Fat French Bulldog? Signs of an Overweight Frenchie + How to Lose Weight


Before I get too in-deep into this topic, I just want to say one thing. Frenchies can come in all different shapes and sizes; skinny, tall, chunky, and fat looking – but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem. However, it is important to recognize when your fat French Bulldog is overweight before it leads to long-term health issues.

We all know how adorable this breed is. It can be hard to say no to them sometimes, and even the most well-meaning of owners can over-indulge their Frenchies which can lead to weight problems. Understanding what an overweight French Bulldog looks like is key to maintaining your dog’s health and lifespan.

Frenchies do have a tendency to wolf down food, and don’t always having the self-regulation when it comes to knowing when to stop. When over-eating is combined with a lack of regular exercise, they can develop weight and fat issues (although these aren’t the only reasons for canine weight gain).

If not monitored this can lead to a range of problems including damage to joints and ligaments, heart disease, difficulty breathing, and diabetes to name just a few.

But how exactly do you know if your Frenchie Bulldog is overweight or fat and what is a healthy weight for this breed?

What is a healthy weight for a French Bulldog?

The healthy weight for a French Bulldog can vary dramatically based on their size and gender. For example, the healthy weight for a male French Bulldog could range from 20 to 28 pounds, and a female from 16 to 24 pounds.

As you can see, that’s not that helpful in understanding how much is overweight for a French Bulldog. Don’t get too hung up on how much yours actually weighs, as this won’t always be an accurate barometer of whether they are clinically overweight or not.

It will often depend on how tall or small they are, with some of that weight possibly being muscle and related to their gender – males tend to be stockier than females.

How do I know if my French Bulldog is overweight?

Instead you should rely on manual checks of your fat Frenchie’s upper torso and body to feel for whether they are overweight or not. It’s easy enough to do; here’s how you know if your Frenchie is overweight without having to use scales.

  1. Simply apply a small amount of pressure to your Frenchie’s chest.
  2. Using your fingers, check to see if you can easily feel his ribcage.
  3. If you cannot feel ribs, but instead fatty flesh, it could be an indication you have an overweight French Bulldog.
  4. Your Frenchie’s chest should always be wider than his abdomen, if not, it’s a sign of being an unhealthy weight.

Of course, you should always get a professional opinion from a vet if you have any concerns at all that your Frenchie could be overweight.

More signs that your fat French Bulldog is overweight

As well as the manual check, there other ways you can tell if your Frenchie is overweight and piling on the pounds which don’t involve you taking them to the vets.

1. Visual checks and indicators

As well as being able to feel their ribs, you should also be able to look at them to check if they are a healthy weight. If they are in the ideal weight ranges for their gender and size, a Frenchie will have a thin layer of fat over their ribs, these being noticeable as they move.

You should also be able to see and feel their spine when they bend and curl themselves into a sleeping position. Again, it’s covered by a thin layer of fat when they are not overweight.

Another way to check your Frenchie is a healthy weight is to look at them from above. If they are not carrying extra pounds, they tend to look like an hourglass shape, with a visible waistline that is smaller than their chest – you can see what that looks like with our Frenchie Claude in the photo below.

how do I know if my french bulldog is overweight
How do I know if my French Bulldog is overweight? Sometimes a quick visual check from above is all you need to do.

If your fat French Bulldog has a lack of definition and you can’t feel their spine and ribs, it might mean they are overweight, possibly needing a dietary change.

However, please do check with your vet first, as all Frenchies are different and I don’t want to worry you if you have a different sized dog to us… some will look stockier and more barrel-like due to genetics and breeding lineage.

As I mentioned earlier, their appearance can vary a lot.

2. They get tired and overexerted easily

Frenchies will often become breathless after heavy activity, but when overweight this will be noticeable after just a tiny amount of activity. Overweight Frenchies will start panting or having to stop after a very short walk.

One of the most visible indicators that your Frenchie needs to lose weight is if they are unable to climb up steps and stairs like they did before.

The bottom line is that if you notice your fat Frenchie getting tired when they really should not be, and you’ve ruled other contributory factors such as hot weather, please talk with your vet about developing diet and fitness plans.

3. They are unable to groom and scratch themselves

Whilst Frenchies cannot clean certain areas of their body, they can still lick and scratch themselves. If you notice your dog is unable to scratch and groom himself like he used to, it could be because the flexibility has been replaced with weight gain fat.

How can I get my French Bulldog to lose weight?

If you are concerned that your fat French Bulldog puppy is overweight or that your adult Frenchie is no longer at a healthy weight anymore, then here are some tips on what to do.

1. Feed them lighter dog food

And by that, I mean dog food with less calories, higher in fiber, and more protein. By doing so your Frenchie will burn the calories off faster and will lose weight quicker as a result.

Vets say that dogs should not eat anything more than 25 calories for every pound they weigh. The average male Frenchie weighs around 25 pounds, meaning your dog may only need 625 calories a day.

2. Feed them the correct amount

According to research published in 2014, as many as 68% of pet owners don’t feed their dog according to the correct guidelines, leading to overfeeding and weight gain.

You should always read the guidelines written on commercial dog food packaging, and if in doubt please read my guide to how much Frenchies should eat to stay healthy.

3. Reduce their portion sizes

If your Frenchie is seriously overweight, then you should consider reducing down how much you’re feeding them. But please do this on advice of your vet.

Handy Hint: You can slow your Frenchie’s eating down and monitor how much they eat by using specialist French Bulldog feeding bowls that limit their intake and feeding speed.

4. Stop feeding them as many treats

For a healthy French Bulldog weight, you should follow what the vet’s call the 90/10 rule. This means that treats and snacks should never exceed 10% of your Frenchie’s daily calorie intake.

You might be surprised at how many extra calories your overweight French Bulldog takes on from picking up scraps in the kitchen or dropped from the table.

5. Give them regular exercise and walks

There is a common misconception that Frenchies are lazy dogs who don’t need a lot of exercise. Whilst it’s true that they can’t walk long distances (particularly in the heat), they do need regular exercise.

I try to walk Claude twice a day if I can, each time taking up around 30 minutes. I think this is probably why my Frenchie is very trim and muscular, rather than being a fatty.

Handy Hint: Here’s how much you should be walking your French Bulldog to keep him or her healthy and fit each week.

6. Weigh your Frenchie regularly

If you have got a fat French Bulldog who needs to go on a diet to lose weight, then you should have a target in mind. The weight target is something your vet can advise on.

Once you have that target weight in mind, I recommend regular weighing sessions, probably every couple of days. This will help you to keep them on target.

Weighing a fat Frenchie is actually quite easy. Weigh yourself on the scales first, then pick your dog up and weigh yourself again. The difference in weight is what your overweight Frenchie comes in at.

If you need helping weighing them then watch this video on our YouTube channel on how to pick up a Frenchie properly so you don’t hurt them.

Other causes of weight gain in Frenchies

Just because you have a fat French Bulldog, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing something wrong; there are certain illnesses that can lead to weight gain, as well as them just getting older.

Causes of weight gain can include:

  • Chronic illnesses such as Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes.
  • Neutering which can lead to less energy.
  • Bloating and water retention due to illness.
  • Canine medication.
  • Internal parasites can cause fluid build-up.
  • Possible pregnancy (here’s how to tell).
  • Getting old and being less active.

Why are Frenchies prone to weight gain?

French Bulldogs find it hard to self-regulate their eating; all the ones I have ever met are totally focussed on food and would eat way beyond what they are meant to.

As owners, we need to be careful that our Frenchies don’t overindulge and end up getting fat and overweight – it can dramatically reduce their lifespan and quality of life.

Control what your Frenchie eats with two meals a day with limited portions that don’t go over their daily calorie recommendations: 25 calories for every pound in healthy weight they weigh.

overweight french bulldog diet
Limit your Frenchie to just 2 meals a day, and carefully portion out the food.

Frenchies are also prone to a very high percentage of health issues, many of which can result in them gaining weight.

Then there’s just the fact of getting older. The older your Frenchie, the less energy and inclination they have for exercise. Just like the best of us, they can get fatter as they reach their middle age to twilight years!

When to see your vet

If you have concerns about your Frenchie’s weight, then that’s enough reasons to make a vet’s appointment. They will be able to properly diagnose why they are getting fat, and develop a safe and sensible weight loss plan.

Conclusion

When you choose a Frenchie as a pet, you’ve got a friend for life. Through fat and thin, your best friend will at your side.

There will always be some challenges, as Frenchies are more prone to becoming fat and overweight than many other breeds.  But providing you are vigilant and diligent in your care towards them, you should be able to keep them at a healthy weight

As long as you can commit to feeding your Frenchie just twice a day, cutting their treats down, and keeping them well exercised, you should be able to stop them getting fat.

But lastly, I started out by saying all Frenchies are different so please do talk with your vet. You might just have a stocky French Bulldog who is perfectly fine… always seek a professional opinion.

Marc Aaron

I am one of Claude the French Bulldog's human parents. I write about all the things we've learned about owning a Frenchie, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way. Read more about Marc Aaron.

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