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How many puppies can a French bulldog have?

 
By MarĂ­a Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. November 19, 2019
How many puppies can a French bulldog have?

Animal file: French Bulldog

The rise in popularity of the French Bulldog has been meteoric. While all Bulldog breeds have their charm, there is something about the French Bulldog which sets them apart. Perhaps it is their particularly adorable presence, with their bat-ears and doleful eyes. It could be that not only do they go from sweet to cheeky in a millisecond, but that we are never upset such capricious behavior. The breed has gone through many different crossings and modifications to reach its current standard, something many dog guardians want to maintain through breeding.

Whether you want to cross pedigree French Bulldogs together or your dog will have mixed breed offspring, it is understandable you will want to know how many puppies can a French Bulldog have. AnimalWised tells you the average litter size of French Bulldogs and supplies many more important details about raising this stellar breed.

You may also be interested in: How many Puppies can a Yorkshire Terrier Have?

Breeding French Bulldogs

Before discussing the litter size of the French Bulldog, we need to talk about dog breeding in general. While we discuss different dog breeds here regularly, it is important to know there are still many issues involved in breeding. While loving a particular breed and enjoying its ideal traits is not wrong, there is a problem with population numbers.

Shelter systems around the world are overrun with abandoned and stray dogs, rescued from circumstances which often cause psychological trauma and physical harm. The reasons so many dogs enter the shelter system are varied, but they often come from negligent owners who cannot meet the responsibility of dog guardianship. While you yourself may be a responsible dog guardian, finding the same for all of the puppies in a French Bulldog's litter may not be an easy task.

Due to canine overpopulation, there are more dogs than homes to accommodate them. Shelter systems work hard to rehome and care for abandoned dogs, but many do not have the resources to do so. The difficulties from which many of these dogs suffer often means they are shuffled back and forth or are directly euthanized.

Another worrying aspect is the presence of unscrupulous breeders. The popularity of French Bulldogs began with professional and legally registered breeders. They not only guarantee that the characteristics of the breed are maintained, but they look after the dog's welfare and give them the best chance to be happy and healthy adult dogs. Unscrupulous breeders only want to make money. They will house dogs in inhumane conditions, not give them proper socialization, neglect their health needs and may be involved in abuse.

Keeping dogs in puppy farms means the mothers are often used solely for breeding and are not given a happy existence. Keeping so many dogs in close proximity can also promote many diseases, parasitical infections, skin disorders and more. Even if the dog is physically healthy, they may suffer from serious behavioral problems.

Another reason for taking care when breeding French Bulldogs is due to their particular health issues. Although French Bulldogs are wonderful animals which can lead happy lives, they are also a product of certain breeding practices. In a desire to have certain physical characteristics, French Bulldogs have a particular morphology. Their snout is shortened and their stature is very stocky. The result is that these breeds are prone to certain disorders such as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome.

Studies show that many Bulldog owners are not even aware of the condition[1], but it can lead to severe respiratory problems and a significant decrease in quality of life. Other health problems common to the French Bulldog include eye problems, entropion, invertebral disc disease, cleft palate and more.

For the above reasons, it is not advised you breed your French Bulldog. You will be contributing to an overpopulation of dogs which means dogs already in need are often overlooked. Veterinarians recommend sterilization for both female and male dogs not only for the larger dog population, but for the individual dog. It helps avoid certain physical and behavioral disorders which can make their care difficult.

After a French Bulldog gives birth to their litter, they will be able to become pregnant again as soon as they reach their next heat cycle. If your French Bulldog has become pregnant and you are wondering how many puppies they will have in their litter, you should consider spaying the dog as soon as they have been able to wean the puppies and are ready to be separated from their mother.

Average number of puppies in a French Bulldog litter

If you do not take our advice or your French Bulldog is already pregnant, you will want to know how many puppies are in a French Bulldog litter. In doing so, you will know how many homes you will need to find for each puppy or if it is possible an adopter will take in more than one puppy.

The average size of a French Bulldog litter is 3 puppies. It is not abnormal for a French Bulldog to have 4 puppies in a litter, but anything over 5 puppies is unusual. While we will not be able to tell how many puppies a French Bulldog will be able to have early on, we need to carry out checkups with the veterinarian.

How to know how many puppies a French Bulldog will have

While we may know how many French Bulldog puppies are likely to be born, many people will want to know an exact amount. This can be a difficult to determine, especially in the early stages. Apart from determining the health of mother and fetuses, the veterinarian can help to determine how many puppies will be in a litter.

Palpations will be used initially to determine pregnancy. The vet will press and tap the French Bulldog's abdomen to look for the presence of fluid sacs which contain the fetuses. These can only be felt after a minimum of 3 weeks after conception. Even during this time, it will not be possible to know how many fetuses are present.

An x-ray is a better way to determine the amount of puppies in a French Bulldog litter, but not until later in the gestation. The reason is that the x-ray needs to pick out the spine and skull in the fetus, which don't develop until at least day 42, but even then it may not be easy to determine exactly how many fetuses are in the litter.

Perhaps the best method of determining how many puppies are in a litter is with an ultrasound. This should be carried between the third and fourth week of pregnancy and then again further into the gestation. An ultrasound will not only help to determine the amount of fetuses present, but they will also be able to find out if they are alive. Earlier in the pregnancy, a miscarried fetus will be absorbed into the mother's body, but this will not happen if it has developed sufficiently. An x-ray can tell if the fetus is present, but an ultrasound will let us to know if there is a heartbeat.

How many puppies can a French bulldog have? - Average number of puppies in a French Bulldog litter

Complications in French Bulldog pregnancy

As we state above, the French Bulldog has certain health issues which affect them as adults. The same problems will affect a French Bulldog's pregnancy. As the Bulldog's hips are narrow, giving birth normally becomes more difficult. For this reason, over 80% of French Bulldog parturition (giving birth) is performed by cesarean section[2].

Another aspect is the fact that French Bulldogs are brachycephalic dogs. The shape of their head can lead to various problems, particularly with respiration. A mother dog which is giving birth to multiple puppies may struggle to get enough oxygen. If they already have other health issues during their pregnancy, this can exacerbate them. Not only is it problematic for the French Bulldog mother to have complications, but the shape of this breed's head means it can be difficult for the puppies to pass through the birth canal.

The word for problems during labor is dystocia and recent reviews have highlighted the specific problems faced by brachycephalic dog breeds. Firstly, French Bulldogs are 15.9 times more likely to suffer dystocia than other dog breeds[3]. Additionally, French Bulldogs have mortality rates of over 20% for puppies and over 1% for dams (mothers)[4]. It is important to monitor your dog's pregnancy, regardless of breed. With French Bulldogs it is imperative.

How many puppies can a French bulldog have? - Complications in French Bulldog pregnancy

How much does a C-section cost for a French bulldog

As we have seen, regardless of how many puppies a French bulldog can have, a caesarean section is likely. This is regardless of whether it has been scheduled by the veterinarian or if it has to occur due to obvious complications in the birth.

The caesarean section is a type of abdominal surgery which involves the veterinarian cutting into successive layers. Once they are in far enough, they will reach the uterus which they open with a scalpel. The puppies are then extracted from the abdomen and their amniotic sacs pierced so they can breathe air. The French Bulldog dam will be anesthetized during the procedure, but this needs to happen just before otherwise further complications such as hypotension may occur[5].

Another reason the anesthetic needs to have short duration is the fact that the puppies will need to start feeding almost immediately. The veterinarian will dry the puppies after the c-section and keep them warm until all the puppies are birthed and the mother regains consciousness.

The price of this procedure will depend on various factors:

  • Time of the operation: if the c-section is an emergency and is performed outside of clinic hours, it will normally cost more.
  • Complications: if there are any issues during the operation which require the dog to have extra medical care, this will add to the bills. This is particularly the case if the dog needs to stay in for observation.
  • Weight: if the dog is particularly large, they may need more drugs or procedures to carry it out safely. The same goes if they have related medical conditions.
  • Place: different countries, regions and individual clinics will have varying prices.

For the above reasons, we cannot give you the exact price of a c-section for a French Bulldog. You will have to discuss pricing with your veterinarian as you go on checkups during the pregnancy. While this may be expensive, we are paying for the expertise of the veterinary health professional, the materials required during the procedure and various other factors.

If you want to read similar articles to How many puppies can a French bulldog have?, we recommend you visit our Gestation category.

References

1. Liu, N., Sargan, D. R., Adams, V. J., & Ladlow, J. (2015). Characterisation of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome in French Bulldogs Using Whole-Body Barometric Plethysmography. PLoS ONE, 10(6).
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0130741

2. Evans, K. m., & Adams, V. J. (2010). Proportion of Litters of Purebred Dogs Born by Cesarean Section. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 51(2), 113-118.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1748-5827.2009.00902.x

3. O'Neill, D. G., et al. (2017). Canine Dystocia in 50 UK First-Opinion Emergency-Care Veterinary Practices: Prevalence and Risk Factors. Veterinary Record, 181(8).
https://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/181/4/88
4. O'Neill, D. G., et al. (2019). Canine dystocia in 50 UK First-Opinion Emergency Care Veterinary Practices: Clinical Management and Outcomes. Veterinary Record, 184(409).
https://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/184/13/409
5. Hay Kraus, B. L. (2016). Anesthesia For Cesarean Section in the Dog. Veterinary Focus, 26(1), 24-31.
https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=vcs_pubs

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