Breed Tips

4 Common French Bulldog Health Problems

French Bulldogs are sweet, spunky dogs known for their playful nature and adorable “bat” ears. They are considered willing to please but highly stubborn. This breed is suited for many households and is a favorite dog breed of seniors. We will discuss the 4 common french bulldog health issues based on our research.

Despite their quirks, French Bulldogs have experienced a massive surge in popularity in recent years, likely due to their compact size, amiable disposition, and clownish personality.

Do French Bulldogs Have Health Issues?

Like all dog breeds, the French Bulldog breed specifically is more predisposed to certain health problems. In this article, we’re going to break down some of the most common French Bulldog health problems so that you can take the best care of your pup!

Here are the 4 most common french bulldog health problems:

  • brachycephalic syndrome

  • back problems

  • ear infections

  • cherry eye and other eye disorders

French Bulldog Health Issue #1: Brachycephalic Syndrome in French Bulldogs

All French Bulldogs have brachycephalic airway syndrome, which occurs when a dog has a shortened skull, which gives French Bulldogs that cute “squished” nose and flat face. While adorable looking, the brachycephalic syndrome can take a toll on your dog’s respiratory and gastrointestinal health.

Affected dogs with a mild case of brachycephalic syndrome will experience noisier breathing, such as snorts and snoring. More severe cases can include symptoms like coughing, vomiting, tiring quickly during exercise, and even fainting after exercise.

There are a few ways you can help your French Bulldog with its brachycephalic syndrome.

If your dog is overweight, this can put additional stress on its breathing. Work with your veterinarian to help your dog safely lose weight.

Other options include anti-inflammatory drugs and surgery to improve airflow through your dogs’ nostrils. Surgery is typically only used when the brachycephalic syndrome is severe.

Signs and symptoms of brachycephalic syndrome

Common symptoms in brachycephalic breeds include:

  • Noisy breathing

  • Coughing

  • Vomiting

  • Tiring quickly during exercise

  • Fainting after exercise

French Bulldog Health Issue #2: Back Problems in French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs are particularly prone to back problems, like intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). IVDD occurs when the cushion between your pup’s vertebra ruptures or moves, which causes the disc to put uncomfortable pressure on their spinal cord.

If you notice that your Frenchie is suddenly unable to walk, relieve themselves, or is hesitant or unwilling to go up stairs or jump, they may be experiencing IVDD. It’s strongly recommended that you immediately take your pup to the veterinarian as severe IVDD can lead to lifelong paralysis without medical intervention. A pet insurance policy can help cover the costs of back injuries as long as they aren’t considered a pre-existing condition.

To help your Frenchie avoid IVDD, lift them off and on furniture or provide them with a ramp so that they can avoid stressing their back. If your Frenchie is playing with children, be sure to monitor their play. Overly rough play can lead to back problems.

Signs and symptoms of back issues

Common signs of back pain in Frenchies include:

  • Signs of pain

  • Moaning or crying

  • Poor posture 

  • Arched back

French Bulldog Health Issue #3: Ear infections in French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs have charming, large bat ears that so many of us love. Unfortunately, the shape and size of their bat ears lend themselves to ear infections.

Signs and symptoms of an ear infection

Common signs of ear infections include:

  • excessive ear scratching

  • odor

  • redness or swelling of the ear

  • itchiness

  • pain (your dog may yelp after their ear is touched)

  • discharge

  • crustiness in the ear

Ear infections are typically caused by yeast or bacteria making their way into your dog’s ear. If you notice that your Frenchie is experiencing common signs of an ear infection, contact your veterinarian. Most ear infections can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication and an oral antibiotic that will heal the infection within a week or two.

French Bulldog Health Issue #4: Cherry eye and other eye disorders

French Bulldogs have large, beautiful eyes that, unfortunately, make them more prone to eye issues.

Cherry eye occurs when the third eyelid gland pops out. In healthy dogs, their third eyelid provides extra protection. A dog with cherry eye will appear to have a red, inflamed covering over part of their eye. This mass may appear constantly or periodically. Dogs with brachycephalic syndrome, like French Bulldogs, are thought to have a weaker attachment which allows the third eyelid gland to more easily detach and pop out of place.

Fortunately, the prognosis for cherry eye is typically favorable. The sooner treatment is given, the better the expected outcome. Most veterinarians will perform surgery to replace the third eyelid gland. In most cases, a dog will be back to functioning normally within a few weeks. Without treatment, a dog can experience dry eye due to the lack of tear production. Dry eye can lead to impaired vision if untreated.

French Bulldogs are also more prone to other eye problems, like conjunctivitis and glaucoma. So if you have a French Bulldog, it’s vital that you keep an extra close eye on their eyes and maintain regular eye care. If you notice sudden redness or wateriness, reach out to your veterinarian about your next steps.

Signs and symptoms of cherry eye

Here are common signs of cherry eye in French Bulldogs:

  • pawing or scratching at the eye

  • redness of the eye

  • swelling around the eye

  • squinting or dry eyes

French Bulldog Health Outlook

On average, healthy French Bulldogs live to be between 10 to 14 years old. If they develop breathing problems, their lifespan may be shortened. Their smaller size gives them slight longevity over their Bulldog counterparts, who live on average 8 to 10 years. Compared to Pugs (who live to be between 12 to 15 years old), French Bulldogs have a slightly shorter lifespan.

Be aware that brachycephalic dog breeds are prone to certain types of cancers as compared to other breeds. The most important thing pet parents can do is to schedule regular vet checkups for preventive care in their pups so they live long, healthy lives.

A chart titled "Dog Life Expectancy" shows various dog breeds and their average life spans.

Pet insurance for French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs are darling, affectionate dogs who deserve the very best care.

Some diseases and French bulldog health issues, like brachycephalic syndrome, may not be preventable. However, many illnesses or health issues can be prevented or minimized with regular veterinary care. Your veterinarian is a valuable resource in helping you give your Frenchie a healthy foundation.

Routine physical exams and bloodwork allow your vet to screen your French Bulldog for early signs of disease, which can significantly help your pup’s prognosis should any health problems be discovered.

Dog insurance provides you with peace of mind knowing that your French Bulldog is covered should they need veterinary treatment for accidents and illnesses. Let Spot Pet Insurance provide you with a safety net!

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