I am a little ashamed to admit this, but when we first bought Claude we didn’t do as much research into French Bulldog health issues as we should have done. It was only after buying him that we became more aware of the health concerns they face, and how their lives can be impacted due to their genetic make-up.
Thankfully Claude is very healthy, and we haven’t had any health problems with him to date.
But, Frenchies are notorious for having particular health issues, and I would recommend that you do your research before you even considering buying a puppy.
Whilst they are loveable dogs with cute features, the various French Bulldog health problems can pose questions over ethics. There is a strong argument about whether or not we should encourage the breeding of Frenchies given how their physiques can lead to problems later on in life.
Important: Frenchies make for amazing companions and family dogs, but please only buy from responsible breeders who take care of their dogs and produce healthy puppies.
The question of ethics is one I will address another time, but today I wanted to give you as much information as possible on what the most common French Bulldog health concerns are.
French Bulldog health problems
Are you wondering what health problems do French Bulldogs have? Are you considering buying a French Bulldog?
Knowing what health issues and concerns a Frenchie can have is very important. By being aware of the following issues and concerns it can help you to pick up on things quicker, know how important insurance will be, and help make a decision on whether this breed is a good choice for you and your family.
To come up with this list of the most common health issues that a Frenchie can suffer from, I didn’t just ask other owners or copy a list of concerns published on other dog websites.
Instead, I examined a piece of research conducted by the Royal Veterinary College based in the UK and pulled out some key data they published after examining 2,228 Frenchies in 2018.
Each of the health issues listed below has a percentage after it. These percentages show how many of the Frenchies from the study had the particular health problem in the first couple of years of their lives.
Summary: In summary, 72.4% of all the Frenchies they studied had at least one of the health problems listed below. The most common health problems were skin problems (17.9%), ear infections (14%), diarrhoea (7.5%) and conjunctivitis (3.2%).
List of French Bulldog health issues by prevalence
1. Otitis externa (inflammation of the middle ear) – 14%
These types of ear infections are very common in French Bulldogs due to their low resistance to allergies and the narrowed ear canals. They have narrower ear canals than other dog breeds due to the way in which they have been bred.
It can also occur as a result of hormonal imbalances. It manifests itself when the ear glands swell up and produce more wax than is normal.
This will lead to an over production of fibrous tissues in the ear, making the canal narrower, and in effect inflamed. In more severe cases, the ear drum can even rupture, causing a lot of pain.
Your Frenchie will experience a lot of discomfort and irritation so look out for excessive ear scratching and redness inside of the ear as an early warning sign.
Handy Hint: Did you know that white French Bulldogs are more prone to deafness due to congenital hearing loss. Click on this guide to Frenchie hearing problems to discover more.
2. Diarrhoea – 7.5%
Diarrhoea is a very common French Bulldog health problem, particularly in puppies and younger dogs under 12 months.
Whilst you might be tempted to just put it down to their developing stomachs and perhaps something that they ate, it can be a sign of something more serious.
For example, if could be due to a virus or internal parasite including:
- Distemper virus.
- E Coli.
If your Frenchie does start to have consistent bouts of diarrhoea, please do consult a vet as it could mean they have swallowed something they shouldn’t have or have a potentially fatal parasite or virus.
Signs that their diarrhoea is potentially serious include:
- Their stools are wet, runny, and have a tar-like consistency.
- The smell is far worse than normal, producing a foul stench.
- You see blood in the stools and poop.
- Your Frenchie also shows signs of appetite loss, lethargy vomiting and fever.
3. Conjunctivitis – 3.2%
As a brachycephalic (or short-nosed) breed, French Bulldogs are in a high-risk category for conjunctivitis. It will occur due to bacterial and viral diseases, foreign bodies in the eye, or allergic reactions to certain substances.
Look out for the following signs if you suspect your French Bulldog has conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye or red eye).
- Your Frenchie starts squinting or blinking more than usual.
- You notice redness or pinkness around the eyes.
- You see a mucus or pus discharge from the eyes.
- Your Frenchie’s eyes have started to swell up.
I recently published an article which will help you understand better why your Frenchie has red eyes and what you can do about it.
If the conjunctivitis in your French Bulldog is due to a bacterial infection, it can be treated using antibiotics.
In more serious cases, there could be a blocked duct in the eye which will require surgery. Occasionally, particular with tumours and cancers, the whole effected eye ball will need to be removed.
4. Nails overlong and claw injuries – 3.1%
Whilst long nails might not immediately appear to be a significant health issue with your French Bulldog, if not treated, it can lead to more serious problems and concerns.
Nail disorders can be caused by cutting nails too short, being too long, or by trauma and bacterial infection.
Signs that your Frenchie could have a nail disorder or claw injury include:
- Excessive paw licking.
- Difficulty with mobility and walking.
- Obvious pain and discomfort in their paws.
- Red swelling around their nails.
- Abnormal nail coloration.
In more serious cases, your vet might recommend removing the nail plate (hard part of the nail), supplemented with an antibiotic treatment and antimicrobial soaks.
5. Skin fold dermatitis – 3.0%
Part of the Frenchie appeal is the cute face and folded skin around their muzzle and nose. However, this can lead to skin fold dermatitis which is one of the more common health concerns you might encounter with your pup.
It’s not just the face where skin fold dermatitis can manifest itself though. In females, it can occur around the vaginal area, and with both sexes can occur in the armpits and neck.
Signs to look out for include:
- Excessive itching and scratching.
- Biting and rubbing of the folded skin area.
- Redness, crust, sores and welts underneath the folded skin.
To prevent French Bulldog skin fold dermatitis, you should have a maintenance routine in place. It’s really important that you help them keep their skin folds dry and clean, otherwise they can easily become infected.
Our vet recommended that we wipe under the skin folds of Claude on a daily basis using some unscented baby wipes. Keeping that routine up can be hard, so try to do this at least once a week at a bare minimum.
Handy Hint: I’ve identified 8 possible skin problems that your Frenchie could suffer from. Click here for the full list of skin conditions with advice on how you might be able to remedy them yourselves at home.
6. Anal sac impaction – 2.9%
A few weeks ago, I was convinced that Claude had the signs of anal sac impaction. He was pulling his bottom across the garden lawn repeatedly. Thankfully it wasn’t anything serious and was just an itchy backside (we all get them don’t we!), but it could have been the sign of a more serious health condition.
Anal sac impaction occurs when fluids in your Frenchie’s anal sacs starts to dry up. It builds up, leading to discomfort and pain for your dog.
Signs of anal sac impaction in a French Bulldog include:
- Your Frenchie will start to scoot around on his bottom.
- He will also start excessively nibbling or licking his bottom.
- You might smell something really nasty (worse than his farts if that’s possible).
- He could show signs of constipation or pain when going to the toilet.
It is easy to treat but isn’t a particularly pleasant task should you wish to remedy it yourself.
If you are brave enough, you will have to gently squeeze your Frenchie’s anal sacs with your fingers to try and get the foul-smelling gunk to squeeze out. However, I don’t recommend it, particularly if it’s not actually needed. Read more about French Bulldog anal gland expressing here.
It’s something I would rather get a vet to do… thankfully we’ve not had to deal with this health concern (yet).
7. Upper respiratory tract (URT) infection – 2.7%
As a brachycephalic breed, Frenchies are very susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections. URTs can affect their cavities such as the bronchi, trachea, throat, and nasal area.
There’s a very high chance that this will happen to your French Bulldog at some point in his life, as the majority of dogs will get an infection such as this – and even more so with Frenchies.
URTs are highly contagious, and more common in dogs who live together or who have close canine social networks.
A URT is very similar to how we as humans would get a cold. The symptoms include runny noses, sore throats and coughs.
But, unlike us, a Frenchie might find it hard to shake off a cold so it’s important you seek the advice of your vet if you do see any of the signs listed below:
- Nasal congestion and discharge.
- Coughing and hacking up.
- Itchy nose.
- Runny and watery eyes.
- Sneezing more than usual.
- Loss of appetite.
- Signs of lethargy.
8. Pyoderma (bacterial skin infection) – 2.7%
Pyoderma is a very common health complaint with French Bulldogs but can be easily treated in the majority of cases.
This bacterial skin infection occurs after your dog gets a cut, graze, or scratch to the skin as the wound can become infected and sore.
Signs of pyoderma in a Frenchie include:
- Itchiness around a wound.
- Red and angry looking skin.
- Pus coming from the wound.
- Crusty skin around the wound.
- Loss of hair around the wound.
It’s a very common health problem in dog breeds with skin folds, so should be watched out for if your Frenchie has cut himself whilst playing or with another dog.
These types of skin infection are simple to treat. Your vet will clean the wound, and give you some medication or antifungal treatment to apply at home.
9. Prolapsed nictitans gland (cherry eye) – 2.6%
Also known as “cherry eye”, a prolapsed nictitans gland occurs when the gland of your Frenchie’s third eye lids falls out of place. It’s simple to spot, as you will see a red and obvious looking bulge in one corner of their eye.
The signs of French Bulldog cherry eye include:
- Pawing and scratching at the affected eye area.
- Red and dry looking eye.
- Excessive squinting and blinking.
- Red bulge covering a portion of your dog’s eye cornea.
It will be very painful and will occasionally require surgical treatment to rectify. However, in less severe cases it can be treated using a special gel that your vet can recommend.
10. Pododermatitis – 2.5%
Pododermatitis is a common, but serious paw allergy that French Bulldogs are prone to suffering from. It can occur due to an allergic reaction to food, an infection, malnutrition, obesity, or exposure to warm pavements where they can burn the skin.
Signs of the pododermatitis French Bulldog health issue include:
- Excessive licking of the paw.
- Pus nodules on the paw.
- Swollen red paws.
- Hair loss around the paws.
It should be treated quickly by your vet, as if left it can lead to bacterial infections.
The best way to prevent Frenchie pododermatitis is to keep your dog’s paws clean, and to check for any dirt or debris in the area after each walk.
11. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) – 2.4%
BOAS occurs in dog breeds of a brachycephalic nature, with French Bulldogs being in the high-risk category due to their shortened snouts and squashed faces.
It can lead to health issues such as:
- Breathing problems and shortness of breath.
- Eye problems such as corneal ulcers.
- Skin problems including skin fold infections.
- Spinal problems such as abnormally shaped vertebrae.
- Birthing problems due to smaller pelvic structures.
Signs that your French Bulldog might be suffering from brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome include:
- Excessive respiratory noise.
- Stenosis of the nostrils.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
- Obstructive sleep apnea.
- Heat intolerance.
- Cyanosis and collapse.
Respiratory problems mainly occur due to a Frenchie’s intolerance to heat and exercise. This could even result in a fatal heatstroke so it’s best to avoid any play or activity outdoors when it’s hot.
Unfortunately, Frenchies are a breed that will always show these signs, and it’s one of the major reasons why they are so prone so serious health problems as they grow older.
12. Colitis – 2.4%
Colitis in dogs is an inflammation of the colon or large intestine. It can be spotted early, with the warning signs including the following health problems to look out for:
- Blood in their poop.
- Mucus in their poop.
- Straining and constipation whilst pooping.
- No poop produced when going to the toilet.
- Loss of appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Signs of lethargy in lowered activity levels.
It is very hard to ascertain whether your Frenchie has colitis as there are so many different causes than can lead to this health issue. The causes of French Bulldog colitis include:
- Parasites in the intestinal system.
- Negative reactions to a medication.
- Stress and worry.
- Allergies or dietary intolerances.
- Eating non-food items such as grass or human food.
- Bacterial and viral infections.
- Swallowing of foreign bodies.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Bowel cancer (more common in older Frenchies).
You can help prevent Frenchie colitis by keeping your dog healthy with a good diet, keeping him free from parasitical infections, being fully vaccinated, keeping him away from sick dogs, and not letting him eat anything he shouldn’t do (which is harder than it sounds).
13. Aggression – 2.3%
Our Frenchie has never shown any signs of aggression, and from my personal experience it’s quite unusual to have an aggressive adult Frenchie. As puppies, they can be more aggressive, but most will grow out of this particular health concern by around 12 months.
Aggression is a natural attribute, with many Frenchies displaying it when they feel threatened, jealous, or provoked. It doesn’t tend to get any more serious than barking and little nips.
However, at certain times their ancestry and genes can come to the fore, with some displaying aggressive characteristics which can become problematic.
The best way to head this off at the pass is to ensure that your male Frenchie is neutered when the time comes and has proper puppy training.
14. Heart murmur – 2.2%
Heart murmurs are abnormal heart sounds and beats and are very common in French Bulldog puppies. They will often be misdiagnosed in younger dogs, and in fact, aren’t serious health conditions during the puppy months.
However, with older dogs, a heart murmur can be a very serious health problem and can lead to a reduced life expectancy.
There are a number of conditions that can lead to a heart murmur, all which create turbulence all the blood flow through your Frenchie’s heart.
The most common reasons for a heart murmur to develop in a French Bulldog can include:
- Weakened heart muscle walls (dilated cardiomyopathy).
- Heart wall defects.
- Blockages in the heart’s valves.
- Heartworm disease.
- Infection in the heart valves (endocarditis).
There are varying grades of seriousness with dog heart murmurs, all of which a vet can detect using a stethoscope.
- Grade 1: This is a very soft and quiet murmur that is almost undetectable.
- Grade 2: This is a soft murmur that can be easily heard by a vet.
- Grade 3: This is a low to moderate noise.
- Grade 4: This is a moderate to loud noise.
- Grade 5: This will be loud enough to make your dog’s chest vibrate.
- Grade 6: This can be heard without listening directly on the chest wall.
Grades 1 and 2 offer no concerns, and your Frenchie should lead a full and long life. Grade 3 will require your Frenchie having a heart scan, letting your vet then recommend a medical treatment.
If the heart murmur is graded on the higher end of the scale, your Frenchie will have a reduce life expectancy.
If your Frenchie has a heart murmur diagnosed, you should be covered by your pet insurance providing it wasn’t listed as a pre-existing condition. You can read more about how heart murmurs can impact on pet insurance here.
15. Vomiting – 2.2%
Vomiting is one of the more common French Bulldog health issues. I lost count of how many times Claude used to vomit as a puppy. Thankfully it has now reduced, but he will still occasionally throw up if he has managed to eat something he shouldn’t have done.
If your Frenchie is vomiting a lot, it should not be taken lightly. I’ve written an extensive guide telling you what to look for and why your Frenchie is throwing up. To summarise on that though, here are some reasons why your French Bulldog will vomit:
- Food allergies.
- The swallowing of a foreign body.
- Eating and drinking too quickly.
- Oesophageal issues and disorders.
Vomiting is very common with French Bulldogs, and most of the time is nothing to be worried about. I would exercise caution though; if your dog is vomiting frequently and appears to be distressed and in pain, take him to the vets immediately.
16. Infectious canine tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) – 2.1%
Also referred to as kennel cough, infectious canine tracheobronchitis occurs when your French Bulldog develops an infection in his windpipe and bronchial tubes.
It is highly contagious but will often be a mild illness that can be treated and cured in under a month with the use of antibiotics or prevented with a vaccination.
This is one to look out for if you are leaving your Frenchie in kennels for any period of time, or if your dog lives and plays in close proximity to other dogs.
17. Patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap) – 2.1%
Frenchies love to run and jump and will never think of the consequences of doing so. Our French Bulldog is a complete clown and has no sense of danger. I’m surprised he’s never done himself any injuries through play, as he’s probably at high risk of developing patellar luxation.
This health problem happens when your Frenchie’s kneecap (aka patella) becomes dislocated from the groove in the thigh bone. It’s a very common health issue with Frenchies.
Patellar luxation can occur in Frenchies where:
- They have degenerative arthritis.
- They have a genetic malformation.
- They have suffered a traumatic injury to the knee.
If you see your Frenchie holding his hind legs up that could be a sign of a dislocated kneecap. He will do this so that the muscles in his hind legs relax, as that can then let the dislocated kneecap return to its usual position.
However, it will continue to dislocate once it’s happened once, so will need to be looked at by your vet.
18. Ulcerative keratitis (eye ulcer) – 2.1%
This is an eye ulcer that affects the cornea. The cornea is the transparent part of your dog’s eye, with ulcers occurring for a variety of reasons including:
- Injury to the eye.
- Eye diseases.
- Eye infections.
- Something in the eye.
- Burns to the eye from a corrosive liquid.
- Facial paralysis.
If it’s a deep eye ulcer, your Frenchie might require a surgical procedure and a protective collar to stop him from pawing at the ulcer.
Antibiotics can be administered for less severe cases, with some eye ulcers clearing up inside of 7 days after treatment.
Signs that your French Bulldog might have an eye ulcer health problem include:
- Red and sore looking eyes.
- Watery eyes.
- Squinting and light sensitivity.
- Pawing at the eyes.
- Closing of the eye.
- A translucent film over the eye.
19. Atopic dermatitis – 2.0%
This is a common French Bulldog allergy that tends to develop when the dog is aged between three and six years old. It occurs when their skin becomes sensitive to certain elements such as pollen, weeds, grass, dust mites, and even human dandruff.
You might spot signs such as hay fever like symptoms, asthmatic behaviour, irritable skin and itchy rashes.
Areas of the body where your Frenchie might exhibit atopic dermatitis include:
- Feet / paws.
It can be treated using topical treatments and possibly prevented by using specialist air purifiers that have been designed to reduce atopic dermatitis in dogs.
Did You Know? 10% of people in the United States are allergic to dogs. If you are thinking about buying a Frenchie you should check to see if they are hypoallergenic or not. I’ve written a new blog post about this with all you need to know.
20. Gastroenteritis – 1.9%
Gastroenteritis in French Bulldogs occurs when your pup contracts a virus and manifests itself with diarrhoea and vomiting. It can clear up on its own, but it’s preferable that treatment from a vet is sought quickly if the health issues persist.
The most obvious signs of gastroenteritis in a French Bulldog include:
- Blood in vomit or poop.
- Loss of appetite.
A lot of the time, a gastroenteritis health problem can be put down to something as simple as your Frenchie eating something they shouldn’t have done, but in more serious cases can happen due to:
- Dietary indiscretion.
- Ingesting toxins.
- Bacterial infection.
- Abdominal disorders.
- Systematic infections – urinary tract infections (UTI), meningitis, pneumonia.
- Thyroid disease.
If your Frenchie has developed gastroenteritis you can treat it by giving them fresh water to drink but reducing down their food intake at the same time.
The key is to feed them small amounts of food that won’t upset their stomach further, letting it settle down. Vets recommend boiled chicken and rice.
21. Ear discharge – 1.9%
Ear discharge itself isn’t a specific French Bulldog health problem or condition but can be a sign of an underlying issue.
It could be a result of an ear infection or ear mites. Here’s the full list of possible health problems resulting in discharge from the ears:
- Ear mites: look out for scratching of the ears and a dry(ish) brown discharge.
- Outer ear infection (otitis externa): look out for a waxy yellowish-brown discharge.
- Inner ear infection (otitis interna): look out for similar signs to the above condition.
Effective treatments for ear infections include antibiotics, with ear mites sometimes requiring a liquid that will kill the eggs off.
22. Alopecia – 1.8%
Frenchies malt and shed their hair a lot, but you need to know the difference between this type of hair loss, and what could be the more serious health problem of alopecia.
Alopecia is where you will see patches of hair loss on your dog, rather than a uniform amount of shedding. It can be caused by:
- Acral lick dermatitis.
- Hormone problems.
- Abnormal organ function.
- Poor blood circulation.
- Parasite-induced alopecia.
- Poor nutrition.
- Treatment-induced hair loss.
- Genetic predisposition.
Due to the varying causes of French Bulldog alopecia, the treatments will vary depending on the diagnosis.
23. Demodicosis (parasitic mites) – 1.7%
Canine demodicosis occurs when parasitic mites live in your Frenchie’s hair follicles and oil glands. Believe it or not, all dogs have parasitic mites to a small degree, but they can become a more serious French Bulldog heath concern when they start to grow and spread.
Signs and symptoms of demodicosis include:
- Thinning hair.
- Scaly skin.
- Itchy skin.
- Reddish-brown coloured skin.
- Loss of appetite.
Thankfully it’s an easily treated health condition. Your vet will take a small scraping of your Frenchie’s skin and run some tests.
Depending on the diagnosis, your Frenchie might be prescribed antibiotics and creams.
24. Stenotic nares (difficulty breathing) – 1.7%
As a brachycephalic breed, French Bulldogs are at high risk of stenotic nares. This is where your dog’s nostrils and so narrow that they will have trouble breathing. If your Frenchie snores and snorts a lot, this is exactly the reason why.
With many Frenchies, it won’t affect them unduly, but in more severe cases can lead to health complications including:
- Noisy breathing.
- Heat intolerance.
- Exercise intolerance.
- Mouth breathing.
If your Frenchie’s air flow resistance is too high, it can lead to a higher mortality rate, and complex health problems.
However, there are surgical procedures that can help to widen the nares including:
- Alar wing amputation (Trader’s technique).
- Punch resection.
- Vertical wedge.
- Horizontal wedge.
- Alapexy (two small incisions).
- Laser ablation.
Handy Hint: Only consider surgery if your Frenchie has breathing difficulties. There are some other ways you can stop your French Bulldog snoring without resorting to a surgical procedure.
That’s the last of the French Bulldog health issues that were listed in the research from the Royal Veterinary College.
My family and I have also experienced some other health conditions and problems with our Frenchie Claude, which you can see continuing this list.
We live near a forest, and frequently take Claude out for a walk. One of the biggest health concerns we have is him picking up a tick bite.
Ticks will transmit bacteria to your dog, but can also effect their human owners, leading to diseases including:
- Borrelia miyamotoi disease.
- Borrelia mayonii disease.
- Lyme disease.
- Powassan virus disease.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF).
Ticks are simple enough to spot on your Frenchie. Runs your hands over his coat, checking for any lumps, bumps, or spots. They tend to attach themselves to the head, neck, feet, and ear areas.
You can remove them yourself using a twisting method. You can buy tick removal tools on Amazon or from pet stores.
To prevent ticks on your Frenchie, try to avoid him running through long grass, and always make him wear a tick collar during the summer months when ticks are at their most active.
26. Alabama rot
Alabama rot is another disease that dogs can get in our local forest area. It’s a health problem we get very worried about as it can cause damage to your Frenchie’s blood vessels and kidneys.
Frenchies can catch it after walking in muddy woodland, and can end up suffering with skin ulcers, acute kidney failure and even death.
Whilst the chances of your French Bulldog developing Alabama Rot is very small, don’t take any chances as there is no vaccination – in fact, scientists don’t even know the cause at the moment. It has a 90% fatality rate (source).
To reduce the chances of your dog getting Alabama Rot, avoid walking them in muddy woodland areas and always wash their feet off after a muddy walk.
27. Heat intolerance
Frenchies aren’t designed to cope well in the heat. They are not dogs who should live outdoors for this very reason (find out why here).
With Claude, we limit his time outdoors during the summer, and will only walk him early in the morning and late in the afternoon when heat of the sun has started to go down.
In terms of what temperature is too hot for a French Bulldog, I would estimate it as being anything over 70º degrees outside. If the pavement is too hot to touch, that’s another sign you should not walk him outdoors.
28. Hip dysplasia
Canine hip dysplasia occurs when the hip and thigh joints become displaced. It can be very painful for your Frenchie and unfortunately is a by-product of their breeding.
Symptoms of hip dysplasia in French Bulldog include:
- Decreased activity compared to usual.
- Decreased range of motion and movement.
- Difficulty or reluctance rising, jumping, running, or climbing up the stairs (here’s why jumping is bad for Frenchies).
- Lameness in their hind end.
- Looseness in their joints.
- Narrower stance than usual.
- When walking you will notice a swaying, “bunny hopping” gait.
- Grating in the joint when they move about.
- Reduced muscle mass in the thigh area.
- Noticeably larger shoulder muscles which develop as they compensate for the hind end not being as mobile.
- Pain and discomfort.
- Stiffness in the joints.
Treatment will depend on how severe the hip dysplasia is, and for how long it’s gone un-treated. You vet will recommend the following:
- Weight reduction to take stress off of the hips.
- Exercise restriction, especially on hard surfaces.
- Physical therapy.
- Anti-inflammatory medications (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), aspirin, corticosteroids).
- Joint fluid modifiers.
In more severe cases, there can be surgical solutions including double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO), femoral head ostectomy (FHO), or a total hip replacement (THR).
29. Dental problems
French Bulldogs are more prone to dental problems due to their shortened jaw and face. This means that the teeth in their mouth can become crowded and pushed close together, causing gum and dental issues.
Dental disease, gingivitis, gum disease, and periodontal disease can also be rife in this breed as plaque builds up in their mouths.
Handy Hint: Know what to look for and at what age your Frenchie puppy will start teething.
The dental diseases in your Frenchie can lead to the destruction of gum tissue and bone loss.
30. Separation anxiety
I speak from experience when I say that Frenchies hate to be left alone. We had to leave Claude by himself for 5 hours one day due to a family emergency, and when we got back he appeared to be depressed for about a day afterwards.
French Bulldogs are very sociable creatures and consider themselves one of the pack with you and your family, so can suffer from separation anxiety is left alone for long periods of time.
Separation anxiety is a genuine French Bulldog health issue, so please don’t buy a Frenchie if you are going to be out at work all day.
Handy Hint: If you believe your Frenchie is suffering from separation anxiety or you are going to be leaving them home alone all day, please take the time to read my guide to the separation anxiety symptoms to look out for.
French Bulldogs drool a lot. You can find out what the causes of the drooling are and what you can do about it in this guide to Frenchie drooling.
Excessive drooling can be caused by a variety of health concerns including:
- Excitement and food.
- Mouth disease and tooth decay.
- Heat stroke.
- Motion sickness.
- Anxiety and stress.
- Mouth injuries.
- Organ disease.
If your Frenchie is drooling more than usual, you should consult a vet as soon as possible.
Related questions on health problems
By know you should have a far better idea on the health concerns faced by Frenchies. I also took a look through forums and Facebook groups to see what other questions people were asking about medical conditions.
Here are those questions, and the answers I researched.
Will Frenchies get ill if they eat their own poop?
No, probably not, but they can get ill if they eat the poop of another animal, particularly cats where toxoplasmosis can be a risk.
To find out why they eat poop and what you can do about it read this guide to French Bulldog poop eating.
Are French Bulldogs prone to health problems?
Whilst I am not trying to scare you with this huge list of French Bulldog health issues, you do need to be prepared for what life with a Frenchie could be like.
French Bulldogs are very prone to health problems, with their brachycephalic nature and breeding history leading to a wide range of potential health concerns and issues, particularly in later life.
I would go so far as to say that whilst we love our Frenchie, we do heavily question the ethics behind breeding dogs of this nature.
This is all information we have learned since we bought him, and we probably wouldn’t recommend you buy a Frenchie based on how prone they are to health problems.
What diseases are French Bulldogs prone to?
In the list above, I have detailed the various diseases that French Bulldogs are prone to. To summarise though, French Bulldogs are prone to the following diseases:
- Dental diseases.
- Eye diseases.
- Kennel cough.
- Thyroid disease.
- Viral diseases.
Are male or female Frenchies more prone to health problems?
The piece of research that I have referenced heavily in this guide was published by the Royal Veterinary College (visit website) in the UK. In the study they found that male Frenchies were more prone to health problems compared to their female counterparts. A quote from the research stated:
“One of the interesting findings from our research is that male French Bulldogs appear to be less healthy than females. Males were more likely to get 8 of the 26 most common health problems while there were no issues that females were more likely to get than males.”
The study analysed the health records of 2,200 French Bulldogs in the UK, finding that over 70% of Frenchies experienced one of their reported health problems in the first year of life.
In the table below you can see how the health disorders and problems are compared between male and female Frenchies.
|Fine-level disorder||Count||Female prevalence %||Male prevalence %|
|Skin fold dermatitis||66||2.6%||3.3%|
|Anal sac impaction||64||3.1%||2.7%|
|Upper respiratory tract (URT) infection||61||2.1%||3.3%|
|Prolapsed nictitans gland||57||2.4%||2.7%|
|Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS)||54||1.4%||3.4%|
|Infectious canine tracheobronchitis||47||2.2%||2.0%|
|Upper respiratory tract (URT) disorder||47||1.4%||2.7%|
What health tests should a French bulldog have?
Due to brachycephalic syndrome, there are a variety of health tests that a French Bulldog should have, many of which will be recommended by your vet, with additional tests you can arrange separately for peace of mind.
The health tests that a French Bulldog should have include:
- BOAS respiration: includes grading of the nostrils and is tested at rest and after exercise.
- Eye testing: this is essential for brachycephalic dogs as their shortened snout can lead to eye diseases.
- Eye cataracts: in particular, a test for hereditary cataracts should be performed annually.
- Hip dysplasia: the hip and thigh bone can become displaced but early tests can detect it.
The additional health tests that you might also want to consider include:
- Cardiologist test: this is a test of the heart and can check for heart murmurs as your Frenchie gets older.
- Dental check: teeth can become overcrowded due to a Frenchie’s shortened head, so teeth checks can flag up any issues.
- DNA testing: this will show a range of health issues and genetic health problems.
- Spine X-ray: this will check for a malformed spine and back problems.
How to health test a French Bulldog
If you have ever wondered how to get your French Bulldog health tested, there are a number of ways in which you can go about it.
To health test your French Bulldog, book an appointment with your vet and they will run you through which of the tests listed above are suitable for your pet.
If you live in the UK, the French Bulldog Club of England (visit website) runs a health testing scheme which includes DNA testing and tiered levels of certification.
What are the main causes of mortality in Frenchies?
Hopefully your Frenchie will live a long and health life and grow to be older than 10 years old. If your dog is unhealthy and suffers from any of the conditions listed above, then they could die early.
According to the research referenced in this article, Frenchies who passed away before they should have done, had the following mortality reasons listed by their vet.
|Grouped-level disorder||Count||Percent||Median age (years) at death|
|Brain disorder||10||11.9%||2.1 years|
|Spinal cord disorder||8||9.5%||4.0 years|
|Lower respiratory tract disorder||6||7.1%||0.9 years|
|Mass lesion||6||7.1%||7.0 years|
|Upper respiratory tract (URT) disorder||6||7.1%||2.5 years|
|Undesirable behaviour disorder||5||6.0%||2.1 years|
|Traumatic injury||5||6.0%||2.6 years|
|Vertebral spinal disorder||5||6.0%||5.3 years|
|Complication associated with clinical care procedure||4||4.8%||2.4 years|
Should you insure your French Bulldog against health problems?
100% yes. If you don’t insure your pet, you’re extremely irresponsible.
It’s not just the health concerns that you will be covered against. Frenchies are one of those breeds that are more at risk of being stolen, and adequate insurance can cover those eventualities.
I wrote a blog post with the top reasons to insure your Frenchie which also includes what pet insurance will and won’t cover.
Health issues to look for when buying a French Bulldog
I recommend that you only buy a purebred French Bulldog puppy from a local and reputable breeder. You should check their documentation, plus ask for testimonials and references.
Take a hard look at the buyer’s contract as well. An honest breeder will want to meet in person and talk with people that want to buy a pup. Plus, they will proudly show off the pup’s parents, living spaces, and vet records.
Never buy a Frenchie puppy if you can’t see it with the mother.
To see a list of questions you should ask a breeder before buying a Frenchie, read this guide to what to look for in a puppy before purchasing.
If the breeder can answer those questions positively, it means you should (in theory) get a puppy where the chances of genetic health issues are greatly reduced.
How to improve a French Bulldog’s breathing
Given that so many of the health concerns are due to the breathing problems Frenchies can have, I have put some notes together below on how you can improve this if you already own your dog.
Unfortunately, breathing problems are part of the territory that comes with French Bulldog ownership. They are a brachycephalic breed so struggle to breathe as well as other dogs do. But there are a few things you can do to ease their breathing issues.
Checking to see if a French Bulldog has a healthy weight is a good start.
French Bulldogs can gain weight very quickly, and this can have a big impact on their breathing, especially whilst sleeping.
Take your overweight French Bulldog to the vet so he can be checked he is at a healthy weight for his age. Also make sure he is eating the right food.
Lastly, you could make sure your French Bulldog gets a decent amount of gentle exercise, but not in the hot sun or heat. Getting decent amounts of exercise may help reduce the effect of breathing problems at night or during the day.
There is only so much you can do unfortunately. The breathing problems stem from genetics, and they can be hard to prevent. Make sure to check with your vet if you think your dog’s breathing problems are getting worse as there are surgical solutions available.
French Bulldog’s health versus English Bulldog’s health
Whilst researching the health problems highlighted in this guide, it came to my attention that a lot of potential dog owners want to know if there are differences in the health between Frenchies and English Bulldogs.
From what I can tell, they are about the same when it comes to their health issues as both are a brachycephalic breed.
However, being larger dogs, English Bulldogs will have higher healthcare costs then a French Bulldog due to the difference in size.
It’s a big responsibility owning a Frenchie, and not something you should rush into.
Yes, I know they are really fun and cute… those squished in faces, small legs, big heads, huge eyes, and folded skin make them really desirable for a lot of people.
Then there’s their personality and energy which makes them great fun to be around and have in your home.
However, they do have a lot of health problems compared to other dog breeds.
If you do decide to buy one, please find a decent breeder, keep up to date with their health tests, keep them safe, out of the heat, and well cared for.
There’s every chance yours will have a genetic health problem, and you will experience occasions where you have concerns over their health.
These will most commonly be due to their intolerance to heat and exercising, plus the genetic diseases concerning their ears and skin, brachycephalic syndrome, and possible spinal problems.
Since this breed has a shortened head, their respiratory organs are not designed well for allowing air to move freely through their lungs, so they often will have brachycephalic syndrome issues.
There are substantial costs if surgery is needed to fix deformities in their airways. This can include surgery on soft palates that are too long, outward turned laryngeal saccules and nostrils that are too small.
Owning a Frenchie (or any pet for that matter) is not something you should do if you do not have the time or money to offer them adequate health care.
You might also like…
Given that males tend to have more health problems than females, this could be a deciding factor for you when choosing what gender puppy to buy. Aside from the health considerations, there are some other key differences between males and females which I’ve detailed in this guide to male versus female.