated soft palate occurs when the soft tissue near the back of the roof of the mouth is malformed.
It can grow too long for your dog’s head, blocking the entrance to your dog’s windpipe. Many French bulldogs are born with this condition, making it difficult for them to breathe.
Your dog may have this condition if she has noisy or labored breathing, snoring, coughing, snorting, gagging, bluish gums, vomiting, or heatstroke.
Since it treatment is a simple surgery, most veterinarians perform it at the same time as your dog’s spay or neuter procedure.
Cleft palate is a congenital condition that occurs when the roof of the mouth (palate) does not properly fuse during development, resulting in an opening.
French Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed, which means they have a short snout and a flat face, and are more prone to cleft palate than other breeds.
Symptoms of a French Bulldog with a Cleft Palate include:
- Difficulty eating
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Nasal discharge
- Difficulty sucking and nursing (for puppies)
- Weight loss
Treatment for cleft palate typically involves surgical repair to close the opening in the palate.
The surgery is usually performed when the puppy is around 8-12 weeks old, and recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the cleft palate.
Your dog’s thyroid gland produces several hormones that play a significant role in your dog’s metabolism. Hypothyroidism occurs when your Frenchie’s thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones.
This causes the metabolism to slow down. Your dog may grow lethargic, have increased shedding, or gain weight without dietary changes.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your French bulldog’s thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone.
This change is often caused by thyroid cancer, and the impact is significantly more severe. Fortunately, hyperthyroidism is very rare in dogs.
Other thyroid conditions include goiters and autoimmune thyroiditis. Goiters cause your dog’s thyroid to enlarge, often because of a genetic defect or iodine deficiency.
Autoimmune thyroiditis is caused by an immune system attacking the thyroid, sometimes as a symptom of another autoimmune condition.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder. This condition is similar to Hemophilia in humans.
Your dog’s body isn’t producing enough adhesive glycoprotein, which reduces your dog’s body’s ability to clot blood effectively.
Symptoms of Von Willebrand’s Disease include:
- Blood in your dog’s feces
- Bloody urine
- Bleeding from your dog’s gums
- Excessive bleeding from the vagina (in female dogs)
- Frequent bruising
- Prolonged bleeding when injured
- Anemia caused by prolonged or excessive bleeding
Mild cases typically don’t require any treatment. However, serious cases of Von Willebrand’s Disease may require blood transfusions before surgery or after uncontrolled bleeding episodes.
In these severe cases, your dog’s activity level may need to be closely monitored for safety.
Final Thoughts on French Bulldog Health Problems
Besides knowing that French Bulldogs are expensive, it’s important to know the breeds’ potential health concerns.
Despite selective breeding and genetic testing offering some protection from these disorders, there is no guarantee that a French Bulldog will live their entire life without any diseases.
By providing your French Bulldog with a healthy lifestyle, including moderate exercise, proper temperature regulation, and a nutritious diet, you can help reduce the chances of these issues arising.
FAQs French Bulldog Health Problems
Yes, French Bulldogs are prone to health issues due to their short snouts and flat faces.
The most common French Bulldog health issues include breathing problems, hip dysplasia, stenotic nares, cherry eye, patellar luxation, skin allergies, and overheating.
The most common health issue in French Bulldogs is Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BOAS).