The Most Common French Bulldog Health Issues
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All dog breeds will have some susceptibility to certain diseases or health problems. Unfortunately, some dog breeds are more susceptible than others. The French Bulldog is one such breed. This is not to say that a French Bulldog cannot live a long, happy and healthy life. It simply means we need to be particularly careful to be vigilant for the symptoms of certain health issues in French Bulldogs.
For the above reason, AnimalWised brings you the most common French Bulldog health issues. We show you what you need to look out for and how you might be able to prevent health problems appearing in the first place. The information about French Bulldog health problems is from a general veterinary medical consensus. Researchers stress that any individual dog with particular genetic predispositions should not be used for breeding purposes.
Brachycephalic dog syndrome
Brachycephalic dog syndrome is a canine medical condition which causes the dog's snout to be shortened. These flat-nosed dog breeds include the French Bulldog as well as Pugs, English Bulldogs and Boxers. From birth, these dogs have respiratory problems due to a reduced size trachea, elongated soft palate and other symptoms characteristics of brachycephalic airway obstructive system. The extent and acuteness of these symptoms depends on the individual dog.
Due to the changes in their morphology, the French Bulldog has difficulty breathing. The air cannot pass through their windpipe as easily as other dogs. The result is that they cannot exercise as well as other breeds, they put more strain on other organs (especially the heart) and they can even have trouble swallowing food. They will make snorting and snoring sounds and certain otherwise simple tasks can become harder for them to cope with.
The cause of this syndrome is directly related to selective breeding. Kennel clubs and other breeding associations responsible for breed standardization decided at one stage on what was the best look for these dogs. Unfortunately, they decided to value a shortened and flat nose over the dog's health and well-being.
Even within the French Bulldog breed, some individuals are better off than others. Recent developments have allowed us to better qualify the extent of this syndrome in some dogs. By assessing the extent of the syndrome, breeders can choose better specimens to reduce the drastic effects of this health problem.
Brachycephalic dogs need to exercise caution in warm climates and when exercising. They are very susceptible to heat stroke. However, they may also suffer problems swallowing food which can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting. They need extra care when undergoing medical procedures such as surgery due to the potential of blocked airways.
Other common diseases in the French Bulldog
While the dog's morphology has some specific practical health issues for French Bulldogs, there are other diseases common to the breed. They are passed down genetically, even if we are unsure of their specific origin. These diseases may have obvious physical manifestations, but not all of them do. Here are some to consider:
- Ulcerative histiocytic colitis: this is an inflammatory bowel condition which affects the large colon. The symptoms include chronic diarrhea and profuse blood loss. Monitoring of the dog's stool and anal areas is important to alert us to the presence of this French Bulldog health issue.
- Entropion: this pathology causes the Bulldog's eyelids to bend inward towards the eye. It can occur on any of the eyelids, but is much more common in the lower eyelid. The symptoms include decreased vision, redness, inflammation and pain. As a hereditary disorder, entropion can begin early in life, particularly around the 6 month mark. Will likely require surgery as a lack of treatment can lead to the loss of the entire eye.
- Hemivertebra: consists of a vertebral malformation, which can sometimes compress the nerves of the spine. It can cause pain and inability to move or walk. We can symptoms of the dog walking incorrectly or falling over regularly. Will require an x-ray for accurate diagnosis.
- Intervertebral disc disease: occurs when the nucleus pulposus (spine's inner core) of the vertebrae protrudes or herniates and presses the spinal cord. It can cause mild or severe back pain, sensitivity and lack of sphincter control. Again, changes to the dog's gait or obvious signs of pain should be monitored.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate: these French Bulldog health issues occur during embryonic development and consist of an opening in the lip or roof of the mouth. Minor defects do not imply health problems, but serious defects can lead to chronic fluid secretion, poor growth, aspiration pneumonia and even death.
- Allergies: whether the allergen is a substance in the air, a man-made material or even food, French Bulldog's are prone to developing allergies. Breathing restrictions make them particularly worrying as they may result in further trachea restriction.
- Conjunctivitis: also known as ‘pink-eye’, this is a painful inflammation of the conjunctiva on the eyelid. You will be able to see redness and inflammation on the affected area, but it will also become apparent if the dog tries to scratch their eyes or rub against furniture to relieve pain.
- Cherry eye: similar to pink eye, this occurs when the nictitating membrane (also known as the ‘third eyelid’) becomes inflamed and red. It resembles the color and texture of a cherry, hence its name. It is a prolapse of the membrane, believed to be related to the shortened snout of the breed.
Other rare diseases in the breed
- Eyelash abnormalities: there are several diseases related to eyelashes, such as trichiasis or distinciasis, which cause irritation of the dog's cornea and can cause great discomfort.
- Cataracts: this is a loss of transparency of the lens of the eye and can cause long-term blindness. It can affect a part of the lens or the entire structure of the eye.
- Hemophilia: this disease consists of abnormal platelet creation, which means that the blood does not clot properly. It causes internal and external hemorrhages. It is potentially life threatening, especially if the dog gets an trauma which results in an external or internal injury.
- Respiratory collapse: due to the restrictions in size of the trachea or larynx, they can collapse and result in the dog's inability to breathe. While French Bulldogs will exhibit labored breathing, we will need to be extra careful if we see any particular changes.
There are various health issues which can affect the French Bulldog. As with any dog breed, there are some things you can do to prevent their development. Vaccination schedules and regular deworming best protect the dog from certain common diseases or parasitical infestation.
In particular to the French Bulldog, we need to ensure we do not over-exercise them. We will still need to take them on regular walks, but if we push them too far they can have breathing difficulty. In hotter climates, we need to avoid keeping them in direct heat. We will need to keep them in cooler areas and ensure we provide plenty of water.
A veterinary checkup every 6 to 12 weeks is important to keep an eye on the development of certain pathologies. Srnior dogs may need even more frequent visits.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to The Most Common French Bulldog Health Issues, we recommend you visit our Hereditary diseases category.
1 Liu, N., & Sargan, D. R., & Adams V. J., & Ladlow J. F. (2015) Characterisation of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway System in French Bulldogs Using Whole-Body Barometric Plethysmography, PLOS ONE https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0130741
2 Center for Veterinary Health Sciences (n.d.), Ophthalmology Surgical Procedures. Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://cvhs.okstate.edu/veterinary-medical-hospital/ophthalmology/services/surgical-procedures.html
- UPEI - University of Prince Edward Island