French Bulldogs Disease Predispositions – Symptoms to Look Out For

Reviewed By Kim •  Updated: 01/07/21 •  11 min read
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French bulldogs have become one of the most popular breeds in recent years! What makes them so popular? It’s their sweet disposition, of course! While these precious pups may look tough on the outside, on the inside they’re affectionate, even-tempered and more.

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The French Bulldog History

This breed has a long history; in fact, they’re descended from dogs that were bred as bull baiters back in the 1600s in England. These dogs came to be called Old English Bulldogs. By the 1835, with the passing of the Cruelty to Animals Act in England, bull baiting became illegal, and bulldogs soon were no longer necessary. Originally thought to be from France, French bulldogs, also called “Bouledogue Français” in France.

They’re actually descendants of Old English Bulldogs from England. How did bulldogs make their way to France? That’s an interesting story!

Back in England, in the city of Nottingham, small dogs were popular with local lace workers. Why? The dogs were great company and also helped to keep rats down in the workrooms. Once the industrial revolution hit, lace makers were put out of work as machines took over their jobs. Some of these workers ended up moving to France where lace makers were still needed. When they moved, the workers took their dogs with them, of course. Thus, the small bulldogs were adopted by the French, where they became known as French bulldogs. The breed became highly popular in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, where everyone had a French bulldog. The famous painter, Toulouse Lautrec, even painted a French bulldog in one of his paintings.

French Bulldog Breed Characteristics

These cute small dogs are known for their square-shaped heads, flat noses and “squished” faces, along with their bat-like ears. They have sturdy bodies with short legs—they’re adorable! Being a small dog at just under 28 pounds, Frenchies are short and have short hair, with makes grooming them very easy. French bulldogs come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, too. French bulldogs have become popular for people living in the city, as the breed adapts well to small apartments and small spaces. You don’t need to worry about having a large yard with a Frenchie, as they don’t require a lot of exercise. One note, they don’t do well in the heat.

These dogs are known for being cute little clowns. In fact, they love the attention when you laugh at their antics. French bulldogs are smart little characters, which can have quite a stubborn streak. Their lifespan is generally 10-12 years, so you’ll have a loving companion for years to come. Since Frenchies have been bred to be companions, they make wonderful family dogs. They become very attached to their pet parents; for this reason, they can be prone to separation anxiety.

French Bulldog Personality

These precious pups are highly popular for their love and companionship. Frenchies love everyone and one of their favorite pastimes is to find a comfy lap to sit in. They’re also quiet dogs—you don’t have to worry about a lot of barking with a French bulldog. While they can be stubborn, just a little gentle, positive reinforcement gets them to learn how to behave. They’re smart dogs who can learn quickly with the right type of training and rewards. Don’t forget the rewards! If you’re looking at adding a loving French bulldog to your family, there are few things you should be aware of when it comes to these adorable dogs and their health.

French Bulldog’s Background of Health Issues

These fun-loving small dogs are prone to several health issues, many of which are genetic. In fact, according to American Veterinarian, research conducted by the Royal Veterinary College in London showed that these dogs are susceptible to many types of health issues. They found that about 72.4% of French bulldogs in the study had at least 1 recorded disorder.

As we go over some of the most common health issues, keep in mind that we’re sharing this information so you can make an informed decision on adding a Frenchie to your family. You need to understand what’s involved when adopting a French bulldog.  We in no way intend this information to be considered as a warning against adopting one of these adorable small dogs. Every dog deserves a good home and a loving family, including these lovable little clowns. As stated earlier, many of these health issues are genetic, meaning the health conditions can be inherited from a dog’s parental lines. Now, just because Frenchies have a genetic tendency to certain health issues does not mean your dog will develop these conditions. It just means the dog has a higher risk of developing certain medical problems.

Knowing about French bulldog’s health issues keeps you informed; you’ll have a better understanding of what to watch out for in your fur baby and have a general understanding of the breed’s medical needs. One way to avoid some of the health issues is to only buy your pup from a recognized, reputable breeder. Look for breeders that have done the necessary health certifications to weed out most genetic health problems. Be sure to ask about the dog’s health clearances. To find a breeder, you can try the French Bull Dog Club of America, which has a referral list of breeders you can choose from. Look for breeders that have chosen to follow the club’s code of ethics.

The code specifically prohibits breeders from selling puppies to pet shops, while also setting out the responsibilities its member breeders must follow.

French Bulldog Breathing Problems

French bulldogs are known as one of the brachycephalic breeds. What does this mean? Frenchies have a short, squished face that’s also called a “flat face.” This type of face is also seen in other breeds including Pugs, Shih Tzus and even Chihuahuas, among others. While their faces are cute, French bulldogs’ squished faces put them at risk for developing breathing problems. One of the most common breathing issues of the breed is their snorting when awake, and their snoring then sleeping. However, in some cases, the flat face may cause your pup to have serious breathing problems, called brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is caused by the compressed facial bones and tissues, which obstruct a dog’s breathing. You may notice some Frenchies that have pinched nostrils, for instance. Dogs with this syndrome are not able to do hard exercise and can’t deal with excessive heat. Obesity can make this syndrome worse, so it’s important to keep your fur baby at a healthy weight.

If a dog has severe breathing problems, it is sometimes necessary to perform surgery to increase airflow and ease their breathing. If your French bulldog sounds congested or your French bulldog phlegm, then these can be signs that he’s developed an infection, such as pneumonia. If you notice these or other troubling symptoms, be sure to call your vet and get an appointment for your fur baby as soon as possible. Frenchies’ health can quickly deteriorate if they begin developing severe breathing trouble.

French Bulldog Limping Back Leg

Another common health issues in French bulldogs is hip dysplasia. This is a health issues where the ball and socket of the hip aren’t formed correctly. This condition can become painful, lead to arthritis in the hips and limit a dog’s activity level if not treated.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia include:

There are things you can do to prevent or slow the development of hip dysplasia in Frenchies. Researchers have found that regular exercise can help as this keeps the joints mobile and flexible, while also managing a dog’s weight. However, it’s important not to over-exercise French bulldogs. They just aren’t up to strenuous exercise. Instead, choose easy walks; in summer, make sure to avoid walking your canine companion in the heat of the day. Walk when it’s cooler, to avoid breathing issues in your French bulldog. Supplements, such as vitamins C & E can help with joints but check with your vet before adding supplements to your pup’s diet. And of course, regular check ups with the vet are a must. They’ll be able to watch for early symptoms of hip problems and begin to treat the problem early.

Other Health Issues in French Bulldogs

French bulldogs are also prone to other medical issues, which can include the following:

1. Allergies: it’s a fact that flat-faced dog breeds are at a higher risk for allergies than other breeds. Your Frenchie’s allergies may take the form of seasonal allergies, food allergies, drug and even environmental allergies. Symptoms are similar to our own allergies:

Allergies can be successfully treated in your fur baby—just take him to the vet for an evaluation. This may include a complete checkup, blood tests, and may also include allergy testing if your vet suspects your pup has allergies. Treatment will vary, depending on the type and severity of the allergies.

2. Back problems: the condition known as Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is another common health condition in French bulldogs. The condition is caused when a disc (or discs) slips or ruptures; this causes the disc to press on your pup’s spinal cord, which can cause severe pain.

Signs of this condition may include:

If you notice your fur baby showing any of these signs, it’s a good idea to call the vet and get your pup in as fast as possible. This is especially true if your dog refuses to eat/potty or develops sudden paralysis, as these are signs of an emergency.

3. Heat Exhaustion: is another common problem experienced by French bulldogs. The problem is caused by their flat faces, which makes it difficult for them to breathe and regulate their body temperature. In fact, if you live in an area with hot summers or where it’s hot most of the time, then your fur baby will need to stay indoors with the air conditioner running.

Signs of heat exhaustion in these dogs includes:

Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke in French bulldogs, so make sure to keep them in a cool place when it’s hot. Don’t leave them in a hot care, even if you leave the windows cracked. The car acts like a solar panel and stores the heat, making it too hot for your pup in the car.

These are some of the most common health issues in French bulldogs, but some dogs can also develop:

While most Frenchies are healthy, you may want to consider purchasing pet health insurance for your fur baby. Then he’ll be covered in case he develops any serious health issue, and you’ll have the resources to take care of him. There are many companies that offer pet health care insurance. The best type of insurance for your pup is comprehensive coverage. This type of pet health insurance lasts for the lifetime of your pet and covers all illnesses, injuries, vet expenses, etc. While this is the most expensive type of pet insurance, it’s also the best kind of dog health insurance. You’ll be able to rest assured that you’ll be able to take care of any serious health issues your canine companion may develop.

French bulldogs make adorable companions for you and your family, though they can be prone to health issues. The best way to avoid serious genetic problems in your fur baby is to get him from a reputable breeder. You’ll be assured that your dog comes from a healthy line and that he’s been checked and is certified to be healthy. We wish you and your French bulldog pup all the best in health and long years together!

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Kim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.

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