Is it Bad for French Bulldogs to Jump? It’s Not Always Safe!


is jumping bad for French Bulldogs

Being the excitable creatures that they are, Frenchies love to jump up at people and onto beds or couches. However, jumping up can come with problems. We’ve had to visit the vets 3 times in the last 6 months due to our French Bulldog jumping and hurting himself… here’s our personal experience and some warnings on why it’s not always safe to let them jump.

Is jumping bad for French Bulldogs? It is bad for French Bulldogs to jump. They are very prone to back, leg, and spinal problems including hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, intervertebral disease, and soft tissue injuries. If you can avoid it, don’t let your Frenchie jump as it might not be safe.

How jumping can hurt French Bulldogs

If you’ve seen the videos of Claude on our Frenchie YouTube Channel you will now how excitable and playful he is. He loves running, playing, and jumping. His favourite game of all time is stick fetching… and this is how I found out how jumping is bad for French Bulldogs.

Whenever I would go to the park with him and pick up a stick, he would enter “manic mode”. Before I’ve thrown it, he will be jumping up high trying to get the stick. It’s something I need to train out of him and will be doing that in the coming weeks (I will show you how we get on in a new video).

I not playing the stick fetch game at the moment for this very reason, as it led to his latest back injury over the Christmas period.

is it bad for French bulldogs to jump
Claude recently hurt his back jumping and had to have pain killers.

The problem Claude has is that he can jump so high that he’s got a long way to fall. When he’s in the air, his body will sometimes twist, and he can fall awkwardly. During the holidays he jumped up and didn’t show any signs of pain at the time until the next day.

24 hours later he refused to climb stairs or jump onto the couch with us. We went to the vets and thankfully Claude is now fully recovered. We now closely monitor his jumping and will lift him onto our bed and avoid any situations where he might leap up.

Handy Hint: I’ve detailed at length how his back injury needed to be treated with pain killers in a recent blog post about him not jumping up on the couch anymore. 

Why it is bad for French Bulldogs to jump?

Frenchies come with a very bad health track record. I’ve previously blogged about their most common ailments which I recommend any potential owner reads before buying this breed.

Below are the most common problems Frenchie can suffer from due to jumping injuries.

1. Hip dysplasia from jumping

Whilst hip dysplasia is a genetic trait of Frenchies, it can also develop after a traumatic injury; such as one caused by jumping. It’s a skeletal disorder affecting the hip socket, and can be extremely painful, potentially leading to arthritis.

Your Frenchie could be suffering from hip dysplasia if you notice any of the following symptoms (read more on PetMD.com):

  • Decreased activity: If your Frenchie is sleeping more and just not his usual active self, then it could signal a hip problem. You might notice he doesn’t want to go for a walk or chase a ball like he used to.
  • Can no longer jump or go upstairs: Your Frenchie’s hip joint tissue will become inflamed, making it very uncomfortable for them to run upstairs or jump due to the pain in their hind legs.
  • Difficulty getting up: Another symptom is where you will see your Frenchie struggle to get up after lying down. It’s very similar to how humans can feel stiff after a night’s sleep.
  • Walk in a “bunny hopping” gait: A clear sign of hip dysplasia is where you see your Frenchie walk in a bunny hopping fashion. They do this as it reduces the pain they feel by putting too much weight on their legs.
  • Lame legs: After time, your Frenchie will exhibit lameness. It can either be periodic or more irregular and results in them being unable to bear weight on their hind legs.
  • Sensitive and painful hips: If you touch or manipulate your Frenchie’s hips and they cry out in pain, it could be hip dysplasia. It can be present in French Bulldog puppies, due to the occasional genetic nature of this illness. 

Treatment options

It is possible to manage hip dysplasia that has resulted from your Frenchie jumping badly, providing the signs are caught early. The possibilities include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Only having moderate exercise, no jumping, and nothing strenuous.
  • Vet prescribed medication and anti-inflammatory injections.
  • Surgery (Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (view details), Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (view details), Femoral Head Ostectomy (view details), or a hip replacement).

2. Patellar luxation from jumping

1.9% of female Frenchies will suffer with patellar luxation in their lifetime, with males recording a 2.3% possibility. It means your Frenchie has a dislocated kneecap – another reason why it’s not safe for French Bulldogs to jump.

Your Frenchie really doesn’t understand the consequences of jumping, so this particular injury is very common in more active dogs.

Your French Bulldog could be suffering from patellar luxation so if you notice any of the following symptoms (read more on PetMD.com):

  • Bow-legged stance: Dogs who look like they have bow-legs could have a dislocated kneecap from jumping.
  • Skipping gait: Your Frenchie will skip when he walks. It can happen for just a few steps before they start walking as normal.
  • Lame legs: Your Frenchie could look awkward as he walks or exhibit temporary or more regular lameness. This is because they cannot extend their legs properly.

Treatment options 

Your Frenchie could show no signs of a dislocated kneecap as it’s not always obvious. In fact, it can be that your vet only diagnoses it during a regular health check. The treatment possibilities include:

  • Popping the kneecap back in (if it’s a grade 1 diagnosis).
  • Surgery (but depends on how severe the patellar luxation is).

3. Intervertebral disc disease from jumping

Another reason why jumping is bad for French Bulldogs is canine intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). It happens due to trauma to the spine.

A disc in your Frenchie’s back can herniate or rupture causing inflammation and extreme pain – the disc will no longer absorb shocks from jumping or be able to weight bear.

Your French Bulldog could exhibit any of the following symptoms (read more on the Pet Health Network):

  • Stiff neck: Your Frenchie will find it hard to move his head around and turn like he could before. He may also yelp if he makes a sharp head turn.
  • Back pain: Your Frenchie could stop jumping up, climbing stairs, and be in obvious pain when you touch or handle his back.
  • Cries when picked up: When you pick your Frenchie up, the spinal discs will move and compress. If he cries, it could be a back problem. Find out how to pick up a Frenchie safely when they aren’t in pain in this guide).
  • Shivering, trembling or paralysis: More obvious signs to look out for will be noticeable when your Frenchie is sat down.
  • No longer wants to play or run: This could be any health issue in truth but could mean they hurt their back when jumping.
  • Paresis: This is the medical term for a partial loss of movement or weakness.

Treatment options

If your French Bulldog hurt his back jumping and canine intervertebral disc disease is professionally diagnosed, treatments will vary depending on the seriousness. They include:

  • Oral anti-inflammatory medications (if mild).
  • Crate rest (if mild).
  • Surgical procedures (if more serious).

3. Injured back or leg from jumping (soft tissue damage or breaks)

Thankfully Claude was not diagnosed with any of the more serious conditions listed above. Our vet believed he had either a bruised spine, or bruised muscles; a soft tissue injury essentially. He was treated with a week’s worth of specialist dog pain killers after hurting himself jumping up and recovered in full.

Whilst there are many reasons why your Frenchie is limping, many of them can be die to soft tissue damage. This can affect muscles, ligaments, and tendons due to sprains and strains.

french bulldog jumping bad
We are currently training Claude not to jump for a stick, as this is very bad for his back.

The only other possibility I can think of where you might see your Frenchie in pain after jumping could be a break in their leg. Signs of a leg break or fracture include:

  • Misshapen or visible out-of-place of joint.
  • Limited mobility.
  • Unable to move a limb.
  • Refusing to sit or lie down.
  • Cannot support their own body weight.
  • Leg is hanging limply with no weight bearing on it.
  • Swelling or swollen legs.
  • Bleeding from the legs.
  • Bruising around the legs.
  • Licking the legs and whining.
  • Obvious signs of intense pain.

Training your Frenchie not to jump and hurt himself

If your Frenchie has hurt his back jumping, you need to train them out of the behaviour once the issue is diagnosed and treated. I’ve written an extensive guide on how to train them to stop jumping. Here’s a brief synopsis from that guide:

  • Turn your back and use a firm “off” command.
  • Don’t shout and get excited.
  • Reward sitting and not jumping.
  • Train to sit or stay when people come in the house.
  • Use a toy as a distraction.

You should never scold them, hurt them, or punish them. This doesn’t work with Frenchies and can encourage the behaviour.

Our own personal experience

Now of course, you’re going to think I am a massive hypocrite, because over a year ago I filmed a YouTube video showing us testing out how high our Frenchie can jump up. You can see the video lower down the page.

We did this experiment (read more) for around 10 minutes before we truly understood how bad jumping can be for Frenchies. Since Claude has hurt himself with his stick jumping over Christmas it’s not something we will ever be doing again.

We were lucky that Claude hasn’t suffered a more serious injury, but I am pleased that I can share what’s happened to us. The bottom line is this; it is bad for French Bulldogs to jump so try to avoid it at all costs.

Disclaimer: I am not a vet, but I am a passionate Frenchie owner. All of the information in this article is based on personal experience, with references to the information I have researched on professional veterinarian websites. You should always consult with your own vet at all times.

Conclusion

If you already own a Frenchie, you will already know how hectic they can be. But an unfortunate by-product of their breeding is their susceptibility to back injuries.

We learned the hard way how bad jumping is for French Bulldogs. Claude’s soft tissue injury in his back took a week to fix with pain killers, meaning he could not enjoy his usual activities and walks.

From this point onwards we are going to be so careful because we now know that jumping is not safe for Frenchies…

I don’t want to frighten you as it’s almost impossible to stop them from jumping completely, but please bear this in mind and limit the jumping activity where you can.

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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